Malone to Alyeska employees: Get on board or quit
September 22, 1999
Tony Bickert, Valdez Vanguard

'There is a level of discrimination going on across this company, documented, that I never would have thought existed.' - Bob Malone

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. President Bob Malone has issued an ultimatum to the 2,100 people who run the trans-Alaska oil pipeline system: Maintain an open work environment or quit.
Malone has been giving speeches, containing the ultimatum, to all employees and contractors in reaction to a consultant firm's review of Alyeska's work environment, quality program and operational integrity. Malone is scheduled to speak to some-650 employees and contractors in Valdez Thursday.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council are applauding the tough talk by Malone, who has also begun to shuffle upper management systems in reaction to the review.

On Tuesday Malone was in Washington, D.C., to discuss the review with members of Congress and the Department of the Interior said Alyeska spokeswoman Tracy Green.

The 60-day review, released today, was conducted by Little Harbor Consultants, hired by Malone in response to annonymous allegations made in July to Congress and the DOI by six former employees through whistleblower advocate Chuck Hamel. The "Group of Six" claim harassment, intimidation and retaliation by low- and high-level management against employees who raise environmental and safety concerns continues to exist system-wide, which constitutes an imminent threat to pipeline system integrity.

Similar claims were made by whistleblowers to Congress via Hamel in 1993, resulting in several-hundred million dollars in corrective action by Alyeska, which also committed to improve its admittedly bad corporate culture.

Little Harbor, which interviewed several dozen pipeline workers, concluded that no imminent threat to the system exists, and that Alyeska has partially kept its 1993 promise to Congress to improve quality, integrity and the work environment.

However, the executive summary of the review goes on to state: "Even with all these efforts, there continue to be examples of unacceptable behaviors that do not conform to the expectations for an open work environment." Malone said he's angry that some company employees and contractors refuse to change.

"You look (at the review) and you will find we have intimidated, harassed and discriminated against people," he said in a speech to Fairbanks area employees Thursday. "And not just in '93, but in '94, '95, '96, '97 and '98." He expressed strong concern about his discovery that discrimination exists in the company.

"There is a level of discrimination going on across this company, documented, that I never would have thought existed," Malone said, "...against people of color, people of diverse background, women and Alaska Native people. And these people are beginning to raise their hands and say, 'Help.' "

Malone reminded the workers that he ordered an open work environment when he became president in 1996. "When a decision is made it is not your prerogative to say I may or may not do this," he said. "But that's what's happening. We have people in this company - contractors and employees - who are thumbing their noses at us. And to those who thumb their noses I want this heard: I don't want you in this company."

Among changes planned at Alyeska, some of which are underway, include: o Combine Quality Assurances and Inspection Services teams in Fairbanks and Valdez under one manager, who reports directly to Malone. o Offer additional training to supervisors and managers to help create an open work environment for their employees. o Take steps to implement a more effective action tracking system to provide a current status of commitments.

Dan Lawn of the DEC and the RCAC's Stan Stephens, both Valdez residents, long-time Alyeska watchdogs and historically among the most vocal critics of the company, said Tuesday they are impressed with Malone's new plans for change.

"Bob Malone is the best hope Alyeska has ever had to change the mind set and lead the company forward in a way that improves the corporate culture," said Lawn in a written statement. (It appears in full on page 4.) "I feel that we finally have somebody who is trying to do the right thing," Stephens said. "He has taken an extremely strong stance. If he made any mistake he waited too long. Bob is too nice of a guy and he's been let down by some people who work for him. He kept waiting for the change. But I think now what's happening is he's saying change or get out." Hamel, who resides in Alexandria, Va., said Tuesday he had not yet read the Little Harbor review. He said he planned to meet with Malone today.

Malone 'walks the talk' Bob Malone is the best hope Alyeska has ever had to change the mindset and lead the company forward in a way that improves the corporate culture, opens the work environment, and fixes the many operational and maintenance problems which sometimes is referred to as the "Alyeska Talk." Mr. Malone has openly admitted Alyeska hs failed to fully implement the promises of the past and commitments made to Congress in 1993. He has demonstrated his commitment to change by hiring Little Harbor Consultants (LHC) to investigate the current allegations, help identify the remaining work to be done and develop the corrective actions necessary to accomplish the change.

The LHC investigation, which is very thorough, is being applauded by many Alyeska employees who have been trying to follow the "Alyeska Talk" requirements but have been prevented from succeeding by the remaining roadblocks that have been constructed by some Alyeska employees who are not yet following Malone's lead.

Mr. Malone has demonstrated his and Alyeska's openness by publicizing the Hamel Allegations, Alyeska's initial response, and the LHC in-depth investigation follow-up, which is embodied in "A Report on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System: Work Environment, Quailty Program and Operational Integrity," dated Sept. 20, 1999. This report is the most critical internal review of Alyeska's current status that I have ever seen. Mr. Malone must be commended.

The leadership that is being demonstrated is setting an example for all Alyeska and contractor employees to follow. The management changes that are currently underway as well as Mr. Malone's demand that the Alyeska employees and contractors follow the Alyeska Code of Conduct, the Alyeska Quality Plan, and eliminate all Harassment, Intimidation, Retaliation and Discrimination (HIRD) is "Walking the Talk" and is being applauded by the Alyeska employees that are trying to do likewise.
Malone has effectively re-communicated his expectations that all Alyeska and contractor employees adopt this attitude and way of doing business or they will be required to leave Alyeska. This path will also help ensure compliance with state law and regulations. I for one stand ready to help Mr. Malone succeed. Dan Lawn is an environmental engineer for the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation who is stationed at the Valdez Marine Terminal.

Related Links
  • Alyeska-- Alyeska Pipeline Company
  • DEC-- The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Trans-Alaskan-- The Trans-Alaskan Pipeline Website
  • Alaska Forum-- The Alaska Forum for Environmental Responsibilty


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