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In a surprise visit, Indiana Democratic Representative Clyde Kersey gave a talk in Latzer Hall at the University YMCA on Wednesday, February 24, 2011. He and the entire Democratic caucus have fled the state. About 35 of them have taken refuge in Urbana where they are holding out on two bills which would destroy public education and undermine unions in Indiana.
“How long will we be out?” Rep. Kersey said. “As long as it takes.”
The Indiana Democrats are opposing two bills, HB 1468, the so-called “right to work” bill, a union-busting piece of legislation. According to Kersey, in 22 states where similar bills have been passed, salaries have gone down an average of $5,500.
What has received less media coverage is the “voucher bill,” HB 1479, which will dismantle the public school system and eliminate teacher bargaining units.
“It’s an attack on teachers. It’s an attack on working men and women,” Kersey said.
Today, there are 10,000 people demonstrating at the state capitol in Indianapolis. According to Kersey, teachers and unions have typically been independent of one another, but these two bills have brought them together.
Kersey said that Indiana Democrats have been in contact with their counterparts in Wisconsin. “What Wisconsin did set the state for what we did,” he told a room of about 50 students and campus workers. “They made it easier for us.”
According to Kersey, this is the first time the entire Democratic caucus has left the state. “These issues are too important to go back on,” he said.
The talk was organized by the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO).