Alaska's Pizza, Unions, and Economics

(AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

Alaska probably isn’t the first place one thinks of when one is thinking about pizza, but Alaskans love a good slice, just like anyone else. But Alaska’s own Mary Peltola wants to make that pizza more expensive.


Rep. Mary Peltola took to Twitter to urge pizza workers in Alaska to start a union “real fast,” because she has a hankering for some union-made pizza.

It’s one of myriad similar union-heavy messages from Alaska’s union-backed congressional representative. She urged Starbucks baristas to unionize. She’s pushed the screen actors strike. She wanted a railroad strike.

“Someone in an Alaskan pizzeria start a union real fast,’ she wrote, “because I’m ABSOLUTELY trying to eat a slice from a union shop.”

It’s unclear how a slice from a union shop would taste any different than one from a non-union shop. But Mrs. Peltola is on record (like most Democrats) as a big union supporter, coming out in favor of the millionaires in Hollywood and others in the labor-union movement, and that’s her right. The baffling part of this is how Mary Peltola, an Alaskan born and raised, can look at a big city in the Lower 48 (Brooklyn) and compare that to conditions in Alaska.

Now that a pizzeria in Brooklyn, New York has made the news for requesting a union vote, Peltola wants Alaska to follow suit.

It may cost Alaskans more, however, to share a pizza with Peltola.

Currently, a line cook at Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage starts at $16 an hour. No experience is needed, and it comes with an array of benefits, such as a 401(k) matching retirement plan, health and dental insurance, vision insurance employee discount on food, paid time off, and an energetic working environment. A sous chef at the Bear Tooth Grill, a sister establishment, gets paid $22 to $27 an hour. No degree is required, but two years of restaurant experience is requested.

The average cost of a pizza nationally is $17.81, but in Alaska, that same pizza is going for $21.74, a 22% increase in cost for Alaskans over their fellow pizza eaters in the Lower 48.


Lots of things are expensive in Alaska. That’s a consequence of how many consumer goods have to be shipped up from the Lower 48. Alaskans know this and accept it (grudgingly, at times) but there’s no reason to make things more expensive. But that’s not the main problem with Rep. Peltola’s exhortations to pizza-joint workers. For an Alaska born and raised, Mary Peltola doesn’t seem to be thinking too much about where most pizzas in Alaska are made and sold, and that is overwhelmingly in small shops. Our local deli, for example, is owned and operated by one person; we go in every week or so, pick up a pizza, get some of the local gossip, and pay about what the average cost for Alaskans as noted above. There are a few chains, such as the Great Alaska Pizza Company, but even they only have six locations.

Most Alaskan pizza joints are family operations. You can’t unionize your family. And even in the larger places, unionization, as unlikely as that seems, will only increase costs on something that is already more expensive here than it is in, say, Brooklyn, and one suspects that the union shops would quickly give way to the mom-and-pop places whose costs are still within reason.

I’m cynical enough to believe that Mary Peltola already knows these things, and is posturing, not for Alaskans, but for her fellow House Democrats. Supporting labor unions is a sacrament of the Left, even as they are losing private-sector union voters, as they did in the 2020 POTUS race. In other words, Mary Peltola is virtue-signaling, but assuming this is so, she picked an odd issue to signal on.


Mary Peltola probably wouldn’t be representing Alaska in the House if it weren’t for the ill-advised ranked-choice voting scheme. With a bit of luck, Alaska will send her home in 2024.


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