Right to Work

South Bend Mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg unveiled his economic plan last week pushing to increase the minimum wage and expand unions. Reactions to the plan in Buttigieg’s home state have been mixed.

Scott Pelath / Indiana House Democrats

House Democrats say the closing of Carrier plants in Indianapolis and Huntington shows Republicans have gotten the economy wrong.

Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) argues the move of 2,100 to Mexico proves Republican initiatives, from right-to-work to corporate tax cuts to the repeal of the common construction wage, haven't worked.

“We continue to have very low economic growth,” Pelath says. “We continue to have negligible, if not negative, wage growth and we don’t see any real improvements here.”

Construction Wage Repeal Would Nix 80-Year Old Law

Feb 24, 2015
Elvert Barnes / https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

The Indiana common construction wage law was signed in 1935 to revive the economy. Eighty years later, the House is set to vote on its repeal due to argument over the law becoming too expensive to maintain.

"Prevailing wage" laws require that building-trades workers on government projects receive the average wage for their specialties. I-U Maurer School of Law Professor Ken Dau-Schmidt says the rationale was to make government a neutral player in setting wage rates, rather than pushing wages down through its immense purchasing power. 

Gretchen Frazee/WFIU News

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.

Gretchen Frazee / http://indianapublicmedia.org/

Indiana’s Supreme Court justices suggested in oral arguments Thursday that unions’ problem with the state’s right to work law isn’t with the state. It’s with the federal government.

The court heard arguments today in a lawsuit the International Operating Engineers union brought against the state, challenging the controversial state statute.

Indiana’s right to work law bars union contracts that require non-members pay fees for representation.

Greta M. Scodro/Indiana Courts

Days after a federal appeals court upheld the state's 'right to work' law, the Indiana Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Thursday in two cases challenging the law.

The 2012 law bars making union dues a condition of employment, and allows people to join unions without paying any fee. Ed Maher with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 calls it an unfair situation for unions, because they can be forced to use dues from paying members to provide services for workers who do not pay a union fee.

Phil Jern / https://www.flickr.com/photos/pjern/

3:00 p.m. update:

The federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday upheld Indiana’s Right to Work law as constitutional.  The ruling comes days before the law is challenged at the Indiana Supreme Court:

Indiana’s Right to Work law bans union contracts that require nonmembers pay fees for representation.  The International Operating Engineers union filed two lawsuits in the wake of the bill’s passage in 2012 – one in federal court, another in state court. 

A state circuit court judge ruled one of two lawsuits challenging Indiana’s Right to Work law can move forward.

Attorneys for the state had filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing Right to Work legislation does not require unions to do anything and federal law places the burden on unions to represent all workers, regardless of whether they’re union members.

Bryan Corbin, spokesman for the Indiana attorney general's office, says the state’s motion was only the first attempt at defeating the suit.

Union challenges Right to Work law

Feb 27, 2012

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 has filed a lawsuit challenging Indiana’s Right-to-Work law.

The suit contains ten separate claims that the measure passed by state lawmakers earlier this month violates both the U.S. and Indiana constitutions.

But state attorney general Greg Zoeller says while he respects the union’s right to disagree with the new law, he believes it will stand up in court.

Right to Work is scheduled to take effect March 14th.

Update at 3:09 p.m. ET. With a signature, Gov. Mitch Daniels has turned Indiana into a right to work state. The governor signed into a law a controversial bill that would prohibit labor contracts from requiring workers to pay union dues, according to the AP.

Our Original Post Continues:

The controversial "right to work" bill was approved by the state Senate today with a 28 to 22 vote. Once Daniels signs the bill into law, which he is expected to do later today, Indiana will be the first state in a decade to pass a right to work law.