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TAPS employees say workplace improved, but more action needed

Posted: Wednesday, December 27, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Workers feel better about their job environment and the effectiveness of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.'s employee concern programs, but more action is needed, a federal agency says.

Those were the results of a survey done this summer assessing employees involved in operating the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

Employees have a more favorable view of their work environment and Alyeska programs than they did in a 1998 survey, the Bureau of Land Management's Joint Pipeline Office said.

Results were mixed, however, for Alyeska managers, contractor managers and contractor workers, the agency said.

Written remarks indicate possible harassment and intimidation by some Alyeska executives, the Joint Pipeline Office said.

The survey report suggests Alyeska investigate and take action to eliminate any unacceptable behavior. Alyeska also should look at how contractors are treated, and determine if there's a double standard when compared with Alyeska employees, the agency said.

Alyeska also should implement a comprehensive corrective action program, the Joint Pipeline Office said.

Alyeska spokesman Mike Heatwole said the company is studying the results of the survey and will follow-through with its own survey, the third in recent years, in January. He said Alyeska President David Wright, who took over last summer, restructured corporate management so that the head of the employee concerns program and the vice president for human resources reports directly to him, Heatwole said.

''He takes it very seriously,'' he said. ''The bottom line I think ... if an employee believes the integrity of the system is at risk they will raise those concerns.''

BLM spokesman Jerry Brossia said there was evidence the ability of pipeline workers to speak out without fear of reprisal has improved since 1993.

''(But) ... this survey points out the need for continued attention to this area,'' Brossia said in a prepared statement. ''I believe many of the problems in this whole arena can be traced to the need for an effective corrective action program on TAPS.''

BLM is the lead federal agency in the Joint Pipeline Office, a consortium of seven state and five federal agencies that monitor the pipeline.

Alyeska is owned by six major oil companies, including BP, Phillips and Exxon, and runs the 800-mile oil pipeline and the Valdez tanker terminal for them.

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