Right-to-Work Law Signed in Indiana
posted by: Alix | February 02, 2012, 07:35 PM   

Yesterday, Indiana made history as Governor Mitch Daniels signed Right-to-Work legislation into law, making the Hoosier State 23rd in the nation with the provision—the first new Right-to-Work state in over a decade. Interestingly, Indiana is also the first state in the "Rust Belt" of the Midwest and Northeast to adopt the measure that protects workers' freedom of association when it comes to union membership, in the public and private sector.

Specifically, Right-to-work laws forbid private companies and government agencies from negotiating a contract with a union that requires members to join the union or pay an agency fee to the union as a condition of employment—known as an agency shop. The agency fee rate is determined by the union and is often 80-90% of union member dues, but the member forfeits the right to vote on the negotiated agreement that forced them to pay the fee, among other benefits.

While this new law will impact private business immediately, it will also strengthen a 2005 executive order signed by Governor Daniels that banned forced unionism among public employees, including teachers.

Union leaders maintain that the law will be detrimental to union revenues and power. Despite the law's passage, Indiana AFL-CIO spokesman Jeff Harris said they are planning informational picketing and potential protests during Sunday's Super Bowl, despite warnings from Governor Daniels.

The bill was not without controversy in a union stronghold like Indiana—Democratic legislators opposing the law threatened to flee the state to avoid a vote—however, according to proponents, its passage reflects a new climate . "We're hopeful that showing that this can be done in a state like Indiana is going to bring other states around," said Patrick Semmens, a spokesman for the Virginia-based National Right to Work Committee.

Although this law will strengthen the ability for Indiana teachers to make informed choices, there are still thousands of educators in New Jersey and in 22 other states* who do not want to be represented by a union and do not want to pay union dues but are forced to because state law allows these agency shops. (*In total, 27 states and the District of Columbia allow forced unionism, but several states make special exceptions for teachers.)

The fact is forced unionism and forced dues are serious business for the unions. In examining the numbers, the issue couldn't be clearer for teachers across the country. In 2010 alone, teachers unions collected more than $2 billion in union dues; $1.3 billion of those dues came from states with compulsory unionism.

Further, union dues are highest in states where there is compulsory unionism – sometimes twice as much as compared to states where teachers have the option not to join the union. Obviously in fighting against teacher freedoms, the unions are trying to preserve their pipeline of cash.

Overall, this decision is a victory for workers and reinforces teacher freedoms in Indiana. AAE believes that teachers, as college-educated professionals, should be able to decide whether union membership matches his or her budget and beliefs. The practice of forcing professionals to join a union simply for the privilege of having a job is both archaic and wrong. If you are interested in learning more about teacher rights, click here.

What do you think about right-to-work laws?

Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Special Education Teacher
written by Allen Osborn Riverside, CA, February 07, 2012

Congratulations to all Hoosiers!!!! Everyone has a civil Right to Work!

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