Indiana House Democrats are on the lam today, following the example of Wisconsin senators and escaping to Illinois hotels instead of losing a vote harmful to union interests. The legislation in question would make Indiana a right-to-work state, eliminating union shops. The Capitol building has filled with protesters since Monday, since the relevant committee voted to issue the bill to the full House.
Gov. Mitch Daniels, who decertified public sector unions by executive order in 2005, isn't enthused about the bill, fearing it could derail his education reform agenda. Yet rhetoric from House Democrats suggests that they would have made off for Danville or Urbana whether the fight was over right-to-work or the teacher unions' privileged positions.
Sen. Tim Skinner (D-Terre Haute) has called Daniels "Dr. Kevorkian" for his school reform proposals, claiming that merit pay and vouchers portend "the assisted suicide of public education." Rep. Terri Austin (D-Anderson), one of the three House Democrats to show up at the Capitol yesterday morning, had this to say of lawmakers abandoning their posts:
"I cannot predict how long it will take the members of the Democratic caucus to do their work and do it thoroughly," Austin said…
Austin said Democrats object to more than the controversial right-to-work legislation.
"This is not just about right-to-work. This is about a radical education agenda that's going to let for-profit schools come in and take over our state," she said.
The teachers unions have a history of blowing up any changes in contract into an out and out crisis. Daniels' plan would not eliminate collective bargaining completely, but narrow it to wages and benefits.
More from Reason on the unions here.
(Correction: "Closed shops" in the original post should have read "union shops." Apologies for forgetting Taft-Hartley.)