Heart of the River hosts Protest Paddle

 

By Suzannah Couch

A fresh debate erupted this week over the effects of the

state's so-called "Right-to-Work"

law passed by the Indiana General Assembly earlier this year.

According to Daniel Hasler, who

leads the Indiana Economic Development

Corporation

, officials at 20 companies have said Indiana's passage of the law

earlier was a factor in their decisions to bring more jobs to the state.

Nancy Guyott, a union leader and

the state's biggest right-to-work opponent, questioned the numbers.

The conflict occurred Monday after Hasler

presented the information to the General Assembly's Interim Study Committee on

Economic Development.

Hasler said companies have told

the agency that right to work "does matter."

The Republican-controlled General Assembly approved a

right-to-work during its 2012 session despite vehement opposition from

Democrats and labor groups. The law means employees don't have to pay fees or

dues to unions they don't join, even if those groups represent them in

bargaining situations.

Republicans and Gov.

Mitch Daniels

said the law would bolster the state's economic development

efforts but opponents said it would weaken the state's unions and lead to lower

wages and benefits for workers.

On Monday, Hasler distributed

documents that included data meant to show that companies that have expressed

interest in the right-to-work law will pay higher hourly wages than the state's

current average wage.

He also passed out quotes from business leaders who said the

law factored into their location and expansion decisions.

"The recent enactment of the right to work legislation

is further evidence of Indiana's commitment to providing the most competitive

business environment possible for global companies like us to grow," Barry

Schnieder, the vice president and general manager of

Steel Dynamics' engineered bar products division, said in a quote in Hasler's presentation.

But Guyott — a member of the

committee and president of the AFL-CIO of Indiana — said she has reviewed

the list of business leaders and quotes and found that many had committed to

coming to Indiana before the state passed the right-to-work law.

Earlier this year, Gov. Mitch Daniels said that MBC Group

was an example of a company that planned to expand in Indiana thanks to the

right-to-work bill. But the company's president, Eric Holloway, later told The

Associated Press that wasn't much of a consideration.

"We are not a union shop," Holloway told The AP. "The

effect that this was going to have was not going to affect our decision one way

or another."

Guyott said that raises serious

questions about Hasler's presentation.

But Hasler said he could only

report what the company leaders said was important to them at the time the

quotes were collected.

Hasler also said:

  • 74

    companies have "communicated to the IEDC that Indiana's enactment of

    right-to-work will factor into their decision making process" about

    locating jobs in Indiana.

  • Of

    those, 57 are in what the agency calls the "pipeline stage,"

    which means they are talking with the state about incentives. He said

    those companies have the potential to create more than 7,500 new jobs and

    make $1.6 billion in investments.

  • Of

    those, 20 companies have "already accepted the IEDC's

    offer" of incentives. They account for more than 2,000 projected new

    jobs and more than $270 million in investments.

Hasler did not name those

companies and a message sent to the IEDC requesting the list was not

immediately returned.

Suzannah Couch is a reporter for The Statehouse

File, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and

faculty.

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