WBEZ | Right to work http://www.wbez.org/tags/right-work Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Right-to-work landscape in the Rust Belt region http://www.wbez.org/news/right-work-landscape-rust-belt-region-104335 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/4920scr_47f9846a2980e4f.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A look at the landscape in some Rust Belt states that have pushed for right-to-work plans in recent years &mdash; some successfully, others not:</p><p><strong>ILLINOIS</strong></p><p>Illinois has not seen a serious right-to-work movement largely because of a near Democratic lock on the General Assembly in the past 30 years. During much of that time, the state had Republican governors, but they tended to be moderates who dealt with labor amicably. And when the GOP held the state Senate during the 1990s, there were many moderate Republicans from suburban Chicago who balanced out more conservative lawmakers from central and southern Illinois.</p><p><strong>INDIANA</strong></p><p>The Republican-controlled Legislature in Indiana approved right-to-work earlier this year. House Democrats walked out in 2011 for five weeks to block the measure by denying the GOP majority the numbers needed to conduct business. The state&#39;s quasi-public economic development corporation says a handful of companies have expanded operations in part because of the law.</p><p><strong>MICHIGAN</strong></p><p>The labor stronghold of Michigan became the 24th state to enact right-to-work on Tuesday when the House approved the final version of the legislation and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed it hours later. Snyder had previously maintained that right-to-work wasn&#39;t a priority for him, but the plan sailed through the GOP-controlled Legislature after he announced his new position last week. While labor unions said the move would be disastrous for worker rights and benefits, Snyder insisted the plan is actually &quot;pro-worker.&quot;</p><p><strong>OHIO</strong></p><p>Ohio voters in 2011 overwhelmingly rejected a sweeping law that placed restrictions on public employee unions. Republican Gov. John Kasich says making Ohio a right-to-work state is not among his priorities and that he sees other ways to keep the state competitive. However, a group called Ohioans for Workplace Freedom has been circulating petitions for a ballot measure that would keep workers covered by labor contracts from having to join a union or pay dues.</p><p><strong>PENNSYLVANIA</strong></p><p>Pennsylvania labor unions have been largely successful in pushing back against efforts by first-term Republican Gov. Tom Corbett to dramatically scale back their gains. But Corbett says the state apparently lacks the political will to enact right to work. However, his spokesman says the governor would support such a bill if it reached his desk.</p><p><strong>WISCONSIN</strong></p><p>Wisconsin&#39;s Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011 voted to pass Gov. Scott Walker&#39;s proposal that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers and forced them to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits. Walker argued it was a cost-saving move, but unions said it was designed to cripple their political power. Walker did not propose right-to-work legislation and has said that is not a priority, but he&#39;s stopped short of saying he would veto such a measure.</p></p> Wed, 12 Dec 2012 09:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/right-work-landscape-rust-belt-region-104335 Is Indiana’s rosy economic outlook due to right-to-work? http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana%E2%80%99s-rosy-economic-outlook-due-right-work-104332 <p><p>As the state of Michigan passes right to work legislation, some in Indiana are remembering their own struggle nearly a year ago.&nbsp;And depending on who you ask, the results are mixed.<br /><br />&ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t felt the full effect of it here in Indiana because of the way it was implemented,&rdquo; said Jeff Harris, spokesman for the AFL-CIO of Indiana.<br /><br />Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the right to work law without much fanfare on Feb. 1 in the days leading up to Indianapolis hosting the Super Bowl.<br /><br />Daniels signed the bill quickly after its passage by the Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly to avoid huge pro-labor demonstrations during the big game.<br /><br />But pro-union forces representing workers in industry, manufacturing and education arrived in Indianapolis in big numbers to prevent the state from becoming the first Rust Belt state with right-to-work laws.<br /><br />The legislation prohibits union membership as a condition of employment. Republicans touted the measure as a way to attract businesses to Indiana, but&nbsp;Democrats saw it as a tactic to weaken campaign contributions from unions.<br /><br />And since the law didn&rsquo;t become active until March, measuring its success is difficult.