Ball State poll: Half of Hoosiers undecided on right-to-work

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Republicans in the state Legislature may have a majority of legislators on board to approve a right-to-work law, but a new poll by Ball State University shows many Hoosiers are still making up their minds.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents in the poll support right-to-work legislation, which would allow employees to work at a unionized workplaces without being forced to pay union dues. But a nearly equal percentage of respondents—24 percent—oppose such legislation. The rest, or 48 percent, are undecided on the issue.

“Neither side has closed the sale,” said Ray Scheele, co-director of Ball State’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs, which conducted the annual survey of Hoosiers’ sentiments on state government issues.

Supporters of a right-to-work law say such legislation will help Indiana attract more jobs. If they can convince Hoosiers, they have a strong chance of winning their support. The Ball State survey found that 78 percent of Hoosiers say the No. 1 priority for government action is job creation, which mirrors results from Ball State’s survey a year ago.

But growing the state’s economy is not only about jobs, but also the level of income Hoosiers earn through their work. Opponents of right-to-work legislation say it merely appeals to low-wage employers—and may even be ineffective at doing so.

“The availability of cheap labor overseas limits the effectiveness of [right-to-work] policies to attract companies looking for lower labor costs,” wrote four legislators in a Nov. 4 report that dissented from the decision of an interim legislative study committee to recommend a right-to-work law.

Republicans won a 20-seat majority in the Indiana House of Representatives in the 2010 election, as well as a filibuster-proof majority in the Indiana Senate. They used those advantages in 2011 to pass sweeping education reforms and to cut public funding to abortion provider Planned Parenthood. The GOP also advanced right-to-work legislation before a five-week walkout by Democrats halted that effort.

Some of those moves might have soured public opinion. The state Legislature’s approval rating fell by 10 percentage points this year, to 39 percent. Gov. Mitch Daniels, however, remains popular, with a 52-percent approval rating.

The most popular policy in Ball State’s poll was a statewide smoking ban, which has been proposed for several years and edged close to passage in the 2011 session. Ball State found that 56 percent of Hoosiers support a statewide smoking ban.

Ball State compiled its survey results from 607 telephone interviews, conducted by cell phone and landline, between Nov. 14 and Nov. 17. The poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.


  • "Right to work" is so misleading
    This argument about having a "right to work" is about as silly as if there were a "right to live" bill that would make it voluntary for someone to pay dues to join a homeowner's association. A union isn't imposed on a workplace. It's only there if the majority of workers vote to join one, and the majority can vote to disband it as well, but you can't individuals opting out of paying their dues while getting the benefits of the union such as wages, benefit packages, and working conditions. It wouldn't work, much like it wouldn't work if people could individually opt out of paying homeowner's association dues while they continue use the community swimming pool and common areas that someone else pays to maintain.
  • right to work for less
    everyone already has the right to work,but what the law is really about is busting unions which most people don,t think it will effect them but all u have to do is look at states that have passed this law. there average income is lower than Indiana and it is thousands less. And for the comment about union bosses, come on really the union works just like the government we vote to have one of are member into office and they still work beside us every day, they are no different then me are you they just have a second job that they don,t even get paid for. I think if you are the 99% this is not a law that will help you, But if you want lower wages and less benefits you will love this law.
  • Why The Difference
    If this is such a good legislative goal than why are teachers fireman policeman and sheriffs exempted from the proposed legislation.
  • Right To Hurt State
    I'm not so sure passing a right to work law will really make that much difference. If the union bosses know that someone isn't paying dues, why not just make an example of them, starting with threats and intimidation, and then, if the person doesn't "see the light", beat them within an inch of their life? No one else will want that to happen, so they'll end up paying the dues even if they do not want to be in the union. Same principal as organized crime. Jeez, for a moment there I had forgotten who runs them!
  • Undecided
    Sounds like half of Hoosiers can't decide if other Hoosiers have the right to work or not.
  • Right to Work
    This is The United States of America and no one should have to join a criminal organization such as the unions to work. Workers should be free to work and not have to deal with the union rhetoric. Unions didnt build this country. Free workers did. Unions have no real value except they commit millions of dollars to the democraps. Otherwise they would be outlawed.

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