The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

State News

March 23, 2013

Indiana union membership at lowest level in 24 years

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — An aging workforce, shifting political winds and changes in the public sector have driven Indiana's union membership to its lowest recorded levels. But union leaders and experts say organized labor isn't dead yet.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows union members made up 9.1 percent of Indiana's workforce in 2012, down from 22 percent in 1983. It's the first time since the government started tracking individual state data in 1989 that Indiana's union workforce has fallen below 10 percent, the Tribune-Star reported.

Experts say former Gov. Mitch Daniels' decision in 2005 to end collective bargaining for state workers contributed to the drop but that the effects of Indiana's new right-to-work law, which bars companies from requiring union membership, haven't been fully felt yet.

Bill Treash, president of the Wabash Valley Central Labor Council, said the biggest drop in union membership has been felt in the public sector. Membership fell after Daniels eliminated collective bargaining for state workers, and now postal employees are struggling to keep their jobs, he said.

"We're just trying to survive until we get some different leadership" in Indianapolis, Treash said.

Though membership has dropped statewide, some areas are holding their own.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 725, which is based in Terre Haute but covers several surrounding counties, has kept membership steady, thanks largely to construction of the Edwardsport Power Station in Knox County, said local president Paul Rupska.

The local has 657 members, and about 35 new members are nearly ready to graduate from the union's apprenticeship program, Rupska said.

"Edwardsport was a really good thing for our area," he said.

He said the union has lost some members, primarily to retirement.

Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois, said it could be a while before the true effects of Indiana's right-to-work law are felt. The law only affects new labor contracts, so many contracts that existed before the law was passed are still in effect, he said.

But he says it's too soon to forecast the death of organized labor and predicts union membership could grow if the nation's economy continues to struggle.

"Typically, when that happens, you create conditions where people are willing to look for collective solutions," he said.

Nationally, 11.3 percent of workers were union members in 2012, down from 20 percent in 1983.

1
Text Only
State News
  • NWS - HB0216 - Mitch Daniels Purdue office Daniels joins 2016 presidential debate commission

    Mitch Daniels spurned calls to run for the White House in 2012, but the Purdue University president will have a hand in the 2016 race.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0419 - County track - 116 Arabians sweep track titles again Beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures greeted the competitors at the Madison County track meet Friday at Madison-Grant. The Pendleton Heights boys and girls teams were looking to take the county for the third year in a row, but Anderson and Lapel had other ideas. It started off as a record-setting meet and finished with a bang as Pendleton was able to wrap up both titles. The girls held off a stiff challenge from Lapel to win 167.5-147, and the boys took the final event of the night to squeak out a 156.5-148.5 win over Lapel.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • news_southwest.jpg Flight lands safely in Indiana after threat

    An Indianapolis airport spokesman said a Southwest Airlines flight safely made an emergency landing after the airline received some kind of threat.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indianapolis police officer kills ex-wife, self

    Authorities say an Indianapolis police officer shot and killed his estranged wife, also an officer, and then turned the gun on himself.

    April 18, 2014

  • Leaders await decision on Indiana Plan expansion

    Two of the state's top Republican lawmakers said Tuesday that they would like to see the federal government sign off on an expansion of Medicaid through the state's health care plan for low-income residents, but they added that they have little idea how soon that could happen.

    April 16, 2014

  • 3 killed in I-65 backup from chemical tanker crash A man and two of his children died after he dropped his wife off at an airport, their vehicle rear-ending a semitrailer on a backed-up Interstate 65 in rural northwest Indiana, authorities said.

    April 15, 2014

  • Putnam County deputy charged with lying to grand jury

    Federal prosecutors say a grand jury has charged a central Indiana reserve sheriff's deputy with lying to it in connection with the investigation of another deputy.

    April 15, 2014

  • Indianapolis-San Francisco flights have good start

    New nonstop flights between Indianapolis and San Francisco have been filling up with passengers during their first months in the air.

    April 15, 2014

  • Study finds Indiana residents paying more in taxes

    A national study found that Indiana residents have paid an increasing percentage of their income on state and local taxes at the same time their average income was shrinking.

    April 15, 2014

  • Indianapolis city leaders unanimously approve deal for Pacers

    The Pacers' biggest win so far this season came Monday — off the court. In exchange for providing $164 million to pay for operating costs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse over the next 10 years, the Pacers agreed to extend a lease agreement that will keep them in Indy for up to 13 more seasons.

    April 14, 2014

Staff Photos


We're looking for your photos! Share your photos of your favorite people, places and Madison County events in our September reader photo gallery. Click here to upload your photos

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide