GOP state Rep. Jerry Torr
says a bill to make Indiana a right-to-work state – which has been greeted by massive protests and fleeing Democrats, similar to events in Wisconsin – is about new jobs, won’t cost the state any money, and unlike the Badger State legislation, is directed at private employees.
Torr Tuesday also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren he believes the bill, which he sponsored, is not a union buster – and actually would benefit organized labor.
“As you probably know, there are 22 right-to-work states. A right-to-work law merely means that an employee can't be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment,” Torr said. “I believe, personally, it actually strengthens the union, as do many union members who support the bill, because it makes the union leadership more responsive to the rank-and-file members.
“If the union leadership knows that members don't have to pay dues … they have to keep the members happy,” he added. “When you have a chance to explain it to union members, some of them are supportive. But the main reason I'm pursuing this legislation is because we know it's the one thing we can do in Indiana that doesn't cost us anything that will bring jobs to Indiana. And with 9.5 percent unemployment, that's the number one thing constituents are telling us – they want us to … bring jobs to Indiana.”
Van Susteren noted the Indiana bill is different than the Wisconsin legislation, which seeks to limit collective bargaining and benefits for state and local employees.
“State employees in Indiana have not had collective bargaining since Governor [Mitch] Daniels first took office in 2005,” Torr said. “So that's not really the issue. It's all about jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.”
When asked whether he was surprised Democrats left the state and fled to Illinois to avoid voting on the bill, and that demonstrators were protesting outside the state Capitol, Torr replied he was not surprised – but disappointed.
Van Susteren then jokingly asked whether Torr believed the Indiana Democrats might meet up with their Wisconsin counterparts, who have been in Illinois for days to avoid voting on their bill.
“I don't believe so, but that's what we were joking about – were they going to get together, thinking that, suddenly, they'd have a majority or something,” Torr said. “But no, I don't believe they're together. I'm hoping that our house Democrats will come back tomorrow.”
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