Josh Barro writes on Public Sector Inc.:
Democrats in the Indiana House of Representatives have staged their own walkout, copying their colleagues in the Wisconsin Senate. But in Indiana, the issue that has Democrats up in arms isn’t collective bargaining for public employees; it’s a proposed Right to Work law that would apply to the private sector. (A Right to Work law prohibits a business from making it a condition of employment to join a union or pay union dues.)
Also unlike in Wisconsin, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) has said he won’t send the state police after the missing Democratic legislators, and he’s urging his Republican colleagues in the House to drop the bill and attend to other business. Unsurprisingly, Daniels is catching some heat from conservatives over this, but he’s making the right choice. Here’s why.
As of 2010, only 8.2 percent of private-sector workers in Indiana were members of unions. That’s a bit above the national average of 6.9 percent, owing to the state’s industrial base, but it’s also falling faster than in most states: down 37 percent in the last decade, compared to 22 percent nationally. Private firms don’t appear to fear excessive union power in Indiana; indeed, the state has had significant success in drawing non-union Japanese auto factories.
In Indiana, even moreso than in the country as a whole, private sector unionization is inexorable decline. So what’s the point in spending a bunch of political capital on a fight with private sector unions, especially when private sector unions have lately shown a willingness to back conservative reforms in the public sector?