Unions Call for Rally at Loussac

AEA President Andy Holleman. Photo from the Anchorage Education Association.
AEA President Andy Holleman. Photo from the Anchorage Education Association.

Anchorage labor unions are calling on members to rally tonight against an ordinance that could limit unions. The ordinance proposed by Mayor Dan Sullivan, Assembly President Ernie Hall and Vice Chair Jennifer Johnston, is set to be introduced at tonight’s regular Assembly meeting.

Union leaders across the city are calling on members to turn out for tonight’s rally – and it’s not just limited to labor unions representing municipal employees. Andy Holleman is the president of the Anchorage Education Association. He says teachers and school district employees hope to pack midtown.

“We think this has a huge impact, not even just on unions but on everybody in the city. It’s going to change who wants to be a policeman, who wants to be a fire person, who wants to work for the city at all. And we think everyone should be concerned with that. We think they have gone forward with bad legislation too quickly. We want to make sure that they understand that a lot of people are looking at this and have concerns about it,” Holleman said.

Holleman likens the ordinance to legislation aimed at unions in Wisconsin and Michigan. Mayor Dan Sullivan told Department heads and union leaders about the proposed ordinance late Friday and met with them Monday morning to explain it. Union leaders say the ordinance could severely limit municipal workers’ bargaining power and say it would impact benefits, pay and contract negotiations as well as eliminate the option of a strike.

Mayor Dan Sullivan says municipal attorneys have been crafting the ordinance in private for weeks and the changes are needed to tighten the purse strings of local government. Sullivan says he wants the legislation fast-tracked for Assembly approval in the next couple of weeks, before union negotiations begin in March. Union leaders say that timeline is too quick and won’t allow enough time for the public to weigh in.

The rally is set for 5 p.m. tonight at the Loussac library where the Anchorage Assembly is meeting. No public testimony will be allowed on the ordinance tonight. A work session is scheduled for 1 p.m. this Friday in the Mayor’s conference room at city hall. A public hearing is proposed Feb. 26 and it could be passed at that time.

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Daysha Eaton is the News Director at KBBI in Homer. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.