Prop One: The City Employee Unionization Proposition

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

A unionization proposition is on the ballot for Tuesday’s municipal election. If passed, it would amend a City of Kodiak ordinance to recognize the right of its public employees to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining.

The adopted changes would permit city employees to negotiate wages, hours, and other conditions of employment, and those terms would be governed under the Public Employment Relations Act, or PERA, which the City of Kodiak opted out of in 1988 according to a May work session packet.

Teamsters Local 959 and the City of Kodiak have both put adverts in the Kodiak Daily Mirror on Prop 1. The Teamsters’ notice cautions readers not to let “Big Brother” deprive them of their rights under PERA.

The notice from the City of Kodiak features a list of changes that would take place should Prop 1 be passed: multiple unions could organize different city departments, the city would have to deal with employees through union officials, and city employees who do not want to unionize may be forced into a union.

City Manager Aimée Kniaziowski says Prop 1 began with a group of city employees. She says they reached out to the Teamsters to develop and circulate a petition that was later certified to go on the ballot.

The city has concerns about the effect on its budget should city employees choose to unionize.  Kniaziowski says half of the total budget is devoted to paying employee benefits and wages.

“There’s no more money coming into that pie, so we’d have to cut the pie up a little differently, and that means that we would have to either increase revenues by some means or certainly decrease services if it’s beyond what we currently pay, which is quite a lot when you consider benefits, so it would have an impact on the community, certainly on the tax payers.”

Kniaziowski also points out that once a workforce becomes unionized under PERA, all employees must join the union, and it’s not possible to withdraw.

“Once you’re in, you’re back in PERA, you’re there for the duration, you can’t opt out again, and it costs more money. It costs more time and effort, certainly on the city’s part. The Teamsters are a big union, they’ve got resources, and I think THAT perhaps they HAVE more resources at hand than the city does.”

KMXT also reached out to Teamsters Local 959, who declined to be interviewed.

Prop 1 will be up for a vote at Tuesday’s City of Kodiak municipal election. Check out page 8 of the election pamphlet to learn more.

Check Also

A Ravn Alaska airplane at Unalaska’s Tom Madsen Airport in 2022. (Theo Greenly/KUCB)

Midday Report – March 01, 2024

On today’s Midday Report with host Terry Haines: Alaska’s biggest regional airline has laid off …

%d bloggers like this: