By Susan Guyett
INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Indiana union members will ask a federal judge on Friday to block enforcement of a controversial law that allows workers in unionized jobs to opt out of paying dues, according to lawyers involved in the case.
The request for a temporary restraining order will be filed just days after the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 brought a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Hammond, Indiana claiming the legislation was unconstitutional.
The suit, filed on Wednesday, claims the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by requiring dues-paying members to furnish free representation to people who refuse to join the union and pay dues, also known as "free riders."
Indiana became the 23rd state February 1 to pass anti-union "right-to-work" legislation and the first in the nation's manufacturing heartland. It was the first state to adopt such a measure since Oklahoma did a decade ago.
Republican supporters of the law, including Governor Mitch Daniels, said it was needed to attract and keep businesses in the state.
Union attorney Marc Poulos said the Indiana provision can be challenged on a number of grounds, including a provision in the state constitution that prohibits the state from demanding certain services without compensation.
"We think this bill was passed in haste, and there are a fair amount of errors that make it different from other statutes," Poulos said.
He added that a hearing has been scheduled for Monday.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said that the state believes the legislature was within its authority to create the new policy. "My office's duty is to defend the laws the Legislature passes and we will do so diligently here," Zoeller said in a statement.
(Reporting By Susan Guyett and Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Paul Thomasch)