The Haines Borough and Public Employees Local 71 are in the midst of labor negotiations.

Borough manager Annette Kreitzer said 17 of the 22 articles of the borough employee’s collective bargaining agreement have been agreed to, not including wages and benefits.

“As can be expected in almost any labor negotiation, wages and benefits remain to be discussed,” Kreitzer told the CVN.  “We’ll start in on those April 5 and 6.  We did agree to ground rules with Local 71 to not discuss specifics of the negotiations while the process is underway.”

The collective bargaining agreement covers not only pay and benefits but grievance procedures, leave, employment practices and other matters.

Haines Borough staff are underpaid relative to similarly sized communities based on an Alaska Municipal League salary survey.

According to Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Statistics, Haines’ average monthly wages in 2019 (pre-pandemic) were $3,376, below many other communities in Southeast. Local government jobs’ monthly wages in Haines, including teachers, fell just below its total average. The opposite is true in towns like Petersburg, Sitka and Skagway where local government jobs pay above average in their communities.

Public Employees Union Local 71 representative Trenton English told the CVN in October that since the last round of negotiations three years ago, he’s seen the borough assembly increase Haines’ police chief and manager pay above average compared to like-sized towns.

“I’ve seen the assembly pass two new contracts, which gives me hope that they’re valuing their employees a little more,” English said last fall. “The two contracts I’ve seen, they’re both well ahead of anything I can find for like-sized cities.”

Kreitzer said the borough wants to reach an agreement “that is sustainable for the future and that recognizes the importance of our current employees.”

“Our mutual goal with the union is to recruit and retain excellent employees,” she said.