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Overreach: Union should drop request for retroactive pay

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Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2012 9:22 am | Updated: 4:16 pm, Fri Jan 25, 2013.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial

Most people probably understand that automatic annual pay increases and retroactive pay increases have become increasingly rare items across the nation in this difficult economy.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly on Thursday rejected a proposed contract with the union representing 56 of the borough's top - and best paid - administrators.

The contract clearly over-reached with its provision giving increases retroactive to last year. That chafed people who testified against the agreement and irritated some assembly members.

Relations between this group of employees and the Borough Assembly was sour to begin with, given that it was the assembly that last year - and at the last minute in the budget cycle - denied these workers an increase. That action prompted the group to organize with the Alaska State Employees Association/American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Assemblywoman Diane Hutchison said in May 2011, during the meeting at which the assembly froze the scheduled pay increase, spoke bluntly about why the raises were being denied. "In the private sector you can't just expect when the economy is at a stagnant level to just keep increasing people's taxes and not have the government adjust accordingly."

She works in the private sector. She knows how it is.

And that sentiment holds true today.

But now what?

There's a proposal to be reworked.

This group of borough employees, who include department heads, needs to abandon the demand for a retroactive increase if it is to have any hope of securing a contract. Going back in time to give a pay raise simply isn't going to go over among local taxpayers nowadays. The actual dollars per household impact on taxpayers would be minimal, but that's not the point. Taxpayers have simply had enough, and the union needs to recognize that.

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