The Herald Bulletin

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December 28, 2010

Indiana GOP leaders propose right-to-work bills

INDIANAPOLIS — Republicans in the Indiana House have filed bills that would prevent workers from being required to pay union dues, an issue considered so divisive that Gov. Mitch Daniels would prefer to avoid it.

The so-called right-to-work legislation could move forward anyway since Republicans have full control of the General Assembly after winning a House majority in last month's election. The bills would prohibit companies from making union dues or membership a requirement of employment.

House Labor Committee Chairman Doug Gutwein, R-Francesville, said he didn't yet know whether the bills would get public hearings and a vote during the legislative session that starts next week.

"I would imagine there will be some (Republican) caucus talk about this before we would get too far with it," Gutwein told The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky. "Personally I like the idea. It seems to work and seems like it's a plus for those states that have it. But we'll have to see."

But Daniels, also a Republican, has told legislative leaders that it would be better to leave the issue alone, even though he believes the proposal has merit. Daniels noted neither he nor the House Republican caucus campaigned on the proposed change.

"It's a very legitimate issue," Daniels said. "But I think it's too big to do without having discussed it out in the open first. And I'll also say I think it would have the potential — just tactically — to possibly reduce or wreck the chances for education reform and local government reform and criminal justice reform and the things we have a wonderful chance to do."

Democratic lawmakers and labor unions are certain to fight the legislation, which is similar to laws in 22 states.

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