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EDITOR, Daily News:
Labor Day marks the end of a busy summer of fishing, finishing projects, hosting visitors, picking berries, getting ready for hunting season and settling into the school routine. All these Alaska activities keep us strong and enrich our lives plus for many of us, provide a livelihood.
Having a job with fair pay and benefits make it possible to continue to live in a beautiful place like Ketchikan and in turn, workers are able to contribute to sustaining the community. As a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, I am familiar with the history of our organization and marvel at how far things have come since it was founded in 1891. While that era ushered Americans into the Second Industrial Revolution, workers fought hard for training standards and electrical guidelines with one of the biggest drivers being worker safety.
In Alaska, we send workers out into some challenging weather conditions day and night because projects don’t stop because of the change in seasons and emergencies rarely happen on clear, sunny days. We are fortunate in our community that the City of Ketchikan supports the organization that protects workers and for this, we take this Labor Day holiday to say thank you.
Ketchikan provides surroundings and a bounty unmatched by many other places, as well as a wonderful community for living and raising a family. We all know the challenges of living in Alaska too, like the weather transportation and utility costs and the high prices of goods.
Communities thrive where good jobs with fair pay exist so people can afford to invest, put down roots and stay. It’s this cyclical investment of work, money and energy that changes places for the better over the long haul and we have seen the success it has brought to Southeast Alaska. It is also the opportunity Alaska has provided through projects such as ports, commercial real estate, medical facilities, utility infrastructure, public buildings, roads, bridges, airports, pipelines and more.
As city lawmakers look ahead to negotiating a new contract with IBEW workers, we encourage a positive dialogue where opportunities for working families here in Ketchikan takes priority. From apprentices, to new hires to long-time managers, workers at every level deserve to have compensation and good working conditions. Many of these people are younger, skilled workers near the beginning of their careers who will be earning money, supporting local businesses, serving as volunteers and, hopefully, retiring in a place they love.
Up here in Alaska we need each other’s help once in a while — on the boat or in the mountains or wherever we may go. Sometimes, we need that same support to show up in a fair contract that helps keep skilled workers right here where we need them. This Labor Day we ask the City and the community to stand with workers and their families. It’s the Alaska thing to do.
IBEW Local 1547