Right to Work Conflict Ratchets up in Indiana

Right to Work Conflict Ratchets up in Indiana

Indiana House Democrats avoided the floor of the chamber again last week to block action on the right-to-work bill backed by the Republican majority. The Democrats had returned to the chamber after a four-day walkout in the opening week of the session to stall progress on HB 1001, which would effectively bar unions from collecting dues from non-union workers at private companies. 
 
Last week's boycott was spurred by an opinion from the Legislative Services Agency stating that an amendment the Democrats have proposed to HB 1001 calling for a referendum on the bill was likely unconstitutional. That opinion was issued late last Monday, the eve before a floor vote on the amendment was scheduled, blindsiding Democrats, according to House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer (D). 
 
"We want them to give us time on 1001 [the right-to-work bill] to fix it so we can have a real vote on that amendment for the people," Bauer told reporters after the Democrats held an unusual meeting in the Statehouse Rotunda, attended by union protestors chanting "Power to the people." 
 
House Republicans responded by imposing a fine on the absent Democrats of $1,000 for every day they stay away. 
 
"It's become clear that today is the day fines are appropriate," said House Speaker Brian Bosma (R), who also stated that "this is certainly not where I wanted to be at this point in the session." 
 
The escalating tensions in Indianapolis echo the bitter standoff between Democrats and Republicans over collective bargaining in Madison last year. Bosma doesn't appear ready to send state troopers after the absent Democrats as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) did, however. 
 
"They know the way and we welcome them back to do their work," Bosma said. 
 
But with the Democrats vowing to challenge Bosma's fines in court, and Bauer accusing the Republicans of seeking the advisory opinion on the Democrats' amendment to HB 1001 in order to derail it, it may not be long before the Indiana state police are involved in the proceedings. (JOURNAL AND COURIER [LAFAYETTE])

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