Anchorage Mayor Sullivan accuses Begich of interfering with municipal labor negotiations

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan wrote a strongly worded letter to U.S. Sen. Mark Begich on Friday, admonishing him for putting union negotiations at risk by entering a closed door meeting with Municipality of Anchorage negotiators and IBEW mechanics at the IBEW union hall Wednesday, Oct. 15. (The letter says that it was Oct. 18. In an interview on Friday night, Sullivan said that it was a typo.) Sullivan, it should be noted, is the candidate running for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket, not the Dan Sullivan who’s running for Senate.

Begich’s campaign said that he hadn’t yet received the letter, and declined comment. They did confirm that Begich visited the union hall this week.

Although Sullivan wasn’t in the room, he heard from muni negotiators that Begich only stayed briefly. However, Begich’s very presence in the room, “put the negotiations at risk,” all the more so because Begich made “disparaging remarks about the current administration,” Sullivan wrote. He also wrote that Begich “attempted to discredit and intimidate the Municipal bargaining team.”

In the interview, Sullivan, who has had a tense relationship with unions. said that he had heard that Begich was urging the IBEW to stay strong in its negotiations, compared the current administration to his, and asked for their votes. Sullivan said that people in the room were “shocked” by Begich’s statements, and that it shifted the power dynamics at a critical negotiation time.

“Under Municipal Code, negotiation sessions are private. As a former Mayor, you should know this. Your actions border on an unfair labor practice,” Sullivan wrote.

He said that Begich owes the municipality an apology.

Read the full letter here.

Contact Amanda Coyne at


38 thoughts on “Anchorage Mayor Sullivan accuses Begich of interfering with municipal labor negotiations

  1. Mayor Dan

    Mike – if you read my previous post you would understand how silly your most recent comment is – I have negotiated 7 of our 9 contracts in the last six months and the terms of AO-37 are contained in each. As for current negotiations, people not on the negotiating team are not allowed, by code, in the room when negotiations are underway, not even the Junior Senator with his biased perspective. What part of this do you not understand?

  2. Turbo

    I will not be voting for either of these two this election.
    I know lots more that will also be voting Walker for Governor and Sullivan for Senate.

  3. Dunsmore

    DB, the law says the negotiations are private, not the conference room. Under your interpretation of the law I should be arrested, since I have been in the IBEW conference room many times. No negotiations were taking place while Begich was there, they took a break to talk to their senator. I doubt Begich had any idea what was going on in the conference room. He’s running in the biggest race in the history of Alaska, and you honestly thing he is paying attention to the conference room schedule for one union office in Anchorage?!

  4. DB

    Mr Dunsmore. Neither Senator Murkowski nor Governor Parnell would have violated city law by entering the negotiations room. Senator Begich was probably trying to get IBEW folks to knock on doors for his campaign.

  5. Dunsmore

    Do you honestly think Senator Begich was present for any negotiations? He has a campaign to run so I can’t imagine he was there for less than 30 seconds and I’m sure they took a break from the negotiation. I can’t imagine that even Sullivan’s administration would have been so disrespectful as to continue the meeting rather than take a quick break to chat with the senator. And I’m sure the same courtesy would have been afforded if it was Sean Parnell or Lisa Murkowski who happened to be in the building.

  6. DB

    Mr Dunsmore, what is “silly” about following the law? Do you pick and choose which laws to follow, just like Mr Obama? This country is a rule of law, not a rule of men (sen Begich). Here’s a solution which you should favor: make public union contract negotiations open to the entire public.

  7. DB

    Thank you, Mayor Sullivan for putting the taxpayers of Anchorage on an equal footing at the bargaining table. It seems that all the firefighters and police union leaders can do is threaten their employers (taxpayers) with the fear of their houses burning down, fear of being burglarized, and the fear of not responding to 911 calls. Seems like a union “slowdown’ or even work stoppage. The public union leaders will stoop to anything to get their way, even putting fear into the hearts of our most fragile, senior citizens.

  8. Mae

    This is a post about Bartender/Mayor Dan, who is throwing a tantrum over boy wonder’s excellent relationship with unions.

    Think about it, Bartender/Mayor Dan just can’t show up at a union hall and expect to get a positive greeting.

  9. Liz

    Thinking before writing is allowed. Also, your statements professing your intelligence and standing in the academic world appear less credible when your writings include poor grammar and misspellings.
    I’m not voting for Begich. He’s toast this election. Maybe he’ll have time to teach him in one of your college classes.

