Five state unions sign tentative pacts

Labor groups accept state's proposal of one-year extension of current contracts

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Five of the 12 bargaining units representing state workers have signed tentative contract agreements, Gov. Frank Murkowski said today.

The five are: separate Public Safety Employees Association bargaining units, representing state troopers and correctional officers; Public Employees Local 71, representing labor, trades and crafts employees; Alyeska Central School Employees Association, representing staff at the state correspondence school Murkowski has proposed shutting down; and the Mt. Edgecumbe Teachers Association, representing faculty at the state-run boarding high school in Sitka.

The unions and associations accepted the state's offer of a one-year extension of their current contracts, with an increase of $75 per month for health benefits, according to a governor's office press release. The tentative agreements require ratification by the union membership.

Murkowski said his administration is encouraged by the agreements.

"We asked all the unions to continue their present contracts for one year, to give our administration enough time to get our arms around the revenue shortfall, and to deal with reorganizations of certain state functions," he said in a prepared statement. "Our offer to increase the state's contribution for health insurance from $630 to $705 per employee per month is an increased cost the state should be willing to pay."

Negotiations continue with seven other unions, including three marine labor units, the Alaska Public Employees Association and the Alaska State Employees Association. ASEA, representing office workers, supervisors and others in what's called the general government unit, is the largest state workers' union with 7,500 to 8,000 people represented.

"I look forward to reaching agreement with the remaining bargaining units in a timely manner," Murkowski said.

Negotiated contracts must be submitted to the Legislature by March 21. While lawmakers do not negotiate contracts, they must approve funding for contract costs.

Negotiations on successor agreements will begin next summer.

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