Mayor Reports Initial Deals with AMEA

The Municipality of Anchorage has a preliminary agreement with the union which negotiates for the largest number of its employees.

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Mayor Dan Sullivan’s office issued a statement Tuesday saying his administration had come to an agreement with the Anchorage Municipal Employee Association on wages, health benefits, incentive programs and the term of the contract.

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan at the announcement of his proposed 2013 municipal budget on Oct. 4, 2012. Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan at the announcement of his proposed 2013 municipal budget on Oct. 4, 2012. Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

The Anchorage Municipal Employees Association (AMEA) is a group of more than 500 employees working for the Municipality of Anchorage. The union represents a wide variety of city jobs, including appraisers, nurses and accountants.

“Both parties are continuing to negotiate, as we speak, right now to reach a mutually acceptable agreement,” AMEA President Mark McKee said.

A statement from the Mayor’s office details what’s been agreed upon so far: wages for AMEA members will increase 1.5 percent in January 2014 and again in January 2015. The contract will last for two years.

Mayor Sullivan says his team has been negotiating under the terms of the controversial labor ordinance, also known as AO-37, which limits municipal employees pay, benefits and their right to strike among other things.

“Despite all the gloom and doom and I think overdramatized negativity about AO-37, in fact it does give us the very clear guidelines so that we can have contracts in the future that are not only good for the taxpayers but good for the employees and, again, much easier to implement, manage and to understand in the future,” Sullivan said. “And that was the intent in the first place and, so far, I think we’re achieving that goal.”

Under public pressure, the Anchorage Assembly voted to repeal the law proposed by the Sullivan administration in October, but the Mayor used his veto power to override their decision.

The Supreme Court of Alaska is set to expedite a decision on whether a referendum to repeal the law can go forward. A decision is expected by February.

The Municipality and the AMEA started negotiating in September. They’re hoping to have a new agreement by the New Year.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. 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.