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Business/Economy

Oklahoma workers appeal to Alaska Native corporation shareholders in labor dispute

  • Author: Alaska Dispatch News
  • Updated: October 6, 2016
  • Published October 5, 2016

Angry civilian workers at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City are in the third month of a strike to protest what they say are illegal efforts by a subsidiary of Afognak Native Corp. to do away with their pensions and move them to a less-expensive investment-based retirement plan.

The subsidiary, Alutiiq Commercial Enterprises, took over the $39 million one-year civil engineering contract this summer and aroused the ire of more than 240 base maintenance workers, who are wondering why the company is "hell-bent on stripping their pension," according to a news release.

They also said Alutiiq wants to shift to a health care plan that is inferior to the one they had under the previous base contractor, Chugach Alaska Corp.

The workers, represented by Local Lodge 850 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, have also set up a Facebook page called "Alutiiq Injustice." A video posted on the page late last month appealed directly to Afognak shareholders, in which a man who identifies himself as Bob Wood condemns Afognak and Alutiiq's actions.

"Do you know what your company's doing in your name?" he says.

In an emailed statement on Wednesday, Alutiiq defended its actions.

"This 401(k) plan is the standard type of retirement savings plan offered by a majority of employers to millions of American workers and is the same one senior management participates in," wrote spokesperson Alisha Drabek.

The National Labor Relations Board and federal Department of Labor are investigating the union's complaints.

Correction: This story originally misidentified Alutiiq spokeswoman Alisha Drabek as Alisha Dabrek.

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