Indiana Democrats Return Home
Like their more widely reported-on compatriots in Wisconsin, Democrats in Indiana fled their home state to prevent Republicans in the legislature from achieving a quorum and passing severe restrictions on union rights. Out of the state since February 22nd, the nearly five weeks the Democrats have been gone are now at an end, with the prodigal congressmen agreeing to return due to a few concessions on the part of Republicans.
While Democrats claim to have effectively blocked Republicans from passing certain of the more extreme measures proposed, such as a prohibition on requiring private sector workplaces to pay union dues, Republicans maintain that the concessions agreed to were relatively minor, and that the bulk of their aims were achieved. “The only thing ‘radical’ about this session has been the decision by one caucus to walk off the job for five weeks,” said Governor Mitch Daniels. “Now that it’s finally over, let’s make up the lost time.”
The relatively amicable solution may not prove entirely satisfactory to pro-union activists, who question the rationale behind attacking unions as a cost-cutting measure in the first place, but it is certain to provoke less outrage than the conclusion to the drama in Wisconsin. There, Republicans maneuvered to push through an even more extreme curtailing of collective bargaining rights despite the absence of the Democrats. Passed in the space of a single day so as not to give Democrats time to return, Republicans first removed aspects of the bill related to the appropriation of funds, thus technically eliminating the need for a quorum.
In the end, it remains to be seen if the backlash against Republican tactics in Wisconsin proves beneficial to union activists and sympathizers, or if Indiana’s conciliatory approach is the best such parties can hope for.
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