February 21, 2024
Supreme Court puts an end to Alaska governor’s lawsuit over union dues. The fight over how he paid for it lives on

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear an Alaska case in which Gov. Mike Dunleavy sought to uphold a policy that would make it harder for public employee unions to collect dues from their members.

In 2019, Dunleavy tried to impose a new hurdle for unions trying to collect dues through payroll deduction. State employees who were union members had to sign a form every year saying that they were waiving certain first amendment rights before union dues could be deducted from their paychecks.

The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the policy violated the collective bargaining agreement, and found that the Dunleavy administration acted with hostility toward the union.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined the case Tuesday without comment. That leaves the state high court with the final word.

“It’s disappointing the court didn’t take up the case,” Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor said in an email sent by the Department of Law. “It was always a long shot, but we had some hope when the court re-listed our case a few times because that generally means the justices are taking a hard look.”

The Dunleavy administration paid more than $300,000 to Consovoy McCarthy, a Virginia-based law firm, to represent it in this case, and on related cases. That’s sparked a secondary legal fight with the Legislature, which had restricted the administration from spending money on anti-union lawsuits. Last month, the Alaska Legislative Council voted to fund its own lawsuit challenging the administration’s authority to pay contract legal fees for that purpose. The Legislative Council authorized spending $100,000 on that case.

See also  Dunleavy's State of the State rescheduled for Tuesday as high winds keep flights out of Juneau