As we reported in a prior blog post, in February 2012, Indiana became the 23rd state, and the first in the “Rust Belt” to pass a “right-to-work” law. In short, as applied to collective bargaining agreements that expired or are renewed, modified or extended after March 14, 2012, the law prohibits employers from requiring their employees from joining a union or paying dues or fees to a union.
Recently, Judge John Sedia, a Lake County, Indiana Superior Court Judge, upheld a union challenge to Indiana’s right-to-work law and held the law unconstitutional. In the state court lawsuit, the Operating Engineers union alleged that the law was improper for multiple reasons. Although he rejected most of the union’s claims, Judge Sedia declared the law in violation of Article I, Section 21 of the Indiana Constitution, which states: “No person’s particular services shall be demanded, without just compensation.” The Judge concluded that the law violated this provision because it required the union to represent employees (i.e., provide services) regardless of whether they were members or paid union dues.
Judge Sedia stayed his ruling pending an expected appeal, so the law remains in effect. On September 12, 2013, the Indiana Attorney General filed his appeal of Judge Sedia’s ruling directly with the Indiana Supreme Court. We will continue to monitor developments and report them here.