Governor of Alaska: My state will be the first to comply with SCOTUS’ new union ruling. – USA TODAY

Posted: November 25, 2019 at 2:47 pm

Mike Dunleavy, Opinion contributor Published 6:00 a.m. ET Nov. 23, 2019

No one should be forced to give their money to issues they don't support. That's why my state is working quickly to implement this new decision.

Recently,Idirectedmy states government agencies to defend our employees First Amendment rights by complying with last yearsJanus v. AFSCMESupreme Courtruling. Our unionized state workers should be able to notify their employers, whether they consent to the withdrawal of union dues from their paychecks. This consent may be withdrawn at any time.

As a result, Im proud to report that Alaska will become thefirst stateto comply with the Supreme Courts directive that governments obtain the clear and affirmative consent of each worker. These reforms will ensure that our hardworking public servants retain their freedom of association and cannot be forced to support political organizations with whom they do not agree.

As an Illinois state employee, Mark Janus believed it was unconstitutional for the state government to automatically deduct the local unions fair share fee from his paycheck. That money was then used to subsidize political activity he opposed. The Supreme Courtagreed, finding that all public union dues and fees must be deducted with the affirmative consent of each employee.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy(Photo: Beck Bohrer/AP)

Because the compelled subsidization of private speech seriously impinges on First Amendment rights, it cannot be casually allowed,writesJustice Samuel Alito.

The justices also made it clear that an employees waiving of their First Amendment rights cannot be presumed.

Earlier this year, I instructed my attorney general, to review all my administrations employee policies. It wasdiscoveredthat the state was not in compliance withJanus. I quickly endorsed a plan to conduct a rigorous legal review and agreed to immediately implement proposed policy remedies.

Teacher: Supreme CourtsJanus v AFSCMEruling will force unions to be more accountable

The attorney generals suggested fixes addressed several key deficiencies. For example, state employees were previously given a brief10-day windoweach year to withdraw their consent. Worse, these records were procured solely by the unions, meaning the state could not hope to verify the clear and compelling evidence of consent thatJanusrequires. Employees should be able to change their mind at any point and not need to obtain union paperwork to do so, ensuring that consent is freely given or revoked.

And for those that have sought to downplay the significance of violating the First Amendment for their own political gain, I would point out that the impact on our workers was not simply an abstract constitutional concern. The effect of this free speech violation had direct financial repercussions on the lives of our families.

For reference, about70 percentof this hypothetical familys dues will be spent on political activism and litigation, such as the litigation ASEA recently initiated to strip members of their First Amendment rights. An additional 22 percent of those dues are given to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest and most politically active public employees union in the U.S.

I fully support those who chose to voluntarily redirect a portion of their paychecks to ASEA and AFSCME in support of such activities. The right to freely associate is, after all, constitutionallyprotected. However, I find it unacceptable that a family who no longer agrees with a unions lobbying efforts is forced to continue to fund a political organization against their will.

This is wrong. Not simply because the Supreme Court or Alaskas attorney general deemed it so, but because no organization governmental or political should possess the power to forcibly strip individuals of their constitutional rights. No American should be forced to associate with a political group with whom they disagree, regardless of any prior support.

Should political entities seek to deny Alaska public servants their freedom of association, I will make certainthat my administration wage a tireless battle to secure each workers unalienable rights.

No one should be forced to join a union: We need to pass the National Right-to-Work Act.

The question still remains that not all states have yet to fully comply withJanus.I respect that all governors are confronted with a myriad of important issues and each must prioritize the order as it meets their states needs.My state is unique in that it employs a larger percentage of public employees that other states do not. Therefore, not complying withJanus infringesupon the rights of a larger portion of our population.

Additionally, as other states review this landmark decision by the Supreme Court, some of my fellow governors may share these concerns and take similar steps to protect their states workers. The belief that state employees should be free to practice their First Amendment rights, 365 days a year, is a profound and deeply rooted conviction held by many freedom-loving Americans across the country.

MikeDunleavy is the governor of Alaska. Follow him on Twitter: @GovDunleavy

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Governor of Alaska: My state will be the first to comply with SCOTUS' new union ruling. - USA TODAY

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