‘Unions Themselves . . . Insist on Contracts That Cover All Workers in a Workplace’

Just eight months ago, a federal judge slapped down a lawsuit filed by top bosses of Chicago-based Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) against Indiana’s Right to Work law.

Like 23 other very similar statutes and constitutional amendments on the books in other states, Indiana’s Right to Work law protects employees from being fired for refusal to join or pay dues to an unwanted union.

The IUOE brass contended in a case brought before U.S. District Judge Philip Simon that, because federal law grants union bosses monopoly privileges, authorizing them to negotiate contracts covering union members and nonmembers alike, it is “unconstitutional” for a state to bar the extraction of forced fees from nonmembers.

Judge Simon didn’t buy it.  “None of the legal challenges launched by the union here to attack Indiana’s new Right to Work law can succeed,” he wrote.

As is par for the course, union bigwigs did not by any means accept the finality of this ruling, even though it was amply supported by legal precedents.

And yesterday, the IUOE hierarchy prevailed upon a judge in Lake County (which includes Gary, a longtime Big Labor stronghold) to issue a decision contending that, even though the U.S. Constitution admittedly permits federal statutes that authorize union monopoly bargaining and state Right to Work laws to coexist, the Indiana state constitution doesn’t!

Of course, as Sean Higgins implies in the Washington Examiner blog post linked below, monopoly-bargaining power is actually an important benefit for union bosses that enables them to make all the front-line workers in a business almost totally dependent on Big Labor for improving their pay and benefits and maintaining their jobs security.  Higgins writes:

It is usually the unions themselves that insist on contracts that cover all workers in a workplace. There is no constitutional provision against unions requesting “members only” contracts during negotiations with management.

The first sentence is actually an understatement.  It is fair to say that, in the past half a century at least, there have been no cases where union bosses sought to relinquish their monopoly-bargaining privileges and begin acting as bargaining agents for their members only, and union nonmembers resisted the change.  In short, the reason monopoly bargaining is pervasive in unionized workplaces today is because this is the system union officials, not union nonmembers or employers, want.

Fortunately, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office has already announced the state will appeal Lake County Judge John Sedia’s anti-Right to Work ruling to the Indiana Supreme Court.  And the statute will remain in effect as the case proceeds.

Indiana judge rejects state’s right-to-work law – Washington Examiner