Indiana workers deal a blow to anti-union agenda

Labor fightback movement kills 'right-to-work' bill

Rick Muir, president of the Indiana Federation of Teachers, chanting, Indianapolis, Ind., Feb. 23.

In the face of mass labor protests and the boycott of a legislative session by Democratic state representatives, Republican leaders in Indiana and pro-business Gov. Mitch Daniels withdrew a proposed anti-union “right-to-work” bill on Feb. 23. The bill would have decimated the power of unions by banning the policy of requiring union fees as a condition of employment at a workplace. Despite this heroic victory, many other anti-labor and anti-public education bills are still on the table in the Indiana state legislature.

In Indiana, other anti-labor bills still under consideration include forbidding teachers from bargaining on anything but wages and benefits., This would pave the way for the creation of more charter schools by funding private vouchers with tax dollars and initiating so-called merit pay for teachers. In addition to the attacks on teachers, other bills would further restrict collective bargaining and cut unemployment benefits for all workers.

Workers and students from all over the Midwest, including outside the capitol building in Indianapolis, have taken to the streets in large numbers to protest this nation-wide war on workers and unions. State governments have been using budget shortfalls caused by the capitalist economic crisis as an excuse to attack workers’ rights to organize and fight for even the most modest of reforms. The workers in Indiana are not taking it sitting down.

On Feb. 21, as many as 10,000 workers flooded the Indiana capitol, chanting, “Ditch Mitch!” in reference to Gov. Mitch Daniels. This was the kickoff to a planned week of protests. “This week is important,” said David Williams of the Laborers Union, “because any bill not passed out of legislative committees by Friday won’t be considered in this session of the legislature.” (

House Democrats have fled the state as a way to delay the vote on these measures. The same tactic has been utilized by state Democrats all over the Midwest in response to labor uprisings.

While serving the interests of big business, the Democratic Party poses as the party of working people. However, it is only when workers mobilize into actions that the Democrats stand up to the most extreme anti-worker measures. Without the people in the streets, Democrats only debate the Republicans on the extent to which workers have to bear the burden of the capitalist crisis, brought on by the big banks that bankroll the campaigns of both parties.

So again it has been the workers who have taken the initiative to bring the fight to the front doors of state governments. When workers and the oppressed stand up and fight back against such blatant attacks, they can win. Workers, teachers, students and community members continue to protest in front of the Indiana state capitol building and will continue until all of these anti-worker bills are stopped.  

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