Alaska GOP lawmaker seeks to curb collective bargaining rights
March 22nd, 2011
08:14 AM ET
11 years ago

Alaska GOP lawmaker seeks to curb collective bargaining rights

(CNN) - The growing push to restrict the collective bargaining rights of government employees has reached the far-flung state of Alaska.

There, a Republican state lawmaker has introduced legislation that would strip many public employees of the right to collectively bargain for hours, benefits and working conditions. State employees could still collectively bargain for wages under the legislation.

The bill exempts firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians, who, according to Title 40 of the Alaska Statutes, are prohibited from going on strike.

The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer, could not be reached for comment. Neither could members of the Republican House leadership. A woman who answered the phone listed for Gatto's Wasilla office said the lawmaker would be unavailable for comment Monday.

Gatto has told various news outlets that his bill mimics legislation that was passed by the Wisconsin Legislature earlier this month, signed into law and is now the subject of a lawsuit in that state. Gatto has said, like the Wisconsin measure, his proposal aims to curb state costs.

Similar bills to limit collective bargaining rights also are pending in Ohio and Indiana.

Opponents of the bill give the measure little chance of passing this session. That's because the 2011 session of the Alaska Legislature is roughly two-thirds over, they said.

Also, opponents said, Alaska lawmakers have been focused on controversial legislation to roll back the state's oil and gas tax on profits earned by petroleum companies in the state.

House minority leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, said Gatto's bill "would be a particularly onerous thing to drop on state employees."

Kerttula said public employees are still smarting from a 2005 overhaul of the state's retirement, pension and health care system. Kertulla called the switch "a disaster" in a state that has a difficult time retaining qualified teachers and police officers.

Kerttula also said the bill would face tough sledding in the state Senate, where unlike the GOP-controlled House, the balance of power between Republicans and Democrats is evenly divided. Kertulla, nevertheless, said the Democratic minority leadership is taking the bill seriously.

State Rep. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage, who is the House minority whip, wondered whether the proposed collective bargaining bill for Alaska public employees could spark as fierce an argument as Wisconsin's, which prompted 14 Democrats to leave the state in an unsuccessful effort to kill that bill.

"If the Democrats flee here," Gardner said, "we'll have to go to Canada."

Filed under: Alaska
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. chris

    Oh Boy!!! If State Republican across the Country keep up these types of issues, Unions across the State will definitely be looking to get them voted out of office!!

    March 22, 2011 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  2. Bryan

    You go, Republicans. Keep destroying that middle class on your warpath to fascism, and keep pulling along the ignoramuses who carry your water until it's too late for them to realize their folly.

    March 22, 2011 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  3. mountaineer

    I find it interesting that State Governments in Republican hands would decimate collective bargaining rights, except for police and firefighters, two they definitely would need in care of a crime and/or fire. Otherwise, they, too, would be eradicated. These Republican State Governors deserve credit in that they are at least smart enought to protect those they need protection form, firefighters and police (State Troopers) They are such hypocrites and think the average person doesn't see where they are coming from! Think again!

    March 22, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  4. Mr.Boombostick

    I would like to thank every union busting republican that will help President Obama ger reelected. Please continue to energize the Unione movement that has the ability to politically be the ground troops to not only influence their cowerkers, college students and the retiring workers who will be worried about their economic security. Thank you GOP! Thank you for making UNIONS one of the key issues of the upcoming presidential election which democrats will be for and republicans will be against so they dont alientate the Tea Party.

    March 22, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  5. Squigman

    The people of the United States Of America, are fighting wars on not one, not two, but four fronts. The war against the workers of our nation, can be compared to the wars waged in Iraq, Afganistan, and Libya. The really disheartening aspect of this, is that the war against the workers is being perpetrated on as many lies as it took to get us involved in the other three wars. The wealthy, the media, and the republicans are hell bent on getting their way, regardless of who or what they have to steam roll over to do so. Hopefully, the next election will see more interest from the people who are tired of being lied to, and people reluctant to give up more freedoms just to appease the greedy among us.

    March 22, 2011 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  6. KM

    Since when did it become a bad thing for employees to stand together in one unified voice? I understand that most states are in fiscal trouble but don't try to fix that problem by blaming collective bargaining. ALL options should be on the table, tax cuts, tax increases, renegotiating benefits, consolidate services, etc. When you are targeting one side and saying this is why we are in this mess and at the same time considering rolling back the state's oil and gas tax on profits you sound like the bad guy. But if the shoe fits, wear it.

    March 22, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  7. Allen

    Another red state that will turn blue!!!!

    March 22, 2011 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Why is this necessary? Public sector workers are only protected by their collective bargaining ability. If there is a civil service comission, it is so heavily influenced by the governor that it would put workers at risk of having no protections. Only the top tear people working at most states earn a whole lot. Most of the people lower down (clerks and secretaries) aren't making that much and are working paycheck to paycheck.

