The employees of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council have created a union to improve working conditions at the organization. I worked for SEACC for 11-plus years and understand the need for union representation to protect the health of the employees. I ask that everyone in Southeast Alaska support this effort. A strong SEACC benefits everyone.
The primary reason an employee joins a union is because the employer has failed to address bad working conditions and does not respond to employee concerns. For the first six years at SEACC, I enjoyed my work and by all measures was successful.
That changed when a new executive director took over. I lost all voice in how I was to do my job, was belittled for being a “Boomer,” successes went unacknowledged, ideas and suggestions based on decades of experience were ignored and any dissenting opinions were dealt with harshly, including threats to my continued employment.
The new executive director seemed to gain a greater degree of authority in dealing with employees. Communication between employees and the board was forbidden outside the executive director’s presence. Communications in the executive director’s presence had to be pre-approved. When one person has total, unchecked control over another group of people, only bad things happen. I had no where to turn, so I resigned from a job I still love.
Numerous studies have found that workers in high-stress jobs with low employee control (as measured by latitude over decisions) reported significantly more exhaustion after work, trouble sleeping, depression, nervousness, and anxiety. When workers facing high demands had more control over their job performance, their stress was lower. This may account for the staff turn-over since the new executive director was hired.
In my 41 years in the workforce, I have worked under a wide range of supervisors. I respect their authority and decision-making. In this case, that respect was not reciprocated. I am not a disgruntled ex-employee. I am speaking out because a strong functional SEACC is a necessary part of Southeast Alaska. I want to see the organization successful and doing what it does best, protection of the special places that benefit all who live in southeast Alaska and enjoy its unique lifestyle.
• Guy Archibald worked for Southeast Alaska Conservation Council for over a decade. He resides in Juneau.