On September 5, 2013, a Lake County judge ruled that Indiana's right-to-work law (RTW) violates a provision in the Indiana Constitution that states, "No person's particular services shall be demanded, without just compensation." RTW makes it a Class A misdemeanor to require an individual as a condition of employment to (a) become or remain a member of a labor organization, (b) pay dues, fees, assessments or other charges to a labor organization, or (c) pay to a charity or another third party an amount that is equivalent to, or a pro rata part of, dues, fees or other charges required of a member of a labor organization. Judge John M. Sedia of Lake Superior Court ruled that RTW is unconstitutional because it forces unions to represent workers who do not pay union dues.
The case in which Judge Sedia made this ruling was filed by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 (Local 150), which is based in Illinois and has Indiana offices in Lakeville and Merrillville. Local 150 claimed RTW violates five provisions in the Indiana Constitution, but Judge Sedia dismissed four of those claims. On the fifth, Judge Sedia found that, because RTW makes it "a criminal offense for a union to receive just compensation for particular services federal law demands it provide to employees … the Court therefore has no choice but to find that [RTW] violate[s] Article 1, Section 21 of the Indiana Constitution." The Indiana attorney general's office said it will appeal the case directly to the Indiana Supreme Court, and Judge Sedia's ruling allows RTW to stay in effect while an appeal is pursued. So, the bottom line is that RTW is still the law pending ultimate resolution by the Indiana Supreme Court.
This is not the first time Local 150 has challenged RTW in court. Shortly after RTW was signed into law, Local 150 filed a lawsuit against Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels seeking to invalidate RTW by claiming, among other things, that it violated the United States Constitution's equal protection clause and interfered with the union's free speech rights. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana dismissed that lawsuit in January 2013, finding RTW constitutional.
In sum, employers should continue following RTW until the ultimate resolution on this issue by the Indiana Supreme Court.