Seward to vote on employee relations measure March 19

PERA would dictate union relation policy in the city

Seward to vote on employee relations measure March 19

PERA — the acronym has been heard in city council chambers and will be seen on the ballot during a special election on March 19, but what is the Public Employment Relations Act and why is Seward voting on it?

Currently, the Seward City Council has control over the city’s labor policy, including employee organizing activity.

PERA’s role in Alaska employee relations is to protect the organizing and bargaining rights of public employees, unions and employers, according to the Alaska Labor Relations Agency, the agency responsible for implementing the act.

During a city council work session earlier this month, Justin Roberts, a general counsel attorney for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Jennifer Alexander, an attorney with Birch, Horton, Bittner and Cherot, the city’s law firm, detailed the impacts of PERA on Seward.

“Once you opt in, you’re in. There’s no initiative, referendum or council vote that opts you out,” Alexander said.

If adopted, PERA would oversee the organization of public employees, but wouldn’t impact the relationship between the city and its employees. The agency would not enforce any other federal and state laws, though, including acts and statutes about fair labor, wage, hours, contract work hours, worker’s compensation and equal employment.

Instead, PERA would dictate union relation policy in the city and the Labor Relations Agency would handle any complaints and disputes pertaining to organizing activity.

PERA was adopted by Alaska in 1972 to tackle the issues of employee organization, and allow for good faith relations between public-sector employers, their employees and unions in Alaska.

In September 1975, Seward City Council rejected PERA citing that “it is in the public interest for the City to keep its options open so that it can properly react in the future, and not in the public interest to possibly become bound into the provisions of this act, and whatever amendments the legislature might pass in the future.”

Now, the irreversible decision to repeal this ordinance or not is being left to the voters during a special election on March 19.

“Going through all the different scenarios that could happen … It’s hard to know all the factual scenarios that will play out,” Roberts also said, explaining that the exact impacts of enacting PERA are hard to quantify.

Voting on Referendum No. 1 is now open at Seward City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until March 8. The election will be held on March 19.

More in News

Dr. Katherine Ortega Courtney speaks during the 100% Alaska Community Town Hall on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
100% Alaska survey results, state of services discussed at town hall

Change 4 the Kenai leads conversation about access to mental health, housing, transportation

Soldotna High School senior Josiah Burton testifies in opposition to a proposed cut of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District theater technicians while audience members look on during a board of education meeting on Monday, March 6, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Awaiting state funding, board of ed works to bring back staff positions

Alaska lawmakers this session passed a budget bill that includes $175 million in one-time funding for Alaska’s K-12 schools

David Brighton (left) and Leslie Byrd (right) prepare to lead marchers from the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to Soldotna Creek Park as part of Soldotna Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 3, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Nobody Can Drag Us Down’: Soldotna celebrates LGBTQ+ pride

The event featured food trucks, vendors and a lineup of performers that included comedy, drag and music

Judges Peter Micciche, Terry Eubank and Tyler Best sample a salmon dish prepared by chef Stephen Lamm of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank at Return of the Reds on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at the Kenai City Dock in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai celebrates ‘Return of the Reds’ in food bank fundraiser

Chefs competed for best salmon recipe; fresh-caught fish auctioned

A freshly stocked rainbow trout swims in Johnson Lake during Salmon Celebration on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at Johnson Lake in Kasilof, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Excellent lake fishing, good halibut and slow salmon

Northern Kenai Fishing Report for June 1

Map via Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Assembly to consider emergency service area for Cooper Landing

Borough legislation creating the service area is subject to voter approval

Peter Micciche (center) listens to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly certify the results of the Feb. 14, 2023, special mayoral election, through which he was elected mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Thousands respond to borough services survey

Many of the survey questions focused on the quality of borough roads

Two new cars purchased by the Soldotna Senior Center to support its Meals on Wheels program are parked outside of the center in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.(Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Soldotna budget defunds area senior center

The unanimous vote came after multiple people expressed concerns about how the center operates

An Epidemiology Bulletin titled “Drowning Deaths in Alaska, 2016-2021” published Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Screenshot)
Health officials say Alaska leads nation in drowning deaths, urge safe practices

A majority of non-occupational Alaska drownings occur in relation to boating, both for recreation and for subsistence

Most Read