Anchorage mayor expects layoffs

Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan said the refusal of unions to agree to a shorter work week will mean layoffs and cuts in public services next year.

"There's going to be some hue and cry out there as, I think, people see programs reduced, hours reduced, that sort of stuff, but it's what you have to do to balance the budget," he said.

The largest union, the Anchorage Municipal Employees Association, voted down a proposal Monday for a 37.5-hour work week, which would have meant a pay cut of more than 6 percent.

Sullivan told The Anchorage Daily News he's still asking unions to suggest concessions that would help make up a $20 million shortage in revenue needed for a continuation budget in 2010.

Sullivan faces an Oct. 1 deadline to submit his budget to the assembly.

The mayor said he knew the workweek decision wasn't easy for employees, many of whom won new wage increases in long-term labor contracts approved by the city and Assembly late last year.

"One of the things they asked was, will this guarantee no layoffs in the future?" Sullivan said. "We can't guarantee that because frankly this budget situation gets worse in each subsequent year."

Union officials had complained that Sullivan and his executives hadn't given them enough information about the workweek change.

Employee Relations Director Nancy Usera said some layoffs would likely be necessary even if the employees accepted shorter hours.

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