Lake Circuit Judge George Paras ruled Tuesday the United Steelworkers' lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Indiana's right-to-work law can proceed.
Paras ruled against the state's motion to dismiss the legal challenge and said "it cannot categorically be said at this time" the law doesn't violate the Indiana Constitution.
Attorneys for the union argued the law violates a clause that "no person's particular services shall be demanded, without just compensation."
The case could proceed to a full hearing on the arguments.
“We are pleased by this decision and look forward to seeing this unjust law, which is bad for Hoosier workers and does not represent our Midwestern value of accepting personal responsibility, be struck down by the courts," said United Steelworkers District 7 Director Jim Robinson in a statement issued Thursday.
The Indiana attorney general's office defends statutes the General Assembly passes from legal challenges that private plaintiffs file.
Bryan Corbin, spokesman for the attorney general's office, said the office plans to file an answer to remaining claims and expects the court to set a scheduling conference in the future.
"The state’s position continues to be that the statute is constitutional, and now we can pursue additional avenues for upholding the law’s constitutionality," Corbin said.
Indiana became the nation's 23rd right-to-work state in February after Gov. Mitch Daniels signed legislation that made it illegal for workers to be required to pay dues or other fees to a labor union as a condition of employment.
At a hearing in Paras' Crown Point courtroom earlier this month, Deputy Attorney General Kenneth Joel said the right-to-work law isn't requiring the union to do anything and that federal law places the burden on unions to fairly represent all members of a bargaining unit.
The state also requested Daniels be dismissed from the lawsuit, which Paras approved in his decision Tuesday.