Union workers protest Daniels visit to IllinoisApril 20th, 2012 at 2:39 pm by Jim Shella under Jim Shella's Political Blog
Governor Mitch Daniels signed a new right to work law in February. And the right to work battle has since moved on to other states. The combination of those two facts produced a giant rally in Champaign, Illinois last night.
Thousands of union workers rallied, marched, and then gathered outside a Republican dinner to protest the appearance by Daniels chanting, “Go home Mitch Daniels!”
“We’ve gotta stand united,” said Perry Stabler. “We’ve gotta stop this.” “This” is the right to work bill that is now law in Indiana. “They’ve tried to push it in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, all over the country,” says Jeff Harris of the Indiana AFL-CIO, “and each of those places workers are standing up fighting back.”
It’s a repeat of the protests we saw in downtown Indianapolis during the right to work battle here in January and February. Indiana Democrats fled to a Champaign hotel in 2011 in a successful effort to stop the legislation last year. Those Democrats got support then from some of the Illinois union workers who are protesting now.
Daniels addressed the controversy in his speech. “I was really tempted to go out and have a few words and talk to them,” he said, “and if I had, or if I’d bumped into ‘em I would’ve told ‘em this: Hey, you’re worried for nothing.”
An Indiana labor leader was there to address the Illinois crowd with a different message. The unions are not giving up. This year there will be 55 candidates on the ballot for seats in the state legislature who have backgrounds in organized labor. That’s more than ever before.
The AFL-CIO is conducting candidate training and hoping to pursue a repeal of right to work in 2013.