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Several Factors Responsible For Drop In Union Membership

union protest

Photo: ALF-CIO

Indiana's union membership has dropped significantly since 2011.

Union membership in Indiana dropped about 20 percent from 2011 to 2012, just as Indiana’s right-to-work law, which prohibits union contracts that require workers to pay dues for representation, went into effect.

But Indiana AFL-CIO president Nancy Guyott says there are other factors at play which contributed to the drop in membership.

“The squeezing of many public service jobs quite clearly seems to be at risk,” Guyott says. “That’s just people losing their jobs. If they had those jobs, they’d probably choose to be union members.”

Carmel Republican Representative Jerry Torr, who authored the right-to-work measure, says a membership decline can be both positive and negative. On one side, he says there are some unions that provide valuable training and services for their members.

“And there are some unions that unfortunately tend to just siphon money off so the fat cats can go vacation and don’t provide that much service,” Torr says.

Torr says right to work will help workers unhappy with their union voice that unhappiness by declining to pay dues. Guyott says every union in Indiana benefits its workers and the community at large by helping provide higher wages and better working conditions.

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