A fight over Anchorage labor law that has pitted labor unions against city government continues after an Assembly hearing Tuesday.
Assembly Ordinance 37, Mayor Dan Sullivan's rewrite of city labor laws, has already been through two separate court cases and a referendum campaign to repeal the measure. A new proposal by Assembly members, however, might have the city and unions finding a middle ground.
A repeal to get rid of the controversial labor law has already been introduced by Assembly member Dick Traini. Fellow member Jennifer Johnston wants to replace it with a watered-down version and leave it as a referendum on the state ballot in November’s election.
Johnson introduced her version of the labor law at Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting, which removes some provisions that some say are the most offensive to unions.
“I put binding arbitration back in and the right to strike back in and took out managed competition, so this is more of a bare-bones change to (city) code,” Johnston said.
Opponents of the original ordinance, including Traini, are calling Johnston's proposal “AO37 Lite.”
“I think we need to get rid of it,” Traini said . “(What) I intend to do is open public hearing tonight and then extend it to the 22nd of July, because Jennifer Johnston has some other version she wants to try, and I’m more than willing to be able to talk about them.”
AO37 passed the Assembly in a 6-5 vote last year, but after April's municipal elections more than half of Assembly members now oppose the law and are likely to vote for Traini’s repeal measure.
Still, it’s unclear whether a repeal would have the eight votes to override a potential veto by Sullivan.
“My personal intent is to come up with a code that has the city working with the unions but not for the unions,” Johnston said.
“I think there’s always a middle ground somewhere, but I think it first needs to start with repealing the old (AO)37, because that one so muddied and bloodied the water that we need to get rid of that and start over again,” Traini said.
Dozens of union members showed up to Tuesday’s Assembly meeting to try and understand what’s next for the labor law, and to eventually help find that middle ground.
“We’re in favor of looking to see what Jennifer Johnston’s rewrite would look like -- and from there, we don’t know,” said Jason Alward with Operating Engineers Local 302.
So the question still remains; repeal AO37 all together, replace it with a watered-down version and leave it as a referendum question on the state ballot in November, or postpone the vote to next year’s city election?
The referendum scheduled to be voted on in November was expected to cost the city $440,000 to have a city vote with a state election. But the city clerk’s office said the state has agreed to have AO37 go on the ballot at no cost except for publicity, a possible recount or court challenges.
Public hearings on AO37 will continue until the next Assembly meeting, which takes place July 8.
Also voted on at Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting was the fate of Fire Station 3 in Airport Heights, with Anchorage Fire Department plans to move the facility unanimously approved.
The station will be getting a new home on recently purchased land at Bragaw Street's intersection with the Glenn Highway. The building, more than 50 years old, has numerous maintenance issues and AFD says a move could leave it in position to better serve Mountain View.