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Missouri labor leaders laud judge's decision tossing out Indiana's right-to-work law

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 10, 2013: Missouri’s top labor leader is lauding an Indiana judge’s ruling against that state’s right-to-work law, although Republicans predict that the Indiana Supreme Court will reject the judge’s argument.

The judge, from predominantly Democratic Lake County, ruled Monday that the law – passed in 2012 – violated Indiana’s constitution because it requires unions to represent workers who decline to pay their share of representation costs. The requirement runs afoul of the constitution’s ban against services provided “without compensation.”

Missouri is among the states that enforce union-security clauses.  If a majority of employees decide to unionize, and a business and the labor unions agree to such a provision in a contract, all workers must pay representation costs. Such payments may be slightly less than actual dues, if the worker declines to be a union member.

States with “right to work’’ laws bar such agreements, usually preventing unions and their employers from collecting dues or representation costs via payroll deduction.

“The judge’s ruling finding Indiana’s 'right to work' law unconstitutional is a historic victory for working people,” said Hugh McVey, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO.

“This ruling should be a wake-up call to Missouri politicians. Indiana’s so-called ‘right to work’ bill was pushed by the very same CEO-funded corporate special interests who are trying to take away the rights of Missouri workers,” McVey continued. “As our legislators prepare for veto session, let’s see a renewed focus on what’s really important to working families instead of pushing unfair and unnecessary bills that hurt the people who make our state work.”

Among other things, McVey is referring to a bill to be considered during the veto session – SB29 – that would require public-employee unions to obtain annual permission from workers before dues can be deducted from their paychecks.

State House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, has said he plans to push for right-to-work during the next legislative session or to help get a proposal on a statewide ballot.

In Indiana, Republican legislative leaders and some legal scholars predict that the state's Supreme Court will put that state’s right-to-work law back into effect.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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