The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and local communities this weekend reached long-term agreements with Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings to continue Hoosier State passenger-rail service between Indianapolis and Chicago.
Service under the new agreements began yesterday. As the route’s operator, Amtrak will work with host railroads, provide train and engine crews and manage ticket reservations. INDOT will pay Amtrak for its expenses not covered by ticket revenue, and Amtrak will provide the state with any excess revenue.
INDIANAPOLIS. Ind. (WLFI) – In less than three weeks, Amtrak’s Hoosier State Line will stop operating. That is unless Indiana spends millions of dollars to keep it from getting derailed.
Dozens of supporters of the Hoosier State Line gathered Thursday afternoon at the Indiana Statehouse. Members of the United Transportation Union were on hand at the rally, even though they said they don’t represent Indiana Amtrak employees.
“Support our fellow railroaders and make sure, try our best to keep jobs,” said Kyle Brooking.
Mention in Illinois the names of the anti-union governors of Indiana and Wisconsin – Scott Walker and Mitch Daniels – and, well, just start watching, listening and counting.
When the Wisconsin and Indiana governors separately ventured into Illinois April 17 and 19 for pre-arranged speaking engagements in Springfield (Walker to business leaders) and Champaign (Daniels to Republican leaders) almost 10,000 union members and supporters in total at both locations showed up to demonstrate their displeasure.
They unfurled union banners, set up 20-foot inflatable rats and displayed signs proclaiming, “union buster.”
Both demonstrations were organized, in part, by the UTU’s Illinois State Legislative Office, Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy and the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund.
In Wisconsin, Walker was an architect of legislation to curtail collective bargaining rights and weaken the organizing abilities of labor unions. He also rejected federal funds to build high-speed rail in Wisconsin, which cost Wisconsin hundreds of jobs. Because of grass roots efforts in Wisconsin by organized labor and its friends – funded in part by the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund — Walker faces a recall election in June.
In Indiana, Daniels supported the recent passage by the state legislature of right-to-work (for less) legislation.
“Illinois UTU members were thrilled about the opportunity to gather with our brothers and sisters of labor to protest the appearance of governors who care more about business interests than the working families,” Guy said. “We sent strong messages to the two anti-union governors, as well as our Illinois lawmakers, that attacks on collective bargaining rights won’t work in Illinois.”
The Champaign rally included a workshop on the negative impact of right-to-work (for less) legislation on collective bargaining, and guidance on how union members should communicate the issue to their communities and fellow workers.
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mitch Daniels has signed into law right-to-work (for less) legislation in Indiana that prohibits union-shop agreements and prohibits union contracts that require those who decline to join a union from paying any fees for representation – essentially encouraging free riders and severely damaging the financial ability of unions to serve members.
Contracts covered by the Railway Labor Act are not affected; but union contracts covering bus and local transit workers are.
Indiana becomes the first manufacturing state in the Midwest to have such a law, which is more common in the South. Twenty-three states have right-to-work (for less) legislation.
The Indiana AFL-CIO said, in a statement, that the Republican majority in Indiana has “set our state upon a path that will lead to lower wages for all working Hoosiers, less safety at work, and less dignity and security in old age or ill health. Sadly, the passage of this bill not only means that workers’ rights and ability to collectively bargain will be significantly weakened, it means that strong arm tactics, misinformation and big money have won at the Indiana Statehouse.”
Anti-union legislation signed into law by Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich last year was repealed in a voter referendum supported by the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and union members throughout Ohio. That law sought to restrict collective bargaining rights.
In Wisconsin, there was a successful recall of two senators who supported legislation to curtail collective bargaining rights, and a recall of Gov. Scott Walker, an architect of the legislation, is underway.
It is expected that a voter referendum will be launched in Indiana to repeal the right-to-work (for less) law, and the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund will participate in that effort.
To learn more about the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, click on the following link:
A new assault on labor unions is commencing in Indiana, with the Republican-controlled legislature setting their No. 1 2012 priority on passing right-to-work legislation that would permit workers covered under collective bargaining agreements to opt out of paying union dues.
The objective is to weaken union finances, bargaining clout and political power, says The New York Times, which reports that while right-to-work laws are on the books in 22 states in the West and the South, this would be the first right-to-work law in the East, New England and the Midwest.
If the legislation passes the Republican-controlled Indiana legislature, it is expected to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who has been identified by the Economist magazine as a possible emerging candidate for U.S. president this spring.
The UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund will be assisting other labor unions in an educational campaign among Indiana voters, similar to the efforts in Wisconsin that unseated two Republican senators in a recall and which resulted in voter ballot-box repeal of legislation in Ohio that curtailed public employee collective bargaining rights.
