Education News

Indiana pols target worker rights—again

Workers protesting in Indiana.

by Felix Perez

Never mind that more than 285,000 residents are looking for work and that public schools are trying to minimize harm to students from a $300 million, two-year budget cut. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and his allies in the state legislature have decided that their No. 1 priority this legislative session is to enact a so-called right-to-work law that research shows will lower the average worker’s wages by $1,500 a year.

The Indiana General Assembly, which opened January 3, is fast-tracking the bill, holding its first hearing January 6. The legislature is controlled by a group of extreme lawmakers that tried to pass right-to-work legislation last year. Tens of thousands of state residents flooded the state Capitol last winter in opposition to the bill, charging it would diminish their right to collectively bargain for middle class wages and benefits and safe working conditions.

On January 4, Daniels abruptly walked back his ill-fated plan to cap citizen visits to the statehouse and the right to assemble. Last week, the State Police implemented a 3,000-person limit at the statehouse. With roughly 1,700 statehouse employees and lobbyists there daily, that would have left room for 1,300 people.

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MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reports on the attack by Indiana Republican politicians against worker and union rights through a “right to work” proposal.

Despite a promotional media blitz during the past several weeks by Daniels and legislative leaders, their right-to-work bill has not generated public support. A survey by Ball State University found that that nearly three-quarters of Hoosiers either are undecided about the issue (48%) or oppose the legislation (24%).

The Economic Policy Institute, in a study issued January 3, found advocates’ claims about generating jobs and raising wages are “completely without scientific foundation.”

Opponents of the bill, which they “call right to work for less,” say Daniels and the legislature are overreaching to amass political power and punish those who don’t agree with them. They compare Daniels to two other anti-worker governors, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

In an earlier study, the Economic Policy Institute states that “RTW laws lower wages for union and non-union workers by an average of $1,500 a year and decrease the likelihood employees will get health insurance or pensions through their jobs.”

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3 responses to “Indiana pols target worker rights—again

  1. The intoxicating effects that 30 years of favor for the top has had on our CEOs, and Wall Street’s major players being elevated plutocratic status, jet-setting, globetrotting, straddling the continents in search of any means for realizing ever-higher profit margins, has induced a boldness that exchanges those old, silly notions like patriotism or nationalism into tired, mundane concepts, far beneath their lofty status. Their only concern is a blind capitalism that would turn the whole world into a plutocratic nightmare for everyone but the top. They have experienced vast profitability by exploiting communist China’s cheap work force ($1.36/hr. average wage) to undercut the middle class wage back home. Yet they still expect those middle class workers whom they’ve replaced to buy, buy, buy these cheap imports even though there is decreased access to decent paying jobs because of an ever increasing downward pressure on wages here; wages needed to sustain our purchase power to drive the economy. A downward spiral… When are we going to unite and stand up to these plutocrats? Where’s the plan? It’s pretty obvious our GOP has, in their crosshairs, the middle class worker, the last vestiges of a respectable life-style, fought for by our forefathers in the mines, ports, mills, and industries across America. Behold China: THE prime example of an efficient and cheap labor force. The GOP, bought and paid for by the plutocrats’ $$$, are making a thinly veiled push for a similar devaluing of the once proud and free USA work force! Disgusting! Hey GOP! How do you propose the middle class carry the nation to prosperity without access to decent paying jobs? Crickets chirping

  2. Mitch Daniels has done more damage to Indiana in two terms than anyone can imagine. He and Tony Bennett have ruined education. I taught for 38 years in Indiana. I would not even consider it as a career. Instead of firing all the teachers let’s fire Mitch.

  3. DO NOT PASS THIS BILL…. In fact, six of the 10 states with the highest unemployment have right-to-work laws. North Carolina, a right-to-work state, has a private sector unionization rate of 1.8 percent, the lowest in the nation. It also has the sixth highest unemployment rate: 10 percent.

    Unionized workers earn more and get more generous benefits. In 2010, wages of workers in unionized manufacturing companies in Indiana were 16 percent higher than in nonunion plants. One study concluded that the decline in unionization since the 1970s is responsible for one-fifth to one-third of the growth in inequality in this country. Voters, unionized or not, should recognize the new “right to work” push for what it is: bad economics and cynical politics.

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