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Indiana House Speaker plans fast start for labor bill

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Indiana's Republican House leader on Tuesday promised swift movement on a push to make his state the first in more than a decade to ban labor contracts that require employees to pay union fees.

Speaker Brian Bosma of Indianapolis told The Associated Press he is confident he can push the right-to-work bill through his chamber during the 2012 session that begins Wednesday and is spending a lot "personal capital" to do so.

"We assume nothing," Bosma said. "I don't assume we have all the Republicans' votes. In fact, I know I don't and I don't presume we don't have some Democrat votes, either."

Bosma, who has been the measure's most ardent supporter, said he hadn't yet taken a formal tally of supportive votes, but added he "also wouldn't bring it forward if I wasn't confident of success."

The proposal would bar private employee unions from seeking contracts that mandate all workers pay union fees regardless of whether they are members. Supporters say the law would help attract new business to the state. Opponents call it an attempt to weaken organized labor.

Indiana's House Democrats successfully blocked the measure last year with a five-week walkout that denied House Republicans the numbers needed to conduct daily business. Democratic leaders have so far declined to say whether they will walk out again this session.

House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer, a Democrat from South Bend, called the quick rollout of the measure part of a strategy to mute public dissent.

"They want to get it quickly done before the public knows what's been done to them," said Bauer, who led last year's walkout.

If Bosma and other right-to-work supporters are successful this time around, they would hand national conservatives and business groups a major win on an issue that has recently eluded them elsewhere. It also would deal another blow to organized labor, which has seen mixed results in its fight against initiatives to curb union rights nationwide that followed Republican wins in Statehouses across the country in 2010.

Indiana would become the 23rd state to enact a right-to-work law, but the first to do so since Oklahoma in 2001. More than a dozen other states considered such legislation last year, but none managed to adopt the measure. New Hampshire lawmakers came closest when they were able to pass a bill but couldn't find the votes needed to overturn a veto from Democratic Gov. John Lynch.

Republicans hold wide margins in the Indiana Assembly: 60-40 in the House and 37-13 in the Senate, and Gov. Mitch Daniels has come out with strong support for the measure.

"There's nowhere we are we closer than we are in Indianapolis," said Greg Mourad, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee, which pushes the measure in Statehouse's across the country.

The group has maintained a state executive director to coordinate volunteer support for the measure over the last few years and recently sent three or more new staff to shore up support in tough districts in Indiana.

The procedural push starts in earnest with a joint hearing of the House and Senate labor committees Friday, just two days after lawmakers return for their 2012 session. But Bosma has been pushing the measure hard since the middle of November, when he declared it would be his top legislative priority.

"We have a limited period of time to do a lot of work this session and the Super Bowl in the middle of the session complicates it just a bit," Bosma said. "There's no time to sit around and wish that things were moving forward, we're going to move them forward expeditiously."

This year's Super Bowl is Feb. 5 in Indianapolis, just a few blocks from the Statehouse.

Daniels said in a year-end interview last week that "right-to-work" should not be sped through the Assembly ahead of the Super Bowl. A spokeswoman for the governor reiterated Tuesday that the only measure Daniels "sees as tied to the Super Bowl" is human trafficking legislation.

Bosma calls right to work the "jobs bill" of the session, saying that it will attract new business to the state. Like Daniels, he has gone up on the air with TV ads pitching the bill as a tool to combat the state's 9 percent unemployment rate.

But the Indiana AFL-CIO is doing its own work running ads and targeting Republican lawmakers who could be vulnerable in the 2012 elections.

"This is a partisan smack at organized labor that is aimed to gut unions ... one of the last organizations standing in the way of corporate control," said Jeff Harris, Indiana AFL-CIO spokesman.

Union members are expected to pack the Statehouse on the legislature's opening day, although new security rules put in place by the Daniels administration could stem their presence.

Although the battle is likely to be fought primarily in the House, Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said the votes can't be taken for granted in his chamber.

Both Long and Bosma say they plan to move bills out of their respective chambers by a Feb. 1 filing deadline. The session ends March 14.

"March 14 will come very quickly," he said.

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  • why
    The reason why you dont know all of that info is the republican party doesnt want you too . thats the reason why they are trying to push it through so hard .
  • Not New
    In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as 'right-to-work.' It provides no 'rights' and no 'works.' Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining... We demand this fraud be stopped. —Speaking on right-to-work laws in 1961

    Yes the same subject was present in the 60's, and many should know it is not new. The attempt by a few rich and the foolish want to be rich to hijack the rights of the American Workers to far wages and benefits will continue as long as there is not a STRONG VOICE HEARD from the majority who struggle everyday.
  • who will get hurt
    Ok many states has right to work. But have anyone says how much they are getting in wages. Or how is the working conditions. Or do they get health insurance. I haven't heard nothing about that. I know the unions here get paid more money and get better benifits but asked youself something. If an non union work get injure or get kill or put out bad product because they don't know what they are doing, everyone would be saying things different.
    • Anti Capitalistic
      What this does is force Unions to provide a service to someone and they do not have to pay for it. The employees have already voted to be represented by a Union, and if they are dissatisfied with their representation they can vote the Union out. How about giving the people the choice to pay taxes or not, but they can still drive on our streets and get the tax services everyone else pays for?
    • Freedom of Choice
      If you ask any number of non-union employees, you will get some who will tell you that they do not want to be in a union because they do not like to see their dues used to support causes and candidates they do not agree with.

      Just because one is a member of a "working family" doesn't mean they will be hurt if they do not have to pay dues -- it would just be voluntary. My father-in-law was in a union his whole career. He paid his dues but despised the union thugs telling him how to vote. This was Chicago and the threats, intimidation and violence are all well-documented.

      There are a lot of ordinary folks who do not like the hard left turns the unions have taken. Why deny them employment if they refuse to subscribe to the union bosses decrees? Let them opt out.



    • Why force everyone to join.
      I don't understand how this is such a huge deal to Unions and union members. If the unions are doing such a great job everyone will join by CHOICE and pay their membership dues. What they (the unions)are championing is FORCING people to join the union to work at certain jobs. I'm very surprised at how many people seem to be in favor of FORCING people to pay union dues rather than giving them the CHOICE to pay them. In my confusion I wonder if it wouldn't benefit union members too as unions would have to work harder to please it's members in order to make more people WANT to join. Why do we need to limit the freedom of people to decide if they want to join or not? I don't get the backlash of union members. I definitely see the benefit for the unions. I mean I'm sure Wal-Mart would champion FORCING all shoppers to buy at Wal-Mart. I just don't see why union members don't think this would also be a good thing for them by improving the unions overall service to it's members. ??????
    • VOTE NO
      This shouldn't pass in any way, shape or form! It will hurt the blue collar working class tremendously. My husband is a union iron worker, work is slow enough with the economy and this will destroy most of the workers in this union and the ones like this.
    • great
      This will make Indiana much more attractive to future manufacturing growth. This is not the death of the unions, in fact many states with right to work laws have more unions members than states like IN - it just isn't required that a worker join the union. I can hear the Illinoyed yet? commercials alreay
      • Decivise move
        A very decisive move by the Republians. You need to read Shila Kennedy's comments in this weeks IBJ for an understanding of the effects of this move.
      • fasttrack
        I wish Bosma would leave office and go back to the farm. What will he do without the gov. to pull his string, and make his mouth move.Lets make more money for the C.E.O."s and less for the worker. How many big companies are going to lower prices, if this gets passed? NONE---MIKE ALTE

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