Right to choose
Unsurprisingly, a Superior Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order to block Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration from beginning an opt-in, opt-out program for union membership dues.
The decision, Superior Court Judge Gregory Miller said in a written order, deals only with the Alaska State Employees Association request to temporarily block Dunleavy’s proposal.
The new procedure would allow state employees to opt in or out of paying dues and fees. State Attorney General Kevin Clarkson decided earlier the state is not fully compliant with a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME.
In that ruling, the Supreme Court, citing the First Amendment, said public employees no longer can be forced to pay union dues or fees to get a state job. Moreover, its majority opinion held that the workers must be allowed to opt-in or opt-out of unions.
The state sued the Alaska State Employees Association, the state’s largest union, claiming 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 countersued to retain the status quo.
We suspect this case will provide healthy income for lawyers in the months, if not years, to come, but the state should press ahead to bring Alaska into compliance so that state workers can be allowed to opt-in or opt-out of unions.
In our view, the need, the very existence of public employees unions, is debatable. Public sector unions are absurdities, a terrible idea threatening our very system of government. They hand money to politicians who then decide their contracts. The conflict is palpable.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a liberal’s liberal, got one thing right. He consistently opposed government employees’ unions and said such unions should be illegal “because they concentrate too much power in too few people.”
Alaskans should have the unfettered right to decide whether they will join such unions or remain a member. We hope the Dunleavy administration will pursue the case to the bitter end. Alaska workers deserve their freedom to choose.