Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed legislation Wednesday making Indiana the 23rd right-to-work state. The law makes it illegal for any worker to be forced to pay union dues or fees or become a member of a labor union as a condition of employment.
“Seven years of evidence and experience ultimately demonstrated that Indiana did need a right-to-work law to capture jobs for which, despite our highly rated business climate, we are not currently being considered,” Daniels said in a statement. “This law won’t be a magic answer but we’ll be far better off with it. I respect those who have objected but they have alarmed themselves unnecessarily: no one’s wages will go down, no one’s benefits will be reduced, and the right to organize and bargain collectively is untouched and intact.”
Right-to-work legislation has been a contentious issue in the Indiana Legislature, both this session and during last year’s session. Many House Democrats left Indiana in 2011 during the session in protest of the bill; House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said at the start of the 2012 session that right-to-work legislation would be his No. 1 priority.
Democrats in both houses objected to the legislation, arguing it will be harmful to Indiana workers by lowering average incomes around the state, and that the law is unnecessary because of federal protections for those who choose not to join a union.
Indiana becomes the only right-to-work state in the central Midwest. The new law takes effect immediately but doesn’t abrogate existing collective bargaining agreements. It will only affect contracts entered into, modified or renewed after March 14, 2012.