Indiana News

Study Panel Recommends Right-to-Work Law

Bauer warns Dems will "respond appropriately" if bill is heard next year

10/26/2011 file photo: Matt ScheidlerA legislative study committee is recommending a right-to-work law for Indiana.


As expected, the panel split 5-4 along party lines. Democrats call right-to-work an excuse to lower wages, while Republicans, like panel chairman Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville), say it's a tool the state needs to attract jobs.

The law would prohibit unions from forcing workers to pay a share of dues whether they join the union or not. Democrats and labor allies accuse supporters of the law of misrepresenting it as protecting workers against being forced to join. They note that's already illegal under federal law, while the law allows the collection of a portion of dues to cover collective-bargaining costs.

At a series of meetings through the summer and fall, the committee repeatedly dueled over competing studies and statistics, with each side producing data suggesting the 22 right-to-work states have fared better or worse than the others by various measures. Each side, in turn, attacked the other's studies for overlooking differences among those states that have nothing to do with right-to-work.

Boots, who chairs the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee, says he's ultimately persuaded by the companies and site-selection consultants who testified many employers won't even consider non-right-to-work states. He says he intends to give the bill a hearing when the legislature convenes in January.

Right-to-work sparked a walkout by House Democrats last session. Minority Leader Patrick Bauer issued a written statement warning Democrats "reserve the right to respond appropriately" to what he labels a "radical attack on working families."


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