  10. Mike

    I done labor negotiations on the largest construction project in the world and found that sometimes a fresh perspective on the issues can help. While I was not involved in these talks, I do suspected there is more to this story than was presented by Mayor Sullivan. It seems to me he was more interested in making political hay with his letter than pointing out any legitimate concerns with Sen. Begich presence at the talks.

    Mayor Sullivan hasn’t shown me he understands labor negotiation during his tenure as our mayor. He has been disappointing and appear to always say, ” his way or no way” as a basis for negotiations. Unfortunately this form of arrogance does nothing to advance the talks at the table.

    So from what has been reported, it seems one side brought Sen. Begich into the room and the Mayors folks object. So what? Where in the hell was our Mayor? Out measuring carpet for the new office in Juneau? Oh yeah, I forgot the key phrase, “his way or no way” when dealing with organized labor.

    Sullivan has been a disappointment as Mayor and time for him to get out of politics……..

  11. Anonymous

    Hey teacher Mae,

    It’s “whiny” not “whinny.” You can’t think critically, you can’t spell and you can’t be nice. For hte love of God, please find a new job.

  12. Anonymous


    You must have written your own Bible because your theme of nastiness and your liberal agenda do not align with ANYTHING in the Bible. The fact that you teach anyone — albeit likely at a junior college, given the way you write and the flimsy but venomous content you spew — is scary.

    I feel sorry for you and your “students.” God help them.

  13. Mae

    Yup. I teach college students and run a bible study on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

    Seriously, Dan seems overly whinny.

  14. Sam P.

    We’ve come to expect this of Begich. He knew exactly what he was doing to walk in on an active labor negotiation session. Throw the bum out.

  15. Frank McQueary

    Vince, Bill, Byron and the more thuggish members of the union community are feeling their oats right now. Judge Suddock told them that it was alright to lie, cheat and steal after the primary and they have taken his words literally, from the manufactured crisis surrounding the National Guard to the calamitous nostrums which they promulgate in the labor and health arenas and the budget rhetoric which will precipitate another economic collapse when investment capital looks for friendlier climes. This bunch of clowns should never be allowed close to the levers of government. Vince and the unions are supposed to get the best deals they can for their members…no problem there, but when you allow them to control both sides of the bargaining table as when Begich was mayor, you end up with $190k per year tree trimmers. The pretense that this has anything to do with public safety does not hold water. When civil servants are paid as much as 50-75% premiums over the same work in the private sector there is a serious problem.

    Now that Vinnie has bought himself a Gubernatorial candidate and has millions to spend on supporting Begich, and has brought in a group of community organizers from Ohio to help with his ground game, I’m sure that he is feeling pretty full of himself.

    There is one weak spot in his strategy though, neither unions nor bureaucracy create economic growth. Only private investment does that and private is the operative word here…they can pick up their marbles and leave town. The horse Vinnie has chosen to back in the Governor’s race is already involved in a lawsuit against the Point Thompson development and if successful will shut down the major gas play on the North Slope. He is also deeply committed to a gas line, but only one that terminates in Valdez. It seems he has been paid more the $14 million dollars in the last 5 or so years to make that happen. Hmmm…does that create a conflict of interest or what…

    I would venture to say that the AAA bond ratings we have achieved under Parnell’s careful and successful economic development stewardship will be lowered within months if Walker and Mallott are elected and try to fulfill any of their conflicting promises.

    Real disaster awaits my friends but you will not be warned by the media. The same crew who ignored the facts when Ted Stevens was under attack by a corrupt Department of Justice are busy aiding and abetting the dishonest attacks on both Dan Sullivan and Sean Parnell and creating another pseudo crisis just before the election hoping to salvage the floundering campaign of Mark Begich.

  16. Anonymous

    Poor Joanne and Mae – unable to understand that busting into a closed negotiation is a violation of code and is not ‘hanging out with union folks’. If you can’t blog with any intelligent content, then why bother? And Mae is a teacher? Scary.

  17. Joanne

    Sully does everything hidden. Shame on our Mark Begich for hanging out with union folks. I am one of those and I’ll be voting for our new Governor Bill Walker.

  18. Mae

    Poooor Dano, wonder boy, wearing a blue cape no less, flew into one of his rough n tough Union meetings and might of messed it up!

    Quick, someone give Dano a tea cup for his tears!

    Stab me people! The drama oozing out of the mayors office is on overdrive.

  19. Raven

    So inept that you would fire off a “strongly worded” letter based on hearsay. You know Begich would never enter a closed door meeting-especially uninvited. Maybe you’re mad at other things? Did making a mindless, baseless attack on Begich make you feel better?

