January 25, 2012Legislators have made it clear the main issue in short session this year is the "right-to-work" bill. Republicans, led by Gov. Mitch Daniels, have vowed to make the legislation law.
Passing the law is the right thing to do, for Hoosier workers and future Hoosier workers.
Opponents of the bill say it will lower wages and workers' benefits. In reality, the only aim of the bill is to prohibit agreements between labor unions and employers that make membership, payment of union dues or fees a condition of employment, either before or after hiring.
It's about the freedom of the employee to not have to pay money to a group of people who may or may not have his/her best interests in mind, or that will send millions and millions of dollars to a politician who the employee may or may not agree with.
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said last month that among studies of companies looking to build new manufacturing plants, anywhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of them will look at right-to-work states only. He cited a Boeing airplane plant that chose Tennessee over Indiana and other states because of Tennessee's right-to-work status.
But don't take my word or Bosma's word for it; just listen to representatives from a state — Oklahoma — which enacted right-to-work legislation in 2001 after a long, difficult fight (following an appeal, the legislation actually wasn't in effect until 2003).
"Manufacturing output and productivity have outpaced the competition, and people from non-right-to-work states are voting with their feet by moving to Oklahoma in increasing numbers," the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs reported.
In the last couple of quarters, personal income growth in Oklahoma has been in the top five nationwide, according to The (Washington) Examiner.
Right-to-work opponents will dispute the above facts and also make all sorts of claims, but, interestingly, every argument — as evidenced by the never-ending circulation of e-mails — comes in the same format, from the same place: America's Union Movement.
When arguments for or against something all come from the same place, it loses credibility.
Some of the opponents say the legislation is about greed. Want to talk about greed? Greed is when unions organize a strike for a company in the middle of one of the worst economic climates in modern history and employees refuse to work because their wages aren't high enough or benefits aren't strong enough, when hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers, and millions and millions of Americans, are unemployed.
Right-to-work does not prohibit labor unions or collective bargaining. Employees will still have the opportunity to join and support a labor union. So, if every worker continues to join the union, because it's so great for the worker, nothing will change for the unions.
So, why the uproar? Union leaders know they're trying to hold on to something that isn't right.
The opponents and protesters talk about not fighting the legislation for themselves, but for the future worker. Well, put your sign down because as Oklahoma and other states prove, more jobs will be available to Hoosiers for that future worker if the legislation clears. And they aren't low-paying, fast-food jobs either, or else personal income growth wouldn't have jumped in Oklahoma.
David V. Brandon, senior vice president of Site Selection Group LLC based in Dallas, said from his experience that Indiana has missed multiple opportunities that represented thousands of high-paying jobs and billions of dollars in capital investments because his clients specified right-to-work states only.
If that doesn't persuade detractors, nothing will. Brandon's company is hired to find locations for companies to expand or build; there's no hidden agenda there for or against right-to-work. Plus, his company's based in Dallas, so why does he care what happens in Indiana?
Locally, Harrison County's economic development director, Darrell Voelker, said the corporation has no position on the matter and he is not encouraging anyone either way on the legislation.
However, Voelker said many Requests For Proposals from site selection consultants have a box to check if the community is in a right-to-work state and they clearly say they eliminate those that are not without any further research.
"Additionally, since it is pretty easy to find out what states have passed right-to-work legislation, we believe that some companies — and particularly site selection consultants and real estate developers — use this as initial criteria, and Indiana is excluded from competition on some projects without anyone in Indiana even knowing about it," Voelker said.
In the governor's final state address Jan. 10, he said their goal is to provide economic opportunity and build America's best home for jobs, and every year should include a bold stroke to enhance it.
"This year, the choice of actions has become obvious," he said. "In survey after survey, by margins of 2 to 1 or more, Hoosiers support the principle known as right-to-work ... The idea that no worker should be forced to pay union dues as a condition of keeping a job, is simple and just. But the benefits in new jobs would be large ... " he said.
The National Football League Players Association even got in on the act, saying right-to-work will lower wages for workers by an average of $1,500 per year. Even if this were true (it's not), what's wrong with an average loss of $1,500 when it adds thousands more jobs to the state, including shifting many of those 250,000 unemployed Hoosiers to the job market? That's the definition of selfish, holding on until the bitter end to bloated wages while fighting legislation that will bring in jobs for fellow and future Hoosiers.
Some Democrats even admit the legislation will probably be passed before it's all said and done. Hopefully, Indiana will be progressive and join the other 22 states to become more competitive in job creation.
Plus, Indiana would join Iowa as the only right-to-work states in the Midwest. It would be an extra incentive for any company looking to relocate or locate to the region.
Opponents of the legislation have one thing right: It's all about selfishness and greed, but selfishness and greed is only found on their side of the issue.