AL public employees' groups loses at high court

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama State Employees Association and Alabama Education Association have lost a lawsuit over a state law that cut off a major source of their funding for political activity.

The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday reversed a preliminary injunction that the two groups got a Montgomery judge to issue against the state comptroller. It had blocked the comptroller from enforcing rules to implement a 2010 law that prohibited Alabama's public employees from having membership dues deducted from their paychecks if the dues were going to a group involved in political activity.

The Supreme Court ruled 8-0 that the suit the two organizations filed against the comptroller should be dismissed.

The intent was to make employees pay their dues directly to the groups.

Mac McArthur, executive director of the Alabama State Employees Association, said the association complied with the law while pursuing the suit and filed paperwork saying ASEA is not engaged in political activity.

The association is still using dues deductions for its members. But he said the association is operated separately from state employees' political action committee, and the PAC, known as SEAPAC, no longer uses dues deductions.

A spokeswoman for the Alabama Education Association said officials were reviewing the decision and would have a comment later. That association also no longer uses dues deductions for its PAC, known as AVOTE. Unlike the state employees group, it did not file paperwork saying AEA is not engaged in political activity.

State Finance Director Bill Newton, who oversees the comptroller's office, said the office had been complying with the preliminary injunction and deducting AEA membership dues for about 100 state employees. "With today's ruling, the state will no longer be making these deductions," he said.

Most AEA members work for city or county school systems.

Newton said members of the Alabama State Employees Association and other groups that filed the necessary paperwork will continue to be eligible for payroll deduction for membership dues.

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