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Dustin Dwyer · Exaggerated Right To Work Claim Gives Fuel To The Law’s Opponents In Indiana – And Elswhere
March 16th, 2012
Welp, looks like Mitch Daniels stepped in it.
The Indiana governor held a press conference on Monday to reflect on accomplishments made in the latest legislative session. He talked about getting approval for full-day kindergarten, a smoking ban and a new agreement to have Amazon collect Indiana sales tax. He also talked about Right to Work, the most controversial, and significant, change in Indiana law in the past year.
Daniels said, after passing Right to Work, three companies have decided to expand their business in Indiana. Only one company, the MBC Group, has been identified publicly. Daniels said even more companies are in negotiations with the state, thanks to Right to Work.
“I probably underestimated how important an addition to our already excellent business climate this was going to be,” Daniels said during the press conference.
There’s just one thing: the one company Daniels named that expanded because of Right to Work didn’t actually expand because of Right to Work.
The Associated Press tracked down the president of MBC Group, Eric Holloway.
“We are not a union shop,” Holloway told the AP. “The effect that this was going to have was not going to affect our decision one way or another.”
Holloways company is planning an expansion that’s expected to create 101 jobs, and include $4.1 million in new investment.
The Right to Work mixup seems to have come from a press release issued from the governor’s office last month. The release included this quote from Holloway:
“With its low tax environment, robust infrastructure, superb logistic support network and ‘right to work’ status, Indiana was a no-brainer location for us.”
Holloway tells the AP he did sign off on the quote, “but probably would have changed it had he noticed the ‘right to work’ language.”
And, Holloway says he personally supports Right to Work.
But with all the controversy about Right to Work, those who support it are eager to point out the benefits. In the case of the MBC Group, the claim was a little ahead of the facts.
The Indiana AFL-CIO was quick to jump on the mistake. On its website, the union said:
While it’s not shocking, it’s disappointing that our officials would stoop to this level in order to deceive the public which they are supposed to represent. It’s equally disgusting that the administration is clearly pressuring businesses that are applicants for or recipients of state economic development incentives into furthering this deception.
This should cast doubt on any future claim made about this legislation’s economic impact.
Until now, Right to Work laws have been the subject of legislative debate. But in Minnesota and Ohio, the issue faces the prospect of being put before voters this fall.
Right to Work laws prohibit unions from collecting dues in a workplace, even when they represent its workers. Earlier this winter, Indiana became the first state in the Great Lakes to adopt a Right to Work, and the 23rd in the nation to do so.
Now, unions and other Right to Work opponents are vowing to go directly tio voters to plead their cause. Here’s a look at their strategy:
Minnesota: The Republican-controlled legislature has begun considering an amendment to the state constitution that would add Right to Work provisions. The step is taking place over the objections of the state’s Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
On Monday, Right To Work opponents staged a protest at the capitol, filling hallways outside a committee hearing where the initial work took place. Regardless, a state Senate committee approved the measure, sending it on to a second committee.
It must still pass there, win Senate approval and go on to the House. A similar measure has been stalled in the lower chamber, and it isn’t clear whether the bill could pass. But because the measure would amend the constitution, it requires a referendum in November, so the legislature would not have the final say.
Ohio:The same group that fought Ohio’s law restricting public employee bargaining rights has vowed to take on the Right to Work issue. Our partner station ideastream reported on the efforts by We Are Ohio to keep a Right to Work law from taking effect in the state.
Meanwhile, in Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels contends the state’s new Right to Work law is already show results. Daniels told reporters on Monday that three companies have already decided to locate or expand in Indiana since the law was passed. Another 31 companies have expressed interest in coming to the state.
“I probably underestimated how important an addition to our already excellent business climate [right-to-work] was going to be,” Daniels said.
March 8th, 2012
Charging up, or powering down? Crain’s Detroit Business looks at hiccups in the market for electric vehicles, and wonders whether Michigan’s many new battery plants will survive. Changing Gears has looked at this question before.
Re-reconsidering housing Partner station WBEZ says the city of Chicago spent 13 years revamping its public housing program. Now the new plan is being reconsidered because of tough economic times in the city.
Peoria pandering? Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel promoted partnerships with Peoria during a visit yesterday. Emanuel says the frequent friction between his city and the rest of the state represent “the politics of the past,” according to the Peoria Journal Star.
