Local News

Contracts approved, but called ‘unsustainable’

City of Sitka employees belonging to two unions have a new contract. The Assembly approved deals with the Alaska State Employees Association and the Public Safety Employees Association, five days before their contracts were set to expire on June 30.

The ASEA represents 62 city government employees. Under the terms of a three-year contract, they’ll see a 3.5 percent wage increase on July 1 of this year, and then increases of 2.5 percent and 2 percent in the following two years. The city will cover 90 percent of health insurance premiums for those workers.

The PSEA represents 28 employees at the Sitka Police Department. They will see raises between 4-and-a-half and 5 percent on July 1. They get no increases the year after that, and then their salaries go up between 2 and 2.5 percent in 2015. The city covers 100 percent of the health insurance costs for members of the police union.

Thor Christianson and Phyllis Hackett voted against the police contract. Hackett also voted against the deal for general city employees.

“We can’t sustain it,” Hackett said. “It’s always more, more, more … and we just can’t afford it. The people of Sitka can’t sustain it.”

Other Assembly members voiced agreement during the meeting that the contracts will work with the budget ahead, but that future years won’t be able to support continued growth. They called the deals “unsustainable.”

Alaska State Employees Association Executive Director Jim Duncan says his union is happy with the deal for Sitka workers.

“This contract isn’t overly stated as far as wage increases go, and it recognizes very clearly the sacrifice that our members made in the previous three year contract when they agreed to a zero-percent increase,” Duncan said. “Everybody wants to do better, but Sitka is doing well. We believe it is sustainable and we’ll be working with the Assembly to make sure that’s understood as time goes forward.”

Both deals expire on June 30, 2016.

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