Back to the Future: Union Survival Strategies in Open Shop America

by Steve Early and Rand Wilson
The rupture of labor-management relationships that may have been “comfortable” in the past, plus the accompanying loss of legal rights in a growing number of states, have triggered membership-mobilization activity reminiscent of the original struggles for collective bargaining. In Wisconsin and elsewhere, labor’s recent defensive battles demonstrate that a new model of union functioning is not only possible but necessary for survival. As a first step in this process of union transformation under duress, workers must definitely shed their past role as “clients” or passive consumers of union services. In workplaces without a union or agency shop and collective bargaining as practiced for many decades, they must take ownership of their own organizations and return them to their workplace roots, drawing on the experiences of public workers in the South whose practice of public-sector unionism has, by necessity, been very different for the last half century.
When the history of mid-western de-unionization is written, its sad chroniclers will begin their story in Indiana. That is where Governor Mitch Daniels paved the way, in 2005, for copycat attacks on public-sector bargaining in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan — and for a successful assault on privatesector union security in his own state earlier this year.

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New ad: ‘What’ Exposes Indiana Gov. Daniels on ‘Right to Work’

Working families in Indiana have launched a new television entitled ‘What,’ that features Governor Daniels in his own words opposing Right to Work for Less. In his speech to the Teamsters in 2006 Daniels opposed any changes to Indiana’s labor laws and said, “…certainly not a Right to Work law.”

The ad will run following Governor Daniels’ response to the State of the Union on broadcast networks in Indiana and nationally on CNN and MSNBC.

Indiana Senate Passes RTW Despite Broad Public Opposition

by Cathy Sherwin

 Despite overwhelming opposition throughout Indiana to the so-called right to work (RTW) bill, the state Senate yesterday passed its version of the bill by 28-22, while House Speaker Brian Bosma continued to use strong-arm tactics to force RTW down Hoosiers’ throats. The Senate chose to vote even as 10,000 Hoosier workers packed the statehouse—and even though working families have been holding town hall meetings, making thousands of phone calls and signing postcards.

Throughout the day, Democratic amendments to the House version of RTW (House Bill 1001) were rejected on party lines. Even the hugely popular amendment calling for a public referendum that would allow voters to decide on RTW went down to defeat. Then Bosma shut down the discussion on amendments, cutting off further debate. In protest, House Democrats left the chamber and went to caucus.

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