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Wednesday, November 14, 2018
HomePolitics and PolicyGov. Walker ‘sorely’ disappointed in workers’ rights decision

Gov. Walker ‘sorely’ disappointed in workers’ rights decision

STANDS AGAINST WORKERS’ FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS

The U.S. Supreme Court said its decision on Janus vs. AFSCME was about workers being entitled to their free speech rights and public employees not being forced to pay dues to unions that advocate for candidates and policies the workers may oppose.

But Gov. Bill Walker today opposed the court’s decision, coming squarely down on the side of forced union dues.

Hawkins

On Twitter, Walker wrote, “News out of today is a disappointment: making life more difficult for working people is not the way we grow our economy, stand up for our neighbors, or support our communities.”

“I stand with the many Alaskans who are disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case. This creates an unnecessary obstacle for working people to join behind a unified voice. Still, I am confident that public employee unions will remain the backbone of our state for the foreseeable future,” Walker said in a separate statement.

“Nothing in this decision changes the respect we as the State of Alaska have for the role labor unions play in the operation of state government,” Walker said.

His statement was almost identical to that issued by New Jersey Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy: “This disappointing decision does not in any way diminish our administration’s commitment to protecting the right of public sector employees to organize,” Murphy wrote. 

Jeremy Price, Alaskan director for Americans for Prosperity, called the decision a “game changer.”

“The court said that collective bargaining in the public sector is inherently political speech because it influences policy. It is unconstitutional to restrict the First Amendment rights of those employees who don’t want to engage in that political activity.

“The common refrain is government workers who don’t pay dues are ‘free riding.’ But the public unions have been free riding on the backs of workers who wanted nothing to do with the unions for decades,” Price said.

Before the ruling, public employees could opt out of a portion of their dues that were used for political work. But the effort it took to opt out was onerous, far more than most workers would be able to do. Now, with the Janus decision on the books, it’s clear that public employees will be in a position of “opting in” to unions, rather than opting out.

“The onus is on the unions to show that the employee has given express permission for their money to be taken,” Price said.

Wasilla teacher Kathy McCollum wrote an opinion piece that was published on Fox News today about the thousands of dollars she has been forced to pay to the National Education Association against her will. She wrote, in part:

“In my home state of Alaska, teachers and other public employees are forced to pay fees to unions they didn’t choose to represent them, in order to hold the jobs they love.

“Before moving to Alaska, I was a teacher in Idaho, a right-to-work state, where membership in a union is a choice. I chose not to belong.

“When I arrived in Alaska in 1989, I was shocked to be told that in order to work as a teacher, union membership was mandatory. In addition, the monthly dues would be taken directly from my paycheck and deposited into the union coffers.

“I have now been a public school teacher in Alaska for 29 years and am thankful to have such a rewarding profession. I work hard and want to do this important job, and now I finally won’t have to pay an organization just for the privilege of teaching.

“In addition to the unfairness of having to pay a union just to keep one’s job, my union often used my dues to promote policies I don’t support. The concepts of seniority, tenure and ‘last in, first out’ don’t allow for the possibility that some first-year teachers may get better results than ones who have been working longer,” she wrote.

Candidate Mark Begich agreed with Gov. Walker, however, by saying, “Today’s Supreme Court decision undermines working families in Alaska and across the country. Unions make the entire workforce stronger, safer, and drive the economy.”

Some 23 percent of Alaska’s workforce are members of a union, the third highest percentage in the nation, after New York and Hawaii. In 1964, nearly 40 percent of the Alaska workforce belonged to a union. Most union workers in Alaska are public sector employees, whose dues fill up the bulk of union coffers, which in turn almost always go to support Alaska Democratic Party candidates.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I’ve always been a member of a union if it was available where I worked. I’ve also held office in unions such as shop steward, board of directors & even a short stint as President of a law enforcement association affiliated with a formal union. Unions are beneficial & sometimes a necessity for employees to have fair working conditions or input into their jobs in both the public & private sectors. In fact, they can function as a protection for whistle blowers involving public corruption or public agencies that say or claim accomplishments when, in fact, the claims are misleading or patently untrue.

    It was always frustrating to have non members come to me & want to know why the union wouldn’t deal with this or that problem. Or, to represent a non member in a disciplinary in hopes they would join but then did not. We always wished for collective bargaining where everyone would have to join. But at the same time it didn’t feel right to require people to join if they had no interest or were simply against unions. I found the better job we did as a union the more people would join. But actually, the best thing for union membership was when the employer did things that pissed everyone off. I couldn’t process the membership apps fast enough!

    But in the end, I have to lean toward the right to work concept. An employee’s right to not participate in the union is just as important as their right to join.

    Unions can get out of control too and in today’s politically charged world they (especially public sector unions) seem to embrace liberal, even far left causes, that all members might not appreciate. Sometimes these go way beyond classic working condition concerns & being forced to fund those positions is not right. So I think the court made a good decision.

    • Very well said!

      • Thanks Lisa. Appreciate it.

  • Dave Peck:
    Very well said. It is refreshing to read a well reasoned balanced comment. So long as unions serve the working person they will have an important role in society. In the meantime it is only right that one must not have to pay dues if they do not believe the union is necessary to their job.

    • Thanks Alaskans First!

  • This decision is one of several nails in Walker’s political coffin. And it will hurt Begich as well. This is a red state and it will be redder than ever come November.

  • Unions are anachronistic mafias. Not surprising that Walker and Begich bow to union mafias. Both are clueless at how to efficiently run an organization.

  • Walker your a$$, should be” Sorely” and handed to you!

  • Alaskans cannot cancel walker’s right to work as one of Alaska’s most corrupt governors fast enough.

  • Walker says ” public employee unions will remain the backbone of the state for the foreseeable future.” I think a strong private sector is and will remain our state’s backbone.

  • I am a state employee and have been under two different unions and pay over $60 per month out of my paycheck. I have been to the union meetings, traveled with them and learned quickly the misuse of money spent traveling, their liberal agenda they push down your throats and the high salaries offered to them (more than I made). I am hoping this will get the unions under control and maybe “really” represent their people. Every year I make less and less money, don’t get raises and health insurance goes up out of my pocket, how is this a good deal of representation?

  • Bill Walker! The worst Governor in Alaska history! Thanks for running for reelection and dividing the Democrat vote….. the best thing you have ever done for the State of Alaska.