State still says new public employees must enroll with union



The Janus vs AFSCME ruling at the Supreme Court in June was unambiguous in deciding that union membership for public employees is optional.

But the State of Alaska promotes it as a requirement for new employees, and gives no information on how to opt out.

The Janus decision says government workers must have a choice when it comes to union membership, The question before the court was from a child-support worker in Illinois, who didn’t want to join the state union: To keep their jobs, should government employees be forced to fund the political agendas of unions, even if they disagree with them?

The Supreme Court’s answer was no.

Public-sector unions do work that is inherently political, including lobbying and bargaining with the government and telling the government what it should spend. This is political speech, protected by the First Amendment. But forcing workers to pay for speech they disagree with violates their First Amendment rights.

But the Walker Administration is dragging its heels in implementing the Janus decision:  at the Department of Administration, several online notices state that enrolling in union membership is a requirement for newly hired employees and is time sensitive. Two of them are shown here:

While Gov. Bill Walker recently signed Administrative Order 296, saying that, in response to the Janus ruling, the state cannot give workers’ information to unions, nor force or coerce membership in them, his Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas penned her own stunning analysis of the Janus ruling, calling it a “right to work for less” policy and “forcing unions to represent free riders who pay nothing but receive union benefits.”

She wrote the Janus ruling is after one thing: “bust unions, which have long been the foundation of America’s middle class.”

Drygas’ essay may be the political signal that indicates the State is going to take its time in changing policies relating to union membership. Here is her essay in full:



At the recent joint Chamber of Commerce candidate forum in Wasilla last month, gubernatorial candidates Gov. Bill Walker and Mark Begich both said they oppose the Janus ruling.

To date, no information is easily available at the State’s websites telling employees how they may opt-out of the unions. Instead, the State appears to be dragging its feet on compliance with Janus — and taking its cue from the chief executive, whose reelection campaign is (not coincidentally) enjoying strong government union support.


  1. Walker needs the forced dues from his minions. The SCOTUS stated all members will have to opt in, not opt out..

  2. OK, here’s the issue: the State is signatory to valid contracts that require it to tell employees that they must pay the dues or fees. The real question is whether the contract provisions are enforceable since it is going to take you three years to get to the AK Supreme Court, and, if necessary, another three years to get to the US Supreme court.

    Now some concerned citizen needs to sue to establish that the contract provisions that the State is enforcing are un-Constitutional; anybody ready to give up five years and raise several million dollars for that? That’s the game that is being played, folks.

  3. If people want to join their union great. I support that 100%.

    But if the government employer won’t respect the supreme court decision maybe the way to go, as a new employee, would be just refuse to sign up for the dues deduction & let the union try to enforce the contract provisions. If somebody forges the employee signature make a criminal forgery complaint. Existing employees might be able to revoke their signature authorizations. Then, in any of those cases, ask for back pay if you loose the job in the process for the 3+ years you might loose waiting for your day in court. Maybe you could even get an attorney to take the case based on their receving a % of punitive fees. That could get very expensive for the state & the union.

    It’s all a nasty business in which the employee suffers as the pawn & the union ironically becomes the oppressor no matter how you approach it.

    • You can’t get punitive damages from the State, plus a lot of attorneys are just living for the day they get that contract to represent the State on some big case, so it is hard to find one that will actually take on the State. The unions have already trotted out their argument based on interference with a contract in other states, so expect the state to say that it can’t comply with Janus until contracts currently in effect expire. It’s a BS argument, but it buys the unions and Democrats two or three more years of compelled dues that they can use to try to buy a new government.

      • Thanks for the reply Art. I forgot you can’t get punitive damages from the state. Maybe there is someway to go after the union then. I don’t know. I’ve always hated getting boxed in by something like this. I used to fight against it on behalf of unions from the other direction. But specifically government employee unions have crossed a bridge too far for my liking now-a-days.

        Enjoy your frequent contributions to Must Read Alaska. Thank you!

        • Sue the state to have the union security provisions of the agreements invalidated since they are illegal. The contract impairment argument would hold if it were a newly enacted statute, but the Court said those provisions are simply illegal.

          Thank you for the kind words!

  4. So here is a question for Art.
    If a new hire starts working for the SOA near the end of June and doesn’t contact the APEA/SU to start the dues collection process, can the SOA compel that employee to forfeit dues to the union even though the employee started their employment after the JANUS decision, and the SOA signed a new contract with the union effective July 1st?

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