Indiana state Superior Court judge John Sedia recently ruled that Indiana’s “right-to-work” law is unconstitutional.
The law, passed in 2012, requires unions to represent workers who do not pay dues, which reduces union funds and workers’ ability to negotiate. In a case filed by The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 in Lake County, Indiana, Sedia ruled that this provision goes against the state constitution’s ban on delivering services without compensation.
While conservatives claim these laws boost the economy, workers suffer. According to the Economic Policy Institute, these laws do not create jobs, they reduce all workers’ wages by about $1,500 per year, and workers in anti-union states are less likely to receive health insurance and pensions through employers.
Local 150 president and business manager James M. Sweeney said in a statement, “This is a victory for the middle class. 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.”
The case may now go to the United States Supreme Court, where the anti-labor law is expected to be upheld. The Indiana constitutional clause in question has historically only applied to individuals, so the Supreme Court would have to be convinced to apply it to unions as well in order to strike it down.
Media Resources: Detroit Free Press 9/10/2013; Think Progress 9/10/2013; International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 Press Release 9/8/2013; Indianapolis Star 9/10/2013