TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - As Indiana's State Representatives consider changes to the state's controversial Right-to-Work bill, groups in the Wabash Valley are weighing in on the measure.
Union leaders maintain that the bill, which would outlaw mandatory union membership as part of worker contracts, would weaken their unions by leaving them to represent people who have not paid dues.
They point to studies like this one from the Economic Policy Institute that suggest Right-to-Work states have lower average income for workers.
"You'll get jobs that come into the state, but they aren't always what we call good-paying jobs that make a living where you can give money to your favorite charity or you can send your kid to Rose Hulman or you can send your kid to St. Mary's or ISU," said Todd Thacker of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Business groups disagree, and the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of the current Right-to-Work bill.
"Some of the research seems to indicate Right-to-Work states do … hopefully … create more opportunities for business and growth and employment," said Jim Quatroche, the Chamber's interim president.
Quatroche pointed to other studies, like this one , which show higher employment rates in Right-to-Work states than in others.
Proponents of the bill also say that some companies only relocate to states with Right-to-Work, giving states without the rule a disadvantage.
"Anything that comes along that represents an opportunity to expand employment and business opportunities, not only in Terre Haute but Indiana in general, the Chambers are going to support," Quatroche said.
But union leaders like Thacker point out that trained workers are also a strong draw for new business and industry, and they say that much of that training is provided by unions.
While both sides of Right-to-Work are voicing their opinions, they are also limiting the ways in which they make those opinions known.
The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce is not lobbying or advertising for Right-to-Work, Quatroche said.
Many union leaders are encouraging their workers to visit their legislators on personal days and discouraging them from taking sick days to do so, Thacker said.
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