The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly unanimously approved allocating $50,000 in federal CARES Act relief to the personal protective equipment reimbursement program which helps businesses and non-profits pay for items such as face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. This came at the request of business owners in Ketchikan.

In other business, the assembly on Tuesday considered one-year extensions for four collective bargaining agreements. The agreements are with the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots; the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1547, and the Alaska Public Employees Association. Because of economic uncertainty related to the pandemic, borough management approached each of the unions asking to roll over existing contracts with a few minor modifications.

Assistant Borough Manager Deanna Thomas recommended the Assembly postpone approving the agreement with the IBEW.

“We don’t quite yet have a clear meeting of the minds. They need to bring the agreement back to their membership to vote on before the assembly votes on it.”

Thomas says the IBEW’s contract doesn’t expire until March, allowing time if further negotiations are needed. The assembly unanimously approved postponement.

After lengthy discussion, the other three agreements passed 4 to 1, with assembly member David Landis voting against. Under the agreements the assembly would have the option to approve cost-of-living increases for union employees. At its May 4 meeting, the assembly voted against a COLA for all borough employees due to financial concerns. Landis said that it’s unfair making an exception for the borough’s unionized workforce.

“Your Honor, I’m not inclined to support these until we go back and do what we need to do, in my opinion, for the non-represented employees who were bypassed. It just wasn’t right.”

Thomas recommended approving contracts which would otherwise expire in December and, leaving the question of cost-of-living adjustments open for now.

“If, for some reason, the assembly wanted to revisit that decision and have us bring back the non-rep, 3% COLA, we would do so and that would not trigger anything in these contracts.

Assembly members agreed to revisit the issue, and it will be put on the agenda at the borough assembly’s next meeting.

In ceremonial matters, Mayor Rodney Dial proclaimed October 23 – 31 as Red Ribbon Week. The proclamation acknowledges problems with alcohol and drug abuse, and encourages residents to participate in drug prevention education activities.

Prior to the regular meeting, outgoing members Alan Bailey and Susan Pickrell were recognized, and newcomer Jeremy Bynum welcomed and sworn in. Returning assembly member A.J. Pierce also received the oath of office. Judith McQuerry was absent and will be sworn in at a future meeting.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly is Monday, November 2nd