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Interchange – The Right to Dignity: Service Sector Workers and the Future of Unions


Do service-sector workers represent the future of the U.S. labor movement?

Mid-twentieth-century union activism transformed manufacturing jobs from backbreaking, low-wage work into careers that allowed workers to buy homes and send their kids to college. Some union activists insist that there is no reason why service-sector workers cannot follow that same path…As one Indiana-based organizer says of the struggle being waged in a state that has earned a reputation as antiunion: “If we can win here, we can win anywhere.” The outcome of the battle of Indianapolis may foretell the fate of workers across the United States.

Right-to-Work; Minimum Wage; Living Wage; Alt-labor; Wage Theft; Subcontracting

Fran Quigley is a clinical professor of law in the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, teaching in the Health and Human Rights Clinic. Students in the Health and Human Rights Clinic advocate for the rights of the poor, with a special focus on representing low-wage workers.

Professor Quigley is the author of several academic journal articles on social justice and human rights, multiple mass media articles and columns, and three books, How Human Rights Can Build Haiti: The Activists, the Lawyers, and the Grassroots Movement (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014), If We Can Win Here:The New Front Lines of the Labor Movement (Cornell University Press, 2015), and Walking Together, Walking Far: How a U.S. and African Medical School Partnership Is Winning the Fight Against the HIV/AIDS Pandemic (Indiana University Press, 2009). Previous to his work at the law school, he served as director of operations for the Indiana-Kenya Partnership/AMPATH and as a staff attorney with Indiana Legal Services.

Pre-recorded interview (8/12/15) with Chalondias Smith, home care worker and member of SEIU Healthcare Indiana/Illinois/Missouri/Kansas.

“Union Burying Ground” by Woody Guthrie
“Working Class Hero” by Screaming Trees
“There is Power In The union” by Billy Bragg
“Bread and Roses” by Judy Collins

An IU Professor’s Upcoming Book Is On Low-Wage Worker’s; A Conversation With A Home Health Care Worker In Indianapolis

Indiana Senate narrowly passes repeal of common wage


Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Board and Music Engineer: Jonathan Richardson
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford

Judge Claims “Right to Work” Law Violates Indiana Constitution


The controversial ‘Right to Work’ pushed through by the State Republicans last year suffered its first legal setback last week.

This law forbids unions from forcing employees covered by their collective agreements to pay dues or service fees to the union which negotiated and enforces the particular employment agreement.

On Thursday, Judge John Sedia, of Lake County, ruled that the law violates a provision of the state constitution. We spoke to Professor Ken Dau-Schmidt, of the Maurer School of Law here in Bloomington, who is an expert on U.S. labor law and has studied the ruling.

“They challenged the law under several constitutional provisions. They argued that it violated Equal Protections Act, that it infringed on free expression, and they also argued that it violated a provision of the Indiana constitution that prohibits requiring people to provide services without compensation. The judge ruled against all of them except the last one.” Dau-Schmidt says.

The specific provision of the constitution is meant to protect individuals from having their property seized without compensation or their labor taken without payment.

“The problem with Right To Work Laws, under our Federal Labor Law, unions are required to represent everyone in the bargain unit, whether that person is a member or not,” Dau-Schmidt says.

He also says that a union has to cover the cost of representing the workers, and that it can get expensive.

The National Labor Relations Act prohibits unions from requiring workers covered by their collective agreements to join the union or to pay the union dues.

However, it does allow unions to include clauses in the agreement allowing the union to charge these non-members to pay agency fees for union collective agreement services.

The Indiana ‘Right-to-Work’ law makes it a crime to negotiate these service agreements in the state of Indiana.

“The unions in this state are required to provide services like this and can be sued if they don’t. This state law says you don’t have to compensate them for this, and the Judge said this was a violation of Indiana’s constitution,” Dau-Schmidt says.

Judge Sedia was actually appointed by former republican governor Mitch Daniels. The office of the Indiana Attorney General has announced that it will appeal Judge Sedia’s ruling to the state supreme court. Four of the five members of this court were also Republican appointees, three of them by Daniels. Nevertheless, Professor Dau-Schmidt does not think a ruling in favor of the state is a done deal.

“I suspect this will be struck down by the Supreme Court, I can’t guarantee that. I think there will be a lot of careful consideration of this matter,” Dau-Schmidt says.
We will continue to follow this and other similar challenges to the state right-to-work law as they make their way through the courts.

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