<br /><br />&ldquo;The law didn&rsquo;t void existing contracts so the vast majority of union workers are still under contracts that once their natural end comes then they&rsquo;ll face the new reality of negotiating wages and working conditions under a right-to-work environment,&rdquo; Harris said. &ldquo;I do know of a few union members who drove up there (Michigan) to offer support for what was going on against right to work.&quot;<br /><br />In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder points to Indiana&rsquo;s addition of 43,000 jobs this year as part of his basis for approving right-to-work legislation there.<br /><br />Snyder&rsquo;s office also contends that up to 90 companies have expressed interest in moving to Indiana since right-to-work was adopted.<br /><br />But Harris says that&rsquo;s not entirely accurate.<br /><br />&ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve experienced since in Indiana, and why I think people in Michigan need to look out for, is how the administration will try to sell everything, every economic development project and give the credit to right-to-work,&rdquo; Harris said.<br /><br />On Tuesday, Daniels lauded the news of nine companies planning to make investments that will add nearly 3,000 new jobs in the coming years.<br /><br />He says Indiana is having a record-breaking year of economic development.<br /><br />According to the U.S. Labor Department, Indiana ranked second in the country for private sector jobs added over the past month and is fifth for job growth over the past year. Since its low point of employment in July 2009, Indiana&#39;s private sector job growth (6.6 percent) is nearly double the national numbers (3.8 percent).<br /><br />And the Indiana Economic Development Corporation reports 251 companies will expand or establish operations in Indiana, resulting in $6.5 billion and nearly 28,000 new jobs in coming years.<br /><br />&quot;We&#39;ve added jobs at nearly twice the national average for the past three years, but we have seen a significant surge of new interest in the past several months,&quot; Daniels said in a statement. &quot;The best holiday gifts the state could receive are these jobs but today&#39;s bundle is not the last for this year. Stand by for more.&quot;<br /><br />However, Daniels didn&#39;t say if the rosy job picture is the result of right to work.<br /><br />&ldquo;Companies come here (Indiana) for many reasons,&rdquo; Daniels&rsquo; spokeswoman Jane Jankowksi said.</p></p> Tue, 11 Dec 2012 18:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/indiana%E2%80%99s-rosy-economic-outlook-due-right-work-104332 Michigan Legislature sends governor right-to-work plan http://www.wbez.org/news/michigan-legislature-sends-governor-right-work-plan-104320 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP456655432448%281%29.jpg" style="float: right; height: 436px; width: 300px;" title="Protesters gather for a rally at the State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. The crowd is protesting right-to-work legislation passed last week. Michigan could become the 24th state with a right-to-work law next week. Rules required a five-day wait before the House and Senate vote on each other's bills; lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene Tuesday and Gov. Snyder has pledged to sign the bills into law. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)" />LANSING, Mich. &mdash; As the chants of angry protesters filled the Capitol, Michigan lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to right-to-work legislation, dealing a devastating and once-unthinkable defeat to organized labor in a state that has been a cradle of the movement for generations.<p>The Republican-dominated House ignored Democrats&#39; pleas to delay the passage and instead approved two bills with the same ruthless efficiency as the Senate showed last week. One measure dealt with private sector workers, the other with government employees. Both were sent to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who pledged to sign them within days.</p>&quot;This is about freedom, fairness and equality,&quot; House Speaker Jase Bolger said during floor debate. &quot;These are basic American rights &mdash; rights that should unite us.&quot;<p>After the vote, he said, Michigan&#39;s future &quot;has never been brighter, because workers are free.&quot;</p>Once the laws are enacted, the state where the United Auto Workers was founded and labor has long been a political titan will join 23 others with right-to-work laws, which ban requirements that nonunion employees pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services.<p>Supporters say the laws give workers more choice and support economic growth, but critics insist the real intent is to weaken organized labor by encouraging workers to &quot;freeload&quot; by withholding money unions need to bargain effectively with management.</p>Protesters in the gallery chanted &quot;Shame on you!&quot; as the measures were approved. Union backers clogged the hallways and grounds shouting &quot;No justice, no peace,&quot; and Democrats warned that hard feelings from the legislation and Republicans&#39; refusal to hold committee hearings or allow a statewide referendum would be long lasting.