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March 2011, Week 4

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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
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Tue, 22 Mar 2011 22:09:14 -0400
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By BECKY BOHRER
Associated Press
March 22, 2011
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/03/22/business-us-
alaska-unions_8368336.html

JUNEAU, Alaska -- Collective bargaining rights would
be restricted for many Alaska public employees
under a bill introduced Monday by a
state lawmaker.

Rep. Carl Gatto, R-Palmer, said the bill is similar to
one passed recently in Wisconsin and aimed at keeping
the state on sound financial footing. It keeps intact
bargaining rights for wages but strips them for such
things as health and retirement benefits.

police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians,
whom Gatto says cannot strike.

He likened his bill to the Legislature's doing away
with a defined benefits program for workers and
replacing it with a defined contribution system. The
state is still paying an unfunded liability from the
old system, and without the change, "we would've been
another $20 billion in the hole," he said. "To get
ahead of things is my goal."

Wisconsin's version of the bill sparked protests, and
it's not clear whether Gatto's bill will gain traction
with less than four weeks left in this legislative
session. He said he hadn't really discussed it with his
colleagues though he mentioned it to House Democratic
Leader Beth Kerttula, whom he said wasn't pleased.

Kerttula, in an interview with The Associated Press,
said this proposal and others like it around the
country don't honor the American worker. In Alaska, she
said a big reason that many work in the public sector,
for less than they could make in the private sector, is
the long-term benefits. She said the state already has
trouble retaining teachers, police and other public
employees.

<For the full text, go to www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/03/22/business-us-alaska-unions_8368336.html>

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