Where is 'effective representation?'

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2007

I am thoroughly disgusted.

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General Government Unit members - well, 49 percent of them - recently voted to ratify a new contract that includes a 4 percent pay increase in year one and 3 percent in years two and three for a grand total of 10 percent through 2010.

Never mind the fact that pay has trailed inflation by a large margin over the past 20 years; if you simply look at the past three years, 2004 through 2007, inflation has gone up roughly 10 percent. During the same period, GGU members received a 3.5 percent increase on already trailing wages. GGU members have now guaranteed that by 2010, assuming another 10 percent inflation between now and then, that they'll have received 13.5 percent in wage increases versus 20 percent inflation - better than before, but still not enough to simply keep up, which is all anyone asks.

This is where my disgust comes in.

There is an association, with some 6,800 dues paying members, that is charged with fighting for Alaska GGU employees. This association, the Alaska State Employees Association, receives about $20 from each member for each paycheck that is issued - $20 from 6,800 members is $136,000 every single paycheck, steady as a Juneau drizzle. That adds up to $3.26 million per year that is, according to the association's constitution, meant to provide forceful and effective representation of the interests of members in all matters relating to the negotiation of wages; foster a recognition among members of the great power which they, as union members, have to effect change in the workplace and society; protect and strengthen collective bargaining for public employees in Alaska; and engage in legal, research, educational, political and other appropriate activities to achieve the aforementioned goals.

Can any GGU member honestly state that they feel the association fulfills the goals set forth in its own constitution?

Where is the "forceful and effective representation" at the bargaining table? Where is the education of the membership regarding how badly wages trail inflation? Where is the empowerment of members, letting them know that if they vote to strike, the association is there?

It's time for a change in leadership and attitude at the association. In the meantime, be aware of your option to pay only an agency fee rather than your full union dues or contact your legislative representative about passing a Right to Work law, which would give you the ability to choose not to financially support the ASEA.

Jason Soza


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