RTW a Step Closer to Governor's Office

By Maureen Mespell
By Rachel Martin

January 25, 2012 Updated Jan 25, 2012 at 11:31 PM EDT

INDIANAPOLIS/FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Indiana is inching closer to becoming a Right To Work state. The bill passed in the Indiana House Wednesday evening with a 54 to 44 vote.

Amid loud protestors and fevered comments, the Indiana House passed the Right To Work bill just two days after it passed in the Senate by a narrow margin.

Democrats walked out for the eighth day Monday, after the House Speaker, Brian Bosma, cut off proposals to amend the bill for a referendum. But, Democrats were present Wednesday for the vote.

In Fort Wayne, feelings about the bill's progress appeared to be split. Mike Bynum, Allen County Democratic Party Chair, who's also part of the United Steel Workers, says passing the bill is, “disastrous” and a, “slap in the face to working people.” Bynum says he’s gone down to Indianapolis a couple times and has been calling the State House in protest all month long. He says he doesn't understand the rush to pass the bill, especially without the referendum, when a few months ago, Gov. Daniels stated Indiana's economic growth was doing well without Right To Work.

“Many businesses have always come here because of the skilled work force. They knew when they brought their businesses here they had a strong work force that was ready. The people were willing to come to work and they had this work ethic that would make them money. Now it seems as if the Legislature, as well as the Governor, has decided to turn their backs on the will of the people,” Bynum said.

John Sampson, President and CEO of Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, says the House passing the bill is a "win" for Hoosiers. Sampson says it will "open doors", "break the mold", and "change the perception" of Indiana being part of the Rust Belt.

“About the work place, the environment we’re trying to establish. We’re setting the stage for new, young workers that are coming into the workforce today,” he said.

Sampson went on to say the bill could allow Indiana access to projects it’s never seen before and raises the state’s competitiveness. He believes all 10 counties in the area will benefit from Right To Work over time.

“This sends all the right messages on an International and National level, to tell people that truly, Indiana is open for business,” Sampson said. “Specifically northeast Indiana, because we've had a strong leadership role in this debate.”

Even though the bill is a step closer to Gov. Daniel’s office, Bynum says union workers will not give up. He says working people deserve better and should be able to make a decision like the referendum called for.

“We’ll have to continue to lobby our legislators to make sure they understand this is not the will of the people. It may be passed and signed into law by the Governor, but we do not stop the fight,” Bynum said. “We continue to make sure people understand that this was not a good move for Indiana.”

Sampson says supporters should continue to lobby as well.

“We certainly want to continue to encourage Legislators to stand fast and be leaders on this issue,” Sampson said. “This is the bold action that we’ve been talking about for this region. That’s why it was so important for us to step up on behalf of this because it is a transformative initiative that will change the economy of this region.”

The House bill will go back to the Senate for another overview and then, possibly, to the Governor's office. If approved, Indiana will become the 23rd Right To Work state and the first in the Midwest. This could be the first Right To Work enactment in a decade.

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