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Indiana Enacts Right-To-Work Legislation – The Pendulum Swings Back

Indiana just enacted a new law, making it the nation’s 23rd “right-to-work” state, meaning it bans collective bargaining agreements that require union membership or paying fees as a condition of employment.  Workers in the other 27 states can be forced to join or pay money to a union if the union and the employer agree to require it as a condition of employment.  Workers in Indiana will no longer be forced to choose between unwanted union participation and keeping their jobs.  This is the second time Indiana passed such legislation.  The first law was repealed in 1965.

Such legislation is a sign of the dwindling support for unions in the United States.  Not only is membership down to 6.9 percent in the private sector, but more and more legislatures are passing anti-union legislation, whether it be right-to-work laws or changes to benefit terms unionized state workers receive.  The trend is clear, but how far it will go is the question.

The victory in Indiana may be the beginning of a new era for the Right-to-Work movement.  Indiana is the first state in more than a decade to pass a right-to-work law.  Most of the 23 state right-to-work laws were passed in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  More significantly,  Indiana is the first state in the highly unionized manufacturing-heavy “Rust Belt” to enact a right-to-work law.  Plans are now in the early stages to enact similar legislation in Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota.  The real litmus test is if these proposals can become law.  We will keep you informed.

Brody and Associates regularly advises employers on union-related matters and provides union-free training.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.