October 28, 2011
Statement of Joe Chorpenning, President, Local 700 United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) On Interim Study Committee on Employment Issues
The Republican -backed recommendation in support of so-called right-to-work (r-t-w) legislation is a direct assault on Hoosier working families. The Republican proposal will lower wages, cost good jobs, reduce economic growth, and lead to higher taxes with fewer services.
The Republican majority on the study committee chose to ignore the overwhelming empirical evidence that r-t-w will drain billions of dollars from the Indiana economy with lost wages, eliminated health care and pension benefits, and more workplace deaths and injuries. At the same time, public services will face an increased burden of more families in poverty and a smaller tax base.
There was no empirical evidence presented to the study committee that r-t-w will result in a net increase in jobs. None! Not a single fact was presented or a single instance of an identified company declining to locate in Indiana because of the lack of a r-t-w law. In fact, Indiana already outperforms most r-t-w states in key measures such the unemployment rate and national rankings of states for business location.
R-t-w is an unwarranted government intrusion in the private sector. It restricts the ability of private parties—private sector workers and private sector companies—to negotiate mutually beneficial contracts. State government interference will not improve the collective bargaining process.
There is an economic crisis in our country. Poverty-rates and economic inequality are at record levels. Unemployment, loss of health and pension benefits, and home foreclosures threaten the middle class. From Montana to Mississippi, r-t-w states lead the nation with the highest poverty rates. Indiana should not go done the low wage path to increased poverty.
We need an honest economic plan with an emphasis on education, training and community development. Hoosiers are ready to move forward. The Republicans on the study committee are taking us backward.
(UFCW Local 700 represents 13,000 members working in neighborhood grocery stores and food processing plants across Indiana.)