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Editor’s note: To get David Horowitz’s perspective on the OWS movement, see his recent lead feature, Communism Reborn. For the whole story behind Occupy Wall Street and how this movement marks a new phase in the rebirth of the communist Left, read the new broadside by David Horowitz and John Perazzo, Occupy Wall Street: The Communist Movement Reborn. This essential pamphlet exposes the roots, leaders and hidden agendas of the radical movement and its war on capitalism and free societies.
On Wednesday morning, the Indiana state Senate passed right-to-work legislation, making Indiana the first Rust Belt state to take such a turn. The 28-22 vote in the Republican-controlled chamber occurred after two hours of debate in the General Assembly session. The bill was sent to Governor Mitch Daniels, who signed the legislation later that afternoon. The bill prohibits employers from entering into any agreement that would force employees to join a union or require them to pay dues, fees, assessment or any other charges to a labor organization. Indiana becomes the 23rd right-to-work state in the nation and the first to pass right-to-work legislation in ten years. “The only change will be a positive one,” the governor said in a statement released today by his office. “Indiana will improve still further its recently earned reputation as one of America’s best places to do business, and we will see more jobs and opportunity for our young people and for all those looking for a better life.” Could a new epoch reining in the excesses of the failed union era be in the offing?
Union members and their supporters were furious. Approximately 3000 people gathered inside the Statehouse chanted “Shame on you!” and “See you at the Super Bowl!” as the vote was announced. 3000-4000 other protesters gathered outside the building on the Statehouse lawn for a rally that spilled into the streets of Indianapolis. Approximately half the protesters then marched to the Indiana Convention Center, carrying posters with slogans such as “Hands off My Union,” “Stop the War on Workers” and “Ditch Mitch.”
The bill’s passage followed last Wednesday’s 55-44 vote in the Republican-controlled House in favor of the bill, days after an identically worded bill previously passed the Senate. It then moved to the Senate’s Pensions and Labor Committee on Monday, where it passed in a 6-1 vote, despite Democrats being absent from the chamber. Democratic senators, who contended they were protesting, not boycotting, Monday’s hearing, characterized the session as a “mockery.” Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage) contended that Republicans were trying to get the bill passed before the Super Bowl. Other Democrats said they were protesting because Republicans would not allow them to bring up amendments to the bill on Monday.
This is far from the first time Democrats have employed such boycotting tactics. Almost a year ago, House Democrats literally fled the state in order to prevent a quorum from being achieved to allow a vote on the same right-to-work legislation. All but two of 40 Democrats hid out in Illinois, leaving only 58 legislators present to conduct business. 67 House members are the minimum number required by Indiana law. Two Democrats remained behind to make any necessary motions and block Republicans from moving the legislation through in the absence of a quorum. The rest of the House Democrats remained out of the state for five weeks.
They continued using a similar quorum-avoidance tactic for weeks during the bill’s debating sessions, walking out of the chamber to hold private caucuses. The walkouts once again prevented the House from holding a vote. State Rep. Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute), one of 35 Democrats who used the maneuver, claimed it was aimed at keeping Republicans from avoiding national media scrutiny, or debating the bill without public or opposition input. “This is all part of the democratic process that we’re going through here,” Kersey contended.
Such contentions are absurd. The democratic process is not served by preventing a vote from occurring, nor is it true that any kind of scrutiny or input was being avoided, unless one considers daily protests staged by union supporters at the Statehouse–including one in which their chants could be heard as Gov. Daniels delivered his State of the State address earlier this month–to be irrelevant.
On January 18th, the issue reached another level when Republicans voted to fine Democratic state representatives $1,000 per day if they continued to boycott sessions to purposefully delay action on the right-to-work legislation. Two days later, Marion County temporarily blocked the fines of those Democrats who challenged the House’s authority to impose them. This marks the second time such a fight occurred. House Democrats are still fighting fines imposed on them for their five week sojourn in Illinois. That case is headed to the Indiana Supreme Court.
Yet after two legislative sessions during which Democrats, in addition to the boycotts, offered amendments aimed at changing the bill, and sought to put it before voters in a referendum, the reality of a substantial Republican majority in the House became impossible to overcome. It was a reality for which Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. Prior to the 2010 election, Democrats held a 52-48 majority in the House, and while they were outnumbered 33-17 in the Senate, that number was high enough to prevent Senate Republicans from achieving the two-thirds vote necessary to maintain a quorum without a single Democrat. The mid-term election was a bloodbath for Democrats. They are now outnumbered 60-40 in the House, and Senate Republicans got their two-thirds majority, holding a 36-14 edge. Thus, the bill’s passage was only a matter of time.
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