By Rich James
Last Modified: Nov 25, 2011 10:00AM
When the General Assembly convenes on Jan. 4, the eyes of the nation may well be on Indiana.
Not because the state remains the best in the nation when it comes to high school basketball, but because there will be an unwarrated attack upon organized labor.
The Republicans, who do the bidding of corporations and other businesses, will seek the passage of a right-to-work bill.
The bill would force organized labor to represent workers who refuse to pay union dues.
The bill also would be a significant step by Republicans to destroy the unions that built America.
The Republicans say right-to-work will clear the way for additional businesses to relocate to Indiana.
Those are the very same businesses that have no desire to deal with unions. They want to drive down workers’ wages and increase corporate profits and power.
Statistics show the average worker in a right-to-work state makes about $5,333 a year less than workers in other states.
Twenty-one percent more people in right-to-work states don’t have health insurance.
And the list goes on.
Do Republicans care? Of course not, although they will try to tell you otherwise. And they wonder why they can’t get the union vote.
Republicans contend corporations have shipped jobs overseas because of the cost of dealing with unions. Don’t buy it. It’s about greed.
Republicans also will tell you that Democrats oppose right to work because of the money that unions contribute to their party.
While there is truth to that, there is a bigger issue involved here.
It is about quality of life for the middle class — a group that has been declining in numbers because of attacks like the one planned by Republican legislators.
The CEO of a company may take up residence on the top floor, but it’s the union folks who laid the bricks, hammered the nails and ran the electricity and plumbing that made it all possible.
Unions aren’t perfect, but they provide quality craftsmanship and are an integral part of a community.
Gov. Mitch Daniels keeps boasting that Indiana is one of the most attractive states in the country for new business.
If that in fact is the case, and I have no reason to doubt it, why the push for right-to-work?
I guess the easy answer is that they can. Republicans control the House and Senate and the governor’s office.
Some say the Republicans want to eliminate the voice of the working man from the political process. Hard to argue against that.
When Republicans introduced legislation to do the same thing early this year, some Democrats walked out for five weeks, preventing a quorum. The bill died.
Might the Democrats skip out again? It’s possible, but I don’t think so. Walking out again might well work against the Democrats.
Staying in the Statehouse while Hoosiers from across Indiana rally in Indianapolis for several weeks could be a political plus for Democrats come November 2012.
And you can bet the vast majority of Hoosier teachers, who saw Republicans take away the majority of their bargaining rights earlier this year, will be at the fore when the unions take to the streets.
Might right to work lure a few more businesses to Indiana? Probably. Might they be worth it? Probably not.
So, why are Republicans going out of their way to rip the state apart when they don’t have to?
Money. Greed. And most of all — arrogance.
Rich James’ column appears on Fridays in the Post-Tribune, A Chicago Sun-Times Publication