Mayor Sullivan and Assembly leaders filed a new city ordinance on Friday that would dramatically change the way city employees negotiate for their pay and benefits.
The Mayor’s new proposed law is modeled after Juneau’s labor laws, laws that according to Mayor Sullivan have proven effective for decades.
The Municipality’s current labor relations ordinance, Municipal Code Chapter 3.70, has been on the books since 1969, and was last amended in 1989.
Supporters of the law say the ordinance focuses on making city contracts simpler, fair and streamline, while giving power to the assembly to ensure all municipal employees are under the same set of rules.
Assembly Vice Chair Jennifer Johnston says, “I think we need to get some consistency throughout the municipal employees.”
Some of the highlights of the new proposed ordinance, include a 3-year maximum for contracts, the elimination of the right-to-strike, arbitration and pay increases based on performance, instead of looking at enhanced qualifications.
"I think it's pretty draconian," said Assemblyman Paul Honeman. "I believe it will put us back if adopted as it's written to an era where Anchorage was not a good city to work for and we would lose what I would consider to be professional employees."
With the Municipal elections coming up in April, Honeman says the timing of the proposed ordinance is questionable.
“I think the mayor is pretty active in counting votes,” Honeman said. “He probably wouldn’t have presented it at this time if he didn’t feel confident he that he didn’t have votes to pass and change the amendments to the 3.70.”
Sullivan says the introduction of the ordinance has nothing to do with the upcoming elections, but instead has to do with another round of contract negotiations. The mayor is anticipating to begin talks the first week of March for contracts that expire June 30th.
The mayor is scheduled to meet with union representatives on Monday to talk about the proposed changes. A public hearing is scheduled for February 26th, with no current timeline for when the proposed ordinance will be voted on by the assembly.
Contact Blake Essig