INDIANAPOLIS | Having prevailed last year in putting right-to-work into state law, some Republican senators now want to amend the Indiana Constitution to make it even more difficult for labor unions to organize.
On a party-line vote Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Senate Pensions and Labor Committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment requiring secret ballots be used for any union representation decision.
The amendment, sponsored by state Sens. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, and Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, is intended to block a proposed federal law known as "card check" that would allow a workplace union to form without an election if more than half the employees signed union authorization cards.
The proposed amendment states: "The right to vote by secret ballot is fundamental. If any Indiana or federal law requires or permits an election for any designation or authorization of employee representation, the right of any individual to vote by secret ballot in any such election is guaranteed."
State Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, who voted against the proposal, said the state has no business regulating how private organizations, be it a union, church or Moose lodge, conduct their elections and those regulations certainly don't belong in the Constitution.
"The Constitution of the state of Indiana, like every constitution, is a sacred document and it's only to be amended, in my opinion, in the most severe and needed cases," Arnold said. "This does not rise to that level; it doesn't even come close to crossing the threshold."
A similar amendment was approved by the Senate in 2011, but it died in the Republican-controlled House.
This proposal would have to be approved by the full Senate and House this year and again by both chambers during the 2015 or 2016 session to be sent to Hoosier voters for ratification in 2016.