INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A Lake County judge has determined Indiana's
right-to-work law violates a provision in the state constitution barring
the delivery of services “without just compensation.”
Lake Superior Court Judge John Sedia found that the law wrongly requires
unions to represent workers who do not pay dues. Indiana became the 23rd
state in the nation last year to ban the collection of mandatory fees for
representation from unions.
Since then, union lawyers have gone to the courts to try and overturn the
law. Sedia issued an order last Thursday declaring the ban on collections
and associated criminal penalties unconstitutional.
Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for Attorney General Greg Zoeller, pointed out
the ruling allows the law to stay in effect while an appeal to the state
Supreme Court is prepared.
“The State will take an immediate appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court of
this declaratory judgment which we contend is incorrect, in light of the
fact the same court granted the State's motion to dismiss on four other
counts,” Corbin wrote in a statement. “The Indiana Attorney General's
Office will aggressively defend the authority of the people's elected
representatives in the Legislature as we successfully defended this same
statute from the same plaintiff who challenged it in federal court.”
The ruling continues a battle between union members and Indiana
Republicans who signed off on the measure last year. Indiana became the
first state in the Rust Belt to approve right-to-work, after two chaotic
sessions of the Indiana General Assembly, marked by a walkout of House
Democrats in 2011 and periodic boycotts by the same group in 2012.
Members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, in
Northwest Indiana, filed the suit looking to overturn the law.
“This is a victory for the middle class,” James Sweeney, president and
business manager of Local 150, said in a statement. “These laws are
nothing but thinly veiled tools to weaken unions, and this is a big win
for workers who rely on unions to provide decent wages and benefits. We
pledged on the day that this law was passed that they hadn't seen the last
of us, and we are delighted with this ruling.”
But national supporters of the law, who have been pushing the measure with
some success in other states, said the ruling amounted to only a partial
victory: of the five counts the union sought, Sedia dismissed four of
“I would suggest (Sedia) was right to dismiss the four he dismissed, but
should have dismissed the fifth one also,” said Greg Mourad, vice
president of the National Right to Work Committee.