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City rejects 2nd petition for referendum on law that cut union power

The city has rejected for a second time a proposed referendum petition to repeal the labor law rewrite passed by the Anchorage Assembly in March.

The ordinance stripped city unions of many of their powers, such as the right to strike. It limits raises in any one year to the cost of living plus 1 percent.

Union leaders sponsored the referendum. They said when they filed the second version on April 19 that they were prepared to go to court if necessary to get the repeal question before voters.

In rejecting the petition, city attorney Dennis Wheeler said the labor law rewrite includes administrative matters that cannot legally be changed by referendum.

Susan Orlansky, an attorney for the sponsors of the referendum, disagrees and says the ordinance is not an administrative measure but legislative and can be repealed by referendum.

Mayor Dan Sullivan and two Assembly leaders sponsored the labor law revisions. Sullivan said he wanted to save the city money and make bargaining more efficient. The city is beginning a new round of negotiations with its eight unions this month.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Reach Rosemary Shinohara at rshinohara@adn.com or 257-4340.