Army to contract for some work at Alaska bases

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Army plans to contract out some of the work done by the public works departments at Fort Richardson and Fort Wainwright to a private, Seattle-based company.

The move could affect up to 260 jobs held by maintenance workers, truck drivers, electricians, plumbers and groundskeepers on the posts.

U.S. Army Alaska spokesman Chuck Canterbury said if the decision makes it through an appeals process, Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure Inc. will take over operations for public works at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks and Fort Richardson in Anchorage by June 1, 2003.

But American Federation of Government Employees Local 1834 President Scott Hunt said the local union will appeal the decision.

Current government workers will get first chance at Shaw openings, but there's no guarantee they'll get the same pay or benefits they had while working for the federal government, said Steve Clapp, national representative for the union.

''The government has no profit motive in servicing itself,'' Clapp said. ''The wages of the employees are set off the local market economy surveyed.''

But in the private sector, the contractor has to make a profit, Clapp said.

Canterbury said Shaw submitted a bid that would cost 36 percent less than the in-house government bid. He didn't know why the bid was so much lower than the government's.

As part of the appeals process, the union has requested information that will show why the gap between the bids was so large, Hunt said.

''There's no way they could have underbid us that much without something going on,'' Hunt said. ''People are very concerned. The work force was shocked at the amount of money it was bid.''

Individuals and unions have 30 days from July 16 to appeal the decision, then it could take years before the appeal process is completed, Canterbury said.

Canterbury said the decision came after a four-year cost analysis of public works. The directorate has roughly 600 people, a handful of which are military, at the two posts, Canterbury said.

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