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WSJ: New Battle Looms on Labor ; Indiana Push for ‘Right to Work’ Bill Is Latest Front in Midwest Fight Over Unions November 22, 2011

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2012 Indiana General Assembly, Uncategorized.

Dear Blog Readers:

Just in case you doubted the importance of the “right to work” battle during the 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly, then you need to read the article below from the Wall Street Journal which ran on page A3 in the Tuesday, November 22, 2011 edition.  I think this article helps to put the issue in perspective nationally. Clearly “right to work” will be the 800 lb guerrilla in the room during the 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

Laura Ann Arnold

NOVEMBER 21, 2011, 9:27 P.M. ET, Wall Street Journal


Indiana House Republicans said Monday they would make passing a so-called right-to-work bill their top priority in the coming legislative session, re-opening another front in a battle over labor unions that has roiled much of the Midwest this year.


Indianapolis Star/Associated Press Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, center, said Monday that Republicans would make passing a ‘right to work’ bill their top priority.

The Indiana bill would affect the rights of all private-sector workers, allowing employees at unionized companies to refrain from joining the union and to avoid paying union dues. Republicans and some company executives say such a bill would create jobs in a state where unemployment stands at 8.9%, while Democrats and labor leaders say it wouldn’t help unemployment and would crimp incomes.

If the measure succeeds, Indiana will be the first state to pass a right-to-work law since Oklahoma in 2001, though such measures have been proposed in many state legislatures this year. Currently 22 states have right-to-work laws, and they tend to have the lowest unionization rates.

The Indiana announcement comes just weeks after neighboring Ohio voted by a wide margin on Nov. 8 to repeal a broader law limiting collective bargaining for public-sector workers. A Wisconsin law similar to the Ohio bill, meanwhile, was a driving factor behind the campaign launched last week to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.


Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said his state’s situation was different from Ohio’s as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, had already abolished collective bargaining for public employees, in 2005. The Indiana law would be less controversial, he said, as it applies only to the private sector, where a smaller proportion of workers are covered by unions. In addition, it wouldn’t affect police officers and fire fighters—a big reason for the opposition in Ohio.

Mr. Bosma said that he planned to introduce the bill Jan. 4, the first scheduled day of the new session. “It’s very clear that we’re not going to be able to dip into the quarter of a million Hoosiers who are out of work without addressing the last barrier to job creation in our state,” he said in an interview.

House Republicans said some executives at site-selection firms had told them business leaders would prefer to relocate to a state with weaker union protections.

Democrats and union leaders said the measure was an attack on the existence of unions, and vowed to fight it. When Indiana Republicans pushed a right-to-work bill in the spring, most House Democrats fled to Urbana, Ill., refusing to return until after the GOP withdrew the plan.

House Democratic Leader B. Patrick Bauer said passing a right-to-work law would lower wages and make workplaces more dangerous without bringing new jobs to Indiana. “It’s disappointing that they’re not reading the actions in other states, where the public is repulsing and repealing these anti-worker bills,” he said in an interview. He said he wouldn’t rule out Democrats leaving the state again, but said they had other options.

The Indiana AFL-CIO, which represents more than 300,000 workers, said it would fight the bill. “It forces organized labor to represent workers who refuse to pay for services, thus severely depleting their ability to effectively represent dues-paying members,” said Nancy Guyott, president of the state chapter.

Mr. Daniels last year advised Republicans not to push a right-to-work bill, saying it would distract the legislature from education changes he wanted to make. In recent weeks he has said he expects lawmakers to propose a bill again, but declined to say whether he would campaign to pass it.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Daniels said Monday the governor would explain his views at a later date. In an interview this month, the governor claimed Indiana loses one-third of potential business relocations because of its strong union protections.

Write to Amy Merrick at amy.merrick@wsj.com



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