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ASEA Members Block Privatization of Alaska Psychiatric Institute

Photo Credit: ASEA/AFSCME Local 52
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ASEA members in Anchorage, Alaska, have successfully blocked an abrupt attempt to privatize the only state run hospital, Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API), without a competitive bidding process. More than 200 Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA) members work at API as protective service workers, nurses and clinicians.

Asserting that the controversial no-bid contract practice violates state law and a collective bargaining agreement between the parties, ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 filed a lawsuit against Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration to halt the attempt to fully outsource hospital operations to a Tennessee-based company, Wellpath Recovery Solutions.

Wellpath will no longer receive a no-bid assessment to fully take over API on July 1, but will continue limited management of the facility until Dec. 31.

“Through a show of solidarity, we were able to successfully prevent the outsourcing of API to save our members’ jobs,” said Jake Metcalfe, ASEA Executive Director. “However, this victory goes beyond protecting our jobs. We were able to defend the constitutional mandate that Alaska provides for the mental health of its residents.” 

Metcalfe added: “All too often, private companies try to deliver cheaper service at the expense of quality care. By protecting the services Alaskan public employees provide, we win better care that our most vulnerable citizens rely on.”