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March 2011, Week 2

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Fri, 11 Mar 2011 22:17:58 -0500
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1 Largest Protest in Indiana History
2 Majorities Support Recall of Two Wisconsin Senators
3 Union Battleground Shifts to Ohio--and Ballot Box

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11111

Pro-Union Protesters Swarm Indianapolis - Largest
Protest in Indiana History

by Evan McMorris-Santoro
TPM - Talking Points Memo
March 10, 2011, 11:39AM
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/pro-union-protesters-swarm-indianapolis.php

Near the end of the third week of the Indiana state
government stalemate over worker's rights and the
policy agenda of Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), pro-union
protesters are surging near the state capitol in what
organizers are calling the largest protest in Indiana
history.

The Indianapolis Star reports union supporters have
begun pouring into the capital, in advance of the rally
which is set to begin at 11:30 AM. Organizers "have
estimated that as many as 25,000 will attend the
rally," which would surpass "the 20,000 union members
who protested at the Statehouse in 1995 in what,
possibly until now, has been the largest rally in state
history."

The union workers are demanding an end to state
Republican plans to change Indiana into a "right to
work state," a move that would effectively break the
ability of employees at private firms in Indiana to
organize. Republican leaders have pledged to abandon
one right to work bill, but state House Democrats have
fled the state to prevent the legislature from passing
several other bills as well.

What the protesters are fighting for, from the Star:

    Democrats, and the union members protesting at the
    Statehouse today, are trying to force changes in a
    handful of bills, including House Bill 1216, which
    impacts public construction projects and,
    potentially, the wages paid on them, and House Bill
    1003, which lets tax dollars fund private-school
    tuition.

The Indiana fight has raged while Wisconsin has
dominated the headlines as the epicenter for union
struggles against Republican state legislature
majorities elsewhere in the country. Rallies like
Thursday's make clear that labor still considers
Indiana a central front in the fight, just as Democrats
there have pledged not to give in to the Republicans,
even if they have to stay out of state for weeks.

Republicans have dismissed the rallies as so much
outside agitation on the part of organized labor.

"We received a memoranda about what's going on from the
organized labor community as well," House Speaker Brian
Bosma (R) told WISH-TV, "assigning in-state captains to
out- of-state people."

"It will (be) interesting to see how it pans out,"
Bosma said.

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22222

Poll: Majorities Support Recall of Two Wisconsin GOP
Senators

By Greg Sargent
Posted at 11:28 AM ET, 03/10/2011
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/

Here's something that could give some momentum to
efforts to recall Wisconsin GOP state senators in the
wake of last night's end-run passage of Scott Walker's
measure to roll back public employee bargaining rights.

I've got an advance look at some new polling by Survey
USA that finds solid majorities in two GOP senate
districts support the recall of their senators. The
poll was paid for by MoveOn, which obviously has an ax
to grind in this fight, but Survey USA is a respected
non-partisan pollster that's routinely cited by major
news organizations.

Here are the numbers, sent over by a MoveOn official,
in the districts of GOP senators Dan Kapanke and Randy
Hopper.

When asked if they would vote for Hopper or someone
else if a recall election were held right now, 54
percent said they'd vote for someone else, versus only
43 percent they'd vote for Hopper.

In Kapanke's district, the numbers were even worse: 57
percent said they'd vote for someone else, versus only
41 percent who said they'd vote for Kapanke.

It gets even more interesting. The poll was taken
yesterday, before last night's events, and fifty-six
percent of voters in Kapanke's district, and 54% of
voters in Hopper's district, said if their Senator
voted for Walker's plan, it would make them more likely
to vote for someone else. Last night, both Senators did
vote for Walker's rollback of bargaining rights.

Survey USA surveyed 400 voters in the district of each
Senator. In fairness, this poll asks people to choose
between their senator and an unnamed opponent, when in
reality they would face a real live human being in a
recall election. But this is how recalls work: First
support needs to be built up for the recall of an
official, and once the key procedural hurdles are
surmounted, someone steps up in the role of challenger
and is nominated by the opposing party in what is
effetively a special election.

