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Alaska court halts governor’s bid to hurt public service workers

Photo credit: Getty
By AFSCME Staff ·

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Public service workers in Alaska have won a major victory against one of the nation’s most virulently anti-union politicians.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and his former attorney general, Kevin Clarkson, invoked the Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court ruling as a false pretext to further attack public service unions.

But an Alaska judge has permanently blocked the Dunleavy administration from making it harder for public service unions to harder for public service workers to support their union – and, in the process, have a voice on the job. Read Superior Court Judge Gregory Miller’s opinion.

The same judge issued a temporary restraining order in October 2019. This month, he made the ban permanent.

The Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA/AFSCME Local 52) issued this press release in response to Miller’s order:

Superior Court Judge Gregory Miller found that the State of Alaska breached its collective bargaining agreement with ASEA, breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violated the separation of powers enshrined in the state constitution and Public Employee Relations Act, and violated the Administrative Procedures Act.

The court further ordered a permanent injunction against the State of Alaska for the state’s attempted interference with ASEA membership and union administration, which began in 2019.

In addition to the permanent injunction against state interference, Judge Miller ordered the state to pay ASEA more than $186,000 in damages.

ASEA Executive Director Jake Metcalfe said he is pleased with court’s decision.

“The governor took a radical and unsupported legal action that hurt all state employees. This has wasted state resources, time, and attention from other more important issues like governing. The court agreed with us and held that the Clarkson opinion and the governor’s order and illegal administration policies it propped up are not supported in law,” he said.

The court cites interference by the state, particularly through actions by Gov. Mike Dunleavey, Clarkson, and Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka when they sought to unilaterally modify union membership procedures, to implement the August 27, 2019, Clarkson legal opinion and Administrative Order 312, and to circumvent the state’s collective bargaining obligations by direct dealing with bargaining unit members.

“We are grateful for the permanent injunction, not only for ASEA members but for every public employee union in Alaska. This injunction allows all of us to continue our representation and work to make life better for every employee, public or private, in Alaska,” Metcalfe said. “ASEA looks forward now to working with the state on the real and important issues facing our members, like their health and safety in the workplace.”

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