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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Right To Work

Members debated today at the Statehouse about this year's biggest topic: whether or not to make Indiana a 'right to work' state. My employer, being an economic development corporation and all, has taken a strong stance in favor of right to work. I've been somewhat agnostic on the issue until recently. Having done a little research on both the pro and con side, I have yet to find an argument that makes much sense on the con side.

I've personally spoken with site consultants who echo the sentiments of those in favor of right to work that Indiana is automatically taken off the 'potential' list for many business expansions simply because we are not right to work. Beyond that, there is what I believe to be hard evidence that Unions, having once been important and vital to our economy, have become too big and greedy. IE, the pendulum has swung too far.... Whether it's the GM stamping plant in Indy, or the collapse of Kokomo during the Great Recession where Union gardeners were paid $30 an hour to mow the lawn, the evidence shows that Unions have pushed too hard.

But even if you disagree, there is something un-American about forcing non-union employees to pay Union agency fees (if a contract exists). If I'm a worker, I shouldn't be forced to join a union (and that is true by law), but I also shouldn't be forced to pay union dues should I decide not to join the union. Part of the problem is that the collective bargaining agreements are typically broadly executed for the entire operations, not specific to just its union members. This whole right to work issue wouldn't be an issue if the benefits would just be provided to the Union members. The alternative of setting different wage and benefit programs for union vs. non-union employees is often costly which is why businesses shy away from it, but it would solve this RTW issue.

Beyond that though, it seems to me that RTW laws help keep unions more honest and more competitive as opposed to being secretive and conducting business in smokey rooms with union leaders. ...All because they have to try that much harder to get people to sign on to their Union to get the fee.

Having said all this, I for one do not trust the statistics that RTW States are that much more economically well off because of it than their non-RTW counterparts. Correlation does not equal causation and any study I've seen just hasn't adequately accounted for that complexity.

Anyway, I'm open to debate on this issue. But, really, I don't see how Unions have much of a leg to stand on this.

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