By Harry Targ / The Rag Blog / March 12, 2011
On Thursday morning, March 10, three buses left the parking lot of a large
supermarket in Lafayette, Indiana bound for the huge workers rights rally at the
Indianapolis State House. The buses were sponsored by the United Steelworkers
Local 115A and the NAACP. About 100 workers, teachers, and peace and justice
activists were on the buses. About two miles away another three buses left for
Indianapolis with 100 activists from the Building Trades Council of Tippecanoe
County and the Northwest Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO).
The buses were warm, cozy, and the spirit of solidarity pervaded the atmosphere.
Travelers were determined to demonstrate their outrage at the rightwing
onslaught on workers and education being planned by Indiana Republicans.
Arriving about one hour later, riders disembarked from the warm and fuzzy
atmosphere of the trip to a bitterly cold, cloudy, and windy rally in downtown
The rally consisted of speeches, chants, prayers, and exhortations. Thousands of
Hoosier workers withstood the cold to express their anger and their clear
realization that the quality of their lives was in jeopardy.
Local 115A passed out some literature to articulate the reasons for enduring the
cold and shouting for economic justice. They said that:
1. The struggle in Indiana was inspired by the events in Wisconsin.
2. The rally was about worker rights, including so-called Right-to-Work
legislation and proposals to eliminate the right of teachers to organize.
3. The right-to-work bill that was not dead as some media had reported would
negatively impact workers in both the private and public sectors.
4. Public sector rights, which need to be defended, had already been weakened by
Indiana’s governor, Mitch Daniels.
5. The struggle in Indiana was not a publicity stunt, copying the movement in
Wisconsin. Democratic House members walked out of the legislature and traveled
to Illinois to forestall the Indiana body from passing the draconian
6. Taxpayers of the state were not funding the walkout by State House Democrats.
7. The so-called Right-to-Work bill was not the only threat posed to workers in
Indiana. One bill would eliminate the secret ballot in union certification
elections. Another would remove the right to collective bargaining from public
employees at the local level. Another bill would prohibit local communities from
establishing living wage laws in excess of the state determined minimum wage.
8.The struggle in Indiana is about protecting public education. Bills would
authorize private firms to be hired to evaluate teacher performance, without any
teacher input. School funding could be used to provide vouchers for use in
private schools. Schools that did not meet certain performance standards would
be transferred to private for-profit corporations.
9.The campaign to protect public education also required resisting the cutting
of funds for colleges and universities.
10.The struggle for workers rights was relevant to the economy of the entire state of Indiana, not just the 300,000 unionized workers.
Another USW Local 115 document made the motivation for action crystal clear:
We stand at the statehouse as one people, one labor movement, one united group of citizens. We are proud to be union members and union supporters because
together we have built Indiana! Whether we are construction workers, teachers or
students–whether we clean buildings, deliver health care or manufacture useful
products-we stand together!id=fullpost a the and in of Another all
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