CWF in Townhall

Posted by Olivia Grady on Thursday, September 12th, 2019 at 10:02 am - Permalink

Today, Townhall published an article by Senior Fellow Olivia Grady. The article, “Alaska Governor Leads on Pro-Worker and Taxpayer Reforms,” is about the recent outstanding actions of Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy:

“Critics of Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy (R) are hoping to recall the governor for his budget proposal and other reforms. However, the governor is simply standing up for the constitutional rights of Alaskans, following federal and state laws, and ensuring that Alaska continues to prosper.

Dunleavy’s most recent action, for example, would restore the First Amendment rights of Alaska government employees.

On August 27, 2019, Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson released a formal opinion at the request of Governor Michael Dunleavy. The opinion was related to the U.S. Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME.

In Janus, the Supreme Court held that state government workers who chose not to join a labor union could not be forced to pay agency fees to a union. The Court ruled that requiring state government employees to support a union against their will violated their First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court also found that:

“Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay. By agreeing to pay, nonmembers are waiving their First Amendment rights, and such a waiver cannot be presumed. Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U. S. 458, 464 (1938); see also Knox, 567 U. S., at 312–313. Rather, to be effective, the waiver must be freely given and shown by “clear and compelling” evidence.”

In response to the Janus case, Alaska, under former Governor Bill Walker, correctly ended deducting agency fees from the paychecks of nonmembers.

However, the current Attorney General has found that this action is not enough to “protect the First Amendment rights of [Alaska state] employees.” Clarkson noted in his opinion that Alaska workers need to know that they have a choice. They can either pay union dues or not, and their choice will not affect their employment. In addition, they need to be aware that unions could use the dues to fund political speech that these employees disagree with. Finally, an employee’s waiver of his or her First Amendment rights must be contemporaneous.

To read the entire article, please click here.