Slavery In 2012
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.