The Indiana Supreme Court ruled against labor unions Thursday, upholding the state’s right-to-work law as constitutional.
The controversial measure, which sparked protests when the legislature passed it in 2012, bars union contracts that require non-members pay fees for representation.
The court unanimously rejected a union claim that the measure violates a provision of the Indiana Constitution that prohibits the state from demanding services without compensation.
The state argued unions don’t have to bargain for non-members, but the unions countered that federal law requires all workers to be represented by the union.
A statement from Governor Pence says the decision reaffirms freedom for Hoosiers in the workplace.
“By this ruling, our Court has reaffirmed Indiana law that no Hoosier may be compelled to join a union as a condition of their employment but every Hoosier is free to join a union if they choose,” Pence says.
Union attorney Dale Pierson says he tried to set up a members-only bargaining unit while right to work was debated in the General Assembly and was dismissed by the Indianapolis region of the National Labor Relations Board.
Justice Brent Dickson, writing the court’s decision, flatly rejected that argument, which Pierson says was the most frustrating part of the ruling.
“The so-called ‘members-only’ contracts that the state here and various others try to argue is an option to the union is just not accurate,” Pierson says. “We don’t have that option.”
Pierson says he’s considering appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking clarification that members-only contracts are barred by federal labor law in the hopes of producing a more favorable ruling from the state Supreme Court in the future.