“Right-to-work (for less)” bill threatens democracy in Indiana

Labor rights and democracy are in grave danger in the Hoosier state, where Republican lawmakers are trying to impose so-called “right to work” legislation.

Today, Democrats refused to come to the statehouse floor in protest, and demanded the right to offer an amendment, which would seek a public referendum on the legislation. As of this writing, the House is adjourned until tomorrow morning.

Yesterday, members of more than 20 unions and their allies presented 20,000 signed postcards and petitions urging a vote against the anti-worker law. Union members spent their off-the-clock time quickly gathering the signatures and hand delivered them.

The proposed Indiana law would prohibit union contracts from requiring workers to pay union dues, but would require unions to represent everyone at the workplace, including those who do not pay dues. “Right to work (for less)” is a notorious union-busting tool, which results in lower wages for all workers and higher profits for corporate elites.

Steelworker Kelly Hugunin said, “Everywhere we go, people are happy to sign. Union or not, working people want to stop this attack on middle-class jobs.”

The Indiana State AFL-CIO reported on a Hart Research Associates poll of Indiana voters Jan. 14-15. The poll found that:

  • Only one-third of Indiana voters favor passage of so-called “right to work,” and 69 percent reject Republican plans to pass it this week.
  • Hoosiers believe that the voters, not the legislature, should have the final say on this issue.

Despite an earlier agreement to allow the referendum amendment to be introduced and debated, Tuesday night the Republicans declared it unconstitutional, adjourned and threatened a $1,000 fine on any Democrats who filibuster the bill in today’s session by staying away.

Supporters of workers rights in Indiana can follow the statehouse action on Twitter with the hashtags #INunion and #INlegis.

Indiana unionists and their supporters can still write and call state legislators and urge them to vote “NO” on this bill, or at least call for a public referendum, by going to this link:  http://act.aflcio.org/c/155/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=3404

Photo: Rep. B. Patrick Bauer, right, and Rep. Linda Lawson call for a caucus as the session began at the statehouse in Indianapolis, Jan. 13. Democrats have proposed a statewide referendum on the right-to-work legislation. (AP/Michael Conroy)



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People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.