The 54-44 vote, with five Republicans joining 39 Democrats in the nay column Wednesday, means the measure heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass, The Indianapolis Star reported.
Gov. Mitch Daniels, who presented the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address, is expected to sign the bill. If the expected scenario plays out Indiana would become the first Rust Belt state -- and the first state in a decade -- to adopt a "right to work" bill, which bans companies and unions from negotiating a contract that requires non-members to pay fees for representation, among other things, the Star said.
Rick Vitatoe, a glass workers union member, told the Star the fight isn't over.
"We'll fight it over in the Senate. If we lose, we'll fight it at the ballot polls this November," he said. "It's a race toward the bottom is what it is."
"When there's $5,000 difference in total wages and benefits from a right-to-work state to a non-right-to-work state, these Republicans, they need their head examined," Vitatoe said, explaining he moved to Indiana from right-to-work Tennessee 25 years ago. "It's completely crazy to lower someone's wages."
The 54 Republicans who backed the bill argued wages wouldn't fall and that more businesses will call the state home if the measure becomes law in part because none of Indiana's neighboring states is a right-to-work state.
The last state to adopt a right-to-work measure was Oklahoma in 2001.
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