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Labor Bill Clears Indiana House Committee

A bill that would make Indiana a so-called “right-to-work” state is on its way to the state House of Representatives.The Republican-sponsored measure was approved by a committee Monday. The bill would, in most cases, prohibit union membership and associated fees from being a condition of employment. Similar laws are in place in about two-dozen other states—Kentucky is not among them. The House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the bill 8-5 along party lines. "This is a bad day for Indiana, this is a bad bill, and I vote no," said Democratic committee member Rep. Dennis Tyler. Hundreds of union members showed up at the Statehouse to protest the measure, whcih they say would weaken organized labor in the state and reduce wages. Bill sponsor Rep. Jerry Torr says it’s intended to make Indiana more attractive to new business and industry, and not an effort to bust unions."Job investments, where folks are looking to invest someplace, don’t look at Indiana because we’re not a right to work state. So we’re just trying to add that to all the other great things we have going for us," he said. Gov. Mitch Daniels had asked lawmakers to avoid the issue this session so it wouldn’t distract them from more pressing matters.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.