Indiana House Approves Controversial Right to Work Bill
Final approval in Senate all but certain
Union workers protest as House votes on right-to-work legislation. (WIBC.com photo: Eric Berman)
The House has approved a right-to-work bill, making Indiana all but certain to become the 23rd right-to-work state.
After three weeks of Democratic walkouts and other attempts to slow down the bill, Democrats supplied one last bit of drama, arguing the constitution requires the doors of the House to be open during debate. While Speaker Brian Bosma was still discussing the request, two Democratic legislators went ahead and threw open the doors, letting the sound of chanting union protesters pour in.
As four state troopers stationed themselves in the doorway, protesters did their best to drown out Republicans with chants of "liar" and "no right to work."
The law would prohibit unions from collecting partial dues from nonmembers to cover the costs of collective bargaining and other services benefiting members and nonmembers alike.
Inside the chamber, Democrats argued one last time that the law is at best an unknown quantity, and more likely, in their view, will lower wages. Crown Point Representative Shelli VanDenburgh declared a Teamsters negotiator told her one company owner last month put a five-dollar-an-hour pay cut in his new contract proposal, based on the expectation that right-to-work will allow it.
Republicans predict the law will put Indiana in the running for economic development projects it can't get considered for now. Mount Vernon Representative Wendy McNamara (R) says her southwest Indiana district has several sites ripe for construction if companies will look at them. And she says all workers deserve the same option she had when she quit the teachers' union, after union leaders refused to help her challenge a school transfer. The state already has the equivalent of right-to-work for teachers.
The final vote was 54-44, with five Republicans voting no.
The Senate has already approved identical language, but must vote one last time on the actual bill. Because Republicans hold a walkout-proof majority, the House vote was opponents' best chance to block or defeat the bill.
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