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Union accuses Daniels of flip-flopping on right-to-work
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Union accuses Daniels of flip-flopping on right-to-work

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A labor union that supported Gov. Mitch Daniels in his two gubernatorial bids claims he privately committed there was no need to make Indiana a right-to-work state.

In seeking an endorsement in 2004 from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, Daniels sent a letter to former union President William Dugan that he would not pursue right-to-work legislation. The union sent The Times a copy of the letter dated July 30, 2004; it has "Mitch for Governor Campaign Committee" as its letterhead and Daniels' signature at the bottom.

The letter said, "As I have indicated to you in person, I understand your membership's support for the current Indiana law providing a common construction (prevailing) wage for many state contracts, as well as your viewpoint that no need exists to enact a 'right to work' statute in our state. I'm in agreement on both counts."

Daniels' spokeswoman, Jane Jankowski, said in an email to The Times the governor did say in 2004 and subsequent years he believed Indiana could make its way with the labor laws we have.

"But two things in particular have changed his mind and led to his support of right-to-work legislation: Indiana misses many job opportunities and the significant downturn in the national economy," she said in the email. "The governor articulated the reasons for his position on right to work when he announced his decision on Dec. 15 and subsequently in his state of the state speech" Tuesday night.

James Sweeney, Local 150's current president and business manager, released a copy of the letter Wednesday and called into question Daniels' honesty about the measure.

"I was raised to believe that a man's word is his bond," Sweeney said in a statement sent to The Times. "When someone looks you in the eye, shakes your hand, and gives you his word, you expect him to live up to it. Mitch Daniels has gone back on his word."

David Fagan, the local's Merrillville-based financial secretary, said the letter is coming out now because they thought the governor shared their position and believed in labor groups and businesses working together to support economic development in the state. Fagan, of the 23,000-member local, which has workers Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, said with other significant issues happening in Indiana, he wonders how right-to-work became a top priority in the state.  

The local previously called on the Daniels' administration and Republican lawmakers to show proof of the number of jobs the state is missing out on as a result of its not being a right-to-work state. The measure, which Republican lawmakers are seeking to make law with Daniels' blessing, would require labor organizations to render services for all members of a bargaining unit, including individuals who choose not to pay union dues.

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INDIANAPOLIS | Indiana is officially a right-to-work state. At 1:45 p.m. region time Wednesday, Gov. Mitch Daniels signed House Enrolled Act 1001 into law, prohibiting a business and a union from agreeing to charge fees to nonunion employees for union-provided representation and grievance services.

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