“Right-to-work” battle begins in Indiana

Once again, corporate-backed politicians are attacking workers’ rights. This week, joint Indiana House and Senate committees will hold a hearing on the “right-to-work” bill proposed by Governor Mitch Daniels (R). If this bill passes, Indiana would become the first “right-to-work” state in an area considered to be the country’s manufacturing belt.  The bill explicitly targets labor unions and seeks to damage their collective bargaining powers.

Republican proponents argue that implementing “right-to-work” laws will lead to faster job and income growth and lower unemployment rates. However, in a recent study, Lonnie Stevans of Hofstra University found that “right-to-work” laws do not improve business conditions in states. And a February 2011 report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reveals that “right-to-work” states have not seen an increase in employment growth as a result of these laws. In fact, since Oklahoma passed “right-to-work” legislation in 2001, manufacturing employment has declined, and more businesses have relocated out of Oklahoma to other states.

As a matter of fact, “right-to-work” laws lower – not raise –income. According to independent studies conducted by EPI and the University of Notre Dame, wages in “right-to-work” states are significantly less than in states without “right-to-work” laws.  These studies show that the “right-to-work” laws lead to lower wages and drive down the overall living standards in communities.

Initially, in an effort to silence dissenters, Governor Daniels instructed Indiana officials to announce a limit on the number of people who can be inside the statehouse at one time. This would have allowed only 3,000 people, including the 1,700 state employees who work there, inside the building at one time.  However, today the people of Indiana forced Governor Daniels to back down on limiting the number of protestors.

Passing “right-to-work” laws in Indiana represents yet another effort to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining. However, as with Ohio and Wisconsin, we know that the collective voice of the people cannot be silenced.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 at 5:51 pm and is filed under General, Labor Law Reform. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to ““Right-to-work” battle begins in Indiana”

