Supreme Court to hear arguments in Anchorage labor law case

Nathaniel Herz

The showdown between city officials and the opponents of the new labor law spearheaded by Mayor Dan Sullivan continues next week as the Alaska Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a case that will determine whether the law is an appropriate subject for a public vote.

The arguments are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, and will pit a pair of attorneys working for the city against an attorney hired by local unions.

The law, which passed the Anchorage Assembly last spring, curtailed the power of municipal unions by limiting future raises and restricting their ability to strike.

The unions then launched a referendum campaign to overturn the law. That effort was rejected by the city clerk on legal grounds, until a lower court said the campaign could go ahead.

The city then appealed to the Supreme Court, which will consider whether the labor law is too narrow and technical, a subject for a referendum.

The attorney for the unions, Susan Orlansky, said she is hoping for a decision by early February.

The law is currently suspended based on the unions' victory in the lower court allowing the referendum to go ahead.

Reach Nathaniel Herz at or 257-4311.