Judge asked to strike down right-to-work law

2012-10-09T19:00:00Z 2012-10-09T19:20:05Z Judge asked to strike down right-to-work lawBowdeya Tweh bowdeya.tweh@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com
October 09, 2012 7:00 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Attorneys representing local steel union officials told Lake Circuit Judge George Paras on Tuesday that Indiana's right-to-work law is in conflict with the Indiana Constitution and should be struck down.

Meanwhile, attorneys for the state of Indiana argued the union representatives are misinterpreting the Constitution's language and called for the law to be upheld.

Paras heard oral arguments Tuesday on the state's motion to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to invalidate Indiana's right-to-work statute. The court took the motion under advisement Tuesday, and a decision is expected on the matter in 30 days.

Union leaders within United Steelworkers District 7 filed the suit after the law went into effect March 14, restricting new or modified labor agreements from containing language requiring people to pay dues or fees to remain a member of a union.

USW attorney Anthony Alfano said the state Constitution prohibits a "person" from being required to provide a service without just compensation and the law creates a divisive situation among union members while working.

"We think we have a strong opportunity to prevail here," Alfano said. "This is an attack on workers. This is an attack on the middle class."

Indiana Deputy Attorneys General Kenneth Joel and Wade Hornbacher challenged the plaintiffs' claim, saying the law doesn't force unions to provide services to anyone. The complaint of having to fairly represent all members of a bargaining unit even if they don't pay dues is an issue with federal law, not state law, they said.

Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider was assigned the case initially, but she recused herself based on personal opinions about union activities. She is a former member of the American Federation of Teachers and was a local union contract negotiator.

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