Yesterday Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy announced an executive order to help protect the First Amendment rights of all state employees under the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision. Under the new rule, the State of Alaska will deduct union fees only from the paychecks of employees who have filed a waiver with the state acknowledging their wishes to have union dues taken from their paychecks despite their right under Janus not to fund any union activities.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix lauded Alaska’s defense of state workers’ First Amendment rights:

“Every American employee deserves the right to choose, free of coercion or manipulation, who will be his or her voice in the workplace. The Supreme Court in Janus extended this freedom to all public sector employees, and Alaska took a major step forward yesterday in protecting the First Amendment rights of state employees recognized in Janus.

Alaska is proactively ensuring workers are not relinquishing their First Amendment rights absent the clear and knowing voluntary waiver required by the Janus precedent. We urge other states to follow Alaska’s lead and prioritize the constitutional rights of state employees under the Janus precedent.”

Days after the ruling came down, Foundation Legal Director Raymond J. LaJeunesse sent a letter to then-Alaska Department of Administration Commissioner Leslie Ridle and 20 other payroll managers in states with forced union dues for government employees urging them to fully comply with the decision by stopping payments unless employees have given a knowing waiver of their First Amendment right not to fund union activities. The letter points out that the Supreme Court’s decision specifically held that a waiver of such rights “’cannot be presumed[,’ r]ather, to be effective, the waiver must be freely given and shown by ‘clear and compelling’ evidence.”

LaJeunesse’s letter also asserted that, if state comptrollers did not comply with Janus, “Foundation staff attorneys will bring a civil rights action seeking class-wide injunctive relief.” To date, Foundation staff attorneys have filed over 30 lawsuits seeking to enforce workers’ rights under the Janus precedent.       

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