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Indiana AG appeals Lake County judge’s ruling that right-to-work law is unconstitutional

On September 5, Indiana’s right-to-work law was declared unconstitutional by a state trial court judge.  On Thursday, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a notice of appeal in the case.

Lake County Superior Court Judge John M. Sedia ruled that the right-to-work law violated the Indiana Constitution by requiring unions to provide services without payment. The law prohibits requiring employees to pay dues to a union.  Under federal law, however, unions must represent all workers in a bargaining unit, including nonunion members.  Sedia reasoned that the right-to-work law violated the Indiana Constitution’s provision guaranteeing just compensation for services rendered. Sweeney v. Zoeller, No. 45D01-1305-PK-52 (Superior Court, Sept. 5, 2013).

Zoeller filed the appeal on September 12. The court’s ruling will not be implemented pending the appeal, which means that the right-to-work law remains in effect for now.

There is “almost no chance” Sedia’s decision will be upheld, predicts Indiana Employment Law Letter editor John T. Neighbours, a partner with Faegre Baker Daniels  in Indianapolis. “This judge is elected locally in an extraordinarily prounion county near Chicago, which is why the suit was filed there. A federal judge in another case has already ruled the law constitutional.”

The Indiana Supreme Court will hear the appeal. Stay tuned to Indiana Employment Law Letter for updates. Neighbours can be reached at john.neighbours@faegrebd.com.