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Focus on Right to Work

December 12, 2011
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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!

Mike Delp

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4 Responses to “ Focus on Right to Work ”

  1. Andrew on January 8, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    I don’t see a problem with the initial poster here.

    However — It is positively *NAUSIATING* to see always “The democrats….”, “The republicans….”, “The liberal…”, What ever happened to …. THE PEOPLE? Novel concept huh?

    The real problem today in politics is that it really isn’t about the people being represented any longer — rather that the politicians can remain relevant. Politicians are public servants — not Diva’s– and the sooner that we get back to this–the sooner the country will be back on the road to its original greatness.

    It would behoove politicians to remember that they are answerable to the people that voted for them, not the unions or any other special interests. Futhermore spending one’s time looking at the possibility that the other got some advantage they didn’t get is kind of kind of well…. you decide yourself.

    In the words of Yogi Berra, “This is like deja vu all over again.”

  2. ryanripley on December 18, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for the cheap shot Mike. When you decided to become a politician you signed yourself up to be subjected to a higher standard. Disclosing your interests when you make a public statement on an issue is part of the job you were elected to do. I was simply pointing this out to you.

    Personally, I believe you to be an honest and moral man and thank you for serving Plymouth.

    As far as right to work, it looks like we agree. I hope that union and corporate interests are put aside and that legislation is crafted that puts Hoosiers to work…

    Happy Holidays,

    –Ryan Ripley

  3. Mike Delp on December 17, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I just want to be clear to Mr. Ripley that my only motive in asking WTCA to print Speaker Bosma’s “right to work” viewpoint was to make sure that WTCA’s “speak out” section had both viewpoints (as Representatives Dembowski’s viewpoint had already been posted).

    As a Plymouth city councilman I am very interested in making sure that Indiana, Marshall County and the City of Plymouth are as competitive as they possibly can be in attracting new business/jobs. I happen to believe that Indiana becoming a RTW state will enhance our chances just as I believe that lower tax rates and better infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc) will also be an advantage .

    Governor Daniels also came out in support of Indiana becoming a RTW state and he stated that “right to work says only that NO worker can be forced to pay union dues in order to keep a job. Lack of that simple freedom to choose costs some workers money they’d rather keep, but it also costs something even larger; countless middle-class jobs that would come to Indiana if only we provided right to work protection. The vital right to organize is totally unaffected; every right to work state has significant union presence, and some have higher rates of unionization than Indiana presently does.

    As Speaker Bosma stated, ” Democracy depends on open and honest debate-and votes on tough issues-even if we disagree”. Fear of debate should not cause some legislative participants to make themselves scarce to avoid the debate.

    As to Mr. Ripley’s final comment, I want to be clear that my part ownership in Michiana Contracting has little to do with my stance on RTW or had any bearing on my asking WTCA to print Speaker Bosma’s comments. Michiana Contracting is an open shop contractor that bids for work against union contractors on a regular basis. Michiana also works as a subcontractor for numerous union contractors on a regular basis. Michiana has many long time employees (25+ years) that have been at one time a part of a union, but now appreciate and believe in the wages, benefits, incentives and work ethic that Michiana has been able to offer them. For Mr Ripley to suggest that I was trying to hide something is unfair, but I have to remember comments like that are his way of doing things, just as he has distorted my comments and others in the past.

    Again my only motive was to provide both sides, have the debate and let the chips fall where thy may. I want Plymouth Indiana to be as competitve as it can possibly be in trying to get Hoosiers back to work. That is where “my focus” (as you mentioned earlier) is Mr Ripley.

    Mike Delp

  4. ryanripley on December 15, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    The jury is out on “right to work” as this is a topic with many pro’s can con’s. Only 22 states have RTW laws in place with mixed results. However, both Representative Dembowski and Speaker Bosma make strong points.

    I’m worried that this topic is more political. In the state of Indiana less than 10% of the workforce is represented by a union. Is it fair that there are laws in place to overtly favor unions when so few works are members?

    It is no secret that unions get Democrats elected and that weakening unions is a goal of the GOP for that very reason.

    In any case, I hope that Democrats and Republicans are able to craft legislation that is best for the state and just not for a particular party. If they drop the labels (such as “right to work” ) and focus on laws that put Hoosiers to work we will all benefit.

    As a side note, Councilman Delp should disclose that his business (Michiana Contracting) regularly bids against union shops and “right to work” legislation could have a positive impact on his business.