Controversial anti-union laws continue to thrust the typically camera-shy Midwest into the national spotlight.
On January 17, a federal judge shot down a union-driven lawsuit aimed at overturning Indiana’s “right-to-work” law, passed last February. Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers spokesperson Ed Maher attacked the constitutionality of the law by arguing that free riders benefit from unions that “are legally obligated to provide services including contract negotiation, grievance representation, and legal assistance.” Unions claim that this is forced labor without compensation.
Judge Philip Simon of the U.S. District Court, however, didn’t buy it, explaining in his ruling:
None of the legal challenges launched by the union here to attack Indiana’s new Right to Work law can succeed. The electorate can ultimately decide whether [lawmakers'] judgments are sound, wise, and constitute good governance and can express their opinions at the polls and by other means. But those are questions beyond the reach of the federal court.
Many lawmakers in Indiana, historically a union-friendly state, are ecstatic that the right-to-work law has been upheld. Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) exclaimed, “It’s good for Hoosier workers, it’s good for those who are seeking to be workers and it is good for the state’s economy.”
(In a case of judicial serendipity, the same week that Indiana’s right-to-work law emerged unscathed from its legal battle, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2011 Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, which had curbed collective bargaining for many Badger State public employees.)
So for the time being, Indiana will avoid becoming California. Unfortunately, California is still California.