The right-to-work laws proposed in Indiana are making national news. If the proposed legislation is passed, Indiana would be the first state in the Midwest to prohibit employment contracts forcing employees choosing not to be in a union to still pay union dues. Indiana would also be the first state to pass such legislation in more than a decade.
A prior attempt was made to pass such legislation more than a year ago. However, the current proposals have a better chance to pass as Governor Mitch Daniels has now also expressed support for the measure.
Supporters feel the law would give workers more choices and would enable Indiana to attract more business to the state. Opponents of such legislation feel it is anti-union, would lead to union members shouldering the entire expense of benefits that come about because of union representation, that it would weaken collective bargaining and ultimately lead to lower wages and benefits for the employees. The NFL Players Association referred to the measure as "a political ploy designed to destroy basic workers' rights."
Regardless of which side one happens to be on, passage of such legislation is likely to complicate Indiana's workers' rights and employment legislation. Public understanding of the legislation is limited, and intensive campaigning for and against such a measure has not cleared up precisely what such legislation is designed to address. Going forward, employers and employees will need the assistance of counsel that can explain the ins and outs of such legislation.
Hopefully, House Democrats and Republicans will be able to work together in a more constructive environment where the welfare of workers rather than political considerations will be taken into account.
Source: New York Times, "Indiana Labor Measure is Expected to Progress," by Monica Davey, Jan. 6, 2012