IBJNews

Democratic lawmakers leave Indiana, block labor bill

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana House Democrats took a page from the playbook of their counterparts in Wisconsin on Tuesday, refusing to show up and at least temporarily blocking a Republican-backed labor bill.

Nearly all stayed away from the Statehouse completely and headed more than a 100 miles west to neighboring Illinois. Only three of 40 House Democrats were in the chamber when Republican Speaker Brian Bosma tried repeatedly to convene it, leaving the chamber short of the two-thirds needed for a quorum.

The Democratic caucus issued a statement Tuesday night saying members had relocated to Urbana, Ill., "for the immediate future" to continue reviewing Republican proposals on public education changes and so-called right-to-work legislation that would prohibit union representation fees from being a condition of employment at most private-sector companies.

"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," the statement said. "We will remain here until we get assurances from the governor and House Speaker Brian Bosma that these bills will not be called down in the House at any time this session."

While the desks of 37 Democratic legislators were empty, several hundred union members crowded the adjourning hallways and held up signs to windows looking into the House with slogans such as "Stop the War on Workers."

It was the second day of large union crowds at the Statehouse, with the spark being a GOP-led committee on Monday taking up the right-to-work legislation.

Wisconsin's Senate hasn't been able to take up a bolder measure that would strip nearly all public employees' bargaining rights since that chamber's Democrats left the state Thursday.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who had urged fellow GOP legislators not to act on the right-to-work bill this year, told reporters he would not use state troopers to compel Democratic legislators to return. Daniels had said he was worried that acting on the contentious right-to-work issue could derail other parts of his legislative agenda.

"I trust people's consciences will bring them back to work," Daniels said. "I choose to believe that our friends in the minority, having made their point, will come back and do their duty, the jobs that they're paid to do."

Because House Democrats skipped the entire day's floor session before Bosma adjourned Tuesday night, the right-to-work legislation missed a procedural deadline for further consideration. However, Republicans could find other ways to consider it later.

Republicans released a list of 23 bills they said would fail at the same deadline, although none are on major topics.

Minority walkouts in the Indiana House have happened periodically in the past, including in 2001 by Republicans and 2005 by Democrats.

Union groups oppose the right-to-work bill as well as some other proposals moving through the Legislature, including restricting teacher collective bargaining rights, expanding charter schools and reducing jobless benefits for some people as part of a plan to fix the state's debt-ridden unemployment insurance fund.

Rep. Terri Austin of Anderson, one of the Democrats on the House floor Tuesday, said Republicans have put forth a very partisan agenda that Democrats would keep fighting until the legislative session ends in late April.

"We've still got time," Austin said. "There is time to work out some compromises and that's what we hope we will be able to do."

Jerome Davison, an officer of the 3,400-member Steelworkers union at the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Burns Harbor, applauded the Democrats' boycott and said union members planned to continue showing up at the Statehouse.

"This is not a policy no one cares about," Davison said. "This is about paychecks and benefits."

Republican leaders, however, described Democrats as trying to kill legislation that could help the state.

"It is our responsibility to examine and discuss and decide upon policies that could be helpful to the citizens of Indiana in creating and retaining jobs so that we can grow our economy," said House Majority Leader William Friend, R-Macy. "We should at least have that discussion."

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Both Sides of the Aisle
    Thanks for wasting the taxpayers' time and money.
  • Mitch is involved....
    Marcus, I believe that Mitch does prefer these bills. He just doesn't want them to be a political target for his campaign.
  • Look closer
    Rick, they aren't just "doing the bidding of the governor." They are doing this on their own. The Governor doesn't want the immigration bill. The Governor doesn't want the gay marriage amendment. The Governor doesn't want the right-to-work bill. Don't take the easy route and blame Governor Daniels when this is clearly the extremist elements of his own party doing what they will, despite him.
  • Just Look
    Look at all of the protesters at the Capitol. Isn't that a clue that legislators are getting ready to push something through that isn't good for Indiana residents. The Republicans are doing the bidding of the governor not the people. Many thanks to the Democrats, they are doing their job!!!

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. President Obama has referred to the ACA as "Obamacare" any number of times; one thing it is not, if you don't qualify for a subsidy, is "affordable".

  2. One important correction, Indiana does not have an ag-gag law, it was soundly defeated, or at least changed. It was stripped of everything to do with undercover pictures and video on farms. There is NO WAY on earth that ag gag laws will survive a constitutional challenge. None. Period. Also, the reason they are trying to keep you out, isn't so we don't show the blatant abuse like slamming pigs heads into the ground, it's show we don't show you the legal stuf... the anal electroctions, the cutting off of genitals without anesthesia, the tail docking, the cutting off of beaks, the baby male chicks getting thrown alive into a grinder, the deplorable conditions, downed animals, animals sitting in their own excrement, the throat slitting, the bolt guns. It is all deplorable behavior that doesn't belong in a civilized society. The meat, dairy and egg industries are running scared right now, which is why they are trying to pass these ridiculous laws. What a losing battle.

  3. Eating there years ago the food was decent, nothing to write home about. Weird thing was Javier tried to pass off the story the way he ended up in Indy was he took a bus he thought was going to Minneapolis. This seems to be the same story from the founder of Acapulco Joe's. Stopped going as I never really did trust him after that or the quality of what being served.

  4. Indianapolis...the city of cricket, chains, crime and call centers!

  5. "In real life, a farmer wants his livestock as happy and health as possible. Such treatment give the best financial return." I have to disagree. What's in the farmer's best interest is to raise as many animals as possible as quickly as possible as cheaply as possible. There is a reason grass-fed beef is more expensive than corn-fed beef: it costs more to raise. Since consumers often want more food for lower prices, the incentive is for farmers to maximize their production while minimizing their costs. Obviously, having very sick or dead animals does not help the farmer, however, so there is a line somewhere. Where that line is drawn is the question.

ADVERTISEMENT