    March 22, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  9. Phil in KC

    Figures. They're a right-wing state previously led by a right-wing nut job. Of course they don't workers to have rights or get paid a fair wage. Keep the workers under the thumb of their rulers....

    March 22, 2011 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  10. kyle

    I see Alaska is jumping on the, destroy the middle class bandwagon.

    March 22, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. Henry

    And we still think that this anti-union GOP push is purely budget related?? We now reap what we sow. This is what happens when we elect Republicans. It is not Republicans we should be angry at or Democrats. We know how they are going to vote. In this case it is the Independents who have caused this. is now this group of people so dumb that it takes us out of the frying pan and throws us into the fire? We collectively are the most ignorant people of the developed world. That is if we are still a developed nation.

    March 22, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  12. Larry L

    This is yet another Republican storm trooper in the war against the middle class. If the Alaskan Republicans want to get big government out of their business why don't they vote to repeal the law granting their citizens that fat federal check each year?

    March 22, 2011 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  13. mike

    Cops and firefighters are exempt from this because the public would be upset. Many worker havwe similar dangerous jobs. The republicians are so full of crap. Also if there is ever a revolt they need their protection. Its all figured out to keep the rich rich and richer and the middle class poorer and the poor abandoned!

    March 22, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  14. Rick McDaniel

    More and more, the governments are turning to dictatorship, stripping the rights of citizens.

    March 22, 2011 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. diridi

    I told you long time ago, these GOP guys are idiots....and thugs in the nation.....wake up, get rid of these idiots....God bless!!!

    March 22, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  16. Rsprings

    Go get'em!!

    March 22, 2011 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  17. Arun

    This is another reason for anyone who makes less than $200,00 individually or $250,000 jointly should not vote republican. These idiots only care for themselves by giving massive tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations. I would like the wealthy and corporations to give back all the tax breaks they get just like the middle class is giving back rights.

    March 22, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  18. John in Brooklyn

    Considering Alaskans stellar history of electing idiots or crooks to state-level public office....frankly, they deserve what they get....including anti-worker radicals.

    March 22, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  19. Tired of the nonsense

    Another neo-fascist GOPer stripping people of their hard earned rights that their forefathers fought to have so WE THE PEOPLE could have better lives.

    March 22, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  20. rk

    Sooo lets get this straight....Lowering collective bargaining rights for state employees to save the state money, while reducing taxes on profits made by energy companies in the state.

    Yep...that sounds about right to me.

    March 22, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  21. Union Guy

    We union folks can suck the life out of companies, drive up taxes for everyone, and eventually cost us worker our jobs.

    March 22, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  22. Clwyd

    Alaska prepare for utter chaos if this happens. It will be followed by taking those rights away from police and fireman. Then a push to Charter Schools manned by un-certified or degree corporate staff with the cost of setting the charter schools up going to the already strapped public schools. Expect a push also for home schooling where the monitoring would be minimal at most since those funds have or will be cut! One GIANT republican step backwards.

    March 22, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  23. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    OH, so you will let them bargain for their wages, but not to guarantee a safe work environment. Right! And I am from the IRS and my job is to make sure you do not have to pay as much in taxes! "Hey, union people, come to my car. I have candy!"

    March 22, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  24. paul

    I wonder how long the American people will take to find out the real goal of the Republican party. They are taking away any rights to bargain for salary, working conditions, hours, safety, etc. etc. And, in so doing will destroy the middle class. They are moving from state to state and destroying the working families. The Republicans work for the rich as that is where there donors come from. They recently held the rest of the country hostage so the top 2% of earners could get their tax cut. That should have been a clear signal of where their party is headed.

    March 22, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  25. BeverlyNC

    Must be a Republican – they are trying to destroy the rights of workers in every Republican state legislature across the nation. They are trying to blame the unions for their budget crisis – which is a TOTAL LIE. The reason these states have an even larger budget deficit has NOTHING to do with teacher or pollicemen or firefighters. It is because these Republican governors went in and stripped their states of ALL their education system funds and turned around and GAVE IT TO CORPORATIONS. This made their budget deficits even LARGER. To hide this, they need a villian. So they chose the unions and the public servants who sacrifce for us and provide great service for us. Shame on these Republicans!
    This is why the teachers, firefighters, police, and the working people in these states like WI, MI, IN, OH , NJ, and FL are protesting. They WILL NOT BE BLAMED for what the Republican Governors did in giving away the states money to CORPORATIONS.
    Wake up America – Republicans are the villians. They are intentionally destroying the middle class. Michigan RAISED TAXES ON SENIORS AND THE POOR!!!!! How non-human is that while the wealthy pay no taxes????
    Republicans are expert liars but there is not a real leader among them.

    March 22, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |