Large Crowd of Union Members Protests Mayor’s Labor Ordinance at Assembly Meeting
Mayor Dan Sullivan wasn’t present for Tuesday’s meeting
ANCHORAGE – The sound of loud chanting seeped into the assembly chambers at the Loussac Library during Tuesday night’s assembly meeting.
Hundreds of Anchorage residents were rallying outside while Mayor Dan Sullivan’s proposed ordinance to change the way the city deals with organized labor was officially introduced to the Anchorage Assembly.
About 1,500 people arrived shortly before 5 p.m. in protest of the ordinance to change the relationship between the city and its unionized employees. Those union members said if the ordinance goes through their way of life will drastically change.
“These are the working men and women of the city,” said Rod Harris, the Anchorage Fire Fighters Union president, as he pointed to a large crowd of men and women holding bright signs behind him. “These, more importantly, are the people affected by their decisions. These are livelihoods at stake.”
Harris represents just one of many groups that were surprised by the ordinance, only made available for public viewing Friday evening.
“There was no foresight, no notice to department heads, no discussion with labor unions,” said Harris. “Nobody was brought into this discussion. This ordinance was done behind closed doors, with a select few people -- the process stinks.”
But even more worrisome, they said, are the possible effects.
“We are upset about what the potential outcome will be, but almost right now it’s more frustrating about the lack of including us in the process,” said Sgt. Gerard Asselin, the Anchorage Police Union president. “Kind of take the way things are and flip it 180 degrees.”
A major sticking point, union members said, is the ordinance would lump eight different work groups and put it into one, as well as take away their bargaining power.
“The mayor would certainly be pro-management, and unfortunately since taking office in 2008, each year he talks about the money shortage in Anchorage and how it’s due to labor contracts and the money involved with them,” said Asselin.
The protestors that showed up Tuesday night said they have one message.
“We want to be able to come in, do our job, and serve the citizens and not worry about the mayor being the enemy of the public employee,” said Jillanne Inglis, with the Municipal Employees Association.
Mayor Sullivan was not at Tuesday night’s assembly meeting.