INDIANAPOLIS | By an overwhelming margin, Hoosiers want state lawmakers to let voters decide whether Indiana should become a right-to-work state, according to a new poll sponsored by the Indiana AFL-CIO.
The survey of 500 randomly selected registered voters found 71 percent support a statewide referendum on right-to-work, while 23 percent oppose a public vote.
Support for a referendum was strongest among Democrats (89 percent) and independents (79 percent), but even half (50 percent) of Republicans say they want a referendum.
On Tuesday, House Democrats are expected to propose amending House Bill 1001, the right-to-work measure, to require a positive referendum vote before the labor policy becomes law.
Democratic Leader Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said a referendum is needed because no candidate campaigned on right-to-work in 2010 and most Hoosiers don't understand the effects of a right-to-work law.
Those positions are borne out by the poll results, with 69 percent saying the Legislature should take more time before acting on right-to-work, and nearly half of Hoosiers saying they only know "a little," "not much" or "nothing" about right-to-work.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, opposes a referendum. He said Indiana has a representative government and the people's representatives should make the laws, not the voters.
Under a right-to-work law, a business and a union would be prohibited from agreeing to charge fees to nonunion employees for union services they receive. Right-to-work does not guarantee anyone a job.
Overall, when told right-to-work could reduce union membership, 33 percent of Hoosiers say they want the law, 36 percent are opposed and 30 percent say they don't know, according to the poll.
The telephone poll was conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Hart Research Associates on Saturday and Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.