After Indiana’s right-to-work law took effect on Mar. 14, 2012, the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, AFL-CIO challenged the law in federal and state court. The Union’s lawsuits challenged the law’s requirement that unions provide non-members with services without receiving compensation on constitutional grounds. (Read more about the suit here.)
On Sept.2, 2014, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the United States District Court, Northern District of Indiana’s ruling dismissing the Union’s lawsuit and concluding that the law’s provisions do not violate the Union’s rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Also in September, the Indiana Supreme Court heard oral argument on the Union’s state court claim attacking the right-to-work law on Indiana Constitutional grounds. Previously, a Lake County judge ruled that the law violated the Indiana Constitution’s prohibition against the state forcing the provision of services for free.
On Nov. 6, 2014, the Indiana Supreme Court disagreed that a compulsion to provide services does not constitute a demand made by the state. The decision explained that “on the face of Indiana’s right-to-work law, there is no state demand for services; the law merely prohibits employers from requiring union membership or the payment of monies as a condition of employment."
The Court also noted that the obligation to represent all employees in a bargaining unit is optional; it occurs only when the union elects to be the exclusive bargaining agent, for which it is justly compensated by the right to bargain exclusively with the employer.
This could be considered a great result for Indiana employers because the Union’s arguments have now failed in state and federal courts; however, the Union may attempt an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.