By Pete Ford

By Pete Ford

SU Twists & Turns, Staff Changes

SU continues its efforts to secure a reasonable contract in an unreasonable financial environment.  As you may be aware, SU entered into mediation with the state of Alaska on 22 & 23 June.  With the assistance of a federal mediator, we were able to forge a conceptual tentative agreement – one which required some additional clarification and wordsmithing.  The concept was also contingent upon concurrence by other unions – as you know, the state places huge value on “pattern bargaining”, or having different bargaining units share identical, or near-identical, contract terms; SU, through mediation, had succeeded in getting some desirable modification of some terms which are shared by other unions, so the state insisted that the other unions agree to those modified terms, as well.  Unhappily, one of the other unions rejected the proposed modification, resulting in the possible collapse of our conceptual, contingent agreement.

SU and the state will meet at the end of this month to determine whether we can re-work the concepts, or whether we will proceed to interest arbitration of all remaining contract issues.  If arbitration is necessary, it will probably be scheduled for some time in November.  

In the meantime, SU and the state have agreed that the 2013-2016 contract is extended and is in full force and effect until either a negotiated agreement is ratified or arbitration defines a new agreement.  So there will be no disruption of services or work opportunity and we will continue to find our way to a successor agreement.

Meanwhile (back at the ranch?), APEA continues to re-build staff and make those changes necessary to better engage members and encourage the involvement of “new generation” members.  Jason Roach has joined the Fairbanks Office as the new Field Representative.  Jason hails from Washington State, where he has extensive experience as a union activist, Local Union officer and union staffer.  

In Anchorage, Anne Knight has joined the APEA staff.  Anne is a longtime HR professional with the state of Alaska, is very familiar with the state’s policies, procedures and contracts, and has demonstrated herself to be an immediate and effective addition to staff, especially to our ability to assist state members.  

We have searched high and low for a replacement for Assistant Business Manager Dennis Geary, who will retire on 1 September, and have finally accepted that we cannot replace him with anyone who replicates his knowledge and experience with both APEA and the state . . . but we think we have come pretty close.  SU member and activist Brian Penner joins our staff as the new Anchorage Regional Manager.  Brian has been an SU member for several years and previously worked for the state of Oregon, where he was an activist and steward with his SEIU Local.  Brian served on the 2013-2016 SU Negotiating Team, and has remained involved and engaged in SU and APEA issues.  

Brian is accepting a significant learning challenge, but I am confidant…especially relying on both staff and member support and assistance…that he will meet the challenge and help APEA move into a dynamic and positive future.