November 1, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Boise, ID – A federal judge on Oct. 24 dismissed International Union of Operating Engineers Local 370’s challenge to Idaho’s so-called “right-to-work” law.
Local 370, which represents about 400 workers at the Boise locomotive manufacturer MotivePower, argued that the law was unconstitutional because it forced the union to represent workers who contribute nothing to its costs, violating its right not to have property taken without compensation. In contract talks last year, the union had asked to charge a “service fee” on the about two-thirds of MotivePower workers who aren’t members, but management responded that the state law says employees can’t be required to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge granted the state’s motion to dismiss the suit, citing the 2014 Sweeney v. Pence ruling, which upheld Indiana’s right-to-work law on the grounds that the state law doesn’t force unions to represent nonmembers for nothing because it is federal law, not state law, that requires them to represent nonmembers. Idaho’s rate of union membership is well below the national average, with less than 7% of workers in the state unionized. Read more