US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Unions may take a hit in Indiana

Cathy OConnell-Cahill | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Bad news for unions: Indiana GOP legislators have paved the way for Indiana to become the first state in a decade to adopt Right to Work laws. The bill is on its way to the full Senate, and both houses have solid GOP majorities that support the bill. Many DemocratsTuesday boycotted Gov. Mitch Daniels' final State of the State address, and protesters chanted in the hallways. 

Unfortunately many, in Indiana and elsewhere, are confused by what "right to work" exactly means. Such a law means that in a union shop, although by law all employees must get the benefit of union representation (and share in benefits negotiated by the union), no employees are required to pay dues or fees to the union. 

Of course this has the desired effect of weakening union power and thus inevitably driving down wages and benefits.  Supposedly this will help bring business to the state--and also increase incomes statewide. How's that again?

Read the report of the Higgins Labor Studies Program at Notre Dame, which has slammed the Indiana Chamber of Commerce report supporting the RTW legislation.  As ND labor economist Marty Wolfson says, "It is a rather uncomfortable and contradictory argument to make — that we need to lower the wages of workers in Indiana in order to improve incomes."  Isn't he polite? 

The Higgins report says that, in reality,  analyzing levels of income in states with and without RTW laws reveals that non-RTW states have higher income levels.

Six NFL players this week weighed in against the measure, as did their Players Association last week. 

A friend says it may be time to invoke the Catholic union "saints": Msgr. George Higgins, pray for us.  Msgr. John Egan, pray for us.  Cardinal James Gibbons, pray for us. Pope Leo XIII, pray for us.