Less college = less cost Looking for a solution to cut the cost of college? Indiana has an idea: Prohibit colleges from requiring more than 120 credit hours to get a degree. Gov. Mitch Daniels is expected to sign the restriction into law soon.
Minor detail A historic and beloved ferry based out of Ludington, Mich. may be forced to cancel its service, all because of a little arsenic, mercury and other chemicals it’s been dumping in Lake Michigan.
A Hail Mary pays off Partner station WCPN Ideastream reports that Catholics in NE Ohio appear to have won a rare victory. The Vatican has reversed its decision to close 13 churches in the area.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Michigan Pays Up For Movie Studio, Fracking With Indiana’s Plans And Chicago Corruption
February 15th, 2012
On the hook The State of Michigan paid $420,000 to the bondholders of a Pontiac movie studio, according to The Detroit News. The studio couldn’t make the payment on its own, and, under an agreement with Governor Jennifer Granholm, the bonds are guaranteed by the state. But with the cutback in state incentives for filmmaking, no projects have filmed at the studio since December.
Santorum’s surge Rick Santorum is not only leading Mitt Romney in Romney’s home state, a new poll shows Santorum is ahead in Ohio as well.
The Fracking Factor A plan to use coal to make natural gas in Indiana may be a bust, according to the Indianapolis Star. A utility executive in Indiana says the boom in shale-gas production, or “fracking” has brought down the cost of natural gas, and the coal-to-gas plan no longer makes sense. Governor Mitch Daniels had touted the coal-to-gas plant as a way to help consumers and boost the economy in Southern Indiana.
Boeing’s big order Chicago-based Boeing has finalized the details of the largest order in its history.
Kohl’s says no to downtown The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that retailer Kohl’s has decided against building a new company headquarters in downtown Milwaukee.
Cincinnati jobs Ohio Governor John Kasich announced yesterday that two new companies are moving to the Cincinnati area.
We’re shocked – shocked! A former city alderman, turned political science professor says he’s done the calculations and Chicago is, in fact, the most corrupt city in the country.
February 8th, 2012
In a Michael Jackson music video, or an episode of Soul Train, Michigan governor Rick Snyder and Indiana’s Mitch Daniels might challenge each other to a dance off over Right to Work.
Instead, we have Snyder’s latest interview, in which he says Indiana ought to be worrying more about Michigan’s comeback.
Some context: Indiana and Michigan have been competing for years to land factories and convince businesses to locate in each state.
One of the biggest reasons why Snyder sought reform of Michigan’s business taxes in 2011 was so that the state could be on a more level playing field. It didn’t help that Indiana won a corporate headquarters formerly located in Michigan right after the state’s tax package was signed.
Now, Daniels has upped the ante by signing Right to Work legislation, which prevents unions from charging mandatory dues even if they represent a workforce. Many experts have said Michigan could be the next state to get such a law.
But Daniels, in an interview with Stateline.org, continues to oppose Right to Work for Michigan — and gives his neighboring state an elbow.
Asked if he’s worried about the new Indiana law, Snyder replies,
“If anything, Indiana was probably getting more concerned that Michigan’s back. We’re doing a lot of good things for our employers, with workers comp reform, unemployment insurance reform, having a balanced budget, education reform.”
Snyder goes on to say that he’d like everyone in the region to get along. “I think a lot of the Midwest should all want to come back together, so that it’s not one state versus another state. In many respects, the Midwest was treated as flyover territory and we’re a great place to be, for quality of life and everything else.”
As for the Right to Work fight, the Michigan governor says, “…I view it as a divisive issue. If you look at what’s gone on in the states, you have to ask the question, now what’s going to get done in Indiana for the next year or two? The fight isn’t truly over. It creates an environment where people are not working together.”
Read the Stateline.org interview with Snyder here. And enjoy some classic Jackson moves.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Indiana Votes On Right To Work, Chrysler Profits, Detroit Has A (Tentative) Deal
February 1st, 2012
Right to Work, right away Indiana is expected to be the first state in the industrial Midwest to become a Right to Work state. And it could happen as soon as today. Right to Work rules prohibit companies from negotiating contracts with their unions that make union membership mandatory. Instead, workers will have a choice whether to join the union. Business leaders say the changes will make Indiana more competitive. Union leaders say the changes will let some workers benefit from union bargaining without having to pay to support the union. They say it will ultimately weaken the union.
Pentastar profits Chrysler had its first profitable year since 1997.
Honda invests Honda is expected to announce new investments in two Ohio plants today.
