INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Lawmakers put Indiana on the verge of becoming the Rust Belt’s first right-to-work state, passing legislation Wednesday that prohibits labor contracts requiring workers to pay union representation fees.
Hundreds of union members gathered at the Statehouse chanted “Shame on you!” and “See you at the Super Bowl!” as the vote was announced. As the streets of Indianapolis bustled with Super Bowl festivities, protesters planned a downtown rally that they hoped would point a national spotlight on the state.
Indiana will be the first state in a decade to enact a right-to-work law prohibiting labor contracts that require workers to pay union representation fees. Indiana’s move is expected to embolden national right-to-work advocates, who have unsuccessfully pushed the measure in other states following a Republican sweep of statehouses in 2010. But few right-to-work states boast Indiana’s union clout, borne of a long manufacturing legacy.
The law’s passage would close one chapter in a contentious debate that sparked a five-week walkout by outnumbered House Democrats last year and saw them stage numerous boycotts this session, delaying action on other bills and threatening to spill over into the Feb. 5 Super Bowl.
The Republican-controlled Senate approved the bill in a 28-22 vote Wednesday morning. The bill now heads for the desk of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who has said he will sign it upon arrival.
Union protesters said they were not ready to be silenced.
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