Letters to the Editor

Posted: Thursday, August 02, 2001

Austin employees will have opportunity to vote union

Austin employees are going to have an opportunity to vote union. There is no cost to employees to vote union (dues are paid after a contract is ratified by employees, with a raise that, hopefully, is more than the dues) and gives the unions a chance to get a contract with benefits like medical coverage, pension (we do get older) and training. Things all workers deserve.

We see out-of-state workers arriving to work at the gas-to-liquids plant and wonder about local hire.

Unions have registered apprenticeship programs with over 600 participants learning the skills needed for projects like this.

Voting union gives an employee the opportunity to join the union after contract ratification and more opportunity for future employment with more contractors.

Union contractors have work up and down the pipeline, Valdez, North Slope and just recently did a pipeline job on the Kenai Peninsula and the excavation of the gas-to-liquids plant in Nikiski. It's OK to be union!

Austin has spent a great deal of money on out-of-state lawyers fighting this; that money could have gone to better wages for local employees.

Vote union, yes.

Blake Johnson

Kenai Peninsula Central Labor Council traditional jail cell not only place

for offenders to serve sentences

I attended the judge's forum on July 23. I was surprised by the large turnout, and I am pleased to know other people have an interest in law and order.

We need to get more involved in the problems, help our judges and let our legislators know of our concern.

I think we may be sending the wrong message when we say there is no room for holding people in jail for nonviolent crimes.

We need to make room even if it is a tent in a fenced-in area. This could work very well for these people. It would need no guards for if they leave early it would be the same as an escape. They could eat k-rations, sleep on canvas cots, and keep the area clean.

I did this in the army for months at a time and I was not a prisoner.

There is a jail like this in Arizona but it's a lot more like prison. They make them wear pink jumpsuits and keep busy, and there are no air conditioners or TVs.

Let's help our judges and provide a place for them to lock up violators.

We do not need to build more prisons. There are a lot of uninhabited islands, and some of the more serious offenders could homestead them. I understand some of the islands even have cows.

With some nails, plywood and a few tools, we could relieve some of the overcrowded jails. Some prisoners could also be put to work building railroads -- for example, from Fairbanks to Nome to Bethel and back to Anchorage.

Let's have more meetings and some workshops. We can do it.

Gene Wheeler

Kenai

Sockeye closures ignore intent of increased escapement to Kenai

Well it looks like the Alaska Department of Fish and Game did it again.

ADF&G has now decided to shut down everyone with regard to the sockeye salmon fishery. As of midnight Wednesday, all sockeye fishing on the Kenai ended below the Russian River.

Our beloved Cook Inlet gillnet fishery over harvested our sockeyes by killing 1.8 million of them, and now the public is being told that it cannot catch some fish for the dinner table because of this sockeye over harvest.

ADF&G has counted 550,000 sockeyes up the Kenai River, of which 100,000 were recorded as caught by the public. ADF&G is now basically closing down all sockeye fishing because it is only showing a 450,000 Kenai River sockeye escapement.

To date we are showing roughly a 2 to 3 million Cook Inlet sockeye return. ADF&G has managed this sockeye run precisely as it did last season's. Knowing that by law the gillnets may not fish past the Aug. 9 cutoff, it has maximized the use of the gillnet fishery early in the run in order to make up for the inability to fish gillnets past the Aug. 9 cutoff.

ADF&G is effectively preventing the will of the Alaska Board of Fish as it has now increased gillnet efforts early in the sockeye run in order to prevent the additional sockeye escapement which would have resulted after the Aug. 9 closure.

The board specifically moved the gillnet closure from Aug. 14 to Aug. 9 in an attempt to allow more sockeye escapement. ADF&G is very obviously attempting to do an end-run around the board's will by greatly increasing gillnet effort early in the run to make up for this regulation change. Because of this ADF&G maneuver, the end escapement results place us right back to the same "minimum escapement goals" which ADF&G has used in the past.

Our Board of Fish decided in favor of an increased Kenai River sockeye escapement but rather than complying with that directive, ADF&G has decided to not implement it by increasing gillnet efforts early in the sockeye run. This ADF&G gillnet maneuver has forced

early sockeye closures for the public for the pass two seasons.

ADF&G has basically decided that if it must close the gillnet fishery early, we must also close the public fishery early. This was clearly not Board of Fish intent. There was a basic board reallocation directive of sockeyes from gillnet fisheries to the public fisheries. The ADF&G is currently functioning to disable this board directive. It appears that it may be necessary for the Alaska Board of Fish to again address its intent with the Aug. 9 gillnet closure.

It is obvious that the ADF&G will continue to manage for minimum sockeye escapements as long as the board will allow it. It is painfully obvious that the board will be required to greatly increase minimum sockeye escapement goals in order to prevent this ADF&G maneuver. Only when faced with failing to meet their minimum escapement goals will ADF&G be forced to end the gillnet maneuvering and allow the additional escapement.

Don Johnson

Soldotna



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