Wall Street Journal roundtable:  Right to Work freedom "almost a life-and-death issue for Indiana"

Wall Street Journal roundtable: Right to Work freedom "almost a life-and-death issue for Indiana"

The Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot, Dan Henninger, James Freeman, Dorothy Rabinowitz, Kim Strassel and Collin Levy discuss the individual freedom and business opportunities that Indiana's Right To Work bills bring to the Hoosier state: Gigot:  The first big labor fight of the year is taking shape in the Hoosier State. How Indiana's right-to-work push could change the political and economic landscape in the Midwest. Gov. Mitch Daniels: The idea that no worker should be forced to pay union dues as a condition of keeping a job is simple and just. But the benefits in new jobs would be large. A third or more of growing or relocating businesses will not consider a state that does not provide workers this protection. Gigot: He was reportedly booed by protesters in the statehouse hallways for those remarks in his annual State of the State Address this week, but Gov. Mitch Daniels is hoping to make Indiana the first state in more than a decade to approve right-to-work legislation. It would allow individual workers to decide if they want to join a union and ban contracts that require nonunion members to pay dues once their work site is organized. Republican leaders in the state have made it their top legislative priority this year, but Democrats and their union allies aren't giving up without a fight. So, Collin, we heard last year, after the brawl in Wisconsin, that somehow this was over for a union reform movement. What's--why is it happening in Indiana now? Levy: Well, I mean, I think it is a really interesting situation you see happening in Indiana, because Indiana's this sort of industrial state of the Midwest. And you have a particular situation now where Indiana is poised to achieve enormous competitive advantages over states in the Midwest like Michigan, like Illinois. These are high-taxed, unionized states. And Gov. Daniels has taken this moment to say, "You know, we've already made sort of some significant gains in terms of improving the business climate here. We saw what happened in Wisconsin. But, look, you know, we have an opportunity to lure an awful lot of businesses here if we can make it clear that workers can act as free agents," you know? Unions are portraying this as a radical change, but it's really just about worker freedom. Gigot: Kim, the nearest right-to-work state in the Midwest is Iowa. So how much economic benefit could there be here, really, when you get down to it, for Indiana? Strassel: It's huge. When Mitch Daniels talks about this, he is looking at the South. That is where the epicenter of most right-to-work states have been and where there has been a flood of manufacturers who have moved from the North to the South over recent decades to take advantage of those lower-cost, nonunionized states. And if Indiana could do this, it would be a sort of central pole for people to remain in the Midwest and locate and give an enormous advantage over competitors. Gigot: The last state to try to do this was New Hampshire, believe it or not, which had elected huge Republican legislative majorities in 2010. Tried to pass right-to-work. They did. It was vetoed by the Democratic governor. Indiana Republicans also have big majorities, and it looks like they are poised to do it. Henninger: And I hope they do. I mean, I think this is really almost a life-and-death issue for Indiana. Twenty percent of Indiana's workforce is in manufacturing. That's the highest percentage in the United States.

Wall Street Journal roundtable:  Right to Work freedom

Wall Street Journal roundtable: Right to Work freedom "almost a life-and-death issue for Indiana"

The Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot, Dan Henninger, James Freeman, Dorothy Rabinowitz, Kim Strassel and Collin Levy discuss the individual freedom and business opportunities that Indiana's Right To Work bills bring to the Hoosier state: Gigot:  The first big labor fight of the year is taking shape in the Hoosier State. How Indiana's right-to-work push could change the political and economic landscape in the Midwest. Gov. Mitch Daniels: The idea that no worker should be forced to pay union dues as a condition of keeping a job is simple and just. But the benefits in new jobs would be large. A third or more of growing or relocating businesses will not consider a state that does not provide workers this protection. Gigot: He was reportedly booed by protesters in the statehouse hallways for those remarks in his annual State of the State Address this week, but Gov. Mitch Daniels is hoping to make Indiana the first state in more than a decade to approve right-to-work legislation. It would allow individual workers to decide if they want to join a union and ban contracts that require nonunion members to pay dues once their work site is organized. Republican leaders in the state have made it their top legislative priority this year, but Democrats and their union allies aren't giving up without a fight. So, Collin, we heard last year, after the brawl in Wisconsin, that somehow this was over for a union reform movement. What's--why is it happening in Indiana now? Levy: Well, I mean, I think it is a really interesting situation you see happening in Indiana, because Indiana's this sort of industrial state of the Midwest. And you have a particular situation now where Indiana is poised to achieve enormous competitive advantages over states in the Midwest like Michigan, like Illinois. These are high-taxed, unionized states. And Gov. Daniels has taken this moment to say, "You know, we've already made sort of some significant gains in terms of improving the business climate here. We saw what happened in Wisconsin. But, look, you know, we have an opportunity to lure an awful lot of businesses here if we can make it clear that workers can act as free agents," you know? Unions are portraying this as a radical change, but it's really just about worker freedom. Gigot: Kim, the nearest right-to-work state in the Midwest is Iowa. So how much economic benefit could there be here, really, when you get down to it, for Indiana? Strassel: It's huge. When Mitch Daniels talks about this, he is looking at the South. That is where the epicenter of most right-to-work states have been and where there has been a flood of manufacturers who have moved from the North to the South over recent decades to take advantage of those lower-cost, nonunionized states. And if Indiana could do this, it would be a sort of central pole for people to remain in the Midwest and locate and give an enormous advantage over competitors. Gigot: The last state to try to do this was New Hampshire, believe it or not, which had elected huge Republican legislative majorities in 2010. Tried to pass right-to-work. They did. It was vetoed by the Democratic governor. Indiana Republicans also have big majorities, and it looks like they are poised to do it. Henninger: And I hope they do. I mean, I think this is really almost a life-and-death issue for Indiana. Twenty percent of Indiana's workforce is in manufacturing. That's the highest percentage in the United States.

