Indiana judge finds right-to-work unconstitutional

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – A Lake County judge has determined Indiana’s right-to-work law violates a provision in the state constitution barring the delivery of services “without just compensation.”

Lake Superior Court Judge John Sedia found the law wrongly requires unions to represent workers who do not pay dues. Indiana became the 23rd state in the nation to ban the collection of mandatory fees for representation from unions.

Since then, union lawyers have gone to the courts to try to overturn the law. Sedia issued an order last Thursday declaring the ban on collections and associated criminal penalties unconstitutional.

A spokesman for Attorney General Greg Zoeller says the state will appeal the ruling directly to Indiana’s Supreme Court.

Ed Maher, spokesman for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, calls the ruling a victory for the middle class and dues-paying members.

“This is a huge victory,” said Local 150 president-business manager James M. Sweeney. “These laws are nothing but thinly-veiled tools to weaken unions, and this is a big win for workers who rely on unions to provide decent wages and benefits. We pledged on the day that this law was passed that they hadn’t seen the last of us, and we are delighted with this ruling.”

Local 150 News contributed to this story.

Photo: Charles Cain of Columbus, Ind., holding a sign during a rally in the hallways of the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Jan. 23, 2012. Darron Cummings/AP