Will Indiana Construction Industry Get “Right-to-Work”?

By: Robert J. Orelup

Last week, Indiana lawmakers voted to move two hotly debated “right-to-work” bills to committee for additional consideration.  One of these pieces of legislation was House Bill 1067, which “[p]rovides that the plans, specifications, and contract documents for a public works project may not require bidders, contractors, or subcontractors to enter into or comply with certain agreements with labor organizations.”  See

http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2011&session=1&request=getBill&docno=1067&doctype=HB

Many people have the misconception that Indiana already is a “right-to-work” state, which it is not.  Generally speaking, right-to-work states prohibit agreements between labor unions and employers that require employees to join a union or pay union dues or other equivalent fees as a condition of initial or continued employment.  Proponents of the legislation see right-to-work as stimulating economic growth and more jobs, while opponents say the legislation would result in lowering a worker’s wages and benefits in an attempt to weaken union power.

Regardless of what side of the fence you fall on with regard to this legislation, both sides would likely agree that if enacted, it could have a profound effect on the Indiana construction industry, and should continue to be watched closely as it goes through the legislative process.