Look for the union label: Reps. who axed Janus defense money took big bucks from public unions - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, April 7, 2020
HomeAlmanacLook for the union label: Reps. who axed Janus defense money took big bucks from public unions

Look for the union label: Reps. who axed Janus defense money took big bucks from public unions

JOSEPHSON AND CLAMAN PAID WELL TO FIGHT JANUS

The Dunleavy Administration is having to defend itself in court against a public employee union lawsuit resulting from the Administration’s enforcement of the Janus decision.

[Read: A conversation with Mark Janus]

But union-back Democrats in the House of Representatives said “no way” in a House Finance subcommittee meeting last week. They stripped the funding.

COMPLICATED BUDGET MANEUVER

The Dept. of Law in January contracted with an Outside law firm to defend the state from a public union lawsuit against the state’s “opt-in” plan that would comply with the Supreme Court’s Janus decision.

Law planned to pay up to $600,000 for the subject-expert lawyers, as the case resulting from a lawsuit by the Alaska State Employees Association against the Dunleavy Administration, is expected to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

[Read: State will work to protect workers’ rights]

Last week, the House Finance subcommittee, headed by Rep. Andy Josephson, decided there will be no Outside legal counsel. The committee renamed the appropriation title for the “civil division”  in its budget. As a maneuver to protect unions against the Janus decision by the Supreme Court, subcommittee Democrats now call the budget item the “Civil Division Except Contracts Relating to Interpretation of Janus v AFSCME Decision.”

A separate appropriation line is now called, “Legal Contracts Relating to Interpretation of Janus v AFSCME Decision,” and it has just $20,000 in the item, the smallest appropriation legally possible from the subcommittee.

During the hearing, Democrat committee members said they disagree with the Administration’s decision to pursue Janus litigation, and wanted to send a message they will not support spending the money to defend workers’ rights to affirmatively opt-in on union membership, rather than being automatically enrolled in a union, and having to buck union pressure if they want to opt out.

[Read: State employee union gets court to block Dunleavy on union dues collection]

The Democrats on the committee have a conflict-of-interest problem. Two legislators on the House Finance subcommittee who made a point to strip the funding are themselves heavily funded by public labor union political action committees.

In the last election, Rep. Andy Josephson received $18,250 of his total $26,676.73 in campaign funds from Labor Union PACS, which represents about 68 percent of his total campaign funding.

Josephson is, coincidentally, the grandson of Arnold Zander, the first president of AFSCME International.

AFSCME is the union that lost the case against Mark Janus, a public employee from Illinois who did not want his union dues to be used for political purposes and didn’t want to be compelled to pay union dues.

Rep. Matt Claman

Rep. Matt Claman received $15,600 of his total $110,053 in campaign funds from Labor Union PACS and union representatives, which represents about 15 percent of his total campaign funding.

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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

  • Would this be considered an ethics question?

  • Weasels

    • What if a union member of a trade union sued his business manager for failing to uphold or enforce a provision of the union constitution or bylaws? The business manager would spend every available dollar of the union treasury (member’s dues money) to defend himself in the suit. The suing member spends his own money to bring and prosecute the case, hiring his own private attorney. The business manager has exclusive access to the union lawyer or to any outside lawyer that he desires, at no cost to himself. How is this different than the Dunleavy suit?

      • Tom,
        The Business Manager does not have the ability to hire an outside firm without membership approval. If you have ever belonged to Union, participated and paid attention when minutes were read and motion were made for approval you would know this. So when you state “how is this any different from Dunleavy”, while the situation you describe would be unconstitutional in my Union (I would presume most union constitutions would be similar in this area, but I’m not positive), what is similar in the “not made up Union world” is the fact the members could deny the requested funds, exactly like what has happened to Dunleavy.

        • My experience with unions (about 50 years) is that the trade union uses the services of a law firm on a contractual basis. That law firm becomes the legal representative of that union. The union may have the services of in-house counsel, but lawsuits are handled by a firm. The business manager of the union, and his administration, can choose whether to retain the law firm’s services or hire a new firm. That decision does not require membership approval. While the law firm represents the union per se, individual members who bring suit against their own union, the business manager, or the union administration, cannot rely on the legal services of the union. They must find their own lawyer.

  • Suzanne,
    I noticed a few factual errors in this article I’d like to clear up.
    1. There is no automatic enrollment into Union membership. Every new employee since Janus has to affirmatively opt in before any dues can be taken.
    2. Any employee who wishes to opt out, already has that ability. Some Unions have windows every year to opt out, others provide the option all year.
    3. The opt in or out rights exist, this lawsuit stems from the AG’s opinion that everyone should be opted out yearly and have to reaffirm their consent yearly to opt back in, seems slightly overreaching.

