Despite a Herculean effort by labor unions and high-profile support from the NFL Players Association in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Indiana’s labor unions lost its battle with the anti-union Republican Senate and the state became the 23rd so-called “right-to-work” state.
With the loss, agency fee workers, those who refuse to join a union but are still protected by its collective bargaining agreement and are represented by the union in labor disputes, no longer have to pay any fees to the union to receive union benefits and protections.
The legislation passed because Democrats were outnumbered 60-40 in the State House. It is a bill that Indiana labor isn’t too happy about.
“They have set our state upon a path that will lead to lower wages for all working Hoosiers, less safety at work and less dignity and security in old age or ill health,” said Indiana State AFL-CIO Vice President Nancy Guyott. “Indiana’s elected officials have given the wrong answer to the most important question of this generation.
“I am reminded of the saying, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’ and it seems especially fitting today,” continued Guyott. “Hoosiers have been here before. From 1957 to 1965, Indiana experimented with this exact same law. After its utter failure to produce on any of its promises of economic salvation, Hoosiers rose up, changed elected officials and repealed it. It appears we are headed there again.”
Democrats and labor in the state are working on strategies to rectify the legislative loss. During the two-year battle to get to this bill, Indiana Democratic House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer attempted to stall action on the bill by pushing the debate during Super Bowl week and staging boycotts and protests throughout the city.
Although the 2012 elections will have a say in how the bill proceeds, Guyott doesn’t believe it will last very long. She thinks the Democrats will take the statehouse back.
“Their victory will be as short-lived as this legislation is shortsighted,” she said. “As working men and women did in the 1950s and ’60s, this generation of Hoosiers will now rise up, join forces and repeal this anti-worker agenda again.”