Fund the contracts

Posted: Wednesday, April 26, 2000

I find the comments from some legislators concerning pay raises for state employees, very childish. Consider the events of the past year.

Last year, the Legislature passed a resolution saying there would not be wage or benefit increases for state employees. Then they said they don't want to be involved in negotiating labor contracts. Now they say they want the contracts renegotiated with less money and benefits. I ask you, what can you believe?

The Legislature is responsible for state government. The legislators decide what programs and services to provide for the public. The legislators either fund or don't fund the programs they put into place. They are aware of the costs since they put these budgets together every year. They have been aware of the costs since they put these budgets together every year. They have been aware of the negotiations for over a year as documented by their resolution last year. Now all of a sudden they are asking where the funding is to come from. They put together a budget that did not include pay raises. Whose fault is that?

On the front page of the Feb. 20th issue of the Juneau Empire, the question was asked, ``Does it pay to be a state employee these days?'' The article covered the wage and benefit study the Alaska Department of Administration had recently released. As the article pointed out, ``Inflation-adjusted earnings for state workers dropped by 13.6 percent between 1995 and 1998.''

In addition, in 1999, the 7,000 general government unit employees worked under an extension of the contract without any pay raise. How many of you have taken a loss in pay over the last four years? We are not willing to take anymore pay losses. I am willing to strike against the Legislature rather than die a slow cancerous financial death. Considering the results of the strike vote my union conducted, thousands of my fellow workers feel the same way.

To the legislators who are playing games with the funding of state employee contracts, I say grow up and fund them. Stop acting like children and do the job you were elected to do. If you don't want to do your job, then don't run for re-election this year.

Gary MillerJuneau

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