Workers oppose union challenge to Ind. right-to-work law

Michael P. Tremoglie Mar. 5, 2012, 1:11pm

HAMMOND, Ind. -- A group of Indiana workers filed an amicus brief in U.S. District Court in response to a labor union's federal lawsuit against Indiana's right-to-work law.

The amicus brief filed March 2 in Hammond, Ind., supports the defendants Gov. Mitch Daniels, Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Labor Commissioner Lori Torres and the new law.

Lawyers for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 union filed a federal lawsuit to block the Indiana bill on Feb. 22. The union lawyers contend that the right-to-work law is "pre-empted" by the National Labor Relations Act.

However, according to the National Right to Work Foundation (NRWF) which is providing free assistance to the four workers, federal labor law specifically affirms the right of states to enact right-to-work laws.

David Bercot, a certified wastewater operator for ITR Concession Company which services Indiana toll road rest stops in the Fort Wayne-area; Joel Tibbetts, a Minteq International assistant manager in Valparaiso; Douglas Richards, an employee with Cequent Towing Products; and Larry Getts, a Dana Holding Corporation tube press technician in Albion -- all joined in the brief defending the law.

Both Bercot's and Tibbetts' workplaces are unionized by the IUOE. Both workers have refrained from union membership but are still forced to accept IUOE Local 150 union representation and were required to pay dues to the union as a condition of employment before the Indiana law was enacted.

Indiana is the nation's 23rd Right to Work state. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans support the Right to Work principle, including 80 percent of union members.

According to a statement by the NRWF, their attorneys have successfully defended state right-to-work laws in the past. The NRWF has established a legal task force dedicated to defending Indiana's law. It has already examined the union lawyers' lines of attack against the law and determined that the law is on sound legal ground. A NRWF attorney will attend the injunction hearing on Monday in Hammond.

"Union bosses want to undo what thousands of Hoosier citizens have worked hard to achieve over the past decade," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Because union partisans cannot win the hearts and minds of Indiana's workers and voters, they seek to have the courts strike down Indiana's popular Right to Work law for them."

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