Alaska State & Federal workers share concerns over impact of COVID-19
The state of Alaska has over 35,000 state and federal workers, and the fight against the coronavirus in Alaska has many of these workers on the frontlines.
In Sitka, Kelly Ferguson has been a nurse for over 20 years at the Sitka Pioneer Home along with serving as a shop steward for Sitka state employees association.
“Have any of my coworkers at the Pioneer Home lost their jobs? No. But there is always a financial impact when COVID-19 is going on, ” shared Feguson. ”As it impacts the staff psychology we all have a heart, and we want all family members to come in and love their family members.”
The cost of living matched with employment opportunities in a small southeast town make for a stressful situation during the coronavirus.
”One or more of my coworkers spouses could be laid off, or unable to work from home. So instead of having two incomes, you are down to one, ” said Ferguson.
The Alaska State Employment Association president Jake Metcalfe says there have been 12 layoffs to their members since the end of May into early June.
”I see a lot of insecurity, and concern about continued employment, ” said Metcalfe.
A quarter of the employee’s apart of the ASEA union are considered essential employees, and Metcalfe feels federal funding will be important to the future of their job.
”Unless there is some sort of financial help from the federal government our concern is going into this next budget year and following years, ” shared Metcalfe.
The American Federation of Government Employees Association says it wants the HEREOS act passed which would help prioritize frontline workers. The local AFGE chapter in Alaska represents VA nurses, Firefighters, TSA employees, and wants to see more personal protective equipment for its members.