by Félix Pérez
Ignoring the voices of tens of thousands of workers and their families, the will of the majority of Hoosier voters, newspaper editorial boards, and even the union representing professional football players, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a “right to work” law Wednesday, February 1, that will take $1,500 out of the pocket of the average Hoosier worker.
Daniels penned the law just hours after the Republican-controlled Senate, which did not allow amendments or debate, approved the bill. The governor, who refused to take questions, and his state legislative counterparts fast-tracked the legislation so that corporate-sponsored pre-Super Bowl activities in Indianapolis and the February 5 game itself were not marred by news stories of angry everyday workers holding signs, marching, chanting and staging rallies. Last year, the game drew 111 million viewers in the United States and a billion worldwide.
Tellingly, the National Football Players Association issued a statement last month against right to work. “NFL players know what it means to fight for workers’ rights, better pensions and health and safety in the workplace. . . Today, even as the city of Indianapolis is exemplifying that teamwork in preparing to host the Super Bowl, politicians are looking to destroy it trying to ram through so-called “right-to-work” legislation. “Right-to-work” is a political ploy designed to destroy basic workers’ rights. It’s not about jobs or rights, and it’s the wrong priority for Indiana.”
Opponents of the bill, which they call “right to work for less,” say it does nothing to create jobs and strips the hard-earned rights and benefits of Indiana workers on the job. They contend that the bill is a partisan power grab by Daniels and the legislature designed to appease corporate donors and punish those who don’t agree with them.
Worker advocates cite recently surfaced video footage of Daniels in which he opposes right to work: “I’m a supporter of the labor laws that we have in Indiana. I’m not interested in changing any of them. Not the prevailing wage laws and certainly not a right-to-work law. We can succeed in Indiana with the laws we have, respecting the rights of labor and fair and free competition for everybody.”
Daniels joins two other anti-worker governors, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who have made national news for their abrasive style of leadership and their full-speed-ahead mission to strip workers of their right to negotiate collectively for reasonable wages, benefits and working conditions.
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