The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Union challenges job cuts to Gov. Walker's next fiscal budget

Labor representatives protest proposed outsourcing of some DOT jobs


(AP) A union representing nearly 8,000 state employees has filed a complaint against Gov. Bill Walker and his administration for an alleged violation of contract.

The Alaska State Employees Association filed the class-action grievance last week in response to Walker's recently announced budget plan for next fiscal year. The union takes issue with a part of the plan that calls for downsizing Department of Transportation staff and privatizing the majority of the agency's design team.

The grievance says plans to privatize union member positions must first have a feasibility study or an opportunity for the union to submit alternate proposals.

"It's only fair to our members and it's part of the contract that there be some justification if they're going to privatize jobs," said ASEA Executive Director Jim Duncan.

Walker's budget overview for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017, includes 76 position reductions from outsourcing design and up to 300 more in the future. The overview states that outsourcing design will bolster "the private sector economy while maximizing the number of projects completed with the available transportation funding."

ASEA is calling on Walker and his administration to immediately stop contracting out union members' work. The union is also requesting a third party conduct a feasibility study that includes "all costs associated with contracting out the work in question including, but not limited to, wages, benefits, administrative costs, agency overhead, program supervision, and audits."

As the state struggles with a multibillion budget deficit amid chronically low oil prices, Walker said his goal is to cut the size of government and reduce spending.

"When the capital budget was more than $2 billion, it made sense to have a large in-house design staff - but not so with a $115 million capital budget," he said in response to the ASEA's grievance.

The Department of Administration has 20 days to respond to the grievance.


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