Pharos-Tribune

Columns

June 20, 2012

How will labor issue play out in Indiana?

Now that the dust has settled in Madison, the questions that beg to be asked in the wake of the first recall election in American history that didn’t recall a governor is “Will Hoosiers recall anything else about the union debate this fall?”

Gov. Scott Walker survived the most expensive recall election for a governor’s race ever. Yet the battle royale in the Badger State tagged a loss on Republican National Committee Chair Reince Preibus’ home state. Republicans retained control of the governor’s office, but lost control of the Wisconsin Senate in another recall race.

Essentially, the Republicans lost their majority rule in the highest house of the Wisconsin Legislature based on one issue: Collective bargaining.

What these two developments mean for the rest of the country is that Republicans and Democrats probably won’t engage in another fight like this any time soon. The cost is simply too high for both sides, especially when there are other fish to fry for both sides in Congress. While Walker pulled out a victory by virtually the same margin that elected him two years ago, one of the reasons is that Democrats did not field a strong candidate against him.

For Indiana and the Logansport area in particular, the outcomes in Wisconsin could provide Hoosiers with a very interesting scenario, depending on how the candidates in the gubernatorial race and the legislature approach it. When Evan Bayh took office for his first term as governor in 1988, he gave state employees the right to do something they hadn’t had before: The right to bargain collectively through organizations such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Bayh did it without legislative action and the result produced virtually no controversies similar to those experienced in the private sector – walkout, lockouts, strikes, marathon bargaining sessions and bitter confrontations at picket lines.

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