Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has just rescinded new statehouse security rules that would have put a 3,000 person limit on the number of people allowed in the state capitol at any one time.
This comes right as the Indiana Legislature begins its 2012 session Wednesday and as union protestors from around Indiana head to the statehouse. They are headed there because one of the first issues lawmakers will discuss this week is a "Right-to-Work" proposal which would ban businesses and unions from forcing workers to pay union dues or other labor fees.
Last year, thousands of union protestors descended upon the statehouse to protest and at first it was thought not everyone would be allowed inside. The security rules just put into place a few days ago that put a 3,000 person limit on the number of people allowed inside the statehouse...and that included the people who worked there.
The governor said this morning that he told state police to return to past practices of allowing all visitors into the statehouse. He says safety concerns by state police and the state fire marshal were valid but he said it was important to keep as much public access as possible.
Meanwhile, there is no official rally planned Wednesday but union protestors from around Indiana are headed to the statehouse to make sure their voices are heard.
Union members were gathering long before the sun came up this morning. Preparing for battle number one in what they believe will be a war against "Right-to-Work" legislation.
“We were not fooled,” said Joe Taylor III, Local Union 5 president. “We knew it would be the first thing on the table this year.”
The legislation, which would ban businesses and unions from making workers pay union dues or other labor fees, sparked a walk-out from democrats and major protests last year.
Now, Republicans have vowed to bring it back this year and Governor Mitch Daniels says he fully supports it.
"I'd be completely opposed to this if it affected the right to organize,” said Daniels. “But every Right to Work state has unions and some of them have a higher percentage of union members than Indiana does. I'd be completely against anything that reduced the right to organize. This is only about whether you have to pay the dues or don't."
Daniels also says this legislation would help attract new businesses and jobs to the state but these union members disagree. They say instead it would take power away from the unions and drive wages down for union workers and non union workers.
“Because as Unions lose their voice, as unions lose their effectiveness which is expressed in terms of their financial base, they become a little bit weaker in having to deal with companies,” said Tony Flora, from AFL-CIO. “This is a boon to the one percent. This is about giving more power to companies and taking power away from employees.”
The union members we spoke with feel that this legislation is purely a political ploy by republicans to make this state a "one party state." They say republicans want to crush the unions because unions tend to support democrats while big business tends to support Republicans.
Now, at least four bus loads of union protestors went to the capital Wednesday from this area. They are expected to meet up with hundreds of other protestors from around the state.