Members of the Anchorage Education Association came out in full-force alongside the city's unions in strong support against Mayor Dan Sullivan's proposed changes to the union ordinance. The AEA says the changes are a concern to all unions.
It’s what the AEA says has happened in Wisconsin.
“What's happening isn't really a dispute in bargaining, it’s an attack on bargaining itself,” said AEA President Andy Holleman. “It basically pulls any leverage employees have away from the bargaining table.”
It is an unbalanced process that AEA fears the mayor is trying to start on the city level and make its way to the schools.
“Dan Sullivan has a strong interest in education, he has a lot of ideas about how it should be shaped,” said Holleman. “We think if they are successful in instituting this in the city this is going to change the nature of the city.”
With both school district and school board officials saying what's happening on the city level won't affect their bargaining, the AEA says the mayor’s ordinance would limit a union’s power which would eventually impact teachers and the work they do in schools.
“I think they are chipping away at that, they want to reduce that number and then it becomes easier to manipulate the people who are left,” said Holleman.
“If it was to become law, then that would be a consideration that the board might be looking at,” said Anchorage School Board member Don Smith. “But the city's decisions have nothing to do with the school district.”
Smith says it’s too early to tell what any changes would mean for them and the eight bargaining units they negotiate with.
Right now their concern is figuring out how to deal with $25 million dollars in cuts this year and in the next two or three budget cycles.
“We are going to have to look for all kinds of ways to save money and do things to make it possible for us to keep as many teachers in classrooms,” said Smith.
The Anchorage School District and the AEA are currently in contract negotiations. Their current contract ends June 30th.