The validity of an Indiana state law that bars companies from requiring workers to join a union and pay union dues was affirmed on Tuesday by a U.S. appeals court in a win for "right to work'' advocates.
The Indiana law does not violate the U.S. Constitution or federal labor statutes, a three-judge appellate panel said, agreeing with a lower court's decision to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the law.
A local division of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which represents roughly 4,000 workers in northwest Indiana, had sued over the Indiana Right to Work Act.
The law was adopted by Indiana's legislature in February 2012 after a fight that drew hundreds of protesters to the statehouse in Indianapolis.
The law states that workers cannot be required to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.
The lawsuit asked the court to rule that the law conflicted with federal labor law and the right to free speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
"The answer is an emphatic no,'' the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote, agreeing that the lawsuit should be dismissed. One judge on the three-judge panel that heard the case dissented, siding with the engineers union.
Attorney Dale Pierson, who argued for the union, said he was disappointed with the majority's decision, but encouraged by the fact that one judge agreed with the union's analysis.