Management & Labor

Indiana Right-to-Work Law Ruled Unconstitutional

The long, hard battle over the state’s right-to-work law appears headed to the Indiana Supreme Court.
September 10, 2013
 

The long, hard battle over the state’s right-to-work law appears headed to the Indiana Supreme Court.

Lake Superior Court Judge John ­Sedia ruled Thursday the law violates a provision in the state constitution barring the ­delivery of services “without just compensation.” Sedia, who was ­appointed by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2012, ruled the law incorrectly forces unions to represent workers who don’t pay union dues.

The Indiana attorney gen­eral’s office said it will seek to appeal the case di­rectly to the state Supreme Court.

Republican lawmakers said Monday they are confident the Supreme Court will overturn the ruling.

Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, a leading advocate for passing right-to-work in 2012, thinks the Supreme Court will side with the state legislature. Unions deliberately filed the lawsuit in labor-friendly Lake ­County, he said, to find a favorable decision.

“This is not unex­pected in Lake ­County,” he said. “I’m sure they went ­forum shopping when they filed the suit. I am confident that this ­decision won’t stand.”

Torr said Republican lawmakers think the constitutional provision cited in the decision applies only to individuals rendering services, not to unions. He said unions raised the same concern during the legislative process, and lawmakers discounted it.

“I remember when the labor unions first raised that argument in one of the committees and for a second, I thought, ‘Oh ... that’s a great argument,’ ” Torr said. “Then I thought it through, and it’s just nonsense.”

Legal experts agree the unions’ victory likely will be short-lived. Joel Schumm, a law pro­fessor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, said the constitutional clause under question historically has applied to individuals.

The Supreme Court, he said, would need to be convinced to extend that right from individuals to unions.

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