Big labor battles didn’t end in 2011. On Wednesday the Indiana House was set to return for a 10-week session to debate a so-called right-to-work bill that would ban negotiations between a union and company if workers are forced to pay fees for representation.
But Democrats did not show up for the legislative session, instead remaining in private meetings and thus preventing the Republican majority from reaching the quorum necessary to start the session.
Democrats have been clear in what it will take to return to start the session: public hearings, held around the state, on the right-to-work bill. A poll conducted this past November for Ball State University’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs in Muncie, Ind. found that while 27 percent of Indiana residents support the right to work and 24 oppose it, 48 percent remain undecided.
So far Republicans refuse to hold such hearings and have instead criticized Democrats for their refusal to come for the vote.
The New York Times issued a strongly-worded editorial against the anti-union push rightly calling it a covert attack to weaken unions, and by proxy Democrats, by slashing their funding and donating power. “It stands to reason that a union will reduce a company’s profits somewhat, by obtaining a higher share for workers. But over the last three decades, economists have found that unionization has a minimal impact on growth and employment in an entire state or country. In fact, six of the 10 states with the highest unemployment have right-to-work laws. North Carolina, a right-to-work state, has a private sector unionization rate of 1.8 percent, the lowest in the nation. It also has the sixth highest unemployment rate: 10 percent.”
If the right-to-work bill does become law, Indiana would become the 23rd state with such legislation but would be the first in the manufacturing belt.
Photo from Kheel Center, Cornell University via flickr.