Union workers seen and heard at Statehouse

2011-02-21T16:55:00Z 2011-02-24T15:49:10Z Union workers seen and heard at StatehouseBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
February 21, 2011 4:55 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | They came early in the morning and stood in the rain waiting to pass through extremely tight Statehouse security.

Holding signs saying, "No right to work," "I am union" and "Stop the War on Workers," they stood shoulder to shoulder in the marble hallways and sang of "the mighty, mighty union."

And even after a Republican-controlled House committee voted in favor of legislation they believe may destroy union labor in Indiana, the more than 1,000 union workers at the Statehouse on Monday didn't give up -- they cornered lawmakers to talk about what's wrong with right-to-work, they rallied and they prayed.

"We're trying to support our union and keep it strong," said Walter Stephens, of Schererville, a roll grinder at ArcelorMittal Riverdale.

"For over 100 years we've been fighting for union rights; people have died for union rights and collective bargaining. If we didn't have them the corporations would run rampant over the workers, so we're trying to stop that," Stephens said.

But the union steelworker wasn't outside the Indiana Senate just to oppose House Bill 1468, the right-to-work legislation. Stephens said his daughter is a union teacher in Hammond, and Senate Bill 575 threatens to limit teacher collective bargaining to wages and benefits.

He said the steelworkers plan to stay at the Statehouse all week, hoping to derail what they see as anti-union legislation.

State Rep. Dan Stevenson, D-Highland, said the decision by the Republican-controlled General Assembly to position state Capitol police officers at every Statehouse door, including employee entrances, shows Republican disdain for Hoosier union workers.

"In all my years here, I've never seen such security," Stevenson said. "Even through all the terrorism alerts, security has never been this tight."

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