South Bend Mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg unveiled his economic plan last week pushing to increase the minimum wage and expand unions. Reactions to the plan in Buttigieg’s home state have been mixed.
The plan titled “A New Rising Tide: Empowering Workers in a Changing Economy” calls to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Buttigieg argues that while costs for healthcare, housing and education have risen over the years, the federal minimum wage has not.
Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar says increasing the national minimum wage would cause substantial loses to Hoosier jobs.
“It would also accelerate the movement of employers to automation and would accelerate the displacement of workers in a variety of industries.”
Indiana State AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies helps unions across the state bargain for pay. He says he believes Indiana is far behind in raising the minimum wage for jobs.
Another part to Buttigieg’s economic plan outlines the need for states to be able to grow unions and argues Right-to-Work policies hinder that growth.
Indiana has been a Right-to-Work state since 2012 when then-Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a bill into law preventing individuals from being forced to join a union.
Voorhies supports the rollback of Right-to-Work laws. He says unions help protect workers from exploitation.
“It is important for any of the candidates, whether it be Mayor Pete or any of the other ones, to support you know organizing; organizing without interference,” says Voorhies. “It should be a right. It’s a human right to organize a union.”
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce opposes Buttigieg’s proposal. Brinegar says the Right-to-Work policy has helped Indiana attract new companies to the state.