Labor Commissioner wants pro-union legislation

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AFL-CIO photo: Heidi Dryas and Vince Beltrami

DID HER ESSAY PROMPT THIS WEEK’S ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER?

Heidi Drygas used her state position as the head of Labor and Workforce Development to rail against the recent Janus v AFSCME decision, which is a Supreme Court case that decided public employees cannot be forced or coerced to pay union dues.

Drygas wants pro-union legislation to fight back.

“Given the clear public policy benefits of unions, our elected leaders should enact legislation to support them and institute other policies that raise wages and improve economic security. We face a clear choice in Alaska: We can neglect workers’ rights and let our middle class suffer a slow death like we’ve seen in the Lower 48, or we can restore it by supporting unions and enacting policies that support working families. I know what side of history I want to be on,” she wrote.

None of what she has written in her essay applies to the very comfortable and secure lives that most public employees in Alaska lead, with a 37.5 hour work week and the best health care benefits on the planet.

Drygas is key to keeping State labor costs in check, but she’s advocating for raising the wages of public employees and making it harder to fire them for cause. She argues, we’ll “suffer a slow death” in Alaska.

Her strange essay is here.

Gov. Bill Walker may share Drygas’ opinions about empowering public employee unions, but the day after Drygas’ essay, he issued Administrative Order #296.

In it, he said that while unions have an important role, Alaskans have their right to privacy. In light of Janus vs. AFSCME, concerns have arisen that union organizers may seek to obtain State employees’ personal information and infringe on employees’ privacy, or that State entities may discourage or encourage union membership.

He reiterated that the State must remain neutral with respect to membership in an employee organization, and shall not  disclose, unless required by law, addresses, phone numbers, or other contact information for employees of the State of Alaska.

Further, he wrote, “No State entity shall (a) discourage or encourage an employee in joining, forming, or assisting an employee organization; (b) discourage or encourage an employee to resign or relinquish membership in an exclusive bargaining representative; or (c) discourage or encourage an employee to revoke authorization of the deduction of fees to an exclusive bargaining representative.”

Read Administrative Order #296 here.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Dirty little secret: the unions already have access to whatever personal information the State has. Since the State went to paying by direct deposit it doesn’t have really accurate information about home addresses or mailing addresses, but it often has phone numbers and email addresses. Basically, if the State has information about an employee, the union has access to that information if the employee is a represented employee.

    The Hermaphrodite Administration or any Democrat Administration will cooperate with the Janus decision when that cooperation is pried from their cold, dead fingers.

  2. Clearly Drygas is owned by the union mafia. Time for this biased and corrupted state employee to go. That will surely happen when Dunleavey takes over.

  3. Heidi Drygas is a smart, pro-active, informed, educated, caring, ethical, and honorable commissioner that has a vision and heart for ALL WORKERS in Alaska ….not just those working for the State. Anybody that reports differently has an agenda and hasn’t done their homework.

    I’m surprised at you Suzanne. Comfortable and secure? Why don’t you interview the State workers that qualify for public benefits because their wages are so low. Why don’t you interview the employees that risk harm in the course of protecting public safety or in enforcing or administering public benefits. Why don’t you talk to the employees that are passionate about serving the public and work off the clock for less wages every year. Especially those positions that earn far less than similar positions in the private sector. Further, why don’t you actually research why stare workers have a 37.5 hour workweek …. it’s not a “benefit.” You want an example of what happens to non-union state workers? Look at the mess our court system is in. Low pay, high turnover, furlough days etc…. go talk to those workers.

    Why don’t you interview state workers or interview Commissioner Drygas and then report on the WHOLE picture.

  4. “ our elected leaders should enact legislation to support them and institute other policies that raise wages and improve economic security. We face a clear choice in Alaska: We can neglect workers’ rights and let our middle class suffer a slow death like we’ve seen in the Lower 48, or we can restore it by supporting unions and enacting policies that support working families.“

    I’ll always stand side by side with my union brothers and sisters. A strong middle class is a good thing. People have this twisted idea to help funnel tax breaks and shelters to the 1% because they have this idea that they’re not poor but simple temporarily misplaced millionaires and when their lottery ticket hits they don’t want to pay too much in taxes. While failing to notice their own pay and benefits slashed.

  5. Commissioner Drygas and other DOLWD employees like Donna Nass (also an ASEA Union steward) should keep in mind their duty to represent ALL Alaska employees. They seem to have forgotten that without strong employers, whether union or not, Alaskan workers will not prosper. The same thing happened under Governor Knowles when Alaska had year after year of negative job growth and the highest unemployment rate in the nation.
    Unions can serve an important purpose to help provide workers with a collective voice to negotiate with signatory employers, but many public sector unions have become overtly political on issues that have nothing to do member wages, benefits or working conditions to the point that many of their members believe that mandated fees violate their first amendment rights and the US Supreme Court agreed.
    This egregious public display of bias toward unions from the head of a state agency should not be tolerated by Alaskans.

  6. I want a nice street to drive on, the fire department to come put out my house fire should there be one, and my water and sewer connected to my home for obvious conveniences. I’m hoping soon the Supreme Court Jesters will allow me to have all these things too, and not have to pay for them.

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