Worker advocates continue fight against Indiana right-to-work law despite court ruling
Indiana workers protest against right-to-work legislation outside state Capitol last year.
by Félix Pérez
A ruling by a federal court last week dismissing a lawsuit that sought to block Indiana’s year-old right-to-work law will not derail ongoing efforts to dismantle the law, described by opponents as an attack by extremist politicians on worker rights that does nothing to restore balance to the economy or politics, or solve the problems of the middle class.
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U.S. District Court Judge Philip Simon in Hammond, in a ruling issued January 17, dismissed the challenge brought by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. Simon held that the law does not violate IUOE’s free speech rights or other state and federal constitutional rights.
Indiana became the 23rd state to enact a right-to-work law last February. The law, passed using a process eerily similar to the one use by the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature and governor in December, was passed over voter objections and protests and rammed through the legislature without public debate or amendments.
Opponents of the law, which they call “right to work for less,” say it does nothing to create jobs and strips the hard-earned rights and benefits of workers. They argue that the law is a partisan power grab by legislators designed to appease corporate donors and punish political opponents. Contrary to claims by right-to-work supporters, research shows right-to-work laws decrease the wages of union and non-union workers by $1,500 a year.
A different challenge to the Indiana law is pending in state court. That lawsuit argues that the law violates the state constitution because it requires a service (union-negotiated wages, rights and benefits) without “just compensation” (dues).