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Right-to-work clears Indiana House

Brent Mead
January 26, 2012

Last night the Indiana House voted, 55-44, to pass right-to-work legislation. The Senate passed similar language earlier this week, and a final bill should be on Governor Daniel's desk next week for signature. So ends a two-year drama of entrenched interests using every possible tactic to fight worker freedoms. NTU sends its congratulations to the 55 members who faced intense pressure on the bill and stuck to their free market principles. Ultimately, this vote was about helping the workers of Indiana and making the state a better place to do business.

Last year, while the nation focused on the drama in Wisconsin, Indiana began its right-to-work fight. Due to procedures that mandates a 2/3 quorum present for all votes House Democrats were able delay consideration of the law by absconding to Illinois for weeks at a time. Republicans, who held a 60 to 40 member majority, eventually relented and pull the legislation from consideration. However, this year, new rules went into effect fining legislators $1,000 a day for consecutive missed days of work. Whether the threat of personal financial loss played a part or not, House Democrats chose not to flee the state again this year allowing for the vote to occur.

Political gamesmanship aside the argument for right-to-work laws is solid. Allowing for greater worker freedoms is sound economic policy. As NTU stated in a letter earlier this month to the Indiana legislature;

According to the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Rich States, Poor States, all 22 Right-to-Work states outpaced Indiana’s 30 percent growth in gross state product from 1999-2009. In our highly mobile world, capital and jobs are flowing to those states with pro-growth environments, one key feature of which is respecting and valuing the rights of workers to accept employment without being forced to pay union dues.

The economic benefits of enhanced worker freedoms are quite clear. Right-to-Work states not only see higher levels of economic growth, but more workers have jobs, and those jobs tend to pay better when compared to forced-unionization states. Statistics from the National Institute of Labor Relations Research, covering 2000-2010, show that Right-to-Work states have seen a 0.3 percent increase in non-farm private sector payrolls compared to a 5.5 percent decrease elsewhere. Employees in those Right-to-Work states have seen compensation rise by 11.3 percent over that same period versus 0.7 percent in forced-unionization states.

More importantly, right-to-work is about protecting basic individual rights. Workers should not see their paychecks held ransom by a third party which they do not choose to join. The American principle of freedom of association protects both the right of a worker to join a union if they so choose, as well as the right to decline membership and financial support for a union if they do not. 

Hopefully, by this time next week, Indiana will be the first right-to-work state since Oklahoma in 2001 and the 23rd overall. As Speaker Bosma stated in his floor remarks, "This announces, especially in the Rust Belt, we are open for business here."


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