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Indiana, Already “Right-to-Work,” Seeks Enhanced Anti-Unionism with Resolution Blocking Card Check

IN Sen. Jim Banks' attitude is best explained by his Twitter profile pic (above)

Having already fomented a staunchly anti-union agenda by passing “Right-to-Work” legislation last year, Indiana Republicans now look to further the scope of their worker-suppressive activity by amending the state’s constitution to block federal laws surrounding union organizing elections.  

The Republican-controlled Senate Pensions and Labor Committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment, by party line vote, that would require secret ballots for any union representation election.  The amendment would change the current federal format which allows such elections to take place using union authorization cards.

Via the The Times of Northwest Indiana:

The amendment, sponsored by state Sens. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, and Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, is intended to block a proposed federal law known as “card check” that would allow a workplace union to form without an election if more than half the employees signed union authorization cards.

The proposed amendment states: “The right to vote by secret ballot is fundamental. If any Indiana or federal law requires or permits an election for any designation or authorization of employee representation, the right of any individual to vote by secret ballot in any such election is guaranteed.”

The proposal’s potential passage should worry the state’s laborers though several hurdles remain. A similar proposal passed the Senate last year but didn’t clear the Republican-controlled house.  To become part of the state’s constitution, Senate Joint Resolution 2 will have to pass both the Senate and House this year and then pass both chambers again in 2015 or 2016.  The voters of Indiana would then vote to ratify the amendment in 2016.

In many ways this timeline all but ensures defeat for this legislation.  In other ways it ensures strain on union resources by causing them to fight the anti-worker measure over a long period of time.

Recent attempts to change state constitutions for trivial causes which voters do not fully understand have been defeated.  Such was the case in Michigan during the 2012 elections when a series of public proposals failed to pass despite strong enough legislative anti-union sentiment to spur on “Right-to-Work” just months later.

The opposition in Indiana cites a lack of need for such changes and unwillingness to change the constitution as their primary reasons for voting against Sen. Joint Res 2:

State Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, who voted against the proposal, said the state has no business regulating how private organizations, be it a union, church or Moose lodge, conduct their elections and those regulations certainly don’t belong in the Constitution.

“The Constitution of the state of Indiana, like every constitution, is a sacred document and it’s only to be amended, in my opinion, in the most severe and needed cases,” Arnold said. “This does not rise to that level; it doesn’t even come close to crossing the threshold.”


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