Mike Pence is No Friend to Workers

Brett Voorhies, president of the Indiana State AFL-CIO, and Mike Pence

Donald Trump’s vice-presidential pick of Indiana Governor Mike Pence should have union members and workers alike worried, writes Kali Robinson in In These Times.

“Mike Pence has waged repeated attacks on working Hoosiers as governor and will without a doubt continue the attacks alongside his anti-worker running mate Donald Trump who is ‘100 percent right to work,’” said Brett Voorhies, president of the Indiana State AFL-CIO, shortly after Trump’s news of the announcement broke on July 15.

Indiana became a right-to-work state under Pence’s predecessor, then-Governor Mitch Daniels, but Pence has made sure it stays that way.

Under the state’s right-to-work law, unions cannot collect fees from non-members who take advantage of unions’ grievance or bargaining services, and are essentially providing these services for free.

Two local judges ruled that the law violated the state’s Constitution in 2013, causing the Indiana Department of Labor to stop enforcing the law briefly. The case was Sweeney v. Zoeller. Pence defended its legality. In 2014, Indiana’s Supreme Court upheld the state’s right-to-work law.

Pence has also taken a stand against raising the minimum wage to bearable levels, opposing a bill that would have raised Indiana’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25. Instead, Pence signed into law a bill prohibiting local governments from making businesses raise minimum wages unless mandated by the state or federal government.

Pence also signed a law repealing Indiana’s common construction wage, leaving wages on publicly-funded construction projects at the mercy of the “free-market” rather than in the hands of local boards composed of taxpayers or contractors, as other states do.

To make matters worse, Pence lent his support to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying that the deal would allow Indiana to “enjoy increased market access and fairly compete on the world stage.” The trade bill is opposed by organized labor, saying it would allow for currency manipulation that increases America’s trade deficit and hurts manufacturing jobs.

Following news of Trump picking Pence as his vice-presidential nominee, Voorhies wrote that while he was relieved Pence would be out of Indiana’s governor’s race, the Republican Party must not be allowed to win the presidency in November.

“Mike Pence is running away from the people of Indiana and into the arms of Donald Trump, and the pair could not be more perfect for each other,” he said. “Trump and Pence are both driven by a divisive political agenda that focuses more on ideologies than actual practical solutions to the issues plaguing working people.”