Continuing their resistance to the damaging changes being planned by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, union supporters and teachers are organizing a large protest for Monday, Feb 21, 2011. The rally will take place at 9am at the Indiana Statehouse where the State Senate will be considering new limits on union rights. House Bill 1468, the so-called Right To Work bill is, of course, trying to ensure the Right To Work For Less.
In opposition to the bill the Teamsters are mobilizing their members for action. The Teamsters have issued a Red-Alert which says:
After weeks of delay and denial, the Republican leadership of the Indiana House of Representatives has just announced that the House's Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee will hear House Bill 1468, which contains so-called "right to work" lanuage THIS MONDAY at 9:00 a.m. at the Indiana Statehouse.
This last minute addition to the schedule is designed to give the public as little notice as possible and prevent working men and women from coming to Indianapolis to oppose this bill.
It's time to fight back and make our voices heard!
We need your help NOW and ask that you:
1. Call your state representative at 1-800-382-9842 right NOW and tell them to vote "NO" on House Bill 1468.
2. Ask your spouse, your children, your friends and neighbors to call their state representatives NOW and tell them to vote "NO" on House Bill 1468.
3. Email your state representative here, right now, and tell them to oppose House Bill 1468
4. Forward this email to anyone and everyone who cares about working people and Indiana's future and ask them to contact their state legislators
5. Come to the Indiana Statehouse on Monday to stand up and oppose this bill.
House Bill 1468 will be heard in Room 156 at 9:00 a.m. Be aware that parking and getting through security will take a considerable amount of time, so plan accordingly.
We are also organizing a week-long protest of this and other anti-worker bills at the Statehouse beginning Monday. We encourage you to come to Indianapolis and talk to your state lawmkers, in person, about why "right to work" and the other anti-workers bills are bad for you, your families and your communities.
We need working Hoosiers to come to the Statehouse all day, every day next week beginning with the following times:
In addition to the Teamsters, it was reported in the Huffington Post that the DNC and OFA are also going to expand their efforts at fighting Right to Work legislation to Indiana. From the report:
Building on the momentum in Wisconsin, where tens of thousands of protesters have turned out to oppose Republican Gov. Scott Walker's effort to strip collective-bargaining rights from the state's public-employee unions, President Barack Obama's campaign organization is mobilizing its followers in Ohio and Indiana, where similar measures are being considered.
Thousands descended upon the Ohio statehouse Thursday to protest a bill that would eliminate collective-bargaining rights for state employees and curtail the rights of local-level government employees. The debate is similar to that in Wisconsin: Supporters say it's necessary to deal with budget problems, while opponents say it's nothing but a vicious assault on unions.
Now folded into the Democratic National Committee, Obama's campaign group Organizing For America is already actively engaged in Wisconsin and is beginning to ramp up organizing efforts in Ohio, though observers say the latter process is about a week behind that in Wisconsin. The group is also beginning to dig into Indiana, whose legislature is considering a bill to limit collective bargaining by teachers.
A Facebook page with 3200 members as of this writing is also urging Hoosiers to come out on Monday and protest Governor Daniels and the Republican Legislature. From the page:
Well this is it. We knew it was coming even though as late as yesterday morning many of these same Republicans told me to my face in the statehouse, under the American and State of Indiana flags, that RTW was not going to happen. MORE LIES. Those who have been watching what has been going on in Wisconsin will now witness the assassination of worker's rights in our home state. Yesterday the Republicans sent a Vehicle Bill, which is a fast track to ratification, on RTW for all public employees including teachers and takes away their right to collective bargain as well as reduces pensions, through the House Labor and Pension Committee. It passed with a Republican majority. Tonight they got the rest of us. The same committee will vote on RTW for the private sector on Monday Feb. 21 @ 9am in room 156A. We are calling on ALL Hoosier workers to come to the Indiana Statehouse and stand up for your rights. This is for all the marbles. As has been stated before, this is not just about unions, it's about all workers. They are prepared to take away our rights and through us in jail for standing against corporate greed and asking for our fair share, safe workplaces, and a dignified retirement. Oh yes, and the "cherry on top" is that they want to make it a class A misdemeanor for striking or collecting union dues. This has to stop here.
The planned protests follow protests by the United Steelworkers on Tuesday. The Steelworkers protest was reported by AP:
Labor unions have opposed a bill moving through the Legislature to fix Indiana's debt-ridden unemployment insurance fund that would reduce jobless benefits for many recipients and soften tax increases on businesses.
The state has borrowed $2 billion from the federal government and a plan backed by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels aims to repay that money by 2020 in part with changes estimated to mean a 25 percent reduction in the state's unemployment benefit payments.
Democrats and labor groups also have argued that the right-to-work legislation backed by many Republicans would drive down wages by weakening unions. The bill would prohibit union membership and fees from being a condition of employment.
Teachers in Indiana have also been protesting changes that are designed to weaken their own unions. From a report on the protests by an Indianapolis TV station:
The unions object to several proposals from Gov. Mitch Daniels that are gaining traction in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, including restrictions on collective bargaining, merit pay for teachers and vouchers that would direct taxpayer money to private schools.
"I think if it was going to be true reform, then you would have included the teachers, the administrators, all of the public school people," said Gerri McIver, a teacher in Kokomo. "As a taxpayer, I'm very concerned that my tax money for public (schools) is now going to go to a charter school where only half of the people have to be certified."
Teachers around the state have already raised complaints about the proposals, but Tuesday's rally was aimed at letting them share their opinions directly with lawmakers gathered in Indianapolis for the 2011 legislative session.
The teachers have been fighting against House Bill 1002. That bill would expand the number of charter schools in Indiana, end teachers right of collective bargaining, and institute vouchers, which will give students the ability to use public funds to attend private schools. The bill has already passed out of a Republican controlled committee where the voting was 8-5 along party lines. The fight against House Bill 1002 now moves to the full House where Republicans have a 60-40 majority.
The political power held by Republicans in Indiana makes this a very difficult battle for the unions to win. Republicans control both branches of the Indiana State Legislature and the Governor, Mitch Daniels, has made passing these proposals a priority. Daniels of course is being mentioned as a possible presidential contender so opposing him has national implications. National Democratic organizations have every incentive to step up the opposition to his union-busting plans. The DNC has indicated it was getting more involved in Indiana but I haven't yet seen much evidence of their presence. Unions on the other hand have been vigorously fighting these proposals and are continuing to fight. The rally on Monday is one more step in that effort. Indiana protesters have not yet achieved Wisconsin-like numbers but with the involvement of progressive blogs and the DNC working with the already active unions perhaps that reality can be changed for the better.
Also see NotJustWisc-HOOSIERS! Fight Anti-Union, Anti-Teacher Bills! by daveinchi for more info on the action in Indiana.
Be there Monday, Feb 21, 2011, at 9 am at the Indiana Statehouse to join the protests against the effort by Governor Mitch Daniels and the Republican legislature to weaken Indiana unions.