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Shutdown averted for Alaska state employees

Photo credit: Getty Images
By AFSCME Staff ·

A shutdown of Alaska’s state government spurred by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s antics was averted at the end of June, to the relief of thousands of ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 members. It wasn’t the first time that ASEA members have seen their lives and livelihoods on the chopping block. But the threat of a shutdown came on the heels of a pandemic in which Alaska’s front-line heroes worked tirelessly to keep that state running during a once-in-a-century public health crisis.

“Last year,” wrote ASEA Executive Director Jake Metcalfe in a recent op-ed for the Anchorage Daily News, “we saw state virologists, public health nurses, emergency dispatchers, employees working in 24-hour facilities and other essential workers on the frontline against the novel coronavirus.

“Many employees reported receiving little support from the state in terms of personal protective equipment or safe working environments, let alone clear guidance and communications. Despite the challenges, state employees went above and beyond to move Alaska forward and help us through one of the state’s most difficult periods.”

It was “inexcusable,” wrote Metcalfe, that Alaska’s professionals had to endure the threat of possible furloughs given their sacrifices over the past 16 months. Though ASEA members had been ready to fight to avoid the shutdown, with rallies planned to ensure that their voices were heard, those rallies became unnecessary as Dunleavy signed the budget on July 1.

With contract negotiations coming up this fall, the show of ASEA solidarity marshalled in the face of the shutdown will surely be on display once again. ASEA has had to defy Dunleavy to protect the interests of Alaskans and the public service workers who keep the state running.

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