Benefits & Services

Union Leadership





Dear ASEA Member,

Governor Dunleavy announced this week a proposal to divide the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services into two departments: a Department of Health, in charge of Medicaid, public health and public assistance; and a Department of Family and Community Services, in charge of children’s services, juvenile justice, Pioneer Homes and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute.

You can read more about his announcement in this ADN article.

For employees in DHSS this news might be unsettling. If the Governor’s words can be taken at face value, the proposal to divide the two departments would allow newly realigned divisions to provide programs and deliver services with focus and efficiency which the larger organization couldn’t achieve under the same title and management. And, as far as ASEA is concerned, each DHSS division is obligated to prioritize the health and welfare of Alaskans regardless of department-level change. Qualified and experienced frontline workers are immeasurably important to the DHSS mission. ASEA will enforce the terms of the labor contract and work with legislators to ensure the Administration’s efficiencies don’t come at the cost of existing programs, services, and jobs.

ASEA was notified hours before the formal announcement of the proposal and will devote time and resources to understand any risks to GGU employees. In his Wednesday announcement, the Governor explained he would implement the change, effective July 1, 2021, through an executive order. The executive order will be presented to lawmakers at the start of the 32nd Alaska Legislature on January 19, 2021. The Legislature will have 60 days to disapprove the executive order.

Actual costs to divide DHSS are unclear, and Commissioner Crum expects an analysis will be available about a month after the executive order is submitted to the Legislature. I expect legislators will be honest about what is best for the state if the cost to divide DHSS comes at the expense of programs and services to Alaskans. Virtual town hall meetings on the issue are anticipated. We will continue to provide our own updates as we get more information.

Please let us know if you have a particular concern about the DHSS proposal or you have any additional questions or concerns. The main email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. ASEA office phone numbers are 277-5200 (Anchorage), 463-4949 (Juneau), and 452-2300 (Fairbanks).

In solidarity,

Jake Metcalfe
Executive Director