State negotiating team is insulting state workers

Posted: Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Alaska Department of Administration just announced it had received the nominations for the Denali Peak Performance Awards. Nominees were selected by peers for their performance and contribution to the work force and the state. Recognition by one's peers is always appreciated, and the administration agrees that state employees are a valuable asset, so these awards are a nice touch.

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Individual recognition is nice, but why do they insist on kicking sand in the faces of the majority of the state employees who work in the trenches? Negotiations have been going on for months now, and the state still refuses to be reasonable when it comes to providing fair wages and benefits.

Everyone seems to acknowledge that unless the state can provide competitive wages, it will be unable to hire or retain reliable and qualified employees. A catchy phrase is not enough to entice someone to apply for a job, and those already working at or below the poverty level will have to seek work elsewhere or get second jobs.

The state just wasted $1.2 million for an advisory vote that accomplished nothing except to show that the Legislature knows how to waste money. Why couldn't the legislators have taken that money and used it to help fund the new contract?

Most state workers are reliable and dedicated to the work they have chosen, but when it comes to providing a decent living for their families, they may have to rethink their priorities - fulfilling work or a living wage.

No one likes to be insulted, disrespected and unappreciated, and that is just what the state's negotiation team is doing. Perhaps our "hockey mom" governor should take a closer look at those who work so hard to make her look good and do the responsible thing.

Linda Grantham


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