Union petitions to add police to borough contract

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1547 has filed a petition with the state for Wrangell Police Department employees to vote on joining the union bargaining unit that represents other borough employees.

The borough assembly met in executive session on May 14 to discuss the petition.

Borough Manager Mason Villarma said the borough will object to the request to add police employees to the union.

Though the borough supports employees unionizing, Villarma said he doesn’t believe the police department and IBEW have enough shared interests.

Borough employees represented by the union are mostly maintenance workers, he said. Villarma worries that adding public safety to the collective bargaining unit would do a disservice to the borough, because it would include such a wide range of jobs. He mentioned perhaps a different union would be a better fit for the police.

The IBEW said a police department employee reached out to them with a request to join the union, but they were unable to comment further.

According to the petition, filed April 17 with the Alaska Labor Relations Agency, at least 30% of department employees support the petition to join the union.

The police department currently has 12 employees who could be part of the collective bargaining agreement which would include the lieutenant, corrections sergeant, police sergeant, police officers, correctional officers, dispatcher and administrative assistants.

Under state law, the labor relations agency can hold a hearing on the petition, or it can decide to move directly to a union representation vote among the employees covered by the petition. If a majority of the employees vote to certify the union, the IBEW collective bargaining agreement with the borough would be expanded to cover the police department employees.


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