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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It's A Bad Day For Labor In Indiana

Jan 4th, 2011
Call Gov. Mitch Daniels at 317-232-4567
UPDATE 12:00pm CST 01/04/12: Indiana has backed down on the new rules limiting free assembly at the State House

"Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." -- Ronald Reagan

Today, Gov Mitch Daniels (R-IN) is joining the GOP's nationwide war on labor, quality of life and the ability to collectively bargain.

Reuters reports:

"Indiana begins what is expected to be a raucous debate on Wednesday as a bill is introduced in the state legislature that could make it the first "right-to-work" state in the nation's traditional manufacturing belt.

The legislation is expected to pass the Republican-majority Indiana assembly with the support of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who said it is "all about new job opportunities."

Indeed. The opportunity for longer hours, less money, no security, no benefits and the dreary desperation of living less and less like Americans and more and more like the residents of a banana republic. Sounds great, doesn't it?

Over ten years ago, Lawrence Mishel's study, The Wage Penalty of "Right-to-Work" Laws, demonstrated just what will happen:

"To determine the effect of right-to-work laws on wages we estimate log wage equations using the Bureau of Labor Statistic's current population surveyoutgoing rotation group (CPS-ORG) data for 2000. The sample consists of 152,576 prime age workers, ages 18 -64, who earn wages or salaries. Average hourly wages for the sample were $15.54, and median hourly wages were $12.25. Median wages for workers living in right-to-work states were $11.45, while wages for those living in non -RTW states were $13.00, indicating that wages were 11.9% lower in RTW states."

Almost 12% less in earnings. And that's just for starters. Further examination from the Economic Policy Institute is available HERE and HERE.

Acording to Reuters, Gov. Daniels "said too many businesses have looked at Indiana and walked away because it is not a right-to-work state, and that such states have faster job and income growth and lower unemployment rates." EMPHASIS OURS

There's just one problem with this claim, as reported by The Post Bulletin:

"Thomas McKenna, who headed Indiana's Commerce Department under a Democratic governor, said it was absurd for the bill's supporters to suggest that even one-quarter of companies ruled out Indiana simply because it does not have right-to-work status.

He said that the legislation's supporters have repeatedly refused to cite the name of any company that has taken that position. "I think they're making it up," he said."

Indiana Republicans have been trying to pass one variation or another of this odious legislation since the Clinton Era. To claim now, as many are, that it's a noble response to the Great Recession is a very clever prevarication.

Laura Conaway notes one of the differences with latest GOP effort:

"When Indiana lawmakers tried this last year, Democrats walked out in order to deny them a quorum. Now that kind of boycott comes with a $1,000 a day fine, courtesy of an "anti-bolting" bill passed last year. Anticipating thousands of demonstrators in the capitol, Indiana officials last week moved to cap the number at about 1,300. The new rules get their first exception tomorrow, with a prayer group getting let in through a special entrance."

You read that right. In order to go-for-the-win against the unions, they've limited the right to assemble.

Yesterday, Marty Wolf of the Higgins Labor Studies Program at Notre Dame wrote:

"What is likely to happen in Indiana if “right-to-work” (RTW) legislation passes is not much of a mystery.  Unions will lose members and financial resources, they will have less bargaining power in negotiations with employers, and wages and benefits for workers represented by collective bargaining agreements will fall short of what they would have been without the RTW law.  This will also be true for other workers as well, since companies will feel less need to compete with union-scale wages and benefits. 

RTW advocates assert that passage of a RTW law in Indiana will lead to higher incomes for Hoosiers.  The Indiana Chamber of Commerce report on RTW (Vedder, Denhart, and Robe, 2011) states that higher incomes will come about from more businesses relocating to Indiana due to lower labor costs.  This is the logic of the RTW argument, but it is a rather uncomfortable and contradictory argument to make, that we need to lower the wages of workers in Indiana in order to improve incomes." EMPHASIS OURS

There still another wrinkle; Citizen's United is having an effect in the fight for public opinion. Mary Beth Schneider of the Indy Star reports:

"The first hearing on the so-called "right to work" issue is scheduled for Friday, but the lobbying is under way.

Including by Gov. Mitch Daniels. Daniels, who has said that passing the legislation to ban union contracts that require fees from non-members is one of his priorities.

He's appearing in a new 60-second TV ad in which he touts the legislation as needed for jobs.

It follows TV and radio ads against the bill being aired by the Indiana AFL-CIO, which argues that the legislation is "an attack on working people and does nothing to create jobs."

The labor union ad includes that it was "paid for by a working person like you."

The AFL-CIO said it and its member unions, joined by some non-member unions, including the United Auto Workers, the carpenters union and the Teamsters, paid for the ads.

The governor's ad states that it was paid for by The Indiana Opportunity Fund.

Jim Bopp, a Republican National Committee member and a Terre Haute attorney who led the legal fight to allow unrestricted outside spending on campaigns, filed the paperwork creating that fund with the Indiana secretary of state. But Bopp refused to say who is funding the group and its ad.

The fund, he said, falls under the "social welfare" organizational laws of the Internal Revenue Service and "under the law, the donor information is confidential."

Julia Vaughn, who follows campaign finance and lobbying issues for Common Cause/Indiana, noted that because of a 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case -- a landmark case in which Bopp argued for the right of groups to spend unlimited dollars advocating on issues and elections -- "secrecy is back in terms of political funding."

This is all one interconnected fight in the same war. We didn't start it. But, we'd damn well better finish it.

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