Hoosiers want the right to work

Hoosiers want the right to work

Joint column by IBA, Associated Builders and Contractors of Indiana and Kentucky

Over nine years ago, then- Governor Mitch Daniels and the Indiana legislature boldly led Indiana to become the 23rd state to adopt a right-to-work law. Today, more than a third of the states across the country have adopted a right-to-work law.

Indiana’s right-to-work law protects every Hoosier’s right to affiliate with a union, but it forces no Hoosier to do so. The Associated Builders and Contractors of Indiana and Kentucky and the Indiana Builders Association believe no worker should be required to join a labor union or pay dues to an organization.

Indiana is the nation’s premiere business-friendly state, in part, because companies and entrepreneurs prefer to create jobs in states that understand the importance of privacy and free choice. This point is proven by Michigan and Kentucky, where, following Indiana’s lead, right-to-work laws were adopted so that they could compete to attract business to their states. In fact, Indiana was ranked 5th best among all states in Chief Executive Magazine’s “Best and Worst States for Business”. In its survey of 513 CEO’s, Indiana ranked #1 as the Midwest’s Best State for Business.

We know that Hoosier small businesses are the backbone to Indiana’s thriving economy. Unfortunately, our pro-business laws and regulations are under assault. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act – dubbed the PRO Act – was recently introduced in Congress and directly threatens Indiana’s right-to-work law. This legislation would negatively impact the Hoosier construction industry at a time of prevalent worker shortages and exacerbate the housing affordability crisis. The PRO Act’s proposed codification of a broad joint employer standard and adoption of a rigid test for determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor is concerning. The very bedrock of the construction sector and the contracting business model is in danger.

The U.S. labor market is stronger than it has been in decades. Half of the states have unemployment below 6%. The states that have the strictest labor and workforce policies, California and New York, are the states with the highest unemployment rates. The current administration plans to mirror labor laws like those in California, even though Californians are already fighting to repeal their state labor statutes.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that union members accounted for only 8.3 percent of wage and salary workers in Indiana. Nationwide, union members accounted for 10.8 percent of employed wage and salary workers in 2020. One of the many dangerous provisions in the PRO Act has the potential to completely upend business models that allow individuals to work independently. The building industry relies on a network of general contractors, subcontractors, and entrepreneurs that specialize in a range of specialized services. For most builders, there is simply insufficient internal demand to justify hiring individual employees for the countless trade-specific tasks required to complete a home. Without these subcontractors and independent contractors, many family-owned small businesses would simply cease to be viable operations.

This legislation would also completely end employee privacy laws. Unions would have the ability to force employers to turn over employees’ personal information – including cell phone numbers, emails and home addresses in advance of a union election without the opportunity for employees to provide consent or opt out. The list of anti-business, anti-freedom provisions in the PRO Act is staggeringly long and unequivocally wrong.

On behalf of the 3 million non-unionized Hoosier workers, we oppose any legislation that takes away freedom of employees and small business owners. The Associated Builders and Contractors of Indiana and Kentucky and the Indiana Builders Association will continue to fight for not only the rights of Hoosier builders and contractors throughout Indiana but EVERY worker in the state.

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