When I moved to Alaska and joined Teamsters Local 959 it was an exciting time, full of endless opportunities and a thriving economy. That was 38 years ago. Since then, there have been good times and bad, the mid 1980's were tough on most Alaskans; but overall Alaska has been a great place to live, work and raise a family.
I want my children to have the same exciting opportunities that I enjoyed when I moved here, good paying long term jobs with benefits that allow them to enjoy the wonderful state we live in.
This may not happen if Alaskans fail to fully understand the implications of voting to repeal the oil tax reform that became law last spring. The domestic oil and gas boom in the Lower 48 has greatly increased competition with Alaskan oil. While oil production across the nation has skyrocketed Alaska's production has continued to decline dropping from 2nd to 4th in the nation.
Alaska's production tax methodology has changed multiple times since early 2005 making long term planning and financial investments by the oil industry here in our state nearly impossible.
According to a 2011 University of Alaska report, the economy of our state would be about half what it is today without oil. Nearly a third of our state's jobs are directly or indirectly supported by oil.
As a union labor leader, my obligation and responsibility is looking out for my members and their families well into the future. They, too, need good paying long-term jobs with benefits that allow them to work, live, and retire with dignity and respect here in Alaska.
With the recent passage of oil tax reform (More Alaska Production Act) the excitement and opportunities in the oil and gas industry here in Alaska have been rekindled.
The good news is increased activity is starting in earnest on the North Slope. More drill rigs. More wells, and more new civil and pipeline construction and, most important to me, nearly double the number of Teamster union members and apprentices heading to the North Slope to work compared to the last couple of years.
We need a healthy economy and robust oil and gas industry working with the state as a partner to ensure a bright future for Alaska and Alaska's working families.
That's why on Aug. 19 I'm encouraging my members and all Alaskans to "Vote No on One."
You can learn more by visiting www.foraksfuture.com
Rick Boyles serves as the principal officer of the Teamsters Local 959 based in Anchorage. An Alaska resident since 1975, he has been a union worker in Alaska's oil and gas industry on the North Slope and with Alyeska Pipeline.