Indiana Ready to Restart Battle Over Union Rights

Legislative leaders in Indiana have served notice that the contentious fight over union rights in the Midwest will not end with voters' defeat of a controversial collective bargaining law in Ohio earlier this month.

On Monday (November 21), the Republicans who control the Indiana House and Senate announced that "right-to-work" legislation - which would sharply limit the influence of unions in the private sector - will be at the top of their legislative agenda next year, The Courier-Press of Evansville reports .

According to the paper, GOP leaders see the influence of unions as harmful to job growth. They want to make Indiana the nation's 23rd "right-to-work" state, which means that it would prohibit private companies from requiring employees to pay union dues.

"The reality is, regardless of how good our environment is, we're losing tons of jobs in this state because we're not a right-to-work state," Senate President Pro Tem David Long tells The Courier-Press .

Minority Democrats say they will fight the proposal using any means necessary, potentially including the tactic they employed earlier this year when a legislative committee approved a "right-to-work" bill: fleeing the state to deny Republicans the quorum they need to pass any legislation. The Democrats' exodus threatened to derail Republican Governor Mitch Daniels' education agenda.

"We will use the methods we think will draw attention to the public that disaster is ahead and happening," House Democratic Leader B. Patrick Bauer said Monday, according to The Courier-Press .

Ahead of Monday's announcement, it was unclear how much of a presence union rights would be on state agendas next year, particularly in the newly Republican Midwest. After the Ohio GOP limited collective bargaining rights for public workers during their session this year, voters resoundingly overturned the measure on November 8. In Wisconsin, unions have set their sights on a recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker in large part because of the state's anti-union collective bargaining law.

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