Supreme Court agrees to move quickly on Anchorage labor law case

Nathaniel Herz

The Alaska Supreme Court has agreed to expedite Anchorage's appeal on the contentious case involving the city's new labor relations law.

The city's public sector unions have pushed for the expedited schedule because it could allow resolution of the case in time to hold a referendum on the law at the municipal election scheduled for April of 2014.

The Supreme Court granted the request Tuesday after a joint request from the unions and the city's attorneys, who agreed to the quicker schedule.

The unions are trying to repeal the labor relations law -- which restricts rights of certain unions to strike, and limits raises, among many other provisions -- through a referendum.

The city initially rejected the referendum campaign, citing legal provisions that bar a public vote on certain kinds of technical and financial measures. But that move was overturned in August by Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth.

The city then appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.

In their joint motion last week, the two sides submitted a schedule to the Supreme Court that would allow for a decision on the case in January, which they said would provide enough time to put the referendum on the April ballot.

However, the ultimate decision on the referendum's date would be left up to the Anchorage Assembly, which is considering a move to push a vote to as late as April 2015. Proponents of the delay say that they want to schedule the referendum on a date that would maximize turnout.

A delay is allowed under the city charter as long as the Assembly votes to extend a suspension of the labor law until the referendum. The law was suspended last month when the unions turned in their referendum petitions.


Reach Nathaniel Herz at or 257-4311.