Alaska official: Ruling mandates yearly union enrollment

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling requires members of state public employee unions to annually reaffirm or reject their membership, according to Alaska's attorney general.

Several state union officials believe the state will establish an annual opt-in system and at least one said the move would result in a legal challenge, The Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday.

The announcement by state Attorney General Kevin Clarkson is the nation's most aggressive interpretation of the 2018 ruling, said Joelle Hall, an Alaska AFL-CIO operations manager.

"Obviously we will be taking action to prevent this from taking place," Hall said.

The Supreme Court ruled non-union public employees cannot be forced to pay fees to receive benefits negotiated by unions on behalf of other workers.

"A person can be in the union and not pay any of the representational fees and still be in the union," Hall said.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy's office declined to immediately say whether a yearly opt-in system will be established because of the ruling.

Alaska State Employees Association Director Jake Metcalfe believes the state will initiate an opt-in system and said the association will sue if that occurs.

"He wants to be able to fire them for any reason," Metcalfe said of Dunleavy's position on public employees. "He wants to cut their pay and benefits and send them back to the 19th century."

Clarkson called Metcalfe's statement a "ridiculous assertion."

"The Governor's earlier request and my opinion place no concern on whether public employees continue to join or support unions," Clarkson said in a statement. "That choice belongs, as it always has, to the employees."


Information from: Anchorage Daily News,