State Supreme Court rules against AWWU union workers

Rosemary Shinohara

The Alaska Supreme Court has sided with the Municipality of Anchorage in a dispute over the city's contract with Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 367, which represents 138 workers at the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility.

The dispute stems back to the fall of 2011.

An independent arbitrator had decided in favor of the union on pay issues, but the Anchorage Assembly rejected the arbitrator's decision.

Union members were not allowed to strike because a Superior Court judge decided it could harm the public health.

The union argued that the court should impose the arbitrators' decision to compensate for not allowing the union to strike.

The Superior Court said there was nothing in city code that allowed that, and that the city could impose its last best offer.

On Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court decision.

Union attorney Chuck Dunnagan said, "I've never been more disappointed in a ruling. I think the middle class deserves more."

The workers have not had a pay increase since 2009, he said.

A statement from Mayor Dan Sullivan's office said, "The decision affirms the municipality's position that its labor ordinances empowered the Anchorage Assembly, not an arbitrator, to make the final decision on approval of a contract."

The two sides are now entering into negotiations for their next contract, the statement said.

A rewrite of the city labor law that was approved by the Assembly last week also makes it clear that the Assembly has the last say.

Reach Rosemary Shinohara at or 257-4340.