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Charles Monaco on March 28, 2011 - 4:13pm
Today, a five-week standoff in Indiana's state legislature ended after conservative lawmakers backed down on critical elements of proposed legislation to severely undermine workers' rights, permanently ban collective bargaining for public employees, and create a sprawling state-funded private school voucher system.
As the AFL-CIO's blog reports, dozens of legislators who had relocated to Illinois for over a month returned home today to a hero's welcome (photo at right via Indiana AFL-CIO). State Rep. Patrick Bauer, leader of the House Democrats, released a statement highlighting the significant victories won by progressive legislators who, through their bold and sustained action, stopped a fast-tracked right-wing assault on the middle class dead in its tracks and turned the momentum around:
"The principled stand by House Democrats forced concessions by the House Republicans that reflected the concerns expressed by so many people who came to the Statehouse in recent weeks. Today we can announce compromises that are great steps forward for working Hoosiers."
Talking Points Memo has more details on the deal that was apparently reached - and the initial reports sound as if it contains significant victories for Indiana workers and families. The so-called "right-to-work" bill that initially inspired the walkout looks as if it has been scrapped completely. An effort to make permanent Gov. Mitch Daniel's executive order banning collective bargaining for public workers - an echo of Gov. Scott Walker's actions in Wisconsin - was also defeated. And a proposal to create a school voucher system described as the "largest in the nation" was scaled back significantly, both saving teachers' jobs and preserving resources for public school students.
The fight, of course, is not nearly over, either in Indiana or across the nation. Progressive legislators in Indiana are returning to their districts to fight attacks taking place there on teachers and the middle class. And efforts to pass anti-union legislation are still underway in Ohio, despite the strong bipartisan opposition that has emerged there, as well as other states. But by taking power into their own hands, slowing down a race to strip workers of their fundamental rights, and fully representing their constituents by allowing real debate and discussion to take place, lawmakers in Indiana, like their counterparts in every state in the nation, are demonstrating that the momentum and popular support in the states is behind those standing up and fighting for the middle class.