Public Packs Assembly Chambers Over Union Ordinance
Residents criticized mayor's 'secretive process' in creating the ordinance
ANCHORAGE - For the first time since Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan filed his proposal to overhaul the city’s labor laws, the public was invited to weigh in.
They recited bible verses, quoted Assembly members’ own words back to them and one even threatened to have a heart attack due to what they feel is a lack of respect from the mayor.
“We got called on an assault and there is a young mother with a knife in her back, and there is her baby laying there in a car seat covered in her mother's blood screaming, and we got to figure out how we are going to deal with it. And this is the respect we get,” said Jim Stewart. He’s been an Anchorage fire fighter for 28 years.
Stewart went on to question the respect his friend Bill is getting out of the proposed ordinance. “I think of my friend Bill laying there in the hospital after a room collapsed on him and his crew pulled it up and saved his life. And this is the respect he gets,” he told the Assembly.
Jennifer McKinnon, wife of an Anchorage police officer, testified about how her family would be hurt if the ordinance passed. She said, “Will it be the call I fear the most, the knock at the door with officers standing in front of me telling me that some thug shot and killed my husband, my soul mate, my child’s father? How many of you would like to take my place?”
It wasn’t just the personal impacts the Assembly heard about; some even testified about the political impacts. “It’s very poorly written; I think even the mayor would agree with that, and this ordinance is completely political,” said Francis McGlaughlin.
Supporters of the ordinance (AO-37) say it would put all the city’s unions on the same page with holidays and benefits. It was hard to find anyone who supported AO-37 Wednesday night -- almost all of the testimony was in opposition.
The Assembly will take up the issue again next Friday during its work session starting at 10 a.m. A possible vote on AO-37 could happen on March 12.