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Government Printing, Alaska Style

September 2004
After working in Alaska government print shops for 32 years, Harold Pence is about to retire.

By Kristen E. Monte

In 1972, Harold Pence began working on his first press, an A.B.Dick 360. More than 30 years later, and on the brink of his retirement, he still feels that printing is in his blood.

Pence, Duplicating Services manager of the State of Alaska's Legislative Printshop, was born and raised in Illinois. After graduating high school in 1967, though, he was looking for a change, so he moved with his mother to Douglas, Alaska, a small island across the channel from Juneau. He has been there ever since.

"From my living room window I can watch tour boats arriving in Juneau, whales and seals swimming after salmon and bears digging for roots and berries along the mountainside," says Pence.

Upon arriving in the Juneau area, Pence got a job as a mail carrier with the United States Postal Service, but soon decided it wasn't for him. So he enrolled in a vocational school. It was here that Pence discovered his love of printing. His first job was as a part-time, hourly employee with Alaska's Department of Labor print shop.

"I started in the collating end of printing," says Pence. "I ran collating and finishing equipment, a Pitney Bowes foot-operated collator, Baum folder and Interlake staplers."

In 1974 he was made a permanent, full-time press operator. Two years later, when the in-plant was consolidated with the Department of Administration's print shop, Pence was made assistant supervisor. In 1983, he took over as manager and stayed with the shop until his resignation in September 1989.

"I resigned because of a difference in philosophy with the director," explains Pence. "There were a lot of personnel changes, and my employees were the lowest paid but were doing three times the amount of work as the Legislative and Federal Printshops. I wanted their salary increased."

Pence says he was offered a raise, to keep him quiet, but he was fighting for his employees. When their pay increases were refused he decided it was time to move on.

"I said 'I can't operate under these circumstances,' and I effectively resigned from my position," says Pence.

It was this resolve that helped him land his next job, a few months later, with the State of Alaska's Legislative Printshop. In 1996, he moved into the full-time position of manager.

"When I first came into the print shop, it was just involved with legislative branch work," says Pence. "But the volume of work increased quite a bit."
 

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