Initiative Repealing Labor Law Could be Heading for Ballot Box

In Anchorage, it looks like supporters of a ballot measure that would repeal a controversial labor ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly earlier this year have gathered the signatures needed to put the issue before voters.

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Supporters of the ballot measure to repeal the labor law, also known as “AO-37,” says they got more than triple the number of petition signatures needed to get the issue on the ballot (22, 136).

Eric Tuott, Vice President of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 12-64, helped deliver the signatures to City Hall Monday. He says the number of signatures gathered says a lot.

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage.
Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage.

“Well, I think it says that people aren’t happy with the way that the process worked when the Assembly ran through the AO37,” Tuott said. “And so, I think a lot of people are unhappy regardless of what side of the aisle they’re on and they don’t want politics done like that in Anchorage and we think the signatures prove that.”

The labor ordinance takes away municipal workers right to strike and restricts collective bargaining rights.

The Assembly passed it last March despite protests and with people still waiting to testify on it.

The unions had 26 days to collect the 7,124 signatures required to get the initiative on the ballot. They say they gathered more than 22,000 signatures.

The city still has time to appeal a court ruling that allowed signature gathering to go ahead. If that happens, the ordinance could be back in court. If the city does not appeal, a public vote could either be held in a special election in December or in the regular municipal election in April. The Assembly would make that decision.

The Municipal Clerk’s office has 10 days to certify or reject the petition. AO-37 would affect more than 2,000 city employees.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.