Alaska governor working quickly to defend public employees’ First Amendment rights

Last year’s Janus v. AFSCME decision by the U.S. Supreme Court freed public employees from being forced to financially support a government union, but the affected states are not fully in compliance with the ruling, and Alaska is working to be the first state to change that.

Under the direction of Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, the state’s government agencies were ordered to obtain the clear and affirmative consent of public employees before deducting union dues from their paychecks. Because the High Court made it clear that an employee waiving his or her First Amendment rights “cannot be presumed,” dues authorization cards signed before the Janus decision do not meet this affirmative consent component. State employees are also bound to annual resignation “windows” that limit when they can withdraw their consent. Governor Dunleavy’s proposed policy changes would secure each worker’s rights and set an example for other states to follow. He writes,

Earlier this year, I instructed my attorney general, to review all my administration’s employee policies. It was discovered that the state was not in compliance with Janus. I quickly endorsed a plan to conduct a rigorous legal review and agreed to immediately implement proposed policy remedies.

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

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 state’s 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.

The Center will continue to call on Governor Walz to follow suit and fully restore Minnesota public employees’ First Amendment rights. It is his legal obligation as governor to hold the state in compliance with the Janus v. AFSCME decision.

If you are a public employee whose union resignation attempts have not been honored, please join our community of Minnesota public employees. We are here to help you exercise your rights!