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Coalition files papers on Anchorage union dues

Posted: September 12, 2013 - 12:11am

ANCHORAGE — A coalition of Anchorage libertarian and tea party groups has launched a campaign to put a measure on the ballot that would bar the city from deducting union dues from employee paychecks.

The coalition has filed an application with the city, the Anchorage Daily News reported. City workers in unions currently have compulsory dues automatically deducted from their paychecks.

The city should stop using its resources to in effect collect money for unions, which largely support Democratic political candidates, coalition spokesman Michael Chambers said. It’s a matter of individual liberty, he said.

“What it basically does is takes the city out of the business of using municipal funds to support a particular partisan group,” he said.

Chambers told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the coalition wants the unions to be responsible for collecting dues from their members.

City attorneys are reviewing the application to make sure the proposal is legally sound. Officials said that if the application is approved, sponsors would have 90 days to gather more than 7,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot.

Municipal attorney Dennis Wheeler said the city’s review of the application is purely on legal points and not tied to politics. The coalition would have a chance to rewrite the proposal if it is flawed, Wheeler said.

The coalition’s effort comes as unions gather signatures to fight a recent action they see as an attack on city workers.

Anchorage Ordinance 37 was passed by the municipal Assembly by a slim margin in March. It removes the right to strike by union members, bans performance bonuses and outsources to private companies some work done by city employees.

Voters could decide on the two issues separately in the April 2014 election.

Chambers said the labor issue is not tied to the coalition’s proposed measure except in the broadest philosophical terms.

Chambers said the coalition’s idea originally came from the Anchorage Tea Party, which combined forces with the Alaska Libertarian Party and other like-minded groups.

Wheeler said city residents are using the initiative and referendum process to directly tackle issues, such as building a new park in Girdwood and changing the date of city elections. Wheeler said residents are using the process more often and that 20 applications were turned in last year.

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