Muni Rejects Union Dues Initiative

The Municipality of Anchorage has rejected a referendum petition that was aimed at stopping the city from collecting union dues directly from employee paychecks.

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The application was rejected for two reasons. One is procedural. The main sponsor modified the application at the counter, after sponsors had signed it, crossing out a section and hand writing something else in. But even if that wouldn’t have happened, Deputy Municipal Attorney Dee Ennis says the application would have been rejected anyway because the method of collection of dues is an administrative issue not a larger policy issue.

“This initiative is about whether or not dues should be collected by payroll deduction,” Ennis said. “That is just too small of a matter to put on a ballot. The larger policy issue here is what’s called the right to work, and that is whether employees have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to join a union or pay dues to get a job.”

“The question for these sponsors is whether they want to change the initiative to get a large policy question on the ballot.”

Michael Chambers is the vice-chair of the Alaska Libertarian Party and a spokesperson for the Anchorage Tea Party. He signed onto the application for the referendum and says the group plans to revise their application.

“If the city is rejecting is only because it is too narrow then I would suggest that we should have some recourse in that regard to find out how broad the measure needs to be,” Chambers said.

The Municipality employs about 3,000 workers. About 2,000 hold union positions and are required to pay union dues.