The New York Times says Democratic lawmakers in Indiana “have also hinted that they might once again flee to Illinois, as they did last year, to block votes on anti-union bills.”
According to The New York Times, 8.2 percent of Indiana’s private sector workers belong to unions, compared with 6.9 percent nationwide. “That is down from more than 20 percent three decades ago as many unionized factories have closed and largely nonunion industries like finance and retail have expanded,” reported the newspaper.
The New York Times cited a study that the portion of free riders in right-to-work states ranged from 9 percent in Georgia to 39 percent in South Dakota. And another study cited found that in the five years after states enacted right-to-work laws, the number of unionization drives dropped by 28 percent, and in the following five years by an added 12 percent, while organizing wins fell by 46 percent in the first five years and 30 percent the next five.
To learn more about the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund, click on the following link:
A coalition of labor unions and community groups didn’t take back the Wisconsin state senate from anti-union extremists Tuesday night, Aug. 9, but voters enraged over the extremists’ political agenda did unseat two of the six senators targeted for recall.
“Seeing that we were outspent three-to-one, that recall elections are rare in American politics and that our effort to change the face of the Wisconsin legislature only began a few months ago, contributors to the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund can be proud of the accomplishment of unseating two extremists, and, especially, the message the recall election sent anti-union politicians nationwide,” said UTU Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch.
The Wisconsin recall effort began after political extremists in that state legislature voted to curtail public-employee bargaining rights as a first step toward weakening labor-union power.
An anti-union agenda by political extremists in Ohio similarly energized labor and community groups there, culminating in a successful petition drive that puts the political extremists’ anti-union legislation to a direct voter referendum in Ohio in November.
And in Indiana, political extremists abandoned their effort to curtail public-employee collective bargaining rights after the pushback by labor and community groups began in Wisconsin and Ohio.
In all cases, the UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund played an effective role.
In Madison, Wis., Tuesday, a voter told the Capitol-Times newspaper, “I think the fact that this election is going on right now is a victory in and of itself. We put [the anti-union lawmakers] on the hot seat. I would have liked to have seen us run the table on them, but this is okay for now.”
The UTU’s political consultant, Dean Mitchell, noted that the Wisconsin recall elections are a “test run for organized labor in expanding and improving its get-out-the-vote message and efforts ahead of the 2012 presidential election, where Wisconsin will be one of the swing states. The UTU can be proud that the two senators successfully recalled are from the two voting districts in the state with the most UTU members registered.”
UTU National Legislative Director James Stem said the extremist agenda in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states to privatize schools and weaken labor unions mirrors the efforts of extremists in Congress to fold Railroad Retirement into Social Security, privatize Social Security and Medicare, eliminate Amtrak and destroy organized labor.
“The situation in Wisconsin allowed the UTU and other labor organizations to fine-tune our communication strategies,” Stem said. “We are very proud of the manner in which our active and retired members responded to our efforts. The UTU Collective Bargaining Defense Fund and the UTU PAC will continue to spearhead our efforts going forward to protect our collective bargaining rights and defend against these brazen attacks on the middle-class.
“We owe temporary Gov. Scott Walker a debt of gratitude for waking up the middle class to the battle being waged against them,” Stem said. “We will use the lessons learned in the Wisconsin recall to improve our efforts and communications in Ohio and in presidential and congressional elections in 2012.”
The Republican controlled Wisconsin state senate, with all Democrats still absent, passed a bill late Wednesday, March 9, stripping from public employees almost all collective bargaining rights.
The vote was 18-1, with a lone Republican, Sen. Dale Schultz, voting “no.”
A vote in the Republican-controlled Wisconsin House is expected Thursday.
“In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin,” said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller. “Tonight, 18 senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people. Tomorrow we will join the people of Wisconsin in taking back their government.” It was a half-century ago that the Wisconsin legislature gave public employees a right of collective bargaining.
Wisconsin’s union-busting bill had been stalled after senate Democrats fled the state three weeks ago to prevent a necessary quorum for the Republican majority to pass the legislation. But Republicans stripped from the legislation all spending provisions, which allowed the bill, under the state senate’s parliamentary procedures, to be voted on without a quorum.
The Associated Press reports that prior to the vote, Republicans had been considering concessions earlier offered by Gov. Scott Walker. But when, according to the Associated Press, union leaders and senate Democrats said the concessions weren’t enough, the Republican majority changed tactics, stripping the spending provisions from the bill and voting it out.
There was more bad news for union members and collective bargaining rights.
