Union Officials’ ‘Free Association . . . Cannot Operate as an Offensive Weapon to Wrest Rights From Others’

On Tuesday, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit panel became the latest federal court to rule that Big Labor bosses have no constitutional right to conscript dues or fees from employees who are subject to monopoly bargaining, but do not wish to join the union that wields this power in their workplace.

In a carefully argued 31-page opinion (see the link below), Judge John Daniel Tinder, joined by Judge Daniel Manion, rebutted International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 150 lawyers’ claims that, despite 65 years of court precedents to the contrary, state Right to Work laws such as Indiana’s are preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  Tinder also dismissed a host of federal constitutional claims made by union lawyers on behalf of the bosses of the suburban Chicago-based IUOE Local 150, including the outrageous contention that the Indiana Right to Work law violates the Equal Protection Clause by allowing employees who choose not to bankroll an unwanted union to “infringe on the right of union membership.”

As Tinder patiently explained:

There is no doubt that union workers enjoy valuable rights of association and assembly that are protected by the First Amendment. . . . 

But . . . that right alone cannot operate as an offensive weapon to wrest rights from others: here, the . . . workers whose rights not to associate with the union are protected by the new legislation. . . .

Plaintiff‐Appellants must thus make a greater showing: a clear basis for how the [Right to Work law] will “expressly forbid the full exercise of those rights by union or union members,” (citation omitted), or even a plausible demonstration of how allowing non‐union workers to not pay Representation Fees will somehow weaken the bonds of the union’s own association and assembly. They have failed to do so here.

Tuesday’s ruling has put at least a temporary halt to union lawyers’ efforts to get the two-and-a-half-year-old Indiana Right to Work law overturned in federal court.  However, IUOE Local 150 and other union bosses’ campaign to reinstate forced union dues on state constitutional grounds is still in high gear.

Yesterday the state of Indiana, backed by Right to Work Foundation attorneys who are representing the interests of independent-minded employees, made oral arguments before the Hoosier Supreme Court asking it to overturn the ruling of a lower court in Big Labor-dominated Lake County that the state constitution requires that compulsory union fees be permitted.  Lawyers for IUOE Local 150 bosses, who prevailed in Lake County a year ago this month, have asked the Supreme Court to uphold the September 2013 decision.


In ruling against anti-Right to Work International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 bosses and their lawyers on Tuesday, a federal appeals court declared they had failed to make “even a plausible demonstration of how allowing non-union workers to not pay Representation Fees will somehow weaken the bonds of the union’s own association and assembly.” Image: www.newsbug.info


United States Court of Appeals