Here are some new facts from a new Bureau of Labor Statistics study showing what’s happening with labor-union membership in Indiana since the Hoosier State in 2012 passed a right-to-work law, which simply allows individuals the right to say “no” to becoming a union member or paying dues without losing their jobs:
- Unions added 50,000 new members in 2013-14.
- The number of paying union members rose from 249,000 in 2013 to 299,000 in 2014.
- Indiana’s total unionized workforce rose from 275,000 in 2013 to 335,000 in 2014.
- The percentage of Indiana’s workforce represented by labor unions rose from 10.3 percent in 2013 to 12 percent in 2014.
- Union membership has not only nearly returned to the level it was in 2011 – the year before right-to-work passed, when 302,000, 11.2 percent of, Hoosier workers carried a union card – but seems poised to soon surpass pre-right-to-work levels.
Why are unions growing in Indiana, even though it has passed a right-to-work law?
- Indiana University Southeast finance professor Uric Dufrene “credited the recent increase in part to an improved economy.”
- “Unions have also spread into other professions and industries in recent years which has (sic) helped grow the bargaining base,” Indiana State AFL-CIO communications director Jeff Harris told Jeffersonville, Ind. News and Tribune reporter Daniel Suddeath.
Union membership has grown as new companies come to Indiana. It seems some union leaders themselves are catching on, realizing that if they are going to survive, they will have to:
- persuade, rather than coerce, individuals to become members
- organize, as Indiana AFL-CIO official Harris notes, in “other professions and industries”
That’s not a message that Kentucky State AFL-CIO president Bill Londrigan wants to hear because it doesn’t fit with his ideology. In his recent Courier-Journal missive, Londrigan calls right-to-work “an attack on unions” and claims it’s “a clever term designed to disguise its true meaning and purpose: Destroy unions.”
But apparently not even his labor-union brother in Indiana would agree. More importantly, the facts say right-to-work is even good for unions, too.