After several walkouts and delays, the right-to-work vote bill passed the House 55-44, Wednesday. It now moves to the Senate for final approval.
Governor Mitch Daniels has said he would sign it. That is expected to happen in the next few weeks.
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Several Republicans did side with Democrats in voting against the measure. A few others did not vote, citing a conflict of interest.
“People voted their conscience and this policy is moving forward,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, moments after the vote.
Democrat Minority Leader Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, who has been leading the fight in the Indiana Statehouse, had even harsher words for those who voted to pass the bill.
“Shame on you,” said Bauer. “There should be shame on anybody that wants to take away the living wages, the living wages of families.”
At points Wednesday afternoon, shouts from protestors drowned out the debate. Representatives went back and forth, taking turns making their arguments for and against the bill.
Democrats requested the issue be put on a ballot so voters could decide whether unions would still be able to collect dues from all employees of a business. Republicans said workers should have a choice whether they want to be represented by that union.
“Obviously it’s disappointing that the House members didn’t hear their constituents, didn’t really allow a process that constituents could be heard in,” said Nancy Guyott, president of the AFL-CIO.
Union workers plan on maintaining a presence at the Statehouse until the Senate makes its final decision. When asked about a rally during the Super Bowl, Guyott didn’t answer with a yes or no, instead she said her focus was on the Senate now.
“We know that some Senators are still taking in information, taking in the opinions of their constituents. We’re going to be there to make sure that they understand what it means to, to our families.”
It’s a fight that has captured national attention. States in the South and West have tended to adopt right-to-work laws, but Indiana would become the first Rust Belt state to do so — a notable move because the area has traditionally maintained a strong union presence.
Indiana has been a right-to-work state before. A Republican-led General Assembly approved the law in 1957. Then, in 1965, when Democrats took control of the House and Senate, they repealed it.