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Daniels Urges Lawmakers To Pass "Right To Work" Bill

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has broken his silence on whether he wants state lawmakers to pass legislation that would prohibit companies from making the payment of union dues a condition ofemployment.Republican leaders in both chambers say they'll introduce so-called "right-to-work" legislation in the 2012 General Assembly. The issue prompted a walkout by House Democrats during the 2011 session and drew hundreds of labor union demonstrators to the Statehouse before it was tabled.    Supporters say having a "right-to-work" law in place makes states more attractive to companies and spurs job creation. Opponents argue that it drives down wages and weakens unions and job performance.Here is a statement today from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels:After a year of study and reflection, I have come to agree that it is time for Indiana to join the 22 states which have enacted right to work laws.Right to work says only that no worker can be forced to pay union dues in order to keep a job.  Lack of that simple freedom to choose costs some workers money they’d rather keep, but it also costs something even larger: countless middle-class jobs that would come to Indiana if only we provided right to work protection.Seven years of experience at our Indiana Economic Development Corporation has confirmed what every economic development expert tells us: despite our top-ranked business climate, Indiana gets dealt out of hundreds of new job opportunities because we have no right to work law. When a business allows us to compete, we win two-thirds of the time. But between a quarter and a half of the time, we don’t make the first cut, due to this single handicap. Knowing how many additional jobs we could be capturing is what has persuaded me that we must enact this reform.I have listened with respect to the advocates of compulsory dues and looked into their arguments, but they just don’t hold up.  Right to work states have, if anything, better rates of worker safety.  The vital right to organize is totally unaffected; every right to work state has significant union presence, and some have higher rates of unionization than Indiana does.If the national economy were not in such terrible condition, we might not find this step necessary, but in this time when so many are jobless, or struggling, it would be irresponsible not to act when we know that thousands of good jobs are at stake.

Rick Howlett was midday host and the host of LPM's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." He was with LPM from 2001-2023 and held many different titles, including Morning Edition host, Assignment Editor and Interim News Director. He died in August 2023. Read a remembrance of Rick here.