Indiana judge finds right-to-work unconstitutional
An Indiana judge has declared the state's right-to-work law unconstitutional.
Only one part of the law was ruled unconstitutional and some legal expert say the ruling will probably be overturned on appeal. State officials promised to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
It divided the legislature. House Democrats even left the state to try and stall it. But in the end, then-Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels pushed it through.
The right-to-work law, which supporters say makes Indiana more competitive with businesses looking to possibly move to Indiana. But Democrats charged it was really meant to weaken labor unions, a major source of Democratic Party strength.
Union spokesman Ed Maher calls the ruling a victory for the middle class and dues-paying union members.
"This is a victory for the middle class," said Local 150 president-business manager James M. Sweeney. "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. We pledged on the day that this law was passed that they hadn't seen the last of us, and we are delighted with this ruling."
The arguments at the Statehouse ended over a year-and-a-half ago. Now, the fight is in the courts where labor scored a win - at least for now.
A Lake County judge ruled part of the right-to-work law violates Indiana law. That's because it forces the union to represent a worker who is not a union member and pays no union dues.
"It was very important. The judge has clearly taken the correct moral position - whether a person should get something they didn't pay for," says House Democrat Ed Delaney.
Delaney predicts the case could go all the way top the U.S. Supreme Court.
"It's very interesting," he said. "It deals withy a real change in the labor environment in the last 50 years in this country."
The Indiana Attorney General is representing the state and defending the right-to-work law. The attorney general's spokesman issued a written statement promising to "aggressively defend the authority of the people's elected representatives in the legislature as we successfully defended this same statute from the same plaintiff who challenged it in Federal court."
Right now, Governor Mike Pence is on a trade mission to Japan, where right-to-work could be on the minds of Japanese business leaders he meets.
"Governor Pence believes the Indiana General Assembly was correct on both policy and the law," a spokesman for the governor said.