More than one problem

Posted: Monday, April 02, 2001

To all employees of the state of Alaska who have been victimized by bully supervisors and workplace perverts: The Republican majority in the Legislature has declared through House Concurrent Resolution 7 that April is to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual harassment in the workplace is, of course, a form of sexual assault.

This awareness declaration comes as some state employees in the General Government Unit (GGU), having established that their union has become impotent to resolve workplace issues including problems of known sexual harassment perpetuators, are taking their cases to other venues, and to court. The Departments of Health and Social Services, and Transportation and Public Facilities, have become notorious for this problem.

On March 9, a 10-year employee of H&SS, Deborah Lee Gaffey filed suit in Juneau Superior Court for the on-going sexual harassment she has endured for too long, and sometime this month named defendants and some 25 unnamed "DOES" will be expected to respond to the five causes of action detailed in that complaint. As in pending cases at DOT/PF, administrative remedies through the collective bargaining agreement between ASEA and the employer have failed, while the good ol' boys on both sides of the agreement have made a mockery of any covenant of good faith on behalf of employees and union members.

Alaska has the highest per-capita occurrence of sexual assault in the nation, according to HCR 7. So why are assaulted dues-paying ASEA members having to seek legal representation and being further victimized by their own union?

Donn Liston


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