Indiana House approves Right to Work
By Rick Yencer
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Reality set in at the Indiana House Wednesday when lawmakers voted 54-44 to pass the controversial Right to Work law amid yelling and screaming from thousands of protesters outside chambers
Hoiuse Speaker Brian Bosma actually opened the doors of the House at the encouragement of Rep. Terry Austin, D-Anderson, as a couple hours of debate resulted in the inevitable outcome of the battle between Republicans and Democrats, and labor and business. The conflict even brought in churches, the state NAACP and the Sierra Club that all said RTW was a bad idea and one that would not make a "sustainable economy" as environmentalists put it.
Bosma called the vote a great victory for job creation and freedom of choice while House Minority leader Pat Bauer said the action won't put Hoosiers back to work while making it more difficult for workers to provide for their families and increase the risk of injury and death in the workplace.
"The only places where today's events will be cheered is in the boardrooms of big businesses and corporations," he said.
Rep. Bill Davis, R-Portland, said making Indiana an RTW state would guarantee manufacturers coming to create jobs, given some company representatives testified to that fact. And the measure only allows freedom of choice to join a union and not prevent union organization, he added.
"This will give the 250,000 people who are unemployed the opportunity to be employed," said Davis, who owned a sand and gravel business and is a member of the Portland Chamber of Commerce.
Rep. Jack Lutz, R-Anderson, even declined to meet with labor leaders, and said recently that House Republicans were determined to pass the job creation measure which the Indiana AFL-CIO says will lower wages and benefits while making it harder for unions to survive.
Rep. Mike White, D-Muncie, said the reality of the RTW fight was that Republicans had the votes to pass it, and Democrats knew there was other work to be done during the short session.
"We made some pretty profound and powerful statements," said White, who voted against RTW like other Democrats along with five Republican House members.
White said Democrats would live to fight another day, and made clear that the public knew exactly that RTW meant and would do to the economy.
Rep. Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville, was among those Republicans voting against RTW work, saying that too many voters told him they opposed the measure. Retired auto worker Fred Davis of Winchester gave the governor's office a petition signed by over 10,000 Hoosiers opposed to RTW.
Nancy Guyott, president of Indiana AFL-CIO, offered a defiant response, saying the fight was fare from over, given the Senate still has to approve the measure. The Senate has a 37-13 super majority and Republicans tested their vote earlier this week when another RTW bill passed 28-22. Gov, Mitch Daniels intends to sign off on the measure, repeatedly saying Indiana was losing too many jobs not to have RTW.
Organized labor, that represents about 10 percent of the state's workforce, promised to take their fight to the polls with all 100 House members up for re-election in November. The only problem is Republicans redrew House and Senate districts last year, making very few seats actually contested.