Indiana union members sue to block right-to-work legislation

[JURIST] Members of the Indiana chapter of an electrical engineers union filed suit on Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana [official website] seeking to block implementation of the state's new right-to-work legislation [HB 1028 text]. The suit, filed by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 [official website], argues that the law is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection [text] clause by treating public employees differently than others. The union claims that the law unfairly mandates that union members pay for representation of workers who choose to opt out of paying union fees. Union workers have gathered in Indianapolis throughout January and early February to protest against the legislation [press release] which was signed into law [NYT report] by Governor Mitch Daniels (R) [official website] on February 1.

Restrictive collective bargaining laws have been advanced in several states recently. In a public referendum in November, Ohio voters rejected [JURIST report] a bill passed in March [JURIST report] which would have impacted Ohio's 400,000 public workers by limiting their ability to strike and collectively bargain for health insurance and pensions. Ten Wisconsin unions filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in federal court in June challenging the state's new collective bargaining law. According to the plaintiffs, the Wisconsin bill discriminates among groups of public employees and eliminates basic union rights, like bargaining, organizing and associating. In July, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Idaho [official website] issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] blocking the enforcement of an Idaho anti-union law [SB 1007] that bans a union program that subsidizes employment for its members. The law, called the Fairness in Contracting Act, prohibits union programs used by construction workers unions that pool portions of union wages on a voluntary basis to subsidize union labor to enable union members to be hired at the collectively bargained salary.

 

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