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Notre Dame Professors Weigh In on Right to Work Law

The study was presented by Notre Dame professor Dr. Marty Wolfson, who said the numbers directly contradict a study released by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

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Photo: Ben Skirvin

The Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis

A new study released Thursday by the University of Notre Dame’s labor studies program says a Right to Work law would hurt, not help, the Indiana economy.

The study was presented by Notre Dame professor Dr. Marty Wolfson, who said the numbers directly contradict a study released by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce…and Wolfson said that was the point.

“We have an analysis by the Chamber which begins with the idea that we should lower workers’ wages. That’s a non-starter, really, I think for any further discussion,” said Wolfson.

Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Political Affairs Jeff Brantley said Right to Work simply doesn’t lower wages.

“There is no evidence that Right to Work lowers wages. The key point in our study was that Right to Work increases economic growth and increases wages.”

Wolfson said the Chamber study was too narrow, focusing only on two years within a 30-year period, rather than looking at every year. He also criticized it for grouping all of the Right to Work states together, rather than analyzing them separately.

“It would result, certainly, in lower wages, it would harm the right of workers to bargain collectively, and it wouldn’t result in the benefits that the chamber claims.”

Wolfson, along with union leaders, said Right to Work would harm unions and their ability to negotiate for workers. But Brantley said Right to Work can even be good for unions.

“In Right to Work states, there are unions, and they bargain collectively and they prosper,” said Brantley. “The difference is that they cannot count on being able to force every worker in that unit to be a member. And it’s healthy for unions to have to compete for their own workforce.”

Indiana House Republicans say they will no longer consider the “Right to Work” bill this session, though Democrats say there are still bills on the calendar that effectively do the same thing. Union organizers say they will return to the Statehouse for a third week of protests next week.

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