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Super Bowl-Level Stakes for Indiana Labor in Battle Over Union Rights

Governor Mitch Daniels' attempt to pass a "right-to-work" law in Indiana extends the GOP's war on organized labor beyond the public sector and into the private.

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Labor went far beyond the simple "right to work for less" argument, and instead developed a message stressing that the record of right-to-work states revealed the removal of any constraints on corporate power, lower living standards, reduced spending for health, education, and other social needs,and that these environments of misery unleashed racial and religious intolerance.

Pulling together such an effort will require some fundamental changes from Indiana's labor movement, said Seybold. Labor must not only educate and mobilize its own members, but also work very rapidly to persuade and engage allies among other social movements and the general public.

The union movement will also need to develop and spread a compelling message that links the battle against right-to-work to the public's interest in a state shaped by the needs of its working families rather than by the demands of the richest 1%. As Seybold argues: "Labor must break out of the false media frame of supposedly privileged labor 'bosses' trying to hang on to their spoils."

Meanwhile, the corporate advocates of an Indiana "right-to-work" law are focused on persuading the people of Indiana--a state wracked by high unemployment and massive manufacturing job losses to Mexico and elsewhere—that a right-to-work" law is their ticket out of economic insecurity.

Prof. Marvin Wolfson of Notre Dame neatly  punctures the notion that high wages in Indiana will result from a larger supply of low-wage jobs—the promised result of passing a right-to-work law:

The idea that the residents of Indiana would be better off if workers in Indiana received lower wages is seemingly so contradictory that it is surprising that it is even taken seriously. Are not workers residents of Indiana? How are they better off if receiving lower wages and benefits?