Should not every person in the United States have the right to work without being forced to join a union and pay union dues?
The International Union of Operating Engineers first filed a lawsuit against Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Indiana Labor Commissioner Lori A Torres to challenge the state’s right-to-work law. In the lawsuit filed in February, the union claimed that the state’s right-to-work law is unconstitutional based upon the Fourteenth Amendment which guarantees equal protection under the law.
This past Wednesday, the union attorneys filed an amended lawsuit adding a charge that the state’s right-to-work law also violated the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery. The union contends the state’s right-to-work law makes slaves of union workers that work side-by-side with non-union workers in the same job.
Part of the amended complaint reads,
“In this case, the Defendants have exacted compulsory service and/or involuntary servitude from the Union through the combination of the passage of the Right to Work law and the existing federal requirement of the duty of fair representation.”
“Through these laws, the Union is compelled to furnish services to all persons in bargaining units that it represents, but it may not require payment for those services because of the Right to Work law. The statute also requires dues-paying union members to work alongside non-union personnel, and that is compulsory service and/or involuntary servitude within the meaning of the Thirteenth Amendment.”
Several reactions to the amended lawsuit include senior legal analyst Patrick Wright of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and labor policy counsel Vincent Vernuccio of Competitive Enterprise Institute. They both believe the lawsuit is unwarranted and without merit.
Wright believes that the union’s legal argument puts a whole new definition to ‘chutzpah’. He also said,
“Compulsory membership and coerced dues and fees are the hallmarks of the union movement, yet they claim that giving workers more choice is an act of enslavement.”
“It’s insulting to the great civil rights leaders to compare the new forced unionism movement to what civil rights leaders went through in the 1950s and 1960s.”
This lawsuit will be watched closely by every state, labor organization and union in the country. If for some reason the union wins their lawsuit and get the court to declare the Indiana right-to-work law unconstitutional, it will have an effect the other 22 states that have similar right-to-work laws.
I have always felt that forcing free citizens to join a union in order to work is a form of extortion. What is the difference between the protection rackets of organized crime and being forced to pay union dues in order to work? In both instances one is forced to pay someone for the right to work.
If I were the attorneys for the Indiana governor, attorney general and labor commissioner, I would use the anti-racketeering laws in their defense and turn the tide on the union. If their argument was upheld in court, then the other 27 states that don’t have right-to-work laws could go after the unions and force the states to have a right-to-work law for everyone.
Guess we’ll all have to wait and see what happens.