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Indiana will become first Rust Belt state with right-to-work law

February 1, 2012 | 10:58 am

 

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Wednesday is set to make his state the first in the Rust Belt -- once the home of powerful unions -- to have a right-to-work law. The measure received final legislative passage Wednesday morning, and Daniels was expected to sign it later in the day.

The bill, which has galvanized labor opposition, passed the Republican-controlled Senate 28-22 on an accelerated pace to avoid any conflict with this weekend’s Super Bowl XLVI. The game will be held Sunday in Indianapolis, and Daniels warned earlier in the week that any Super Bowl protests over the law would be a mistake.

Daniels' signature on the measure will make Indiana the 23rd state in the nation to have a right-to-work law, according to his office.

The measure would allow workers to avoid paying dues to a union even if the workplace, private or public, is unionized. Unions dislike such a law because, they say, it creates free riders -- people who benefit from union-negotiated contracts without having to pay for the cost of bargaining or maintaining the contract. Conservatives argue that forcing someone to pay dues violates their rights.

Many Republicans, including Daniels, also contend that with a right-to-work law, businesses would find the state more attractive and would be more willing to move in, creating new jobs.

The Wednesday morning passage had been assured because the Senate passed a similar bill by the same margin earlier. The state’s other legislative chamber, also controlled by Republicans, passed the bill 54-44.

Though the outcome was assured, protesters walked through the halls, shouting “See you at the Super Bowl!” Demonstrators have promised a march through downtown to capture the attention of the media already in the city for Sunday’s professional football extravaganza. There were protests last weekend as well.

Republicans have pushed laws, considered anti-labor by unions, in several states in the Midwest, once the nation’s manufacturing hub and also the center of union support.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker faces a possible recall election over his efforts to eliminate collective bargaining rights for most public employees. In Ohio, voters repealed a law that limited bargaining rights; it had been signed by GOP Gov. John Kasich after it was passed by Republican legislators.

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-- Michael Muskal

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