  1. Theresa Phillips says:

    Dear Indiana Representatives and Senators:
    Unions represent the middle class. Unions protect middle class workers in the workplace. Unions negotiate fair labor contracts for fair wages; fair work rules; fair complaint procedures; fair rules governing hiring, firing, and promotion of workers; fair benefits; and fair workplace safety and policies. When unions are negotiating fair wages, benefits, and workplace conditions, they set the precedent for the same in all markets for middle class workers.
    The simple truth is that when the working middle class is paid fair wages for their labor, they are paying taxes. They are visiting the local restaurants, stores, and gas stations. They are buying shoes, clothes, and food for their children. They are buying houses and cars. They are paying their schools for tuition, lunches, field trips, and all the miscellaneous expenses associated with giving their children a quality education. They are paying for healthcare. They are utilizing the services of both small and large businesses across this state. They are paying their way. The middle class is sustaining and fueling this economy.
    Unions, quite simply, equate to better wages, benefits, human resource policies, and better working conditions. Unions made the middle class. Without unions, the middle class withers. Unions are, in fact, essential for building and maintaining a strong middle class. If we truly want to restore our economy, unions are essential to be the voice of middle class workers and set the standard for middle class workers in the workplace. Unions ensure that workers are paid fairly and treated fairly in the workplace. (Center for American Progress, 2011).
    According to David Weil, Economic Professor at the Boston University School of Management specializing in workplace regulatory policy, “The truth is, across this nation, Republicans are attempting to enact legislation that takes away the basic rights of workers to have a voice in their public workplaces.” Quite frankly, when I see the ads supporting Right to Work, I can see that they are biased and clearly, advocating legislation that is not in the best interest of middle class workers in this state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011, “Unions across the United States represent approximately 14.7 million people: teachers, fire fighters, police, nurses, postal workers, government employees, skilled trades, entertainment, transportation, airline, auto, communications industries,” and the list goes on and on.
    Right to Work is clearly targeted at de-funding unions. This is, in actuality, an anti-union, anti-worker bill. I want to say this again, “Unions set the precedent for ALL middle class workers for wages, benefits, human resource policies, and working conditions.” We live in a period of corporate greed. Corporate greed is why we are where we are. Not the middle class. The middle class did not destroy our economy. The reality is that most large and small companies will not willingly and lovingly pay their hard-working workers fair wages; benefits that include medical, dental, and vision coverage; decent retirements; implement fair human resource policies and safety standards. Why are middle class workers paid overtime? UNIONS. Why are there standards in place for fairness in the workplace? UNIONS. Why are there benefits that pay our doctors, specialists, and hospitals? UNIONS. Who sets the standard for wages, benefits, human resource policies and working conditions across the board for middle class workers? UNIONS. Who ensures fairness for the middle class workers? UNIONS.
    According to Jeff Vincent, Division of Labor Studies with Indiana University, in his publication, The 2006 Indiana Right to Work Campaign, “Right to Work activists claim to speak for workers by denouncing unions. What is it about unions that they don’t like? It’s simple: Unions raise wages and improve the work environment. RTW promises a few greedy employers more power to dictate wage rates and job conditions. In short, RTW is nothing more than anti-union strategy disguised as economic development legislation.”
    Unions represent middle class workers across this state. This legislation is more than just giving, “the individual right to join and pay dues to the union.” There are numerous studies across this nation that dispute Right to Work, as well as, dispute the accuracy contained in the studies that some holding government offices are using to base their case. Its implications will reach far beyond this. The middle class workers are the ones who are paying their way and fueling this economy. The middle class workers are the ones who are utilizing the services of both small and large businesses across this state. The middle class workers are the ones buying homes, vehicles, food, clothes, shoes, electronics, and more. We are the ones paying for our government, hospitals, schools, and churches. Destroy unions and you destroy the middle class. Destroy unions and you destroy this economy. De-fund unions, you de-fund the middle class. De-fund the middle class and your restaurants, stores, gas stations, businesses, hospitals, and everything in this economy will wither. Strong unions are vital to this economy. Strong unions are vital to the middle class. I urge you to vote “NO” to this legislation. I applaud the legislators that are committed to voting “NO” to this legislation and who are committed to representing the middle class. The middle class will not forget you on election day!

  2. JoAnn Ailes says:

    I concur with Theresa.
    I would also like to add a little tidbit.
    With 17 new Republican governors, 17 states across the US have enacted Union busting tactics. From trying to remove bargaining rights to RTW laws. It’s not hard to see what the Republican agenda is….It’s UNION BUSTING plain and simple. Fact is it’s just another way to stop union membership from contributing to the Democratic party.
    The American people are aware of what the Republican party is doing all across the US. We can see that this is happening from the local level trough the state all the way to the Federal level.
    We will no longer sit idle while the Republican party dismantles the middle class.
    Every wage is based off of union wages. RTW will lower union wages and benefits, which will trickle down through every other wage earner.

  3. Gayle Golden says:

    Born and raised in Chicago, my husband a retired Sheetmetal Worker out of Gary Indiana, I now live in a Right to Work state, Florida. The only ones who profit from this are the business owners because it gives them the right to treat their workers as slave labor. Florida has no labor board. So, even if you are not a Union Worker, you have no protection from a labor board. This gives businesses in Florida the right to dismiss you with no reason at all. And their is no recourse. They can bad mouth you on a work reference also, no regulation there. It’s called, blackballing and you need to file a civil suit for libel or slander. The burden of proof is on you. Right to Work is a misleading title. It should be called the Right to abuse your employees. This is just another ploy to facilitate greed and eliminate the true middle class. The Republicans like to say that President Obama is promoting Socialism. I say, study the Russian Revolution. Once you eliminate the true middle class, not the new middle class with a median income of 250 k, you only have upper and lower class. In this situation the lower class has nothing to lose, hence, revolution. The Republicans mantra should be, “Let them eat cake.” The should also remember, without those blue collar union workers they would have no portfolios to invest in.

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