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
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
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
Republicans and Gov. Mitch Daniels
Mitch Danielssaid 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
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:
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.
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.
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
Suzannah Couch is a reporter for The Statehouse
File, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and