INDIANAPOLIS | House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, believes the Indiana Supreme Court likely will overturn a Lake County judge's finding that Indiana's right-to-work law is unconstitutional, and he wants the General Assembly to repeal the law.
"I have no faith in what our highest court will do here, but I will never stop reminding the people of Indiana what right-to-work has done and who wanted it," Pelath said.
The Republican-controlled General Assembly and Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels approved right-to-work legislation last year after a six-week walkout by House Democrats during the 2011 session scuttled plans to enact the controversial labor law that year.
Pelath said promises by right-to-work supporters that the measure would bring businesses and jobs to the state have proven false.
"More than a year has passed and our unemployment rate remains stuck above 8 percent," Pelath said. "Middle class families are being forced to do more with less. Consumers have less to spend at the businesses we want to help."
Since right-to-work took effect in March 2012 -- when the state and national unemployment rates both stood at 8.2 percent -- Indiana's unemployment rate has risen to 8.4 percent while the national rate has dropped to 7.4 percent.
"We were sold a bill of rotten goods," Pelath said. "The guys in the corporate board rooms were thrilled. The people who work every day to create their profits were wronged."
Under Indiana's right-to-work law, nonunion employees at a unionized workplace are not required to pay "fair share" or other fees for union-provided services.
Lake Superior Judge John Sedia ruled in a decision released Monday that, because federal law requires unions provide certain bargaining and grievance services to all employees at a unionized workplace, allowing nonmembers to receive those services for free violates the Indiana Constitution's guarantee of compensation for services.
The state Supreme Court is required to review any lower court decision that finds a state law unconstitutional. Sedia delayed the effective date of his decision until the state's high court rules on the issue.
Indiana is the only state ever to repeal a right-to-work law. A 1957 statute approved through the legislature by a Republican supermajority was deleted from the law books in 1965 after Democrats won control of the General Assembly and governor's office.