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Public unions give their endorsements, but won’t call Liz Snyder a “doctor”

The public unions have published their list of endorsement. Unsurprisingly, they are mostly Democrats or that new breed of Democrat that is registered as not aligned with a party. Rep. Louise Stutes of Kodiak also got an endorsement, even though she is a registered Republican.

But the Alaska Public Employees Association (AFL-CIO) disrespected one of their endorsees. While referring to candidate Jamin Burton as “Dr.” in respect of his PhD, the union ignored the PhD in soil science that gives candidate Liz Snyder the right to the “Dr.” honorific.

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That likely didn’t go unnoticed by Snyder, who several weeks began referring to herself as Dr. Liz Snyder on campaign literature, a change noted by critics who say she is trying to appear to be a medical doctor at a time when people are looking for leadership in health decisions. Like Burton, she is an educator in the University of Alaska system.

Snyder is running for House District 27 against incumbent Republican Rep. Lance Pruitt in what is considered to be a “must win” for both the Democratic Party and Republican Party.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.


  1. Of course the “public” unions give ‘their’ endorsement to the party/candidate that promises them the most of other people’s money. The ‘public’ unions are endorsing political candidates with money derived from every tax paying Alaskan, not just the left. Unions pit the employees (public employees), against the employer (public citizens). Unions inherently do that, pit employees against employers, in this case, both public. One side, employees (public), puts their hands as deep into the employers’ (public) pocket as it can be forced. Ultimate conflict of interest. The biggest problem with “public” unions. Private unions, good. Public unions, no good. About as plain as I can make it.

  2. Can anyone explain to me how it is ethical, or legal for tax payer funded employees to give OUR money to politicians, or take a position on ANY issue ? Public unions and tax dollars should NEVER be tied together.

  3. P.S.: None of these tax funded unions should exist, they do nothing but gouge us and promote mediocrity while protecting incompetence and waste.

  4. This is only one of the State unions and neither the largest or the most powerful one. They represent the State’s supervisors and confidential employees and also represent some University and polisub employees. During my time, ’87 – ’06 they were among the more reasonable and conservative of the State unions, and while they’d never actually endorse a Republican candidate for Governor, the majority of their members probably voted for the Republican.

    During my time, their head was actually a former State labor relations guy. He and I had a pretty good relationship and often had lunch together and worked things out over lunch rather than in front of an arbitrator or the labor board. After I retired I represented them in an interest arbitration with the Palin Administration because they were right and the Administration was wrong; I won.

    I moved from Juneau and pretty much stopped doing consultancy and advocacy in ’10. My contemporary as head of APEA retired somewhere in there and then passed a few years ago. From what I heard, the leadership was in disarray for awhile and AFT was pretty much running them for awhile. I know there was a dramatic staff turnover there.

    From my limited relationship with the State these days, it’s organizational culture has been eroded to “this is how we’ve always done it,” and I have no reason to think the unions are any better. I know that when I returned to the Executive Branch in ’99 the State still knew how to act like the State if they were allowed to; the unions didn’t know what to do if they didn’t have the Commissioner of Administration’s direct line.

    To the fundamental point here, lots of people with advanced degrees don’t hang those letters before or behind their names. My long-time colleague and director of personnel when I was director of labor relations had a Ph.D in Rhetoric and Argumentation and I don’t recall her ever putting a Dr. before or a Ph.D behind her name on anything. About half my staff in labor relations were lawyers and it was a hanging offense to put a J.D. or an Esq. behind their names.

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