Letter: Third party should settle employer-union disputes

We all want our government to be efficient and effective — lean, but not mean.

With respect to public employee union contracts, I’ve been concerned about overtime and its affect on our unfunded PERS liability.  And I support the concept that the public employer with eight or nine union contracts has a valid interest in consistency.

But when an employer and its union-represented employees disagree, they should have the benefit of a professional, independent third party.  If that party is bound by ordinance to pre-conditions — all or nothing — or if that ‘binding’ decision can be overridden by Assembly vote — which in turn can be overridden or affirmed by a mayor, then the concept of binding arbitration is a sham.  

Good elected government requires not only competence in analyzing the numbers, but also willingness to explore best practices and compassion for those in our community who need a safety net. Tim Steele demonstrates an excellent balance in these factors, and I support his election to the Assembly in the West Anchorage district.

— Theda Pittman