Sealaska cuts 12 staffers

Posted: Thursday, May 03, 2001

Sealaska Corp. laid off 12 people this week in an effort to reduce staff.

The move comes as the Juneau-based regional Native corporation is trying to recover from a $122 million loss last year. The corporation is moving from investing in companies to passive investments.

I think all the people who are employees at Sealaska were expecting the other shoe to drop, said Sealaska board Chairman Al Kookesh.

In a Saturday meeting the board approved reductions in the 100-person staff. But the board asked CEO Chris McNeil Jr. not to say who would be laid off until it was done, Kookesh said.

The cutbacks included staff at the Juneau headquarters, SeaCal limestone mine, Sealaska Timber Corp. and the Seattle office, Kookesh said. McNeil informed employees in Juneau on Wednesday, then went to the Seattle office to tell employees there today.

Sealaskas reduction in force was necessitated by Sealaskas change in operating and strategic direction, McNeil said today from Seattle. This change is not a reflection of the skills or contributions of the individuals involved. In the context of corporate cutbacks which are increasingly common today, Sealaska is doing the best job that it can to deal fairly with its affected employees.

McNeil would not release the names of the 12 people who were let go.

Sealaska is also cutting back expenditures on travel, attorneys fees and other expenses by about 10 percent, Kookesh said. Its not the only belt-tightening.

The corporation is also still trying to sell off the plastics manufacturing operation and limestone mine responsible for some of the corporations loss. After an operating loss of $22 million last year, Tri-Quest Precision Plastics is showing improvement, making it more attractive to potential bidders, Kookesh said.

Sealaska was created as one of 13 regional Native corporations after the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was signed in 1971. The corporation has about 16,000 shareholders.

Kristan Hutchison and Bill McAllister contributed to this article.

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