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Indiana right-to-work laws and the future

With Indiana passing the so-called right-to-work legislation, it's not surprising that employers and employees differ on the perceived benefits of such legislation. Employers feel that the new law will promote economic growth while employees tend to view the legislation as adversely affecting their economic wellbeing as they will have less union protection when it comes to wage and benefit disputes.

Many claims have been made for and against the law that probably will never be substantiated until the law has been in effect for some time. We simply have to wait and see whether the new legislation will attract more economic activity to the state, and we will also have to wait to see if it will in anyway diminish the union's power to negotiate with employers into the future.

It has been suggested that the bargaining position of workers has been weakened even with the presence of unions. Union membership has been on the downturn during recent years for any number of reasons prior to such legislation being passed.

This could be in part because union jobs have disappeared. Many companies that had a high union presence simply moved to the southern states where right-to-work laws had already been in effect. The middle class has also decreased and declined in influence thus decreasing the number of individuals with any clout speaking up for the employee.

As we've previously stated on this blog, Indiana employee litigation will likely became only increasingly more complex with new legislation. Despite the right-to-work laws being passed, employers still need to respect the rights of workers, not engage in discriminatory conduct, and not retaliate against employees who bring grievances. Attorneys experienced in the area of employment law will continue to represent employees when such actions take place.

Source:, "Local workers, owners differ on impact of right-to-work legislation," by Pam Tharp, Jan. 18, 2012

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