<p>U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and other Democrats in the state&#39;s congressional delegation met with Snyder on Monday and urged him to slow things down.</p>&quot;For millions of Michigan workers, this is no ordinary debate,&quot; Levin said. &quot;It&#39;s an assault on their right to have their elected bargaining agent negotiate their pay, benefits and working conditions, and to have all who benefit from such negotiations share in some way in the cost of obtaining them.&quot;<p>Although impassioned, the crowds were considerably smaller than those drawn by right-to-work legislation in Indiana earlier this year and in Wisconsin in 2011, during consideration of a law curtailing collective bargaining rights for most state employees. Those measures provoked weeks of intense debate, with Democrats boycotting sessions to delay action and tens of thousands of activists occupying statehouses.</p>In Michigan, Republicans acted so quickly that opponents had little time to plan massive resistance.<p>Snyder and GOP leaders announced their intentions last Thursday. Within hours, the bills were hurriedly pushed through the Senate as powerless Democrats objected in vain. After a legally required five-day waiting period, the House approved final passage.</p>Protesters began assembling before daylight outside the sandstone-and-brick Capitol, chanting and whistling in the chilly darkness and waving placards with slogans such as &quot;Stop the War on Workers.&quot; Others joined a three-block march to the building, some wearing coveralls and hard hats.<p>Valerie Constance, a reading instructor for the Wayne County Community College District and member or the American Federation of Teachers, sat on the Capitol steps with a sign shaped like a tombstone. It read: &quot;Here lies democracy.&quot;</p>&quot;I do think this is a very sad day in Michigan history,&quot; Constance said.<p>The crowds filled the rotunda area, beating drums and chanting. The chorus rose to a deafening thunder as House members voted. Later, protesters surged toward a building across the street where Snyder has his office. Two people were arrested when they tried to get inside, state police said.</p>But by late afternoon, the demonstrators had mostly dispersed.<p>Snyder insisted the matter wasn&#39;t handled with undue haste and that right-to-work was a long-discussed issue in Michigan.</p>&quot;There has been lots of time for citizens to contact legislators and share their feelings,&quot; he said in an interview with radio station WWJ-AM.<p>Michigan gives the right-to-work movement its strongest foothold yet in the Rust Belt, where the 2010 election and tea party movement produced assertive Republican majorities that have dealt unions repeated setbacks.</p>Opponents said they would press Snyder to use his line-item veto authority to remove a $1 million appropriation from the bills, making them eligible for a statewide referendum. But the House swiftly rejected a Democratic amendment to that effect.<p>Lawmakers who backed the bills &quot;will be held accountable at the ballot box in 2014,&quot; said state Rep. Tim Greimel, the incoming House Democratic leader.</p>But Sen. John Proos, a Republican from St. Joseph who voted for both bills, predicted that objections would fade as the shift in policy brings more jobs to Michigan.<p>&quot;As they say in sports,&quot; he said, &quot;the atmosphere in the locker room gets a lot better when the team&#39;s winning.&quot;</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 11 Dec 2012 13:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/michigan-legislature-sends-governor-right-work-plan-104320 Fines pending for Ind. House Dems in labor battle http://www.wbez.org/story/fines-pending-ind-house-dems-labor-battle-95334 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-06/indy protesters AP Photo Michael Conroy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Growing tension among defiant House Democrats facing stiff fines and sparse resources threatens to disrupt a no-show effort aimed at blocking a bill that would make Indiana the first state in more than a decade to enact right-to-work legislation.</p><p>Democrats stalled business Wednesday, the first day of the 2012 session, when they did not report to the House floor. They continued Thursday to block action on a right-to-work measure that would make Indiana the first state in more than a decade to bar private unions from collecting mandatory fees.</p><p>Inside the 40-member caucus, lawmakers are split over how much they can afford to keep stalling in order to block the bill. Some strode out of Thursday's caucus meeting saying that if they suffered through last year's five-week stay in Urbana, Ill., they can stand on principle now.</p><p>But others said new $1,000-a-day fines established by Republicans after last year's walkout have raised the stakes much higher than some can afford.