Alaska attorney general sues to limit union dues

Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson filed a lawsuit against the Alaska State Employees Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 52 on Monday, seeking a court ruling that the state can immediately stop garnishing union dues for state workers who say they don’t want to pay them. 

The lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Anchorage also seeks to limit union dues to workers unless the state has “clear and compelling evidence” that they consent to the dues. 

Deputy Attorney General Treg Taylor worked on the lawsuit.

“This is about protecting employees’ First Amendment free speech rights, as enumerated by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Taylor said.

The lawsuit follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision last year, which says public workers who aren’t union members can’t be required to pay dues. It follows an opinion by Clarkson requested by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. 

Alaska State Employees Association Executive Director Jake Metcalfe said the lawsuit shows Dunleavy wants to hobble unions. 

“He clearly wants our members, who keep Alaska running, to keep their mouths shut,” Metcalfe said. “But we’re not going to let him silence our members.”

The lawsuit noted that union officials had threatened to sue after the state informed the union it would stop deducting dues from paychecks for workers who asked for it. The union contract limits the time period to opt out of the union dues to a 10-day period.