Monday, September 22, 2014

Indiana's Right to Work Law is Unconstitutional

Gregory Zoeller, et al. v. James Sweeney, et al., No. 45S00-1309-PL-596

Union Argues that Indiana's Right to Work Law is Unconstitutional

In an interesting case related to traditional labor law and filed in the Lake Superior Court, and appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, the Union argues that Indiana’s right to work law works an unconstitutional taking upon labor organizations because the union is forced to represent non-members and are not compensated for it. The State Court case was filed against the Attorney General and the Labor Department Commissioner (hereinafter referred to as the “State”) seeking a declaratory judgment that Indiana's "right-to-work law” violated several provisions of the state constitution.  The State moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action.  The trial court ruled that two provisions, Indiana Code sections 22-6-6-8 and -10, violate Article 1, Section 21 of the Indiana Constitution because they demand particular services from unions without just compensation, and entered a declaratory judgment.  The trial court granted the State's motion as to the remaining counts and dismissed them. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over this direct appeal (civil) because the trial court declared a state statute unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has heard oral arguments and the decision should be issued in the next few months.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Labor is the Superior of Capital

President Abraham Lincoln made a speech over 150 years ago focusing on the Civil War, but which cogently set forth the epitome of what Labor Day is all about. This is what President Lincoln said to Congress, to the United States, and to us:

“It is not needed, nor fitting here [in discussing the Civil War] that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions; but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effect to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor, in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded thus far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life. Now, there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless. Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights."