11/30/2000

Alaska officers, city tentatively settle workweek change
[ANCHORAGE, AK]

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) -- City officials and the Anchorage police union have tentatively settled a dispute over former Mayor Rick Mystrom's decision to change the police workweek from four 10-hour shifts to five eight-hour days.

Mayor George Wuerch on Monday called a special Anchorage Assembly meeting for 1 p.m. today to introduce the agreement and schedule it for a public hearing in December. But Wuerch said details would remain secret until Wednesday, when members of the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association get their first chance to look at it.

The proposal must be approved by union members and the Assembly.

Union officials claimed Mystrom's 1994 order violated the police labor contract. An arbitrator agreed with them last year and ordered the city to pay what Mystrom estimated would be about $ 4 million in back overtime owed the officers. Instead, Mystrom filed a lawsuit to challenge the ruling, over the objections of the Assembly's public safety committee.

Wuerch said resolving the dispute has been a priority since he took office in summer.

''We've worked hard to see if we couldn't negotiate a settlement to save our taxpayers some money and get this behind us,'' he said. ''The union has been very forthcoming.''

Still, the talks stalled about a month ago. ''I thought we'd never get to closure, but we kept coming back to the table,'' Wuerch said.

The resolution before the Assembly today will carry only a title and provide no details. It has to be introduced today to meet the requirements of the Assembly's hearing schedule. Assembly members and the public will get their first real look at the deal Wednesday, Wuerch said.

Assemblyman Allan Tesche, a member of the public safety committee, said Wuerch was wise to settle a lawsuit that was costing the city thousands of dollars in attorney fees each month, with dubious chances of success.

''It's good news,'' Tesche said.

Tesche said he learned of the special meeting shortly before noon Monday and talked to Wuerch later.

''I don't know anything about the settlement except that the mayor wants to introduce a resolution appropriating enough money from the fund balance to actually pay the settlement,'' Tesche said. He said he doesn't know what that amount will be.

City code allows the Assembly to hold special meetings on 24-hour public notice.

City, police union reach tentative agreement
Don Hunter; Daily News Reporter
November 28, 2000, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION
Copyright 2000 Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage Daily News
November 28, 2000, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION
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