Revolt Spreads: Indiana Dems Leave the State to Thwart GOP Union Busting

by on February 22, 2011 · 15 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Labor, Popular

By Chris Bowers / AlterNet / February 22, 2011

Mirroring events in Wisconsin, Democrats in the Indiana House have left the state to deny a quorum and block legislation that would strip collective bargaining rights. From the Indianapolis Star:

House Democrats are leaving the state rather than vote on anti-union legislation, The Indianapolis Star has learned.

A source said Democrats are headed to Illinois, though it was possible some also might go to Kentucky. They need to go to a state with a Democratic governor to avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana.

The House was came into session this morning, with only two of the 40 Democrats present. Those two were needed to make a motion, and a seconding motion, for any procedural steps Democrats would want to take to ensure Republicans don’t do anything official without quorum.

With only 58 legislators present, there was no quorum present to do business. The House needs 67 of its members to be present.

There are multiple anti-union bills moving through the Indiana legislature at this time. One, HB 1585, prohibits collective bargaining for public employees. Another, HB 1216, takes away collective bargaining rights on construction work even in the private sector.

Is this a winnable fight? Yes, given state history:

The last time a prolonged walk-out happened in the Indiana legislature was in the mid-1990s, when Republicans were in control and tried to draw new legislative district maps, eliminating a district that likely would have been a Democrat one, in the middle of the decade. Democrats won that standoff, staying away several days until Republicans dropped the plan.

The revolt against the Republican war on workers’ rights is spreading.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Frank Gormlie February 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm

From firedoglake: There are differences between the proposed Wisconsin and Indiana measures: the Indiana ones are actually quite worse. Governor Mitch Daniels de-certified the state’s public employee unions on his first day in office back in 2007. It got little response at the time. This new bill would essentially make Indiana into an anti-union “right to work” state. It would prohibit employers from requiring an employee to join a union or to collect union dues to work at their establishment. It would also give private-sector union members the right to drop out of their unions and stop paying dues. Basically it would turn the work environment in Indiana like much of the deep South.

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avatar RB February 23, 2011 at 10:40 am

Don’t you love organizations that can only keep members and can only collect dues by restricting the freedom of others to work? How about doing a good job instead, so employees want to join.? How about spending dues on bargaining rather than the political desires of union leadership? Close to 2/3 of employees are independent or republican, they should not be required to join a clearly partisan organization. Either we should have right to work laws or restrictions on political contributions from union dues.

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avatar OB Joe February 23, 2011 at 12:27 pm

RB – your anti-union prejudices are really showing right now. “Right to work”??? There are 22 states in this supposedly “free” country that restrict unions with so-called ‘right ot work’ laws. It’s really ‘right to pay you as little as possible’ laws. Workers in RTW states make on the average over $5000 less a year than workers in union states on average.

I’m kinda surprized that this Blog allows you to express your anti-worker and anti-labor rants.

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avatar RB February 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I am just the messenger who was a union member, attack me if you want.
How low does union membership need to get before anyone will think outside the box? Why do you think employees who are republicans or independents want to support another political party with their dues?

I have talked to hundreds of workers while trying to get them to join a union or sign a card for union representation. People don’t want to join the union because of politics. Many if not most would join the union if their dues were spent on bargaining and work place issues only. Once again, 2/3 of employees are either republican or independent.

I support public financed political elections without unions, lobbyists or big business funding the corruption of our campaigns. This use to be a fairness idea pushed by democrats.

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avatar OB Joe February 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm

RB – You are not the “messenger.” You are pushing your anti-union views and they are your own. Hey, I was in a union too, buddy, and talked to thousands of workers, and they appreciate what unions are and do. But it’s good that this nation is having a discussion about unions and labor for we haven’t had one for decades.

Unions are one of the only forces that resist the lobbyists and big business, and sure, there’s problems with them, but if you understand what they’ve done for Americans in general, then you wouldn’t diss them so easily.

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avatar RB February 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm

In 1960 approximately 40% of the private sector workers were union members.
In 1980 approximately 20% of the private sector workers were union members.
In 2000 approximately 10% of the private sector workers were union members.

Let’s not change a thing until we get to zero percent.
Good luck with that strategy.

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avatar annagrace February 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

How noble! “Public political elections without unions, lobbyists or big business funding.” In the 2010 election, all but 3 of the top 10 funders were corporations- the Us Chamber of Commerce, Club for Growth (The Koch Brothers!) , etc. And these corporations spent 93% of their funds on Republican candidates. But, let’s start housecleaning- with the unions, which by the way don’t outsource jobs and bring the world economy to the brink of collapse.

So you think that unions should bring you added value goodies- your salary and benefits, but lay off the politicking- for Democrats. So I assume you are an Independent or Republican who wants to have it both ways. The problem is that if you look around the Repubs are waging an unholy war against salaries and benefits, AND attempting to undermine the mechanism with which unions participate in the political arena to make sure that working class and middle class Americans have a voice.

RB- your argument looks really really bad.
Here’s the link to campaigns making outside expenditures.
http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/index.php

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avatar doug porter February 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm

WASHINGTON – Americans decisively support laws ensuring the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions by a nearly two-to-one margin, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll.

Sixty-one percent said they oppose legislation stripping those rights in their states, as compared to only 33 percent who said they favor such laws, a striking discrepancy that shows public opinion firmly on one side of a growing national fight. Six percent had no opinion.

Of course, RB’s comrades over at Fox put their own spin on it…
A new poll was released Wednesday showing the public strongly supports union bargaining rights by a two-to-one margin. The Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” program displayed and voiced the results of the poll backwards, in a way that depicts the public as strongly opposed to unions.

Could this be another “honest mistake” by the conservative network? Or something else?

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avatar editordude February 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm

This just in: LA Times: Most of the Democratic members of the Indiana House of Representatives have temporarily moved to Illinois to avoid having to vote on legislation they consider to be anti-union, according to a statement released Wednesday morning. Illinois is also where all 14 of the Democratic senators from Wisconsin sought sanctuary when they fled from Madison last week to block legislation that would have ended collective bargaining rights for public employee unions.

“We have relocated to Urbana, Ill., for the immediate future,” the Democrats said in a prepared statement that attacked Republicans. “By staying here, we will be giving the people of Indiana a chance to find out more about this radical agenda and speak out against it.”

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avatar Frank Gormlie February 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Just in: An Indiana state official who tweeted that riot police in neighboring Wisconsin should “use live ammunition” to clear out pro-union demonstrators has lost his job.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday that Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Cox “is no longer employed by this agency.”

The office made the announcement after reviewing statements Cox purportedly made in tweets and blog posts, including one in which he said he advocated “deadly force” against “thugs” who threatened state elected officials in Wisconsin.

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avatar Goatskull February 23, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I Googled this after reading your post. Pretty scary stuff. WTF (with two ??)is all I can say.

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avatar editordude February 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Goatskull – we had to take your last comment out because what the link was doing to our “chatter box” on the homepage. And this always happens whenever a commenter leaves a link in the beginning of the comment. It seems that there has to be a sufficient amount of text in front of any links for it not to affect our homepage list of recent comments. Do you wish to resubmit it in that format?

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avatar Goatskull February 24, 2011 at 8:00 am

Sure that would be great. Thank you.

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avatar Rick Ward March 11, 2011 at 10:04 am

Nation wide GOP govs and congressmen appear to have made this union busting move to soon.They should have waited until thier numbers constituted a quorum without the dems.Then they could have pushed thier agenda through without such a big fuss.But now thier cover is blown and everyone is on to them.The battle is now joined.

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