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Local laborers pledge to keep fighting 'Right to Work'

January 18, 2012
The battle over "Right to Work" legislation is far from over. As Republican politicians edge the controversial bill closer to a vote, workers who oppose the legislation are keeping the heat on their district representatives in an effort to get some to re-think their stand on the issue.

Chuck Kasse, left, of New Albany and Dewaine Kintner of Corydon listen to speakers at a rally last week at Laborers Local 795 union hall in New Albany. The gathering was scheduled to protest the proposed “Right to Work” legislation. Photo by Lee Cable
At a rally in New Albany last week, members of the Laborers Local 795 packed the union hall and voiced their opposition to the bill. Several supportive politicians, and even supporters from Kentucky, spoke to the group.

"American workers are fed up," said Bill Lundgren, a union representative. "And we're beginning to fight back. We set the standards for workers all over this country. And this Right to Work bill is a way to take away those standards. They think nothing of taking away our right to collect dues, which would allow those not paying dues to have the same benefits of those of us who do. We fought long and hard for those benefits, and the conservative politicians in Indiana want to allow freeloaders to take advantage of that. Would they let us play on their golf course without paying dues?

"Right to Work is wrong for Indiana, wrong for Democrats, wrong for Republicans and even wrong for the Tea Party."

Workers all over the state met in town hall-type meetings last week and over the weekend in an attempt to change the minds of their local representatives who favor the bill. There were major rallies in places like Jeffersonville and other towns where union members and other workers spoke against the legislation.

"We had about 400 people show up at a meeting in Evansville," said Cliff Kelce, a union representative who is employed at a manufacturing plant in Corydon, "but politicians at the event completely dominated the conversation. A two-minute limit was imposed on everyone who wanted to speak, and a lot of people were cut off mid-sentence when they voiced opposition to the Right to Work bill.

"Wendy McNamara, a Republican representative from the Mount Vernon area, told the workers, most of who were her constituents, that 'It is not your choice; it is mine.' That's not what she said when she was running for office."

During McNamara's election campaign, she told voters, "Our legislative leaders come home every two years and ask for your vote. Then, they go back to Indianapolis and back to work for the special interests and lobbyists at the Statehouse."

Union leaders and other workers are now promoting putting the Right to Work issue on the ballot, to let voters decide instead of politicians.

"We need to let the people decide," Kelce said. "If we can get this on the ballot, I think the outcome will be a lot different. Some Republicans are looking for a way out of this, and putting it on a ballot would allow them that. They know that we'll all be back in the fall election, and we won't forget who supported this bill.

"The Senate don't want to touch it. But there may be some action on the bill as early as tomorrow," he said Monday. "There may be a second reading in the House, and they could vote on any amendments that are added to the bill.

"But we expect a good turnout from workers in Crawford and Harrison counties tomorrow in Indianapolis who will be opposing the issue. As more workers find out the truth about this bill, the madder they become. We're not planning to give up; we're here for the long run."

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    January 21, 2012 | 04:11 PM

    Why would unions which claim to be for fairness think forcing someone to join their ranks is fair?

    Zaytuni Awnyahngoh
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