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STATEHOUSE REPORT FROM REP. NANCY DEMBOWSKI

July 31, 2011
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08/01/11 INDIANAPOLIS – “Right to work?” What could be wrong with that? Plenty.

“Right to work” is like so many terms that sound innocent, but are filled with danger. In this case, the danger is aimed directly at working men and women across Indiana. “Right to work” is an effort by corporate interests to cut worker pay, reduce the benefits they earn to support their families, and reduce safety in the places where they work.

You may remember that thousands of Hoosier workers came to the Indiana Statehouse earlier this year to protest  efforts by the House majority to bring “right to work” to our state. Their concerns were heard, and the leaders in the House and Senate chose to take the issue off the table.

But “right to work” is not dead. The special interests who want it are powerful and they have a lot of money.

So legislative leadership decided to have this issue studied this summer.

This week, the Interim Study Committee on Employment Issues conducted a hearing on the proposal. By summer’s end, this committee could make a recommendation asking the Legislature to consider passage of “right to work” in the 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

Supporters claim the “right to work” is a job creation measure, a contention that does not appear to be supported by any data apart from a study financed by the very interests that want this change.

There is a lot of information from reputable sources that show there are many reasons to oppose “right to work.”

Consider this:

– The average worker in a “right to work” state makes more than $5,300 less than a worker in other states. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

– “Right to work” states have a poverty level of 12.5 percent, compared to 10.2 percent in other states. (U.S. Census Bureau)

– Workers injured on the job in “right to work” states receive lesser benefits.

– Workplace deaths are more than 50 percent higher in “right to work” states.

By any objective standard, those numbers show that passage of “right to work” is a bad idea.

But the corporate world likes “right to work.” It fits into their philosophy: increased profits and less time spent worrying about the needs of their workers.

These corporate interests have the ear of those in control of state government. In Indiana – where the current administration has no clear job creation program – “right to work” passes for economic development: lower pay and fewer benefits for workers, but bigger profits for those in charge.

Already we have heard that the governor is open to considering this issue in the 2012 session. Perhaps it is worth remembering that a few years back, this same governor said that he thought earning $9 an hour was pretty good pay.

But “right to work” is simply a bad idea, now and forever. It hurts working families where they can least afford it: their pocketbooks.

It has been several months since the workers of Indiana rose up against those powerful interests who want “right to work” and helped stop this disaster from taking place in our state. The powerful forces that want this law are hoping that, as time has passed, you will have forgotten about what they tried to do.

We should not forget. I will do everything I can to make sure they don’t get away with it.

Throughout the interim, here are the best ways to reach me:

Call the toll-free Statehouse telephone number of 1-800-382-9842;

Write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204; or

E-mail me at H17@in.gov.

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