Indiana governor reverses limit to statehouse access

Indiana State Capitol. Photo by vxla/Flickr

Move comes as unions protest “right to work” legislation

GOVERNOR MITCH DANIELS has backed away from a plan to restrict public access to the Indiana statehouse after coming under fire from Democrats and unions. The restriction would have limited to 3,000 the number of people who could be inside the statehouse at the same time (including 1,700 state employees). It was seen as a defensive move in anticipation of large-scale protests against so-called “right to work” legislation that state GOP leaders are attempting to pass.

Indiana has been one of the battleground states where worker rights have been under attack since the 2010 mid-term elections swept Republicans into power in many states as well as in the U.S. House. Right to work is a misnamed strategy that seeks to weaken labor unions by allowing workers to opt out of paying dues. Although free riders don’t support the union financially, the union is required by law to provide them the same services that dues-paying members receive. This arrangement harms the union financially and causes division in its ranks. Right to work also harms workers in general. According to the AFL-CIO, “in 2009, average pay in right to work states was 11.1 percent lower than in states where workers have the freedom to form strong unions.”

The GOP-dominated legislature had first sought to pass the law last February, but action was postponed after 39 Democratic legislators walked out. When the state legislature convened this year, on January 4, House Democrats stalled RTW legislation by not reporting to the House floor.

Unions and other opponents of right to work are ramping up efforts to oppose the measure in Indiana through rallies, phone banks, and contacting state legislators. Boilermakers wishing to participate in these efforts should contact the Department of Government Affairs at (202) 756-2868 or