Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Thursday introduced an administrative order mandating about 12,000 state employees covered under collecting bargain agreements to affirmatively say they want to pay union dues.

The order calls for unionized employees to formally either opt in or opt out of having dues deducted from their paychecks. This must be done annually.

According to a Department of Administration timeline, on Dec. 2 the “process of dues collection will be discontinued; pre-existing authorizations will be voided.”

“It’s a simple process,” said Attorney General Kevin Clarkson during an afternoon news conference. “It’s all about employee choice.”

In a prepared statement, the AFL-CIO said the administrative order, “flies in the face of bargaining in good faith.”

Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka said dues will continue to be deducted until the new system is in place.

The order, which is essentially a governor articulating policy changes in writing, follows a week of back-and-forth court filings highlighting differing interpretations over a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

It’s known as the Janus decision and Clarkson said the state is no longer compliant with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Last week Clarkson filed a lawsuit asking the court to clarify the legality behind the state's decision to stop deducting the dues from employee paychecks. 

On Wednesday, the Alaska State Employees Association responded with several court filings, including a response calling for the courts to dismiss the state’s suit with prejudice and cover the union’s attorney’s fees.

The two sides disagree over how to interpret the ruling which involved an Illinois man who did not want dues deducted because he did not support the union.

Even with the lawsuits, Clarkson said the governor wants to move forward with the new plan under the governor’s order.

“Why an AO instead of litigation? Because the AO puts this plan in place,” Clarkson said. “The governor is going to move forward. Simply because the unions have objected doesn’t mean the governor stops, so the AO goes forward.”

Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich isn’t buying Clarkson’s explanation.

“Clearly, Governor Dunleavy does not believe he can win the legal challenge against his earlier action, so he is doing everything he can to dismantle protections for working-class families before the courts can rule,” Begich said in a prepared statement. "These are hard-working Alaskans that the Governor is directly attacking.” 

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