An Indiana union suing Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels over right-to-work legislation is claiming that it violates the 13th amendment — the law that outlaws slavery.
In the lawsuit, the union claims that the Indiana right-to-work bill "requires dues-paying union members to work alongside non-union personnel," which the union contends is slavery.
Ed Maher, spokesman for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, didn’t return a message left on his office phone.
Patrick Wright, senior legal analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the union’s claim was ridiculous.
"The legal argument expands the definition of chutzpa," Wright 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."
The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 filed its lawsuit Feb. 22 against Indiana’s governor, attorney general and labor commissioner.
Vincent Vernuccio, labor policy counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said it was insulting to invoke slavery into the debate on right-to-work.
“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,” Vernuccio said. "In reality, it is workers who don’t have the ability to say no and keep their jobs in the forced-unionization states.”
Right-to-work laws prohibit employers and unions from entering into contracts that make workers’ financial support of the union a condition of employment. There are 23 states with right-to-work laws.