Indiana appeals ruling throwing out right-to-work law


Indiana is appealing a ruling declaring the state's right-to-work law unconstitutional, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Thursday.

Zoeller's office filed a notice of appeal seeking a reversal of a Lake County judge's ruling last week that the 2012 law violates the Indiana constitution.

"We are asking the Indiana Supreme Court to reverse the lower court's decision and find the statute is constitutional," Zoeller said.

An attorney for Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which is fighting the law in both state and federal courts, said it welcomes the opportunity to argue its case that the statute wrongly requires unions to represent workers who do not pay union dues.

Lake Superior Court Judge John Sedia sided with the union when he ruled the law violates a constitutional provision barring the delivery of services "without just compensation."

The union's general counsel, Dale Pierson, said in a phone interview that Sedia "took a very common-sense, down-to-earth view of this problem" of not compensating unions for services they provide to members of bargaining units whether they want to belong to the union or not.

"I think it's appropriate to just say the right-to-work law would deprive us of the right to be compensated for those services," Pierson said.

The union attorney said he argued that very point Thursday when the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Chicago on Local 150's appeal of a federal ruling upholding the law. In a separate case, the United Steelworkers also is using the fair compensation argument in its own federal court challenge of the law, Pierson said.

The appeal continues a battle between union members and Indiana Republicans who signed off on the measure last year. Indiana became the first state in the Rust Belt to approve right-to-work after two chaotic sessions of the Indiana General Assembly marked by a walkout of House Democrats in 2011 and periodic boycotts by the same caucus in 2012.

Local 150, based in suburban Chicago, has members in northwestern Indiana.

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