The Indiana Senate has passed so-called right-to-work legislation, paving a clear path to Gov. Mitch Daniels' desk. The passage was expected—after Democrats in the state House ended their boycotts and efforts to water down the legislation last week, there were almost no major road blocks left. Republican majorities in both chambers were already in favor of the bill and Daniels has repeatedly voiced his support. As I wrote this morning, the move marks a major turning point in labor history as Indiana becomes the first state in the traditionally pro-union northern block to pass the measure. The legislation forbids mandatory union membership and keeps unions from collecting fees from non-members.
Still to come, however, is the union response. Indianapolis is hosting this weekend's Super Bowl and Republicans have rushed to get the bill passed before strikes and slowdowns could hurt the festivities. While the event organizers have no-strike deals with relevant unions, strikes could still impact the many auxiliary parties. However, Daniels has warned any groups that impeding the occasion would be "a colossal mistake." the AFL-CIO plans to distribute flyers throughout the weekend.
Back in 1957, when Indiana initially passed right-to-work laws before repealing them, 10,000 protesters packed the Capitol to demonstrate against the measure. Today the numbers were in the hundreds, reflecting the decreasing number of union workers in the state, but the chants to lawmakers were much the same: "Shame on you!"