Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels leads attack on unions
“Indiana Democrats push Statehouse stalemate into second week
1:38 PM, Feb. 28, 2011
Written by Heather Gillers and Mary Beth
As more than 1,000 union laborers and their supporters cheered and waved signs, actor Danny Glover encouraged the crowd assembled at the Statehouse to be strong in their opposition to a series of Republican bills aimed at undermining collective bargaining.
"It's not only your battle, its a battle that's taking place across this country," Glover, who has a history of supporting workers' rights, told the crowd that lined the second and third floor balconies. Glover also recited for the crowd the Langston Hughes poem, "Let America be America Again."
Demonstrators have packed the Statehouse all week and Democratic lawmakers have fled to Illinois in an effort to stop the legislation -- including parts of Gov. Mitch Daniels' education reform agenda -- that they view as an attack on unions. In an interview before the rally, Glover said that attack encompasses more than Indiana, and linked the efforts by workers and Democrats here to efforts in Wisconsin and Ohio.
"What is happening right now," Glover said, "the governor and legislators have been elected in various states on a mandate to balance the budget. Now there are many choices that you have in order to balance the budget......But to attack peoples right to collective bargaining, to orchestrate legislation that attempts to create a quote unquote right to work state is an attempt to break the unions and undermine the unions."
Onlookers gushed over Glover crowding around to shake his hand.
"I think Danny is a person that is for the working people," said one attendee, John Lacey, the state Director for Indiana Workers United. "He understands working people's issues."
Lacey said he attended another Indiana appearance by Glover in support of labor, when the actor visited Terre Haute in August 2009 to stand with workers striking at Bemis Co.'s Polyethylene Packaging Division plant. At that time, Lacey said, Glover's visit raised workers' morale and spotlighted their struggle. He predicted this visit would have the same effect.
Indiana House Democrats remain in Illinois today, beginning their second week of walk-off that has shut-down the legislative process in that chamber.
Both sides are trying to ramp up the pressure. Gov. Mitch Daniels' Political Action Committee, Aiming Higher, has begun airing two radio ads around the state attacking the Democrats' action, and in particular House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend.
One ad features a woman singing to the tune of "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey?" But the words are: "Won't you come home, Pat Bauer?"
The song says Bauer "has been a bad, bad boy" and also "remember the last election, we threw you out."
The second ad says that "Indiana House Democrats have fled the Statehouse and refuse to do their jobs -- yet they're still getting paid."
Democrats, though, have said they will not accept their $155 per day in-session pay, and the Indiana Democratic Party is paying for their hotel rooms in Urbana, Ill. Democrats, however, do receive the base pay that all legislators receive which currently is about $22,600 per year, though those in leadership positions get additional pay.
The House is scheduled to come in at 1:30 p.m., though without a quorum of 67 representatives present they'll only be able to take a roll call and, possibly, pontificate a bit.
The Senate, which has continued to work during this stand-off, is also scheduled to come in at 1:30 to begin the second half of the legislative session. With many key bills bottled up in the House, including a new state budget, they also will feel the impact of the impasse. Democrats hold too few seats in the Senate -- only 13 of the 37 -- to stall action there.”