Municipality of Anchorage Prevails on Key Court Ruling in Plumbers and Pipefitters Wage Negotiations
Contact: Lindsey Spinelli
ANCHORAGE- On Friday, in a twenty-five page written opinion, Superior Court Judge Swiderski entered an order legally preventing the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 367 from striking through June 2013. He also found that the Arbitration decision of August 8 was not binding on the parties. The arbitrator's decision, which was not approved by the Assembly on August 30, called for a three dollar per hour across the board wage increase and percentage increases over the next two years. The Plumbers argued that the arbitrator's decision was binding because the City enjoined their threatened strike. The Court upheld the right of the elected Assembly to determine the course of labor relations for the City.
The Arbitrator's decision came after fourteen months of negotiations failed to bring the parties to agreement.
Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 367 represents the majority of the employees of Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility (AWWU) who are responsible for the operation and maintenance of Anchorage's water and sewer systems. All members of the Plumbers and Pipefitters union have continued to do exemplary work throughout this process.
“We are pleased with the judge’s decision,” said Mayor Sullivan. “His ruling clearly establishes that our position is the correct interpretation of the code, which is that the Assembly’s rejection of the arbitrator’s decision allows us to impose our last best offer or continue negotiating. It is beneficial for management and the union to have this settled in order to move forward with certainty.”
The Municipality may now return to bargaining with the union or it may impose its last best offer of a two and a half percent pay increase over two years. The difference between the arbitrator's decision and the last best offer is approximately $2.5 million in savings to the Municipality.