Indiana House Approves Right-to-Work Bill
(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)
The Indiana House of Representatives has approved a controversial bill that would ban unions from collecting mandatory representation fees from workers.
The House voted 55-41 Wednesday to approve the right to work legislation. If it becomes law, Indiana will become the first state in more than a decade to pass right-to-work .
Critics of the measure chanted "No right-to-work!" outside the House chambers as lawmakers were gearing up to vote. Speaking on the House floor before the vote, Michigan City Democrat Scott Pelath urged lawmakers to reject the bill.
"It makes me ashamed that we would do this, that we would crush people's dreams, that chance for them to make their lives better," Pelath said. "All they want to do is work and earn a wage, and not have corporate America stepping on their necks."
House Republican sponsor Jerry Torr of Carmel said the bill will not depress wages as opponents argue.
"This has nothing to do with busting or trying to end unionism in Indiana," Torr said. "I've been studying this issue since 2003. I'm convinced that it will bring jobs, more employers to Indiana, and I'm doing this simply for the freedom for the individual worker and to help put unemployed Hoosiers back to work."
Of the 44 lawmakers who voted against the right to work bill in the House, five were Republicans.
The measure is expected to face little opposition in the GOP-controlled Senate and could reach Republican Governor Mitch Daniels' desk before the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
Republicans have struggled with similar anti-union measures in other Rust-Belt states like Wisconsin and Ohio where they have faced a massive backlash. Ohio voters overturned Gov. John Kasich's labor measures last November and union activists delivered roughly 1 million petitions last week in an effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.