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Indiana Right-to-Work Laws

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Indiana has always been a state built on industry. From the steel out of Calumet to the Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, the Hoosier State has played an enormous part in making the things that make America go.

And the relationship between unions and companies, though sometimes tense, has played a massive part in making those things.

Indiana passed a law in 2012 affecting how unions can interact with the companies and their employee members, making it the twenty-third "right-to-work" state. Know your basic “right-to-work laws" in Indiana and when you may need additional legal help.

Federal Laws for Union Members and Nonmembers

While states are allowed their own right-to-work legislation, you have some rights at the federal level. You have some protections under:

Different laws will apply based on your state and if you have a private employer, a government job, or a company with a public policy.

You may also have some protections from individual labor organizations at the national level, such as the American Nurses Association or American Federation of Government Employees. These are typically part of a union.

Right-to-Work State Laws: The Basics

Many states have enacted what are called "right-to-work" laws. These prohibit a labor union membership as a requirement for obtaining and maintaining a job.

Indiana's right-to-work law prohibits unions from requiring union membership as a condition of employment. Without this law, nonmembers would have to pay member-like fees to unions in exchange for representation.

Indiana's Right-To-Work Statutes and Explanations

The following chart lists the main provisions of Indiana's right-to-work laws as they stand today.

Code Section

Policy on Union Membership, Organization, etc.

§ 22-6-1-2

Prohibited Activity § 22-6-6-8

§ 22-6-6-10

Indiana's right-to-work law prohibits employers and labor organizations from requiring anyone to join a union as a condition of their employment. They also can't require someone to stay in a union when they don't want to. Any contracts or agreements made contrary to the law cannot be enforced. Violation of the law can lead to criminal penalties, or an individual can sue in civil court.

How Right-to-Work Laws Work With Unions

In the most general sense, right-to-work laws regulate the contracts between employers, unions, and union members. They prevent employers from excluding non-union workers or requiring existing employees to join a union or pay union dues.

Trends in Right-to-Work Laws

About half the states have some version of a right-to-work law, most of which are relatively new. Unfortunately, some right-to-work laws are entangled in court litigation. This means the impact of the laws on wages and collective bargaining agreements remains to be determined.

Unions have largely opposed right-to-work laws, while business interests and local chambers of commerce have lobbied heavily for them.

History of Right-to-Work Statutes in Indiana

Although the Indiana state legislature passed a right-to-work law in 2012, the law's current and future status can feel unclear. Indiana originally passed a right-to-work law in 1957 but repealed it in 1965.

When they created the law in 2012, a Lake County court ruled the law unconstitutional. Their claim referenced Indiana's protections against forcing anyone to provide a service for free.

In 2014, the case went to the Indiana Supreme Court, which decided the statute was legal. They determined that the law upheld federal requirements that unions represent all the members of bargaining units.

Indiana Right-to-Work Laws: Related Resources

As you can see from above, employment laws can be complicated and are subject to change. If you would like legal assistance with an employment or union case, you can contact an Indiana labor attorney in your area.

You can also visit FindLaw's Employee Rights Center for more articles and resources on this topic.

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