Indiana union challenges public employee collective bargaining prohibition
Indiana union challenges public employee collective bargaining prohibition
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[JURIST] A public employees union has filed a lawsuit in Indiana state court challenging a state law disallowing future recognition of public employee collective bargaining rights. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 62 [advocacy website], which represents Indiana state employees, announced that it has filed suit [press release] in Marion County Circuit Court against Governor Mitch Daniels [official websites] and his state personnel director Daniel Hackler. The union contends that the legislature unconstitutionally included a collective bargaining prohibition in its passage of the 2011 state budget bill [HEA 1001, PDF]. The union is seeking to nullify the ban based on separation of powers provisions in Indiana’s constitution [materials], which hold that the state executive branch has jurisdiction over administrative procedures and employee/employer relations, not the legislature. The budget provisions at issue add a new Chapter to the Indiana Code, effectively making collective bargaining between the state and any union illegal, and taking away any future governor’s ability to sign an executive order that would confer collective bargaining rights to state employees:

Sec. 4. Collective bargaining between the state and employee organizations and strikes by state employees are illegal.
Sec. 5. The state shall not: (1) recognize a union or any other employee organization as a representative of the employees of the state; (2) bargain collectively with an employee organization; (3) enter into a collectively bargained agreement; or (4) require an employee to join or financially support an employee organization.

In addition to challenging the new law as a violation of constitutional separation of powers, the union’s lawsuit claims a violation of the Indiana constitution’s equal privileges and immunities provision, in that the legislature proscribed collective bargaining for all state employees but provided an exception for the union representing State Police officers. The suit also alleges that the labor provisions being challenged violate the Indiana constitution’s single-subject requirement for bills passed by the legislature.

Restrictive collective bargaining laws have been advanced in several states this year. Ohio voters will decide whether to repeal a law [SB 5 text, PDF] limiting the collective bargaining rights of state workers after opponents of the bill gathered 915,456 signatures [JURIST report] in late July. The bill was passed [JURIST report] in March, but will not go into effect until it survives the public referendum in November. Ten Wisconsin unions filed [JURIST report] a lawsuit in federal court in June challenging the state’s new collective bargaining law. The lawsuit alleges that the Budget Repair Bill [Senate Bill 11 text, PDF] violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments [texts]. According to the plaintiffs, the 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.