ILNews

Labor law to be key issue in 2012

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

In its November issue, Site Selection magazine awarded Indiana sixth place out of all states in its Top State Business Climate Rankings. But state Republican leaders say that Indiana will miss out on new jobs unless it adopts right-to-work legislation. Some Democrats have called that claim questionable.

Lawmakers have stated their intent to work together to find common ground, but with their opposing interpretations of what right-to-work laws do, they will likely spend a lot of time debating that point in 2012.

What it means

The National Labor Relations Act says that in a workplace where an employer and union have agreed upon a collective bargaining agreement, all employees – regardless of union membership – are covered by that labor agreement.

Only when an employer and union agree to a “union-security agreement” can an employer require all employees to be dues-paying members of the union. Even so, employees who don’t want to join the union may elect be “objectors,” paying only a portion of dues to cover union representation costs, like contract administration.

Right-to-work states have banned union-security agreements, meaning that objectors do not have to pay any portion of dues to the union but still benefit from its collective bargaining agreement.

What they’re saying

Democrats say right-to-work states erode unions by allowing workers to opt out of paying dues while enjoying the benefits, wages and other perks secured by union efforts. Republicans say right-to-work laws extend to Americans the freedom of choice they deserve.  

simpson-vi-mug.jpg Simpson

Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington, said she thinks a lot of misinformation exists about right-to-work laws.

Simpson said the argument in favor of right-to-work is that it creates favorable environments for business owners, who then bring jobs to right-to-work states. But she said that’s a claim that has not been proven. “In Oklahoma, for example, their unemployment actually went up after they passed right-to-work legislation,” Simpson said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that when Oklahoma passed right-to-work legislation in 2001, its unemployment rate was around 3 percent. Since then, its unemployment rate has risen along with, but not exceeding, the national unemployment rate. However, since 2002, the BLS reports Oklahoma’s union membership has declined by 39.6 percent, while nationwide, union membership decreased by 11.9 percent.

bill groth Groth

Labor attorney William Groth said he’s concerned about the intent of right-to-work laws.

“This isn’t about right to work – that’s a misnomer. Anybody and everybody has the right to work. What this effort is really about is a political attack against unions to weaken them politically by depriving them of revenue that they would be able to generate under security provisions.”

On Nov. 21, following a joint press conference, Rep. Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne, issued a statement about their commitment to right-to-work laws.

“Right-to-work isn’t about unions – it is about freedom and economic opportunity,” Bosma said in the statement.

At the July 26 meeting of the Interim Study Committee on Employment Issues, then-Indiana Commerce Secretary Mitch Roob said that companies pass over Indiana because of its lack of right-to-work laws. As an example, he cited Boeing’s decision to build a new plant in South Carolina, saying Boeing never considered Indiana as a location. But he stopped short of saying that he knew the reason Boeing never considered Indiana.

bosma-brian-mug Bosma

Roob also said Volkswagen would not open a plant in Indiana because it is not a right-to-work state. Addressing his remarks, Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, reminded Roob that the Austrian company Fronius had opened a plant in her hometown a month earlier expressing no concerns about Indiana’s lack of right-to-work laws.

“And by the way, Volkswagen Europe is also totally unionized. Did they tell you that they weren’t coming to Indiana because we have unions and we didn’t have right-to-work?” Tallian asked.

Roob said he could not say on the record why Volkswagen did not build a new plant in Indiana.

In the committee meeting, Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, said that right-to-work is just one factor companies might consider when choosing where to do business. Texas – which is a right-to-work state – has experienced rapid job growth in recent years. But, Battles said, like most other right-to-work states, it is in the southern half of the country where weather-related shipping and transportation delays are negligible. Texas also has no state income tax.

Economics and liberties

The Nov. 22 statement issued by Long and Bosma said that many businesses, when choosing where to locate do not consider states without right-to-work laws. As support, the statement cites testimony during the July 26 study committee on employment issues, but does not attribute the testimony to anyone. It cites other sources, too, but none provide names of companies that have allegedly skipped over Indiana as a place to do business.
 

EXTRA
Click here to view the unemployment rates of states with and without right-to-work laws.

Bosma told Indiana Lawyer that while Indiana has one of the highest nationally ranked business climates in the country, he thinks the time to move forward with right-to-work legislation is now.

“If things were great here in Indiana and our economy was ticking along in great strides, it probably wouldn’t be the program to look at,” he said. “But despite all of our positive efforts and strict fiscal efforts as a state, we still have 9 percent unemployment here.”

Simpson said she worries that right-to-work laws will reduce wages. But it’s not clear how laws forbidding union-security agreements would lower workers’ pay if non-union members are still covered by collective bargaining agreements.

The BLS shows that in 2010, the median weekly wage of full-time workers who were members of unions was significantly higher than that of non-union workers. For example, male (age 16 and older) union members earned a median of $967 per week, while their non-union peers earned $789 per week.

Groth said that non-union members do have a say in how compulsory dues are applied.

“If I don’t like the union’s political stand or political contributions, I can tell my union that I want my dues reduced by the amount that is contributed to those activities,” he said.

Groth said right-to-work laws impede on the ability of businesses to make decisions.

“But this is exactly what right-to-work is all about – it’s the government telling businesses that they cannot include these security provisions in their agreements, he said”•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

ADVERTISEMENT