Chesterton Tribune

Indiana Legislature set for new right-to-work fight

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TOM LoBIANCO,

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Republican leader of the Indiana House said Monday that passing a “right-to-work” proposal will be his top priority in the coming legislative session, setting up a possible repeat of a confrontation that sparked a five-week walkout by House Democrats.

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long stood with leaders of business groups during a Monday morning news conference at the statehouse ahead of the Legislature’s Organization Day on Tuesday.

Bosma called the issue a “freedom campaign for Hoosier workers,” saying he wanted to remove a barrier to job creation in Indiana by having it join 22 other states with such a law.

A legislative study committee voted along party lines last month to support a proposal that would prohibit workers from being required under labor contracts to pay union representation fees.

Opponents say the push is aimed at weakening unions and that such a law would depress wages and do nothing to attract good jobs.

Thousands of union members attended Statehouse rallies against Republican-backed labor bills during the Democratic boycott that brought legislative action to a halt and the state AFL-CIO is planning a protest during Tuesday’s Organization Day events.

House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said Monday that Republicans are “crushing job opportunities” with their focus on the “right-to-work” proposal.

Bosma, R-Indianapolis, maintained again Monday that GOP support for the proposal isn’t about targeting unions.

“It is about giving all Hoosiers the freedom to choose a job, decide how their hard-earned money is spent and bring more employment opportunities to Indiana,” Bosma said in a statement.

Bosma said the House — where Republicans hold a 60-40 majority — will try to act quickly on the issue after the legislative session starts Jan. 3, possibly even trying to push the bill through ahead of the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

Long, R-Fort Wayne, said “we have to do everything we can to push the envelope on economic development.”

Long and Bosma said they briefed Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels on their plans, but would not say whether he was supporting them on the issue.

Daniels has said the state could see an economic boost from a “right-to-work” law, but has stopped short of endorsing it.

 

Posted 11/21/2011