As AO-37 Vote Nears, Final Work Session 'Frustrates' Union Leaders
Honeman proposes non-binding resolution to delay labor ordinance vote until October
ANCHORAGE - The fight over changes to the way the city bargains with unions is supposed to end with a vote on Tuesday March 26, but some assembly members want more time to consider the ordinance.
At a work session Friday between the Anchorage Assembly and municipal attornies, Assemblyman Paul Honeman presented AR-77, a resolution asking the mayor to delay a vote on AO-37 until October.
"Kick the tires and take it for a test drive and see if we're comfortable with the way it's worded and if not, let's make those changes," Honeman said. He argued that the mayor had six months to draft the original, adding, “give us the same amount of time."
Honeman’s resolution also calls for a task force to look at the issue of rewriting the municipal language AO-37 seeks to overhaul. Honeman said that's what former Mayor Tom Fink did back in the 1980s when the issue last came up.
Unions are supporting Honeman's resolution, especially after getting a look at the third draft of AO-37, called AO-37 S-1. Ostensibly the focus of Friday’s work session, the latest draft of the ordinance was presented in response to hours of public testimony heard by the assembly, as well as concerns union leaders had communicated to Mayor Dan Sullivan and the city attorneys who drafted it.
But Friday, many union leaders said the latest version changes very little. Anchorage Fire Department Union President Rod Harris said, "I guess my frustration with it is that we've been having a lot of meetings, and everybody leaves, taking their notes, and then we don't ever hear anything back."
If the ordinance passes, Harris said its costs will be felt in the future. "The assembly is giving up a lot of power through this ordinance to the mayor, and the citizens of Anchorage will have to put up with the results of that for a long time."
Those who support the AO-37, like Assemblymember Adam Trombley, disagree. He said both sides are making compromises. Even so, Trombley said another version of the ordinance is likely before the fight is over and a final vote is called.