Washington Free Beacon
A pair of federal courts struck down union challenges to labor reforms in Indiana and Wisconsin last week, preserving major Republican gains aimed at cutting costs and attracting business.
Federal Judge Philip Simon on Thursday tossed out a lawsuit aimed at preventing Indiana from becoming the first right-to-work state in the Midwest. He rejected the union's contention that Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and the legislature overreached in pursuing labor reforms.
"None of the legal challenges launched by the union here to attack Indiana's new Right to Work law can succeed," he wrote. "The electorate can ultimately decide whether [lawmakers'] judgments are sound, wise, and constitute good governance and can express their opinions at the polls and by other means. But those are questions beyond the reach of the federal court"...
Judge Simon's ruling only applies to federal challenges to the law. Unions have also sued in state court to prevent the law from going into effect. They say it violates an Indiana constitutional provision that prevents the government from denying private organizations their rightful wages.
"Indiana's own constitution says that you can't mandate people to act without just compensation," said Marc Poulos, an attorney challenging the Indiana law on behalf of the Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting (IIIFFC). "Right-to-work no longer allow us to collect the reasonable fees for the representation we provide all employees."
However, supporters of the law point out that the provision refers to the government honoring its own contracts for services rather than private transactions, such as union dues. Republican state Rep. Jerry Torr, who authored the right-to-work law, said he believes it will survive all legal challenges...
Soon after the Indiana ruling, a federal appeals court in Chicago upheld Republican Gov. Scott Walker's public sector labor reforms, which helped close Wisconsin's $3.6 billion deficit after its passage in 2010. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the act "in its entirety," overturning a previous federal ruling that stopped Act 10's prohibition of automatic union deductions from employee paychecks and recertification.
The labor groups that brought the suit contended that curtailing the ability of unions to automatically collect dues from employee paychecks violated its freedom of speech. The court, however, determined that the system represented a "subsidy" to unions rather than an extension of natural rights.
"While the First Amendment prohibits 'plac[ing] obstacles in the path' of speech...nothing requires government to 'assist others in funding the expression of particular ideas, including political ones,'" the decision says.
Walker welcomed the ruling, hoping it would allow the state to move past the division and at times violent upheaval caused by union members and allies...
The ruling represented Walker's second major victory in the fight to preserve the reforms, which took away collective bargaining for public sector employee benefits and pensions, while preserving them for salaries. Walker previously survived a recall election sponsored by the unions.
Act 10 has saved Wisconsin more than $2 billion since its June 2011 implementation.
The rulings come as unions ramp up legal challenges to Michigan's new right-to-work law. Taubman says the courts have helped to solidify the foothold labor reformers have made in the heavily unionized Midwest.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 01/22/2013
Editor's Note: Imagine that, free to work in the land of the free...
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