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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