Facts Show Right to Work is Right for America

Facts Show Right to Work is Right for America

Writing in the Miami Herald, James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation makes the case of Indiana and other states to enact Right to Work laws to protect their workers: Who could fault a worker who did not pay dues to the Teamsters? In the past two years the Department of Labor has charged or convicted of corruption 11 Teamsters officers. A government monitor recently accused the union’s president, Jimmy Hoffa, of trying to bribe election opponents with Teamster funds. Should a worker be fired for not paying union dues? Unions think so. They negotiate contracts that force workers to pay union dues or lose their job. Some workers object to their union’s political spending. Other workers could earn more than their union negotiated for them. Still others feel their union is corrupt. Right-to-work has returned to the national agenda. Twenty-two states have passed right-to-work laws that let workers decide whether to support unions or not.  It protects employees’ right to work, whether or not they support unions. New Hampshire legislators narrowly failed to override their governor’s veto of right-to-work. The Indiana legislature will soon debate whether to make the Hoosier state America’s 23rd right-to-work state. They should. Right-to-work benefits the economy as well as personal freedom. Unions organize more aggressively in non- right-to-work states. It is worth it to attempt to unionize any business they have a shot at. If a state becomes right-to-work, however, expensive organizing drives at good employers becomes less worthwhile — unions cannot force content workers to pay dues. Businesses want to know that, if they treat their workers well, unions will leave them alone. Right-to-work makes that more likely — and businesses notice. Studies show right-to-work laws are a major factor in business location decisions. Most new auto plants have been built in right-to-work states. More investment means more jobs.

BLS Records Show College Graduates Flock to Right to Work States

BLS Records Show College Graduates Flock to Right to Work States

States Seeking a 'Brain Gain' Should Bar Compulsory Union Dues The nine states with the greatest 2000-2010 gains in their college-educated adult populations all protect the Right to Work. Of the nine states with the smallest gains, only Hurricane Katrina-devastated Louisiana does so. (Source:  November-December 2011 National Right to Work Committee Newsletter) Federal data on the American workforce and employment and unemployment rates show that, even with our country struggling through the most severe recession in decades and a so-far anemic recovery, employer demand for college-educated employees has continued to rise at a surprisingly rapid clip. From 2000 to 2010, the total population of the U.S., aged 25 and over, grew by 12.1%, but the number of people in that age bracket with at least a bachelor's degree grew by 29.3%. And in October 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate for civilians aged 25 or older with one or more higher-education degrees was 76.4% (not seasonally adjusted), barely lower than it was before the recession started. That same month, the nationwide unemployment rate for the pool of 47.3 million college-educated adults 25 or over was just 4.2%, well under half the average for the workforce as a whole. The bottom-line significance of these data is that employers across the country typically have more difficulty finding a qualified college-educated person to fill a position than a college-educated person has finding a good job. Of course, not everyone who holds a bachelor's degree and is in the work force is doing well economically. But generally speaking there is still a "seller's market" for college-educated labor in America today. Furthermore, many businesses that sustain large numbers of jobs for people with associate's degrees, high school diplomas, or less education also require a substantial number of college-educated people to operate smoothly. Therefore, the rate at which a state is gaining college-educated people, relative to the national average, is in itself a good indication of how successful the state is in creating and retaining good jobs. 'Highly Educated Employees, Like Other Employees, Benefit From Right to Work Laws'

Indiana Workers Demand Their Right to Work

Indiana Workers Demand Their Right to Work

From the Wall Street Journal: The labor reform story of the year is unfolding in Indiana, which Republicans who dominate the legislature are trying to make the nation's 23rd right-to-work state. Democrats are resorting to the old run-and-hide ploy, but this could be a huge economic boon to the Hoosier State. Big Labor portrays right to work as a radical change, but it merely lets individual workers decide if they want to join a union. In non-right-to-work states, workers typically must pay union dues once their worksite is organized—whether they want to pay or not. This enhances union clout and the cash to dominate state politics. Many industrial and manufacturing businesses only consider right-to-work states as locales for expanding their operations. The nearest right-to-work state in the Midwest is Iowa, so Indiana could set itself further apart from such high-tax, unionized havens as Illinois and Michigan. According to Chief Executive Magazine's annual CEO survey, Indiana has climbed to sixth from 16th among state business climates, thanks to reforms since 2004 under Governor Mitch Daniels. But the state's biggest liability remains its labor market. A Forbes survey last year ranked Indiana 34th in business climate, partially because of a dismal 44th rank in labor "supply," which includes unionization. Democrats in the state House played hooky for three days last week in an effort to deny a quorum for voting on the law. They returned to work yesterday after Democratic leader B. Patrick Bauer acknowledged that they "can't stay out forever." House members face penalties of $1,000 per day for walkouts longer than three days, so the obstruction could get expensive.