2012 Indiana General Assembly

Indiana House approves right-to-work bill

2012-01-25T17:45:00Z 2012-08-10T18:46:31Z Indiana House approves right-to-work billBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
January 25, 2012 5:45 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | The Republican-controlled Indiana House voted 54-44 Wednesday to send right-to-work legislation to the Republican-controlled Senate.

Five Republicans voted no on the controversial labor policy, including state Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, and state Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso. Every House Democrat voted no, except one who was absent because of illness.

Following more than three hours of debate, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, rushed into the final vote to block a Democratic request for a live roll call vote.

Bosma then shut down the electronic voting machine before every member could vote, recording some lawmakers as voting for the measure when they wanted to vote no, while others didn't get to vote at all.

For five minutes, confusion reigned on the House floor as lawmakers huddled over printouts of the vote record and demanded recognition from the speaker to change their vote.

Bosma ultimately agreed to immediately correct the vote record, even though House rules require a written request to do so.

House Bill 1001 prohibits a business and a union from requiring nonunion employees pay fees for union-provided representation and grievance services.

State Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, the sponsor, claimed his goal is not to break up Indiana labor unions but to create new jobs in the state by attracting businesses seeking lower labor costs and fewer work rules.

One by one, Northwest Indiana lawmakers told their colleagues right-to-work will weaken unions, reduce wages for union and nonunion workers and hurt businesses because their customers will have less money to spend.

"You're destroying my community," said state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond.

State Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, called the Bosma-led push for right-to-work "an embarrassment."

"It makes me ashamed that we would do this, that we would crush people's dreams — the chance for them to make their lives better," Pelath said. "All they want to do is work and earn a wage and not have corporate America stepping on their necks."

State Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, told right-to-work supporters that "just because you have the right to do something, doesn't make it the right thing to do."

Hundreds of union protesters stood outside the House chamber chanting "Stop right-to-work" during the debate, which was at times feisty, tearful, self-righteous and personal.

State Rep. Chet Dobis, D-Merrillville, a 42-year House veteran, said there hasn't been anything like it.

"I've never seen a subject matter that has brought this much controversy and disgrace on this chamber," Dobis said.

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