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Alaska Supreme Court sides with ASEA, orders state to pay nearly $450,000 in damages

ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 Executive Director Heidi Drygas speaks at a recent rally at the Alaska Capitol. Photo: ASEA/AFSCME Local 52
Alaska Supreme Court sides with ASEA, orders state to pay nearly $450,000 in damages
By Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA)/AFSCME Local 52 ·

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled in no uncertain terms that Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration broke the law by taking actions to interfere with public employee unions. The court further affirmed a lower court’s permanent injunction to prohibit the state from unilaterally implementing its unlawful actions in the future.

The Dunleavy administration also has to pay ASEA $450,000 in damages, legal fees and interest.

“While we are unsurprised by this decision, it is excellent news and an enormous victory for public employee union members,” said Heidi Drygas, executive director of ASEA/AFSCME Local 52. “The court's decision affirms, quite literally, the state had no legal grounds to take the actions it did to harm public employee unions and our members.”

In affirming the lower court’s decision on all counts, Alaska’s highest court the found ample evidence of the Dunleavy administration’s anti-union animus.

“This decision makes it clear that the governor, attorney general and commissioner of Administration were wholly motivated by political calculus and anti-union hostility, rather than sound legal footing. It backfired,” said Drygas. “By pursuing this meritless legal action, the governor and members of his administration wasted public resources to the tune of millions of dollars rather than invest in the critical public services and public employees that are needed to carry them out.”

Learn more about the May 26 Alaska Supreme Court ruling in favor of ASEA here and here.

Alaska has a long and proud history of union membership. Employees have the right to form and join a union and enjoy the benefits and protections that come along with that collective power and solidarity.

At issue was a misinterpretation of the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v AFSCME by Dunleavy’s attorney general, Kevin Clarkson, according to ASEA.

In implementing Clarkson’s interpretation, ASEA argued, the Dunleavy administration violated Alaska law and the state’s collective bargaining agreement with ASEA by changing union member dues deduction procedures, spreading misinformation to ASEA members, and interfering with the relationship between the union and its members.

Read ASEA’s 2019 press release announcing a countersuit against the Dunleavy administration.

ASEA/AFSCME Local 52 is the largest union of state and municipal public service workers in Alaska with more than 8,000 hardworking public employees.

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