News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Indiana Legislature

November 22, 2011

GOP eyes ‘right to work’ as top issue

Divisive issue rises for repeat

INDIANAPOLIS — If there was any doubt about how the next session of the Indiana General Assembly was going to play out, legislative leaders cleared that up with a dose of hot rhetoric Monday.

Starting the verbal fisticuffs: A hastily called press conference in which the top two GOP leaders in the House and Senate declared that making Indiana a “right to work” state will be their top legislative priority for the 2012 session, which begins Jan. 4.

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate Pro Tem President David Long announced plans to file identical bills that would ban Indiana employers from negotiating contracts with labor unions that require workers to pay union dues as part of their employment.

A “right to work‚” bill filed in the last session set off a five-week boycott by House Democrats and filled the Statehouse with angry union protesters who dubbed it the legislation the “right to work for less.”

The bill was pulled and was expected to return in the 2012 session, but the way it was laid back on the table Monday came as a surprise.

Long said making Indiana the 23rd  state with a “right to work” law would remove the “final barrier” to the state’s economic prosperity, while Bosma declared: “Today the campaign for the freedom of workers begins.”

Those are fighting words for Indiana Democrats and labor leaders.

House Minority Leader Pat Bauer, a South Bend Democrat, called the GOP plan an assault on workers.

He said Statehouse Democrats would act to stop what he described as legislation that “could be the eventual decline and fall” of the Indiana economy.

Nancy Guyott, the president of the Indiana AFL-CIO issued a statement scorning Bosma’s words. “It’s laughable that Republican leaders in the Statehouse actually have the gall to cite ‘freedom’ in their renewed push for the so-called ‘right to work’ law given that its already the law of the land that no one can be forced to join a union,” she said.

The Republican leaders started their press conference just an hour before House Democrats were scheduled to unveil their top legislative priorities.

The latter press conference proceeded as scheduled, with Bauer laying out an ambitious agenda for a minority caucus.

The South Bend Democrat said his members would push for:

• tax credits for small businesses to hire unemployed workers

• more money for early childhood education

• a sales tax holiday and other tax breaks for middle class families

• a ban on “pay-to-play” by barring contractors from making political donations

• and a provision to give Hoosier workers preference for jobs created by state contracts.

But the talk of the day was about the “right to work” proposal and its proposers.

At an Indiana Chamber of Commerce luncheon where Statehouse leaders were asked to give a preview of the upcoming session, both Long and Bosma defended the decision to put the contentious issue back on center stage. Bosma said, “Nothing important happens without a lot of intense conversation.”

But Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson, a Bloomington Democrat, was sharply critical of the GOP leaders and criticized them for failing to brief Democratic leaders in the House and Senate about their decision to push “right to work” to the top of the agenda.

“You have to wonder about what that means for the future of this legislative session,” Simpson said.

Legislators may get a taste of it today when both chambers convene for their ceremonial Organization Day. The state’s labor leaders have called for union members and supporters to turn out in force to protest the “right to work” legislation.

Maureen Hayden is Statehouse bureau chief for the Tribune-Star. She can be reached at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Indiana Legislature
Latest News Poll
AP Video
New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine Raw: Royal Couple Visits Australia Mountains Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Raw: Pro-Russian Militants Killed on Base Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy Raw: Blast at Tennessee Ammunition Plant Kills 1 New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military
NDN Video
Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Don't Be A Tattletale: Bad Bullying Tips For Students Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday The trillest thoughts on marijuana "RHOA" Star Charged With Battery Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Elizabeth Olsen's Sexy Shoot Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010