Relying on landmark Knox Supreme Court decision, Troopers seek to end automatic dues deduction for politics from non-member state employees
Anchorage, AK (January 8, 2013) – Five Alaska State Troopers have filed the first federal lawsuit that seeks to expand public employees’ right to refrain from paying union dues used for union politics in light of last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Knox v. SEIU.
Robin Benning, Patrick Johnson, Andrew Neason, Chris Terry, and Ken VanSpronsen filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska in Anchorage with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
The troopers refrain from formal union membership in the Public Safety Employees Association (PSEA) union, an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 803. Because they are not formal union members, the troopers have a right not to pay the part of union dues used for union politics, lobbying, and member-only events.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU decision that California state employees who refrain from formal union membership could not be compelled to pay for union politicking via a "special assessment" for a self-described "political fight back fund." The Court's majority ruled for the first time that union officials must obtain affirmative consent from workers before using workers' forced union fees for union politicking.
The Alaskan troopers are seeking to expand that decision to apply to all instances when public employees refrain from union membership.