State reaches tentative deal with union

Posted: Sunday, March 23, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- The state reached a tentative deal with all but two of its labor unions by a Friday deadline, the governor's office said.

The one-year contracts include $75 a month more for health insurance, but no cost-of-living increase. The deals need legislative approval before they're final.

The administration characterized the deal as a ''one-year reprieve'' that allows time to address the state's budget shortfall and reorganization. Among the bargaining units that have signed on is the Alaska State Employees Association, the state's largest union with about 8,000 members.

ASEA business manager Jim Duncan said Friday the contract includes several non-monetary provisions the union had sought.

The union plans to seek cost-of-living increases during bargaining for the next contract, Duncan said.

''We don't think this is adequate. (But) the negotiating team clearly says this is the best we can do,'' Duncan said.

Contracts for all 12 bargaining units expire June 30. Assuming the one-year extensions are approved by the Legislature and the unions' members, talks will begin in August on non-monetary terms for new long-term contracts. Money issues will be negotiated during the fall budget process, the governor's office said.

The agreements were announced Friday, the deadline to present the agreements to the Legislature. The deals will boost the state's labor cost by about $12 million.

An additional $2.6 million has been allocated in Murkowski's proposed 2004 budget for nonunion employees, the governor's office said.

The two unions that haven't agreed to the deal are the Masters, Mates and Pilots and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, the governor's office said.

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