Superior court judge delays Dunleavy's union dues collection changes
A Superior Court judge Thursday temporarily halted Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s newly proposed union dues collecting process introduced last week in an administrative order.
The Alaska State Employees Association sought a temporary restraining order until the courts can resolve respective lawsuits on the issue.
Anchorage Superior Court Judge Gregory Miller last week heard arguments for a temporary restraining order on Dunleavy’s new plan for union members. Late Thursday, he agreed with the union writing, "[this] court finds that the State’s actions are causing and will continue to cause irreparable harm to ASEA.”
In a prepared statement, ASEA Executive Director Jake Metcalfe hailed the decision as “a victory for all Alaska workers.”
“As the judge has found in his issuance of the TRO, the state’s actions have no basis and are in violation of our contract and state law,” he said. “It is clear this is a political agenda to rob workers of their freedom to come together for a voice on the job.”
The Alaska Department of Law said in a statement it was still reviewing the decision, having received it late Thursday.
“We are disappointed with the ruling, though we will, of course, abide by the court’s order,” the agency wrote. “The Attorney General continues to stand behind his opinion, and the State will continue to pursue the case to get final resolution on this important constitutional question.”
The dispute began last month when Attorney General Kevin Clarkson filed a lawsuit against ASEA, asserting that the state, not unions, should managed dues deduction rules.
He based the suit on his own Aug. 27 opinion on how he believes the state’s dues deduction process conforms with a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, commonly known as the Janus case.
The two sides disagree over how to interpret the ruling which involved an Illinois man who did not wants dues deducted because he did not support the union.
Even with the lawsuits, Clarkson and Dunleavy pressed for the change under his administrative order last month.
The union responded to the Sept. 16 suite nine days later and, in part, sought the temporary restraining order while awaiting final judgment on the suit.
Miller cited the Janus ruling, which said, “States can keep their labor-relations systems exactly as they are – only they cannot force nonmembers to subsidize public-sector unions.”
Miller agreed, writing members of Dunleavy’s administration, “are enjoined from taking any actions to implement” Clarkson’s August opinion or Dunleavy’s administrative order, nor cant the administration, “make any changes to the State employee dues deductions practices that were in place before” Clarkson’s opinion.
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