In Indiana, split over 'right to work' likely to spill into 2012 session

"Right-to-work" legislation continues to be a bitter policy dispute in Indiana.

Stateline Midwest Vol. 20, No. 11: November 2011

Indiana lawmakers have taken the first step to once again considering so-called “right-to-work” legislation, a contentious issue that led to a five-week walkout during the 2011 session by Indiana House Democrats. In October, an interim committee voiced its support for a measure prohibiting contracts between employers and employees that require workers to pay union-representation fees.

Opponents of such measures have derided them as the “right to work for less,” saying they weaken unions and collective bargaining. Indiana schoolteachers have had the right to opt out of union membership or fair-share fees since 1995. Very few have exercised this option, the Northwest Indiana Times reports.

Nationwide, there are 22 right-to-work states, including five in the Midwest: Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. All five laws were enacted in the 1940s and 1950s. Indiana passed legislation in 1957 but repealed it eight years later. The last U.S. state to enact a right-to-work law was Oklahoma in 2001.