A Superior Court ruled on Monday against Anchorage, Alaska, Mayor Dan Sullivan who sought to block a proposed referendum to repeal an anti-working families law he signed in March. A coalition of municipal unions and their allies filed the paperwork to launch a petition drive to get the repeal on the ballot, but the city rejected the application.
The unions sued and the court found the city was wrong to conclude that the matter was ineligible for a referendum.
The coalition announced on Twitter that it will begin gathering petitions on Thursday.
The city labor ordinance, originally submitted to the assembly by Sullivan, stripped power from eight city unions. It removed the right to strike, limited annual pay increases, outlawed performance bonuses or incentives in future contracts and set up a system for outsourcing some work done by city employees.
Anchorage Superior Court Judge Eric Aarseth ordered the ordinance, Anchorage Assembly Ordinance 37 (AO37), to be suspended immediately. Sullivan is considering an appeal to the state Supreme Court and has 30 days to file it.
Joelle Hall, director of operations for the Alaska AFL-CIO, said, "The importance of this issue cannot be overstated." She added:
The mayor was able to pass this ordinance in lame-duck session. Immediately after the passage, the voters communicated their disapproval by voting against the mayor's endorsed candidates. We are certain that when we repeal AO37, the newer members of the legislature will hear the people loud and clear. Alaskans don't want to be pitted against one another, we all want to work to grow our young state.
Hall said she is confident the coalition will be able to gather enough signatures to place the repeal on the ballot and that the voters will vote to repeal AO37.