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Indiana judge finds right-to-work law unconstitutional

A judge for Indiana's Lake County Superior Court ruled [order, PDF] Monday that the state's right-to-work law [HB 1028, PDF] violates the Indiana Constitution [text]. The state law bans unions from receiving compensation from non-union employees to pay for bargaining costs and services. Federal law, however, requires unions to bargain on behalf of employees, including non-union members. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 (IUOE) [union website] filed suit in February, arguing that the state law requires unions to bargain on behalf of employees who do not pay dues. The union argued this requirement violated Article I, Section 21 of the Indiana Constitution, which provides that "[n]o person's particular services shall be demanded, without just compensation." Judge John Sedia agreed [Post Tribune report] and invalidated the law Monday. Attorney General Greg Zoeller [official website] announced plans to appeal the ruling to the Indiana Supreme Court [official wesbite]. In February 2012 the IUOE filed a similar suit [JURIST report] in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana [official website] seeking to block the law's implementation. The federal court, however, dismissed the challenge [JURIST report] in January.

Collective bargaining continues to be a contention issue in the US. In December Michigan approved legislation [JURIST report] known as "Freedom to Work" that makes payment of union dues voluntary and limits workers' ability to strike. In September 2012 the Michigan Supreme Court ordered [JURIST report] a union-backed measure to amend the state constitution to include a right to labor unionization and collective bargaining to appear on the November ballot. The measure was defeated 57-43 percent. Wisconsin faced a challenge against its legislation which limited the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. In July 2012 the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] not to reopen a case challenging the state's Budget Repair Bill [text, PDF] because of a justice's refusal to recuse himself.

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