Letter: Negotiation over litigation

“Discourage litigation,” advised Abraham Lincoln. “Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker the lawyer has superior opportunity of being a good man.” In his dealings with municipal labor unions, Dan Sullivan failed to follow President Lincoln’s advice. Rather than negotiate with all of eight unions, Sullivan forced through a change to municipal labor law. One judge has already rejected Sullivan’s arguments, and now he wants the Alaska Supreme Court to weigh in. It’s too much litigation.

In six months as acting mayor in 2009, my administration negotiated concessions from seven of the eight unions — and the Assembly approved all seven agreements. We didn’t try to change the law, and we didn’t go to court. We simply sat down with our neighbors, negotiated in good faith, and achieved a compromise. Mayor Sullivan needs to stop litigating and start negotiating.

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