  20. Raven

    Oh for heavens sake Mark Begich would never barge into a closed door meeting–let alone uninvited. The claim is plain stupid.

  21. Mayor Dan

    Mike – I am so inept at labor negotiations that my administration has, over the last six months, negotiated seven labor contracts that contain virtually all of the provisions of AO-37. These contracts have been ratified by the members and approved by the Assembly. The contracts are fair to the employees and more importantly, fair to the tax payers that have to pay for these contracts. Just the facts.

  22. Dunsmore

    This is ridiculously silly. Sullivan is implying his negotiators are weaklings who would cave in the “mere presence” of the mighty Mark Begich. I think Parnell needs to add wifi blockers to the cave he is hiding Sullivan so he can’t send out these press releases and keep shooting their ticket in the foot.

  23. LS

    Thx for allowing me to repeat Mike Opple
    October 18, 2014 at 2:21 am
    Raven– as Mayor Sullivan stated, municipal code requires union negotiations to be private. That doesn’t mean private with the exclusion of Mark Begich. Pretty simple.

    Reply ↓

  24. Raven

    Let me get this straight…although Mayor Sully wasn’t at the negotiation meeting at IBEW, he sent a “strongly worded letter” based how he heard Begich’s mere presence there changed a meeting’s dynamics? Say what? Did Begich show up in a gorilla suit? Threaten to slap people with 1200 pages of the Affordable Care Act? Begich may be a lot of things, but intimidating is not one of them. I’m sure Mayor Sully also heard his negotiation team had those union meanies up against a wall-right where they wanted them, groveling on the floor. And then…Begich showed up and performed Jedi mind tricks. He did this! He did that! We didn’t stand a chance whaaa!

  25. joeblow

    “….compared the current administration to his, and asked for their votes….”

    Pretty damn sleazy and desperate.

  26. DB

    No surprise here! This behavior from a US Senator is similar to that of union thuggery. Our D Senator is acting as if he is still mayor because he now owes the public employee unions for his first election against Senator Stevens. This is clearly “pay to play” and nothing else. The union funding of candidates, the candidates giving more taxpayer money to the unions continues and continues. It was clear in 2008 when then-mayor Begich gave away the Municipality to the unions. Why should any of us who pay attention think otherwise?

  27. Mike

    Well, Well! Our Mayor, admonishing our Sen. Begich for entering a labor negotiation session. This I find almost comical, because it presumes the Mayor even understands what a negotiation session is in the first place. All I have seen from him and his “labor negotiation team” is a total inemptness in understanding labor relations.

  28. HK

    II love the “technical” and “statutory” brilliance of the D labor creeps trying to justify Begich’s arrogance and inappropriate behavior. I think Begich, in six short years, believes he is above rules, laws and regulations. He’s not. This attitude alone makes him unfit for public office. I am tired of his back rroom deals, selling out to the Seattle fishing fleet, carryiing Obama’s agenda and constant pandering to the liberal special interests while forgetting Alaksa’s interests.
    Criticize Mayor Sullivan all you like. He’s less than perfect; however, compare this mayor to Begich’s term as mayor and he’s an award winning hero. He held down ouir taxes and cleaned up the fiscal mess Begich left.

  29. Mike Opple

    John Q. – as Mayor Sullivan stated, municipal code requires union negotiations to be private. That doesn’t mean private with the exclusion of Mark Begich. Pretty simple.

  30. John Q. Public

    Perhaps Dan Sullivan should look at the law when he or his ghost writer bandy about terms they don’t understand, like unfair labor practices.

    In Alaska Statute 23.40.110. , an unfair labor practice on the part of a union is defined as :”A labor or employee organization or its agents may not

    (1) restrain or coerce

    (A) an employee in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in AS 23.40.080, or

    (B) a public employer in the selection of the employer’s representative for the purposes of collective bargaining or the adjustment of grievances;

    (2) refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with a public employer, if it has been designated in accordance with the provisions of AS 23.40.070 – 23.40.260 as the exclusive representative of employees in an appropriate unit.

    Exactly which of those is he talking about, or is this just part of his war on working people in the Muni?

  31. CPG49

    The mayor was correct in his aadmonishment of Sen. Begich. The senator’s behavior was arrogant and inappropriate. Sure, go ahead give them whatever they want, to hell with the taxpayers! No, senator. To hell with you. This Alaskan is sick that you have chose an east coast liberal agenda over standing strong for Alaska.

Comments are closed.