Clarkson right on Janus
Despite wailing and moaning from the Left, the U.S. Supreme Court got it exactly right in its Janus v. AFSCME decision that public employees have the right to decide whether they want to pay union dues and so-called fair-share fees, or whether they even want to belong to a union.
Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson got it exactly right when he moved to bring Alaska into line with that ruling, making Alaska the first state to do so.
In August, he issued an opinion that Alaska was out of compliance with the Janus decision and sued the Alaska State Employees Association, the state’s largest union. The lawsuit claimed the ASEA violated members’ rights to freedom of speech by making political statements, but limiting opportunities for them to opt out of dues, fair-share fees and membership.
The ASEA has countersued to retain the status quo and accused the state of an “egregious misreading” of the Janus decision and violating its latest contract. It wants a judge to order retention of the current dues-collection system and the state’s actions declared unlawful.
What the Supreme Court said seem clear enough. Citing the First Amendment, the it not only said public employees no longer can be forced to pay union dues or fees to get a state job, its majority opinion held that the workers must be allowed to opt-in or opt-out of unions.
Alaska’s unions, of course, were fuming at the state’s lawsuit, with the ASEA’s executive director, Jake Metcalfe, suggesting the new tack is “bullying” and an “extremist attack’ and that Gov. Mike Dunleavy is bent on destroying unions.
To us, it looks like nothing more than the righting of a very old wrong.
Our question: How can union membership be a good thing if it is forced? If an employee is made to join a union or pay dues and fees against his or her will, is that not a usurpation of rights, as the high court found? Is not being allowed to leave a union except in a very narrow time frame annually not a usurpation of rights?
Public employee unions in the future will have to sell themselves to workers rather than rely on government as a cudgel to enforce mandatory dues, fees and membership. As an aside, we await the day when somebody can explain why the state must spend resources to collect union dues in the first place or pay for political parties’ primary elections, but that is for another day.
Freedom-loving Alaskans should hope Clarkson and the state prevail.