By Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s administration has negotiated its first deal on a new contract with the city’s largest employees union.

The Anchorage Municipal Employees Association approved the contract Dec. 8, which includes annual raises of 1.5 percent over the next three years and a change in how the city calculates paying increased medical costs.

The proposed agreement calls for the city to pay 60 percent of future increases in health care costs, with employees paying 40 percent. Under the previous contract negotiated by former Mayor Dan Sullivan’s administration, the city’s share was based on medical inflation, The Alaska Dispatch News reported (

Karen Turner, director of employee relations, said the medical cost to the city in 2016 will remain mostly unchanged by the new calculation.

The new contract also bases seniority on worker classification rather than time spent in an individual department and requires 15-minute breaks for part-time workers. It also allows for the first time union members to make voluntary contributions to the union’s political action committee in the form of a payroll deduction.

“We just want to make sure we’re treating employees with respect, compensating fairly and also make sure we’re protecting taxpayers’ interests,” Turner said. “We think we’ve achieved that with this contract, and plan to with future contracts.”

AMEA President Dana Norris said some members were disappointed in the size of the raise, but others were “ecstatic.” The union is pleased with the contract overall, she said.

The union is the city’s largest with about 500 members.

The Anchorage Assembly will have 30 days to review the contract before taking a vote.


Information from: Alaska Dispatch News,

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