A deal in Detroit The Detroit Free Press reports the city has reached agreements with its unions that could keep the city solvent, and avoid a state takeover.
So far, three Midwesterner governors have delivered their state of the state addresses. The image above is a word cloud created from the prepared texts of the speeches in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. As usual, the speeches offer optimistic visions of what each governor has accomplished in the past year, and what they’re capable of accomplishing this year. We’ll be tracking what the rest of the Midwest governors say in their speeches. And, as we parse through what’s been said and unsaid in the speeches so far, we want to know: What do you think of your governor’s speech? Were you surprised by anything, or did it all sound like what you’ve heard before? Let us know in the comments.
January 26th, 2012
Last year, it seemed unlikely. Now, Indiana looks bound to get a Right to Work law.
On Wednesday, the Indiana House followed the state Senate by approving Right to Work legislation. The action came just a day after Indiana’s governor, Mitch Daniels, delivered the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
Both houses have to approve the same bill before it can go to Daniels for his signature. The Indianapolis Star says it’s likely that the Senate will consider the House version, because Republicans are in tighter control in the Senate. After that, Daniels can sign it into law — which he could do before the Super Bowl is played in Indianapolis on Feb. 5.
Right to Work laws prohibit unions from collecting mandatory dues. Labor unions say the laws make it much harder for them to organize, since workers don’t have to support them. Some political analysts say that weakens the unions’ political clout, too.
Indiana would be the 23rd state to approve Right to Work, and the first since Oklahoma approved a Right to Work law in 2011. Indiana also would be the first Right to Work state in the industrial Great Lakes. And, with Republican governors in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, it probably won’t be long before the issue comes up for a vote in at least one of those states.
Earlier this week, we told you why Daniels decided to push for the bill this year. He says he was tired of seeing Indiana lose out on projects just because it wasn’t a Right to Work state. One of the projects the state lost, said Daniels, was the Volkswagen plant that went to Chattanooga, Tenn.
Do you think Right to Work legislation is now likely in other Great Lakes states? What’s your thinking on the issue?
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Downtown Development In Indy, Wind Farming In Ohio And A Wrigley Icon Survives Bankruptcy
January 25th, 2012
But enough about speeches. Developers are planning an $85 million residential complex for downtown Indianapolis.
A state law in Michigan will force the city of Detroit to lower its income tax rate. That could cause an $8.5 million hole for a city already struggling to fix its budget.
In Champaign County, Ohio, which is northeast of Dayton, a $20 million wind farm project is inching forward, but residents still aren’t completely sold on the idea.
Finally, Wrigley Field is one of the most iconic venues in all of sports. One of its many charms is the nearby rooftop seating that overlooks the field. One of those buildings with that rooftop seating recently went into bankruptcy. It sold at auction for $4.8 million.
January 24th, 2012
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels got a lot of attention late last year when he finally came out in favor of a Right to Work law. Now, Daniels is suggesting that Volkswagen, in part, is the reason.
Speaking on Inside INdiana Business Television last week, Daniels said he was frustrated that his state was losing opportunities to compete for projects to other states that had Right to Work laws, which prevent unions from collecting mandatory dues.
One such project, according to the governor, was the assembly plant that Volkswagen recently opened in Chattanooga, Tenn. “I couldn’t get VW to return our call,” the governor said. “We’ve won on Honda, we won on Toyota, we’re clearly the fastest growing automotive state, and we couldn’t even get them to talk to us.”
Daniels. by the way, is giving the Republican response tonight to President Obama’s state of the union address.
Daniels was referring to Honda’s assembly plant in Greensburg, which opened in 2008, as well as Toyota’s two production sites. Toyota builds vehicles at its own plant in Princeton, and shares production with Subaru at its plant in Lafayette.
Tony Cervone, a spokesman for Volkswagen of America, declined comment via email.
Daniels’ decision to support a Right to Work law has caused an escalating debate in Indiana. Democratic lawmakers initially refused to attend hearings, even in the face of $1,000 a day fines.
Daniels said in the interview that their protests are justified. “Both sides ought to be heard from. I think the Democrats are within their rights to make a gesture of how strongly they felt, and to say let’s stretch this out a little further. It’s a good process and we’ll accept whatever outcome that comes.”
As the debate continues, companies like Remy International in Pendleton are weighing whether to invest in Indiana, or move elsewhere. Stateline.org looked at the situation for Indiana’s companies and its political future.