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There is little question what the number one issue is on the minds of Hoosiers today: Jobs. It's all about jobs. Getting a job if you are currently unemployed; keeping your job if you are lucky enough to have one; attracting new jobs if you are involved with economic development.

Indiana has seen unprecedented changes in its economic climate the past few years. We are consistently ranked in the top 10 states for doing business as a result of our reasonable cost of living, low taxes, and strong economic incentives and opportunities. And yet, it's not enough. A quarter of a million Hoosiers remain unemployed today, with tens of thousands trapped in an underemployed situation. Our youth unemployment rate is much higher, as it is, sadly, for our returning veterans as well. Can anyone question that we must do everything possible to bring more high quality, high paying jobs to our state?

This is the goal of Republican leaders in the state legislature. Last week, we announced that our top priority for the upcoming legislative Session is to pass a Right to Work law. There are some very good reasons for why this is being proposed.

Numerous testimonials by our state's local economic development specialists show that nearly half of all companies looking to expand or re-locate will not consider a state that doesn't have a Right to Work law. This means that Indiana is losing out on thousands of high paying jobs and billions of dollars in capital investment.

In addition, there is strong factual data to support the economic case for a Right to Work law. A study from the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that personal income of residents in Right to Work states is higher than in non-Right to Work states such as Indiana. The National Institute for Labor Research found that Right to Work states score better on several key economic indicators, including faster growth and lower unemployment.

The concept behind Right to Work is simple: it makes it illegal for unions to collect dues from employees who choose not to join the union. Federal law prohibits anyone from being forced to join a union, but it allows unions to collect dues from non-members working for a unionized company. Passing a Right to Work law would prevent a union from forcing a non-union worker to pay dues against his or her will.

Right to Work opponents misleadingly claim that the law is unfair because unions have to provide representation to both member and non-member employees, and non-member workers wouldn't have to pay for this representation if the Right to Work law was passed. In reality, unions can negotiate contracts to represent only members, but they prefer to represent non-members too because it provides them a monopoly power in employer negotiations, and more money through the forced payment of dues. The opponents also claim that passing this law would cripple unions.

Contrary to these claims, unions are doing just fine in the 22 states that currently have Right to Work laws. In fact, statistics show that there are actually several Right to Work states that have a higher percentage of their workers in unions than Indiana does today.
So let's be clear----Right to Work is not about busting unions. It's about the cold, hard reality of jobs, and the fact that Indiana is losing too many opportunities to bring more jobs to our state because we do not have a Right to Work law.

There will be a vigorous and noisy debate this coming Session about making Indiana the 23rd Right to Work state in the nation. Passions run high on both sides of the issue, so it will be especially important for each side to conduct our debates in a civil and respectful manner. In the end, let us hope that the future economic prosperity of our state takes priority over the status quo. If it does, then the Right to Work law should pass, and we will have the opportunity for a new era of economic growth and prosperity for the people of Indiana.

Author: Indiana State Senator David Long
About This Author
He is a Republican member of the Indiana State Senate representing the 16th district which encompasses Waynedale. He serves as the President Pro Tempore of the Indiana State Senate. David writes the "Straight From The Senate" column for the newspaper. Read More...

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