12/12/11 I have wanted to write a response to Dembowski and the Democrate’s talking points from the November 23rd “Speak out”, but had not gotten it done yet. The viewpoint from Brian Bosma really sums up what I wanted to say in regards to the “right to work” issue. If you don’t mind I would appreciate if you could include Bosma’s viewpoint in the “speak out” section.
With last week’s announcement that attracting more jobs to Indiana is the top priority for the upcoming session; folks on both sides of the worker freedom issue are speaking out. Notwithstanding the rhetoric and scare tactics, it’s time for straight talk about making Indiana the 23rd right-to-work state in the nation.
While Indiana ranks near the top on virtually every state ranking for job creation environment, the national malaise has kept our unemployment rate hovering around 9 percent. Despite strict fiscal discipline and innovative job creation measures, some 275,000 Hoosiers who want work can’t find a job, and tens of thousands more are underemployed. The job prospects for young college graduates are dim and nearly a quarter of returning veterans are without a job.
After a summer study committee found that nearly half of all national employers specify “RTW states only” when considering their expansion opportunities, and after testimony from economic development experts that Indiana has lost substantial employment opportunities for the same reason, it’s time to move forward with a Hoosier Right to Work Act.
The concept is simple — the proposal merely states that union membership or the required payment of union fees cannot be a condition of employment for Hoosier workers. Every employee has the freedom to choose whether he or she supports a collective bargaining unit or not, and an employer’s labor agreement cannot provide otherwise. That’s it.
Despite scare tactics from some, unions aren’t “banned” or “destroyed” by RTW measures. In fact, I was the author of identical protection for Indiana teachers in 1995 and their unions remain strong. But they must be responsive to their members to keep them — that’s why half of all union households support RTW measures as well.
Most Hoosiers think this basic freedom already exists today — and it does in 22 other states — but not in Indiana. In Indiana an employer can enter into a labor agreement that requires a worker to either belong to the union or pay union fees as a condition of getting or keeping a job.
Detractors call this proposal “Right to Work for Less” and point to studies that conclude wages are lower in RTW states; but these studies are flawed — they don’t adjust for the cost of living in those states to measure the real purchasing power of a worker’s dollar. When they do, the average weekly wage for workers in RTW states is higher. But the benefits don’t end there.
During the past 20 years, private sector job growth and personal income grew higher and faster in RTW states than in non-RTW states, and unemployment rates are lower on average as well.
This session we will have a civil conversation about attracting more employers to Indiana, even if some with interests to protect try to shout us down, or some legislative participants make themselves scarce. Democracy depends on open and honest debate — and votes on tough issues — even if we disagree.
Brian C. Bosma, R-Indianapolis, is Indiana Speaker of the House.
Also, thanks again for WTCA’s key involvement with the Shop with a Cop program; I know it takes a lot of effort and energy! Finally, THANK YOU for all the other areas of involvement WTCA has within our community; you help make this a great place to live!
Have a safe and blessed Christmas Season!