Governor and Unions and State Government and Government & Economic Development and Government and Labor

Daniels says 'right-to-work' law would help Indiana

November 4, 2011

Gov. Mitch Daniels says Indiana could see an economic boost from a contentious "right-to-work" proposal, but stopped short of saying he wants state legislators to approve it.

A legislative study committee voted 5-4 along party lines last week to support a proposal that would prohibit workers from being required to pay union representation fees. A bill on the issue sparked this year's five-week walkout by House Democrats.

The Republican governor told the Kokomo Tribune's editorial board on Thursday that a "right-to-work" law would make the state more competitive.

"We know there is about a quarter of the opportunities that won't look at us because of the lack of this law," Daniels said.

While Daniels hasn't publicly endorsed the proposal, his state commerce secretary testified in favor of it during a study committee meeting in July.

Opponents maintain that such a law is simply an attack on labor unions that would depress wages and do nothing to attract good jobs.

Daniels disputes that.

"Some will say the average wage in right-to-work states is lower, that's right but they've been adding jobs and income faster than the rest of the country," he said. "Every state needs jobs, and we're no different. If there are reasons not to proceed, that is not the reason."

Thousands of union members attended protest rallies at the Statehouse during the Democratic boycott that halted legislative action.

Daniels expects another heated debate during the 2012 session that starts in January.

"Up to a point that's fine, but obviously I don't agree when people who try to wreck the whole process, really subvert democracy," he said. "Noise and expression of strong disagreement is perfectly fine, but last year they went too far. I hope we don't go through that again."

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