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Senate rejects Democrats' proposed changes to right-to-work
2012 Indiana General Assembly

Senate rejects Democrats' proposed changes to right-to-work

  • Updated
Pat Bauer

Rep. Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, stands Friday as a motion is read to fine Democrats who failed to come to the House floor to form a quorum at the Statehouse in Indianapolis. Indiana House Democratic legislators who are boycotting over a right-to-work bill are being fined $1,000 a day.

INDIANAPOLIS | State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, led an impassioned but ultimately futile effort Friday to change right-to-work legislation in the Indiana Senate.

Tallian proposed six amendments to Senate Bill 269, including submitting right-to-work to a public vote, stripping the ability to sue businesses accused of violating the law, requiring nonunion employees pay a fee for union-provided grievance services, limiting right-to-work requirements to new businesses and delaying the effective date of the law.

Each of those proposals, as well as her attempt to outright kill right-to-work, were voted down — nearly always on party lines — by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Afterward, Tallian said the outcome was "absolutely expected," but said she still can't believe businesses are supporting legislation that will give each of their employees "a new right to sue" over direct or indirect right-to-work violations or threatened violations.

The proposed right-to-work law prohibits a business and a union from agreeing to charge fees to nonunion employees for union services they receive.

Three Republican-sponsored changes to the legislation were approved Friday.

State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Wheatfield, persuaded the Senate to exempt the training and hiring processes of the building and construction trades from the legislation and to allow the Indiana Department of Labor to enforce the law, along with county prosecutors and the attorney general. 

The third change eliminated a requirement that three enforcement agencies investigate every alleged violation.

Senate Bill 269 is eligible for a final Senate vote as soon as Monday, though the Senate could await House action on right-to-work before voting.

House Democrats boycotted a session for a fourth day Friday, but announced they'll return to the House floor Monday for a vote on what they believe is a constitutionally acceptable public referendum on right-to-work. 

Under the plan, if right-to-work is approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor, the law would take effect Nov. 5 and expire Nov. 7, unless at the Nov. 6 general election Hoosiers voted to keep the law.

Democratic leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, believes that meets the Indiana Constitution's requirement that the Legislature enact all laws, since under this proposal right-to-work would take effect by an action of the General Assembly.

The constitution is silent on whether a voter referendum can be used to essentially repeal a state law, thereby making the referendum constitutionally permissible, Bauer said.


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Related to this story

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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