Union, borough to start contract talks

Posted: Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s current three-year labor contract with its union employees expires June 30, and the two sides have begun negotiations on a new contract.

At its Jan. 2 meeting, Borough Mayor John Williams introduced and the assembly passed a resolution approving a set of labor negotiations procedures mutually agreed upon by the borough and the Kenai Borough Employees Association.

The procedures allow for an observer from the assembly. According to Richard Campbell, the borough’s general services director, whether a final contract is successfully negotiated or is the product of binding arbitration, the assembly must first give its approval before the contract would become active.

The first meeting between the parties is planned Monday, when a schedule for future negotiating sessions will be set. Among the first orders of business will be to determine which articles neither party wishes to change, and to tentatively agree to accept them.

According to the procedures, the parties will next discuss issues and proposals of noneconomic articles. Economic issues will be reserved for discussion after the parties have exhausted talks on the noneconomic issues.

The sessions will be private affairs not open to the public. The borough’s negotiating team will include Campbell, Finance Director Craig Chapman and Central Emergency Services Chief Chris Mokracek.

Representing the association will be Dennis Geary of the Alaska Public Employees Association, Mike Dunn of General Services, Sam Evanoff of CES, and Lynn Carter, president of the Kenai Borough Employees Association. Campbell and Geary will be the chief negotiators for the respective sides.

The procedures also outline a process leading to a “declaration of impasse and arbitration” should that become necessary concerning contested items. Both sides would share the cost of an arbitrator.

Once a draft contract is developed, it will be submitted to union members for ratification. After receiving the ratified contract, the borough will submit it to the assembly at the next regular meeting.

Union member Mike Dunn said it is the intention of the two sides to seek another three-year pact.

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