House Bill 1001, the so-called “Right to Work” bill, passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 28 -22. Governor Mitch Daniels promptly signed the bill into law. Senate Democrats, opposing “Right to Work” from it’s start, unanimously voted “No” on the bill.
Thousands of protesters were at the Statehouse to watch the final vote, then flowed out of the building to march downtown to the Super Bowl Village.
The RTW bill has been one of the most divisive issues recently brought before the General Assembly. First discussed during the 2011 legislative session, the bill prompted House Democrats to walk out and drew thousands of protesters to the Statehouse daily. In November 2011, Republican leaders in the Senate and House announced the bill was their top priority for 2012, and the lengths they went in order to get the bill passed made that intention evident.
Despite concerns over how the proposal would depress average wages in the state by $1,500 per person per year, lower the wages being spent in local economies, and interfere with the freedom to make agreements between employers and employees, the bill was rushed for passage before the Super Bowl.
Senate Democratic Leader Vi Simpson posed this question to the full Senate: “Was this worth it?”
In the Senate, an unorthodox schedule was employed to get the House bill through the Senate by Wednesday. Senate Democrats decried not only the substance and impact of the bill but the shortcuts and limited debate by which the legislation was moved through the process. Read more about Democrat concerns over the process>>
Although one of the primary assertions by Right to Work supporters was an employee’s right to not join a union, federal labor laws are already clear on this issue.
Despite the rush to sign the bill into law before the Super Bowl, protesters are expected to make their concerns known throughout the weekend. Democrats have continually said the law will be an embarrassment for the state while it is under international spotlight for the event. The NFL Players Association issued a statement against Right to Work in January.