</p><p>"Last year they were taking my bank account, this year they're taking my home," said Rep. David Cheatham, D-North Vernon. Cheatham was one of three Democrats who has joined Republicans in the House chamber each day. They say they oppose the right-to-work measure but don't agree with the stall tactics.</p><p>House Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer said Thursday that Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma told him in a private meeting he would begin fining Democrats on Friday.</p><p>"It's a significant issue. We think it's another assault against free speech," Bauer said as he walked into the House Democratic caucus meeting.</p><p>But Bosma said he had not decided whether to begin implementing<br> the fines Friday and that no legal paperwork had been started.</p><p>"We're just counting on folks having some common sense and showing up for work eventually," Bosma said.<br> Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, joined the three Democrats Thursday for a quorum vote that placed Republicans very close to getting the numbers they need to push the bill forward. He said he is asking Republicans to give them more public hearings on the issue.</p><p>He also noted there is little Democrats can do to stop the measure.</p><p>"That's the quandary, and we have to decide: What we can we do?" DeLaney said. "We have limited resources and we have a limited number of votes."</p><p>National right-to-work advocates say they see Indiana as their best shot at passing the labor bill into law. Despite a slate of statehouse wins across the nation in 2010, Republicans have been unable to move the measure yet. They came closest in New Hampshire, but lawmakers could not find the votes to overturn Democratic Gov. John Lynch's veto.</p><p>Bauer and other Democrats would not say Thursday how long they planned to stall. Instead, Bauer said, they plan to hold public hearings on the proposal around the state as soon as this weekend. The first hearings could happen in Fort Wayne and Evansville. The new law levies a fine of $1,000 per day against each lawmaker who sits out more than three days in a row. Republicans established the new penalties after Democrats left the state last year to block the right-to-work measure.</p><p>The House Democratic caucus meanwhile opened an account on the Democratic fundraising website ActBlue and sent out an appeal Wednesday on Facebook seeking donations of between $5 and $250. "The Indiana House Democrats NEED YOUR HELP! Please support our caucus as we fight another battle against the Republicans as they try to push RTW legislation through without listening to working Hoosiers," the Democrats wrote in their appeal.</p><p>Indiana Democratic Party spokeswoman Jennifer Wagner said her group did not pay for any of the penalties accrued last year and did not plan to pay any fines this year.</p><p>A lawsuit challenging fines from last year's session filed by Rep. Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, is still being weighed by a Marion County Superior Court judge.<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; ---<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Associated Press writer Tom Davies contributed to this report.<br> <br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 06 Jan 2012 11:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/fines-pending-ind-house-dems-labor-battle-95334 Indiana Dems stop right-to-work debate http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-dems-stop-right-work-debate-95302 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-04/Indy GOP speaker Brian Bosma.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It’s a new year with a new legislative session, but an all-too-familiar story is recurring in the Indiana Statehouse, at least from the Republican viewpoint: House Democrats once again held up any work because they oppose a GOP proposal to make Indiana a right-to-work state.</p><p>Wednesday was to have been the start of the new legislative session, but House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) couldn’t even call the session to order. While Republicans were ready and seated, only a few Democrats arrived to the chambers as the roll call was read about 12:30 p.m. CT.</p><p>A Democratic representative told Bosma that the party was caucusing, but something else was actually going on — Democrats were staying away.</p><p>Democratic House leader Patrick Bauer of South Bend described the action as a filibuster, not a protest or a walkout.</p><p>“We refuse to let the most controversial public policy bill of the decade be railroaded through with the public being denied their fair and adequate input,” Bauer said. “What’s the urgency? Are they ignoring the public input? They have not made the case that Indiana is in dire need of an anti-paycheck bill.”</p><p>Bauer said unless GOP leaders agree to hold hearings throughout the state on the right-to-work bill, Democrats won’t be coming back anytime soon.</p><p>“The public needs to be informed. The process [by the Republicans] is to avoid the public,” Bauer said.