ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. has pledged to continue hiring Alaska Natives.
The company is federally obligated to do so under permits needed to operate the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
''The quality of people that come on is superb,'' David Wight said before a packed auditorium of several thousand people attending the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention in Anchorage.
Wight said the company will have a 20 percent Native employee rate by 2004. It now employs 170 Alaska Natives or 18.4 percent of its work force.
The figure slightly improved after company-wide layoffs this year, Wight said. Alyeska Native hire was roughly 5 percent about a decade ago.
Wight also promised to improve Native employment among Alyeska's contractor companies.
Sheri Buretta, chairwoman of Chugach Alaska Corp. board of directors and AFN's chair of Alyeska trans-Alaska pipeline permit renewal committee, said she was cautiously optimistic.
''Historically, promises have been made by previous administrations that aren't worth much when they've gone,'' she said.
The convention ended Saturday.
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