Sunday, February 28th, 2021

NE Indiana, Regional Chamber pitch program

Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2011 Report

A group of ten counties in northeast Indiana is looking to become a test case for right-to-work legislation in the state. The Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana told a legislative committee studying the issue the region is losing economic development opportunities because Indiana is not a right-to-work state.

The ten-county Northeast Indiana region presented a forceful endorsement of making Indiana a right-to-work state today at the Indiana General Assembly Interim Study Committee on Employment Issues. The committee also heard an innovative plan to make Northeast Indiana a test case for right-to-work legislation in the Hoosier state.

The Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana coordinated the appearance of several economic development officials and local business leaders who testified that current law makes Northeast Indiana unattractive to prospective employers and restricts household incomes. “Many site selection specialists simply refuse to include Northeast Indiana on the short list of finalists because Indiana is not a right-to-work state,” said Matt Bell, executive director of the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana.

The Regional Chamber’s membership recently adopted a policy priority supporting passage of legislation that gives Hoosier workers the right to hold a job without being required to join a union or pay union dues. The current legislation requires that if a union is certified in the workplace, employees can be required to join and the employer must deduct union dues from their paychecks.

“If Indiana is not ready to enact right-to-work legislation statewide, the Regional Chamber proposes the ten counties of Northeast Indiana be home to a pilot project that measures the economic results of changing labor laws,” said Bell. “Northeast Indiana is well known for its advanced manufacturing, especially in the automobile industry. A right-to-work law could significantly impact our region and help Hoosier workers increase household incomes. It removes a barrier that prevents potential employers from hiring this productive and skilled workforce,” Bell added.

Twenty-two states, predominately in the south and west, have enacted specific right-to-work legislation. If approved, Indiana would be first of the industrial midwestern states to give employees the right to choose whether they join a union.