Pro-Union Protesters Swarm Indianapolis

March 10, 2011 6:39 a.m.

Near the end of the third week of the Indiana state government stalemate over worker’s rights and the policy agenda of Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), pro-union protesters are surging near the state capitol in what organizers are calling the largest protest in Indiana history.

The Indianapolis Star reports union supporters have begun pouring into the capital, in advance of the rally which is set to begin at 11:30 AM. Organizers “have estimated that as many as 25,000 will attend the rally,” which would surpass “the 20,000 union members who protested at the Statehouse in 1995 in what, possibly until now, has been the largest rally in state history.”The union workers are demanding an end to state Republican plans to change Indiana into a “right to work state,” a move that would effectively break the ability of employees at private firms in Indiana to organize. Republican leaders have pledged to abandon one right to work bill, but state House Democrats have fled the state to prevent the legislature from passing several other bills as well.

What the protesters are fighting for, from the Star:

Democrats, and the union members protesting at the Statehouse today, are trying to force changes in a handful of bills, including House Bill 1216, which impacts public construction projects and, potentially, the wages paid on them, and House Bill 1003, which lets tax dollars fund private-school tuition.

The Indiana fight has raged while Wisconsin has dominated the headlines as the epicenter for union struggles against Republican state legislature majorities elsewhere in the country. Rallies like Thursday’s make clear that labor still considers Indiana a central front in the fight, just as Democrats there have pledged not to give in to the Republicans, even if they have to stay out of state for weeks.

Republicans have dismissed the rallies as so much outside agitation on the part of organized labor.

“We received a memoranda about what’s going on from the organized labor community as well,” House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) told WISH-TV, “assigning in-state captains to out-of-state people.”

“It will (be) interesting to see how it pans out,” Bosma said.

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