We may have ushered in a new year, but politicians are up to their same old tricks trying to hijack the rights of workers.
All eyes are on the state of Indiana.
Right to work legislation is currently being debated that would prevent private employee unions from seeking contracts that mandate all workers pay union fees regardless of whether they are members. In 2005, the ability of state employees to bargain collectively was eliminated. Indiana IAFF members are not impacted by this legislation as it just targets private employee unions, but it could set the stage for future attacks on union rights that would adversely affect both private and public sector workers.
Supporters of Right-to-Work in Indiana say the law will help the state attract new businesses. Opponents say it’s a thinly veiled attempt to do away with organized labor in Indiana and that supporters are using budget deficits to their political advantage to silence workers. Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis), the Speaker of the Indiana House, who supports RTW announced an accelerated calendar for consideration of the RTW bill, including an unprecedented special session and has scheduled the bill’s first hearing for tomorrow morning. Governor Mitch Daniels (R) has finally taken a public position in support of the legislation and has indicated that he will sign the bill if passed. It is very likely that the legislation will pass both chambers as the Republicans have significant majorities in both houses.
If the bill passes, Indiana would become the first Right-to-Work state in the area considered the country's traditional manufacturing belt.
Why should you be concerned? What’s happening in Indiana could be a springboard for similar legislation to crop up across the country in 2012 only new rules could target public unions. It is all a part of an orchestrated effort to exclude hardworking Americans from having a say about issues that affect their lives and to limit their participation in the political process.
We can’t let this happen – not now or ever. While many state legislatives chambers are starting to convene for the year, and I know that many of our state associations and local affiliates are working the halls of their state capitols, it’s incumbent upon all of us to continue to be extra vigilant as to what’s happening not only in your statehouses, but also at the county and city council levels too. While labor lost the legislative fight in Wisconsin early last year, it had a big win in Ohio in defeating SB 5/Issue 2. While the current fight is in Indiana the next one could be in your state.