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Latest News - March 2012

March 4, 2012
Right-to-work hearing canceled
Source: Post-Tribune, Chicago Sun Times
By: Michelle Quin

HAMMOND — A hearing scheduled for Monday afternoon regarding the Operating Engineers Local 150’s temporary restraining order against the state’s Right-to-Work law has been canceled after the local withdrew its motion Friday afternoon.

Local 150 Attorneys Dale Pierson and Elizabeth LaRose wrote in the withdrawal notice that the TRO be dismissed “without predjudice” because both Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office and Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Lori Torres interpreted the document filed as “not applying to or abrogating existing contracts or those in effect on March 14, and only applying to contracts entered into, modified, renewed, or extended after March 14.”

Building and construction contracts aren’t subject to different enforcement dates, either, the two concur.

Pierson and Rose did say, however, that the brief filed by the attorney general didn’t address many of the issues raised by the TRO.

In a statement released by Local 150, its president and business manager, James Sweeney, said the attorney general’s office “conceded” in its brief that section 3, which applies to building and construction industries, is “essentially meaningless.”

“The most immediate reasonable interpretation would be that because this section is not subject to the enactment date of the rest of the legislation, it is effective upon signing. However, that would not be the case if the entire section in question were declared without substance,” Sweeney said. “For this office to acknowledge that an entire section of the legislation is without purpose confirms what we have said since day one: The rush to pass this legislation resulted in a poorly-crafted document with gaping flaws.

“The amendment that created section 3 was framed as an exemption in an effort to attract support from legislators still on the fence, but today’s statement from the Attorney General leaves us to wonder whether the author of that amendment was using it as a tool of deception, or if he was simply unable to write a piece of legislation that meant anything at all.”

Bryan Corbin, spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office, said Sunday there was no concession and that the Torres and the Attorney General’s office agreed that the law applies only to agreements reached after March 14. As well, the vacation of the TRO doesn’t change anything for the time being.

“The legislation will have its time in court, where both sides will have their chance for good debate,” Corbin said.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, which based in Illinois but represents employees in Indiana, sued the state in February over the legislation, which prohibits unions from requiring all employees it covers to pay dues. The lawsuit said that the right-to-work law affects construction and building unions immediately, whereas other unions with contracts in place by March 14 wouldn’t be affected. Any new or changed contract after that date would be affected, according to the suit.

The union then filed a motion for an emergency junction earlier this week, and U.S. District Judge Philip Simon of the Northern District Court in Hammond ordered the state officials to respond by March 2.




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