Curiously, this story isn’t getting a lot of mainstream media attention!
Thousands of Hoosier unionists are rallying at the Indianapolis statehouse for a second week of demonstrations against the legislature’s attempt to pass a right-to-work law.
Members of the Steelworkers, Carpenters, Laborers, Teamsters, Food and Commercial Workers, and other unions packed the chambers and rallied outside a joint House-Senate hearing on the bill last Friday.
[...]Anti-union Governor Mitch Daniels had issued a rule December 30 limiting the number of people who could be present inside the statehouse, widely seen as an attempt to prevent unions from mounting the kind of mass protests that Wisconsin and Ohio saw last year in response to attacks on collective bargaining rights.
Protesters won an early victory five days later when Daniels repealed the rule in response to growing crowds outside the statehouse and widespread public opposition.
The so-called right-to-work legislation would allow workers to reap the benefits of union representation without joining the union or paying dues.
While the bill’s backers argue that it would have little effect beyond the 11 percent of the state’s workers who are union members, opponents say such laws drive everyone’s wages down. “It’s a ‘falling tide’ effect,” said David Williams of the Laborers.
A study from the Economic Policy Institute said right-to-work laws have pushed wages and benefits lower in states that adopt them. Through the recession unemployment in right-to-work states has been worse than in union bastions. EPI has also reported that the law did not aid job creation in Oklahoma after it passed a right-to-work bill in 2001.
As the February 5 Super Bowl approaches, right-to-work opponents are buoyed by support from the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA released a statement against the bill and six football player unionists, all Indiana natives, sent letters to the legislature last week opposing it.
Protesters celebrated this support with an “NFLPA Appreciation Day” last Thursday. Wearing football jerseys, hundreds marched through the snow to Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Super Bowl will be played.
While Democrats said today they have no plans to intervene in the big game, protesters may have other ideas. In the past few weeks, “occupy the Super Bowl” has become one of the most popular chants in the statehouse.
NFLPA Director DeMaurice Smith indicated in an interview yesterday that the football players’ union may “possibly” support a demonstration outside the stadium. Noting that the union has lent its support to picket lines in the past, he said, “We’ll have to see what is going to go on when we’re there, but issues like this are incredibly important to us.”
“Right to work” legislation sounds reasonable on paper but weakens unions and removes protections for workers. –ed