    With opt in or out rights already in existence, why should a State fund an outside law firm to the tune of 600,000 (which I think we can both agree does not see this case to its end) on a case that is a mute point. This is an ideologically pushed agenda on the States dime, this seems to meet the criteria for government waste in every sense of the word.

    • What about the thousands of Union members that were required to pay dues before JANUS. Why should they have to opt out. They should be like any other union member who was employed after Janus and must opt in and not be required to opt in.

      And please do tell us what Unions provide the option to opt out at anytime during the year for those who have been paying dues before JANUS. . And tell us what unions have “windows ” of more than two weeks to opt out for the same people.
      No, Union Republican, the intent of Janus is to give workers an informed choice about whether they want to pay dues when the money is used for political purposes they do not agree with. It was not to make it burdensome to not have to pay dues.
      Please provide the requested info. Maybe tell us what is the length of the window that is provided by the unions that represent state and all other public employees.

      • Alaskans First,
        The laws were followed pre Janus, so your objections to pre Janus employees having to opt out is a waste of time debating. The Janus ruling speaks directly to agency fee payers and new employees having to give consent, the first group because the had already opted not to join and the second group is because they’re new employees. Pre Janus members have already given consent and regardless of how you feel about that, the opt out option is there now.

        As far as listing unions opt out process’s for you, go ahead and do your own research. I can assure you it’s not the “burdensome” process you would have these readers believe. Find a real issue to champion and have yourself a great day.

    • Alaska govt union members are required to join a union to keep their jobs—per AK statute, clearly unconstitutional

      • David,
        Incorrect.

  • this is just another example of how this administration is out of touch with Alaskans.
    I belong to a union. I see myself as a greenie. I do not agree with many of the political issues of my union. I do realize that being a union member saves me thousands of dollars a year on health care. Also I have good coverage that is widely accepted. My dues are more than covered by my savings.
    If you want to get rid of unions fix health care. Everyone should be entitled to the same coverage at the same cost. To attempt to destroy unions is an attack on the working person’s ability to better themselves.
    I also appreciate the level of professionalism found in the members of my trade.

  • Clark Penney is the corruption story, 8K a month for what? If he was getting groceries to Hoonah or Angoon in his boat that would be a whole different thing wouldn’t it? But he isn’t is he.

    • You say it would comply with the Janus decision? You mean based off the attorney generals SOLE interpretation of the Janus decision (no other AG in the country agrees). The superior court judge basically laughed this case outside his courthouse. To throw $600k down the drain on a losing court case just so the AG and governor can increase their notoriety in national conservative circles is just ridiculous.

      Also, where was the article on Kevin Clarkson’s conflict of interest in deciding if the Recall Dunleavy campaigns application was legal?

  • Blow. In case you did not notice, this thread is about the affect of a SCOTUS decision on unions ability to collect dues from employees who disagree with how the money is spent by the Unions. Might want to read the article before posting a totally off subject comment.

  • You say it would comply with the Janus decision? You mean based off the attorney generals SOLE interpretation of the Janus decision (no other AG in the country agrees). The superior court judge basically laughed this case outside his courthouse. To throw $600k down the drain on a losing court case just so the AG and governor can increase their notoriety in national conservative circles is just ridiculous.

    Also, where was the article on Kevin Clarkson’s conflict of interest in deciding if the Recall Dunleavy campaigns application was legal?

  • The Josephson campaign didn’t raise $26,600 in the 2018 cycle.

    It raised something over $60,000.

    This large error might suggest there are others in the story.

  • Cathy Giessel co-sponsors a bill to dictate what Pioneer Home residents will pay–and her mother lives in the Pioneer Home. Now these two who are paid for by unions strip funding for litigation about unions. The ongoing lack of integrity in our legislature is so discouraging.

    • Grandma Mary, believe me when I tell you this: the last thing Senator Cathy Bohms Giessel wanted you to know was that her own mother was a resident of the Anchorage Pioneer Home. Now, Giessel looks silly, as an interested party, fully conflicted, in her fight against Governor Dunleavy to statutorially mandate a state-subsidized rate for all PH resident’s. Aren’t you glad that MRAK gives us the facts and not the fluff?

  • Forget the esoteric arguments made above, the best point in Suzanne’s arcticle was her insertion of Clayman wearing Kuspuk! Damn that is funny stuff! Yes! What a damn cross dressing fool!

    Thanks Suzanne.

    • Did you not know that it is a tradition at the Captiol Building that folks participate in Kuspuk Fridays?

  • Reminds us of the quote attributed to Mark Twain, “We got the best government money can buy.”

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