(AP) — Indiana is the first Rust Belt state to enact the contentious
right-to-work labor law prohibiting labor contracts that require workers to
pay union representation fees, after Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels signed
the bill Wednesday afternoon.
approved the measure a few hours earlier Wednesday, following weeks of
discord that saw House Democrats boycott the Legislature and thousands of
protesters gather at the Statehouse.
"Seven years of
evidence and experience ultimately demonstrated that Indiana did need a
right-to-work law to capture jobs for which, despite our highly rated
business climate, we are not currently being considered," Daniels said in a
statement. A spokeswoman said he would not take questions on the measure
Indiana is the
first state in a decade to enact a right-to-work law.
Wednesday to make Indiana the Rust Belt's first right-to-work state, passing
legislation that prohibits labor contracts requiring workers to pay union
union members gathered inside the Statehouse chanted "Shame on you!" and
"See you at the Super Bowl!" as the vote was announced. Thousands more
amassed outside for a rally that spilled into the Indianapolis streets,
already bustling with Super Bowl festivities, hoping to point a national
spotlight on the state.
Indiana will be
the first state in a decade to enact a right-to-work law, although few
states with legislation in place boast Indiana's union clout, borne of a
long manufacturing legacy. The move is likely to embolden national
right-to-work advocates who have unsuccessfully pushed the measure in other
states following a Republican sweep of statehouses in 2010.
Passage of the
law will close one chapter in a contentious debate that sparked a five-week
walkout by outnumbered House Democrats last year and saw them stage numerous
boycotts this session, delaying action on other bills and threatening to
spill over into Sunday's Super Bowl.
Republican-controlled Senate approved the bill in a 28-22 vote Wednesday
morning. The bill now heads for the desk of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels,
who has said he will sign it upon arrival.
freedom to workers who don't want to be a part of something they don't
believe in," said Republican Sen. Carlin Yoder, shortly before the vote.
Over the past
year, Republicans have pushed for other anti-union laws in battleground Rust
Belt states where many of the country's manufacturing jobs reside, including
Wisconsin and Ohio, but they also have faced backlash from Democrats and
union supporters. Wisconsin last year stripped public sector unions of
collective bargaining rights.
protests outside the Capitol, Wisconsin's GOP-dominated Assembly passed a
law backed by Gov. Scott Walker in March that strips nearly all collective
bargaining rights from public-sector unions. Walker is now preparing for a
recall election after opponents turned in a million signatures aimed at
forcing a vote and ousting him from office. In November, Ohio voters
repealed a law limiting collective bargaining rights that was championed by
Gov. John Kasich and fellow Republican lawmakers.
estimated that 3,000 protesters packed the Statehouse Wednesday and another
3,000-4,000 packed the Statehouse lawn. Union protesters in Indiana said
Wednesday they were not ready to be silenced.
About half of
the protesters marched to the Indiana Convention Center and cheered when a
person went over head on the zipline set up for Super Bowl fans.
Some of the
protesters were holding signs reading "Hands off My Union," ''Stop the War
on Workers" and another said "Ditch Mitch."
56, an ironworker from Muncie who works in Indianapolis, stood on the south
lawn of the Statehouse on Wednesday afternoon surrounded by more than a
thousand union members and supporters protesting the vote.
many of the buildings now being used for this week's Super Bowl events were
built with skilled labor.
everything in Indianapolis to bring the Super Bowl here — and this is how
they thank us, by breaking our way to make a living," he said.
spokesman Jeff Harris said protesters planned to hand out leaflets before
Sunday's game. Daniels said this week that it would be a "colossal mistake"
for union protesters to disrupt Super Bowl festivities and that any such
move could backfire on them.
president Nancy Guyott pledged that Wednesday's vote wouldn't be a permanent
victory, noting that Indiana has adopted and repealed right to work before.
"We'll take our
state back, one block at a time," she said.
right to work helps create a pro-business climate that attracts employers
and increases jobs. Opponents say it leads to lower wages and poorer quality
jobs, and they accused Republicans of rushing the bill through to avoid
disrupting the Super Bowl.
Republicans outnumbering Democrats in the House and Senate, and House
Democrats facing stiff fines if they walked out for a lengthy period as they
did last year, opponents had few opportunities to stop the bill.
against the bill Wednesday, Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington, said there was
no evidence that right to work created jobs and likened the bill's fate to
the Super Bowl, but with one team playing at a huge disadvantage.
"Our side has
fewer men on the field, and our team doesn't have pads or helmets," Simpson
said. "We already know what the final score is going to be."
Experts say many
factors influence states' economies and that it's nearly impossible to
isolate the impact of right to work. For major industries, access to
supplies, infrastructure, key markets and a skilled workforce are key
factors, according to business recruitment specialists. For a state's
workers, the impact of right-to-work legislation is limited because only
about 7 percent of private sector employees are unionized. Over the years,
job growth has surged in states with, and without, right-to-work laws.
its rural-based economy that produces comparatively fewer union jobs than
Indiana, was the last state to pass right-to-work legislation, in 2001.