Fair pay only part of the problem

Posted: Monday, October 15, 2007

I am a state employee and have written in regards to issues involving our pay. While pay is probably the most crucial part of the loggerheads we are at, it is only the tip of the iceberg.

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Take for example, the health programs offered to current General Government Unit members. The costs have risen and there appears to be no end to the amount of money that will continue to cost. Certainly, it is nice to have insurance available, but not if it continues to erode the take-home cash in pocket to pay for all of life's little costs: food, clothing, shelter. To be fair to the state as an employer, the Alaska State Employees Association opted several years ago to create the Health Trust Benefit plan, and I, like a lot of employees, voted for it, because we were promised lower basic care costs, expanded coverage on medicines and hospitalizations at a significant savings over what the state plan offered at that time.

Of course, the state also makes it slightly more difficult to move within the system with a rather unique indemnification plan. For example, say you wish to take training (not mandatory) to enhance your job skills. The training agreements normally stipulate that if you do not commit "X" (X being a certain amount of time in the position that you are in, normally) after the training, you will be required to pay all or a portion of the trip back. That is some incentive for looking for a higher-paying state position, especially outside your own state department or division. So, to avoid being trapped, a worker has to try and gain experience or training some other way, or remain in the same lower position.

So please bear with your public servants as we attempt to negotiate new contracts.

Ron Schramm


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