This poll suggests that in two districts at least,
support for recall is already there, which is a good
gauge of the intensity of grassroots anger at Wisconsin
Republicans and will only give momentum to efforts to
gather the signatures required to make the recalls
happen.

UPDATE, 11:34 a.m.: A MoveOn official adds that the
organization has already raised over $800,000 to
support the recall drives against GOP senators.

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33333

Union Battleground Shifts From Wis. to Ohio--and Ballot
Box

By Michelle Chen
Mar 11, 2011
http://inthesetimes.org/working/entry/7057/after_wisconsin_union_battleground_shifts_to_ohio_and_beyond/

The movement has been set back for now, but the
standoff in Madison captured labor's political
imagination. Although the Republicans have cynically
used the "nuclear option" to ram through the anti-union
bill, the battleground will now just shift to other
states.

Ohio lawmakers are mulling a bill similar to
Wisconsin's, which would restrain the collective
bargaining rights of some 360,000 state and local
employees.

Ohio does not need as many votes for a quorum. This
means Democrats cannot hold up the voting process by
going AWOL, as they did in Wisconsin and are still
doing in Indiana (where unions are fighting proposals
to further erode union rights and public education).
But in Ohio's case, Madison-style people power could be
deployed in a more concrete way, according to some
lawmakers. House minority leader Armond Budish told
Bloomberg News that even if the bill initially passes,
he and other Democrats will mobilize citizens to thwart
the legislation through other channels, through public
pressure and perhaps ultimately, the ballot box:

     Too few to block Republicans from having a quorum,
     Ohio Democrats are asking for more public
     involvement and hearings on the bill in an effort
     to sway opinion and will seek a ballot issue to
     repeal it if necessary, Budish said.

     "If I have to take the lead on a statewide
     referendum, we will fight until we win," Budish,
     the House minority leader, said in a telephone
     interview from Columbus....

     With Republicans holding a 59-to-40 seat advantage
     in the House, Democrats should focus on a repeal
     referendum, said Representative Robert Hagan, a
     Democrat from Youngstown.

     "What we’re doing now is performing a charade,"
     Hagan said in an interview. "They should get it
     over with, and we should put this on the ballot as
     soon as possible."

With passage in the House all but certain, Ohio could
now overtake Wisconsin as a bellwether for the
struggle. After the fireworks in Madison, labor
activists recognize that the partisan gridlock over
collective bargaining rights is merely a proxy battle
for a new kind of class antagonism that has emerged
from the Great Recession.

Ohio's referendum process offers a form of direct
democracy that Wisconsin Republicans stridently denied
to protesters by ignoring, vilifying and shutting out
demonstrators at the capitol.

Bloomberg reports that voters can launch a ballot
initiative

     if petition forms with more than 231,000 voters’
     signatures are filed within 90 days of the law’s
     approval, according to the secretary of state’s
     office. The number of signatures is 6 percent of
     the total vote cast for governor last year.

Gathering that many petitions in three months is no
small feat, though the required number of signatures
equals just under two-thirds of the number of workers
potentially impacted by the bill. More importantly, the
spirit of protest across the Midwest has truly gone
viral, inspiring parallel demonstrations in Indiana,
Ohio and other states, and cheers across the
Twitterverse, pizza from Haiti, and picket signs from
Cairo. And on top of potential court challenges, there
are rising calls for a general strike to paralyze Gov.
Walker's administration. In the wake of that outpouring
of solidarity, a conventional referendum seems almost
too easy.

In many ways, it is. Which is why the temporary defeat
in Wisconsin should have a more enduring influence on
the campaign to protect union rights than any other
tactic. The battle for labor's integrity won't be won
or lost on the political chessboard of a state
legislature.

As activists regroup and take stock of what they've
gained these past few weeks, they can still claim one
victory: they never gave an inch. And by standing their
ground, they gave workers across the country the
momentum to push ahead to November and beyond.

___________________________________________

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