Establishment Press Ignores Ind. Union’s Legal Claim: Right-to-Work Law Creates 'Involuntary Servitude'

April 24th, 2012 3:13 PM

As of 1:30 p.m., what follows was a story only at Big Government, The Blaze, and the Daily Caller.

The news is that an Indiana union has expanded the scope of an already-filed lawsuit by claiming that the Hoosier State's recently enacted right to work law violates the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition against slavery because it forces unions to work beside and negotiate on behalf of workers who are no longer required to pay union dues to keep their jobs. Based on the related articles' time stamps, it appears that the Daily Caller's David Martosko was first with the story very early Sunday morning, so I will excerpt from its coverage (apologies if I am incorrect; bolds are mine):

Labor union sues Indiana, calls working alongside nonunion employees 'slavery'

In a lawsuit against three Indiana government officials, a labor union alleged on Wednesday that its constitutional rights under the Thirteenth Amendment — which outlawed “slavery” and “involuntary servitude” — are violated whenever its members are forced to work alongside nonunion employees.

The International Union of Operating Engineers, whose members work as heavy equipment operators, mechanics and construction surveyors, sued Indiana’s governor, attorney general, and labor commissioner in February, alleging that the state’s “right to work” law is unconstitutional.

Indiana’s law prohibits employers from making union membership a condition of getting or keeping a job. The union’s February lawsuit claimed the law violated its members’ Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of “equal protection” under the law.

But an amended complaint filed on Wednesday added a Thirteenth Amendment claim as well. The new lawsuit suggests that when nonunion employees earn higher salaries and better benefits because of the union’s negotiation on behalf of its members, the union has been forced to work for those nonunion employees for free.

And being forced to work without compensation, the union suggested in its revised lawsuit, is slavery.

“In this case, the Defendants have exacted compulsory service and/or involuntary servitude from the Union through the combination of the passage of the Right to Work law and the existing federal requirement of the duty of fair representation,” the amended complaint reads.

... Mackinac Center for Public Policy senior legal analyst Patrick Wright said on Friday that the union’s legal argument “expands the definition of chutzpah.”

“Compulsory membership and coerced dues and fees are the hallmarks of the union movement, yet they claim that giving workers more choice is an act of enslavement.”

It would appear that in the union's view, despite the Thirteenth Amendment, that involuntary servitude is currently legal in 23 right to work states. Who knew?

A Google News search on "involuntary servitude Indiana" (not in quotes) at 1:30 p.m. returned only the three items I have cited. A search at the Indianapolis Star on "servitude" returned nothing. The most recent relevant item returned in a search at the Star on "right to work Indiana" (not in quotes) was an April 10 item from the Associated Press about the union's original complaint which objected to the law on free speech grounds. A search at the Associated Press's main national site on "servitude" returned nothing, while a search on "Indiana right to work" (not in quotes) returned nothing relevant.

Perhaps the establishment press, which from all appearances has been scooped and seems not to care, is waiting for word from the Obama administration as to how it should react. They certainly can't claim that it's not news.

Cross-posted at