INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Union members went to federal court
Wednesday to ask a judge to block Indiana's new right-to-work law from
being enforced, the first lawsuit and latest conflict over the divisive
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 said filed the
lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Hammond, said Marc Poulos, an
attorney representing the union. The suit names Gov. Mitch Daniels,
Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Labor Commissioner Lori Torres.
right-to-work lawsuit is the latest filed over a wave of conservative
legislation pushed through the Indiana General Assembly over the last two
years. Indiana also faces lawsuits over 2011 legislation that cut Medicaid
funding for Planned Parenthood clinics because the group provides
abortions, and the state is in court over tougher illegal immigration laws
and the nation's broadest use of school vouchers.
the right-to-work legislation into law last month, making Indiana the 23rd
state to ban unions from collecting mandatory fees for representation.
Indiana was the first in the generally union-friendly Rust Belt to pass
such legislation, and the first nationally in about a decade, as Oklahoma
did so in 2001.
Democrats vehemently objected and boycotted the House session for several
days, and union members turned out by the thousands to protest what they
called "the right to work for less bill."
spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said the governor's office had no comment, but
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said late Wednesday that his office
would defend the state from the legal challenge.
challenges are part of the process to test whether laws are
constitutional. Though we respect the right of private plaintiffs to
disagree with this new law, the State's position is that the Legislature
was within its authority to create a new policy concerning mandatory union
dues. My office's duty is to defend the laws the Legislature passes and we
will do so diligently here," Zoeller said in a statement.
the union would file a motion seeking a temporary restraining order to
block the law for 10 days until a judge can decide on its longer-term
fate. He hoped a hearing could be held as early as Monday, but said he did
not know how long it would be before the judge ruled.
Last year, a
federal judge in Indianapolis struck down a law restricting Medicaid funds
from abortion providers about six weeks after Planned Parenthood went to
court. The ruling is under appeal.
A draft copy
of the lawsuit provided to The Associated Press by the union, which has
4,000 members in northern Indiana, claims the right-to-work law contains
multiple violations of both the state and federal constitutions.
things, the union claims the law violates the equal protection clause of
the U.S. Constitution by treating building and construction workers and
public workers differently from others. The law's provisions regarding
construction trades took effect immediately, impairing existing contracts,
the union said. Public employees aren't allowed to opt out of union
membership to the same degree as private-sector worker, the union said.
state interest is served by requiring public sector employees to subsidize
the cost of representation services for private sector employees who
refuse to pay any fees to the Union," the lawsuit said.
had protested that the law unfairly makes union members who pay dues also
pay for the representation of non-union members who choose to opt out
under the new law.
also said that the law violated the prohibition against ex post facto laws
— retroactively making legal activity illegal — in both the state and
federal constitutions. The Indiana law makes violations a class A
The union also
claimed the state law is pre-empted by and conflicts with the National
Labor Relations Act.