Judge hands state another setback in union dues case
An Anchorage Superior Court judge for a second time ruled against Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administrative order designed to change how unions’ dues gets collected.
Tuesday’s preliminary injunction comes one month after Judge Gregory Miller issued a temporary restraining order requested by the Alaska State Employees Association.
In Tuesday’s ruling, Miller wrote, “this injunction shall remain in force until further order of this court.”
Assistant Attorney General Maria Bahr issued an emailed statement on the ruling: “The Department of Law is still reviewing the opinion issued by Judge Miller yesterday. We understand the court’s ruling and are preparing for the next phase of the litigation.”
Jake Metcalfe, ASEA’s executive director called the state’s efforts “frivolous.”
“The sad part about it is our members are public employees,” Metalfe said. “They do a really good job of providing needed state services. They want to have a secure job, but this administration is more interested in fighting frivolous battles than figuring out how are they going to provide the services people need and improve the economy.”
The rulings are part of dueling lawsuits over Dunleavy’s efforts to draft new opt-in steps for state workers joining unions.
Driving the dispute is Attorney General Kevin Clarkson’s interpretation of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as the Janus case.
Clarkson said in a written opinion the state does not comply with the Supreme Court’s decision that non-union public employees don’t have to pay dues or agency fees representing them.
But the union contends Clarkson is misinterpreting the Janus case and any changes would violate recent collective bargain agreements between the state and unions.
Dunleavy first issued the administrative order saying he would begin implementing changes next month.
It would have called for union state employees to affirmatively declare they wanted to remain in the union and have dues deducted from paychecks.
In a second order Tuesday Miller denied the Department of Law’s request to grant a final judgment for the state.
He wrote: “The State offers no legal authority for this novel argument – that having lost at the TRO state and offering no new arguments at the preliminary injunction state – that the preliminary injunction should now be denied, that the final judgment should be entered in favor of the State and that ASEA should not be permitted to pursue discovery or a determination on the merits of all five of its counterclaims.”
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.
MORE NEWS FROM KTVA: