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Lake County judge: RTW suit may proceed

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A challenge to Indiana’s right-to-work law will proceed after a Lake County judge this week rejected the state’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by United Steelworkers.

Lake Circuit Judge George Paras wrote Tuesday, “it cannot categorically be said at this time” that the measure signed into law in February doesn’t violate the Indiana Constitution.

The Steelworkers’ suit says the law’s requirement that unions provide services to workers they represent even if workers don't pay union dues conflicts with Article 1, Section 21: “No person’s particular services shall be demanded, without just compensation.”

In a statement, USW District 7 director Jim Robinson hailed the ruling in United Steelworkers, et al. v. Mitch Daniels, et al., 45D01-1203-PL-19. “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.”

Another suit in northwestern Indiana challenges right-to-work is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, and the state’s motion to dismiss remains before Chief Judge Phillip Simon in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in Hammond. That case is Sweeney, et al. v. Daniels, et al., 2:12-cv-00081.

In Paras’ decision, he dismissed Gov. Mitch Daniels as a defendant. “The state contended the Governor is entitled to absolute legislative immunity regarding enactment of the legislation, so we are pleased that the Court has agreed,” said Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller. “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.

“The next immediate step will be to prepare and file an answer as to remaining claims. We assume the court will set a scheduling conference in the future,” Corbin said.

 

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