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City, mechanics agree on contract with 1.5 percent raise

Nathaniel Herz

The Sullivan administration has unveiled its first deal with one of the seven city unions whose contracts expire this year.

The 70 mechanics represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have agreed to a 1-year contract with the city, which must now be approved by the Anchorage Assembly.

The deal includes a 1.5 percent raise, and a $100 monthly increase in the city's contribution to the mechanics' health insurance plan, which would be $1,818 in 2014.

The price tag amounts to $149,000 in increased costs for taxpayers next year, according to an analysis by the Department of Labor Relations.

The mechanics are among Anchorage's smallest unions. Other contracts expiring this year include the Anchorage Municipal Employee Association -- a group of 525 that includes nurses, engineers, and lifeguards -- and the 137-member plumbers and pipefitters union.

Reaching deals with those other groups may prove more difficult: The mechanics' previous contract, which lasted four years, was negotiated under the Sullivan administration, and it does not include some of the types of benefits and incentives like longevity pay that his administration is trying to change for other workers.

The mechanics' new agreement is largely the same as their old contract, with a few tweaks.

"Certain provisions in their contract are already aligned with that view of standardization," said Danielle Fegley, the city's director of employee relations.

The mechanics' 1.5 percent raise is below the rate of inflation, and significantly below the cap for raises set by the controversial new labor law that the Assembly passed earlier this year at Sullivan's behest.

The law has since been suspended pending the outcome of a public vote. But the mechanics union's assistant business manager, Dan Repasky, said that he was still happy to get the small bump, and would even have been content with a wage freeze from the Sullivan administration.

"Right now, they've got us up against the ropes, and we're fighting back as best we can," he said.

Ninety-four percent of the union's members voted to approve the contract, Repasky said.

Fegley, the employee relations director, said that the 1-year duration was not a template that would be used for the other union contracts.

Her department was aiming to set contracts of different durations with the different unions, so that they don't all expire in the same year, she said.

Reach Nathaniel Herz at nherz@adn.com or 257-4311.


By NATHANIEL HERZ
nherz@adn.com