How can this be?


Posted: Friday, December 01, 2000

Gov. Tony Knowles and his extensive crew of public relations specialists should explain how it can be possible that a woman employee at a state department supposed to be dedicated to Health & Social Services can publicly proclaim in a letter to the editor that she has a legally binding No Contact Order against a representative of management in her workplace? Additionally, according to the letter, this manager continues to pursue her and create a hostile workplace for other women. Your readers also need to know why this administration is not taking responsibility for such behavior if it is occurring.

The recent letter from 18-year-state employee Lee Gaffey reveals her employment environment as something like what many of the now single women with children who seek services from H&SS are facing: Men, in positions of power with documented character flaws, perpetuating hostility with threatening behavior toward women and their children. How can it be possible that this same dynamic is prevalent within the very fabric of the department supposed to address this problem for citizens seeking relief?

Further, what kind of union representing such employees could allow this to happen? In the alternative, as a member of the impotent union of Alaska State Employees representing the General Government Unit, Ms. Gaffey and her co-workers at H&SS should be getting aggressive advocacy and representation from the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity,

Human Rights Commission, and a private attorney of their choice. Remedies might also include legal action against the union for neglecting its own duty of fair representation.

As unbelievable as this behavior appears to be, as expressed by Ms. Gaffey in this public forum, I bet there is one place it does not occur at H&SS: That department's commissioner is a woman.

Donn Liston


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