Indiana experienced an increase in labor union membership in 2014, according to the latest U.S. Labor Department report.
Two years after Indiana became a right-to-work state, the state saw union membership rise to 10.7 percent of the labor force in 2014, up from 9.3 percent in 2013.
The total number of union members grew from 249,000 to 299,000.
Indiana State AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies says when the right-to-work law was enacted he didn’t expect union membership to rise, but says he’s pleased with the increased membership.
“We have done a hell of a job educating our members on what right-to-work is really about, and trying to educate the public as much as we can,” Voorhies says.
Carmel Republican Representative Jerry Torr, who authored the right-to-work measure, says the major reason for the rise in membership is lower unemployment last year, and he says some union jobs were created because of the right-to-work law.
“It played a role in increasing the overall number of jobs in Indiana, putting more people to work, and then that creates more construction activity, which a lot of that is union work,” Torr says.
The rate of union membership in the workforce rose in 10 out of the 24 right-to-work states in 2014. That rate remained highest in forced-unionization states where unions can require mandatory dues.