Dunleavy announces creation of opt-in program for collection of union dues

Gov. Dunleavy announces the creation of an opt-in program for public-sector unions that he says will help bring the state into compliance with a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision. (Image from the governor's Facebook page)
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy and administration officials announced today that they are issuing an administrative order that requires the Department of Administration to create an initial opt-in program for state employees to decide whether or not they want to have union dues deducted from their paychecks.

The program is expected to be online by Dec. 2, according to Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka.

The Dunleavy administration's Department of Law issued an opinion on Aug. 27 saying that the state was not in compliance with the the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, which said that public-sector unions requiring non-union members to pay union dues is a violation of free speech.

The Department of Law opinion argued that because many public-sector unions had an opt-out policy for employees not wishing to pay union dues, the unions were not in compliance with the Janus decision requiring an affirmative consent to pay.

The Department of Law opinion from August said that the state would be overseeing the payment or non-payment of union dues by public employees, something that unions had previously done without direct oversight. This latest administrative order offers clearer guidance of how the state will actually implement that oversight.

Public union leaders slammed the order.

Jake Metcalfe, president of Alaska State Employees Association, which represents over 8,000 state employees, told KTUU in a phone call that the administrative order is "not worth the paper it is written on."

Alaska State Employees Association has an active lawsuit against the Dunleavy administration over its interpretation of the Janus decision and says ASEA will file a temporary restraining order and calling for a preliminary injunction from the courts tomorrow, which he said he is confident about.

Metcalfe called the latest action an attack on public services and public sector workers, and said that at this point he was not confident about a negotiated solution.

"There is no reason to come to the table that I can see."

The press conference was held at the Governor's Conference Room on the 17th Floor of the Atwood Building in downtown Anchorage.

Sean Maguire contributed reporting to this story.

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