The strike is over, at least for now.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Wrangell Borough officials are returning to the bargaining table today.
IBEW leader Dave Reaves said the union emailed Wrangell’s borough manager, finance director and assembly members Wednesday morning, asking for talks to resume.
“We’d be willing to put the unfair labor practice … in abeyance, which basically means it would be paused or put on hold if they were willing to come back and talk,” he said Wednesday afternoon.
Interim Borough Manager Carol Rushmore this morning said the two sides would begin talks at 9 a.m. today.
About 25 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers voted last week to go on strike. That came after the union and municipality rejected each other’s final contract offers.
The main difference between the two sides is a wage increase. The borough offered 75 cents an hour, while the union proposed $2.50 an hour.
Meanwhile, the municipality hired temporary workers to fill in for striking employees.
Rushmore told Assembly members Tuesday night that one was working in the water department.
She said another was at the solid waste transfer station. It’s open reduced hours, though there’s increased demand, because the strike stopped curbside garbage pickup.
Rushmore said there are other problems at the transfer station.
Only one of the usual two large containers used to ship trash south was delivered by barge this time around. That could complicate operations.
“If that container fills up pretty fast, we may actually have to close the dump again because we have nowhere to put the trash,” she said.
In addition to the temps, approximately 35 managers and other non-union staff continued to work.
Union members left the picket line to help with several emergencies during the strike.
Reeves said electrical crews took care of two power outages.
“The first day, there was an eagle that got into some lines. The linemen responded and fixed that. That outage included the hospital. And then the other day there was another outage, a transformer had internal problems and a crew responded and fixed that too,” he said.
The Wrangell Assembly held a closed-door executive session on the strike with its attorney during its Tuesday meeting. But members made no announcement after it was over.