In Michigan, March 9, the senate passed legislation giving cities and school districts authority to terminate union contracts and end collective bargaining rights for public employees. A similar bill was previously passed by the Republican-controlled Michigan House of Representatives. Once the slight differences in the bills are resolved, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign the bill into law.
In Ohio, where the state senate already voted to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees, the Republican-controlled House is preparing to consider the bill.
In Indiana, a three-week standoff continues after 40 House Democrats fled the state to prevent a quorum and stall legislation revoking public-employee collective bargaining rights. A labor-rally, expected to draw some 20,000, is scheduled for the state capital Thursday.
And in Idaho, the House and Senate have passed legislation stripping collective bargaining rights for teachers. The governor is expected to sign it into law.
Rallies in support of public-employee collective bargaining are being held in scores of cities across America to protest legislative efforts in Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin to revoke that right.
A new attack on public-employee collective bargaining was launched Feb. 23 in Idaho, reports UTU Idaho State Legislative Director George Millward. Idaho Senate bill 1024 would prohibit state employees from joining unions and outlaw strikes. The UTU will participate in an AFL-CIO meeting this weekend to formulate opposition, Millward said.
UTU members wishing to participate in a rally supporting collective-bargaining rights for public employee should contact their state legislative director, as no formal schedule exists. Most rallies, in dozens of states, are being coordinated by state branches of the AFL-CIO.
Meanwhile, newspaper editorials and opinion articles are exposing legislative efforts to strip away collective bargaining rights as union-busting tactics with no legitimate connection to state financial problems.
Here is a sampling:
Nationally syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson:
“It has long been common for unions to accept better health and pension benefits in lieu of higher salaries — in effect, taking the money later rather than sooner. Now that these IOUs are coming due, Wisconsin wants to renege. I thought Republicans were supposed to believe that a contract is a contract, sacred and inviolate. Guess not. This is pure, unadulterated union busting.”
Stanford University law professor William B. Gould IV, a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board:
“It is downright obscene to strip workers of unions while deficit-spending tax breaks to the rich are being handed out as they are in Wisconsin. As the United States has argued for South Africa, Poland and now Egypt, unions are a basic part of democratic society. Yet that is the principal under attack by Gov. Walker in Wisconsin now. The answer is not to destroy the democratic fabric and the political opposition, but rather to engage in dialogue.”
Linda Kaboolian, lecturer in public policy at Harvard:
“Gov. Walker isn’t interest in saving money. He’s interested in crippling the unions that didn’t support him last fall.”
New York Times editorial:
“Republican talk of balancing budgets is cover for the real purpose of gutting the political force of middle-class state workers, who are steady supporters of Democrats and pose a threat to a growing conservative agenda. Conservative leaders in most states with strong unions have in the past generally made accommodations with organized labor, often winning support on social issues in return. That changed this year after wealthy conservatives poured tens of millions of dollars into the election campaigns of hard-right candidates.”
Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page:
“Without the right to collective bargaining, a union is little more than a social club.”
Gallup poll survey:
“While the public has ambivalent feelings toward public sector unions, they say they oppose any move by their state to eliminate collective bargaining rights by about a 2-to-1 margin.”
Madison, Wisc.,Capital Times editorial:
“Gov. Walker has made too many budget decisions not with an eye toward fiscal responsibility but with an eye toward rewarding his political benefactors. Now the governor says that Wisconsin needs to end collective bargaining for public employees and teachers. This is simply absurd. This is not about the money. This is not a fiscal crisis. This is a political crisis. And Walker has the power to resolve it by refocusing on fiscal issues, as opposed to pursuing the political goal of breaking unions.”
Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein:
“Unions — through collective bargaining, strikes and other means — give workers power. They also make negotiations less lopsided … unions tend to see their constituents as not just their own members, but the ‘working class’ broadly defined. That’s why you’ll find labor’s fingerprints on everything from the two-day weekend to Medicare to the Civil Rights Act of 1965 — none of which require you to flash a union card before you can benefit from them.”
Denver Post columnist Mike Littwin:
“If you read the [Wisconsin] bill … the union busting is in pretty plain language. The union can only negotiate salary — but, it turns out, any raises above inflation must be approved by [voter] referendum. You try putting your next raise up for a vote and see how it works out. Under the bill, employers can’t collect dues. And it’s worse than that. Every year, under the bill, union members would have to vote to keep the union certified. You can figure this out. If the union can’t bargain, why would you keep voting to certify it — and also vote to keep paying your dues?
“This comes on the heels of last year’s Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, making it easier for corporations to contribute to political campaigns. If I understand the law, the ruling said, in effect, that corporations were people. And public-sector employees? The jury is still out.”