</p><p>Bauer said the Democrats plan to remain in the Indiana Statehouse, unlike last year, when they fled to Urbana, Illinois. They returned some five weeks later, when Republican leaders abandoned their right-to-work proposals.</p><p>House Speaker Brian Bosma, a Republican, said Democrats shouldn’t expect the same outcome.</p><p>“That was an accommodation that was made last year,” Bosma said. “This is the number one jobs issue that we can address this session and the number one issue is jobs. These are middle class jobs that we’re talking about. It’s about personal freedom.”</p><p>If adopted, right-to-work legislation would prohibit an employer from forcing an employee to pay union dues as a condition of employment if a union is already in place. About two dozen states, mostly outside the industrial Midwest, now have such laws in place.<br> Democrats say the bill would undermine unions that, by federal law, must represent all employees — even ones who are not union members and pay no dues.</p><p>Wedneseday's action drew thousands of pro-union representatives to the Indiana Statehouse, many of whom chanted down Republicans and hailed Democratic efforts.</p><p>“It’s a shame to think that we’re going to lose our benefits and our health insurance,” said Chris Roark, a Teamster union member from Gary, Indiana. “They think this bill is going to help Indiana. It’s not going to help Indiana.”</p><p>Northwest Indiana’s Democratic contingent opposes the bill. They’re joined by at least one Republican House member from the region: Ed Soliday of Valparaiso.</p><p>“I will vote against it,” Soliday told WBEZ. “I don’t see what we get for it. I’m not convinced of what I’ve seen. I don’t provoke labor. There’s no point. I have an honest disagreement with some of my colleagues.”</p><p>Republican Speaker Bosma tried three times Wednesday afternoon to gavel the House into order, but each time no more than five of the 40 Democratic members were on the floor.</p><p>Bosma said he’ll try to have the House meet again Thursday.</p></p> Thu, 05 Jan 2012 01:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-dems-stop-right-work-debate-95302 Indiana lawmakers to debate ‘right to work’ http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-lawmakers-debate-%E2%80%98right-work%E2%80%99-95257 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-03/RS4852_AP120103128050-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana’s legislative session will be short this year —&nbsp;it’s expected to last until March — but judging by the political tone set before the start of the session Wednesday, the debate will be furious.</p><p>The Republican leadership, as well as Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, have already vowed to make so-called right-to-work legislation the centerpiece of their agenda — a move that’s already stirred an uproar among Hoosier Democrats.&nbsp;If approved, the legislation would prohibit companies from making employees pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.</p><p>The GOP attempted to push the issue through the General Assembly in 2010, but Hoosier Democratic state representatives scuttled debate by fleeing Indiana and holing up in Illinois for more than a month.</p><p>Indiana Legislative Insight Publisher Ed Feigenbaum does not expect such a boycott this time.</p><p>“I think there will be a number of parliamentary maneuvers that Democrats will employ that will be to their strategic advantage that will show their displeasure,” he said.</p><p>Those maneuvers could include delays in showing up for quorum calls or otherwise disrupting business without leaving the Statehouse.</p><p>Supporters of current right-to-work proposals say Indiana needs such a law to attract businesses. Democrats say the move is an attempt to hurt organized labor and that such laws in other states have driven down wages.</p><p>Pro-union supporters say they want to get a jump on the debate and are expected to flood the Statehouse Wednesday afternoon, but they may encounter resistance. State police last week announced a new 3,000-person cap on the number of people allowed inside the Statehouse at any given time.</p><p>Unions quickly shot back, calling the limit a move by Daniels’ administration to stifle debate.</p><p>Republican Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman said Tuesday that the rules don’t discriminate against anyone, and that the limit is based on public safety concerns. He added that the limits will be evaluated daily.</p><p>Aside from union legislation, lawmakers are also expected to again consider a statewide smoking ban, legislation that failed to get past the committee level in 2011. Supporters want such a ban to be implemented in time for the Super Bowl, which will be hosted in Indianapolis next month.</p><p>A statewide smoking ban has been sought by Indiana state Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary) for years without success.</p><p>With no budget to approve, this session is considered the “short session” and must be completed by March 14.</p></p> Wed, 04 Jan 2012 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-lawmakers-debate-%E2%80%98right-work%E2%80%99-95257