Union Workers Hold "Skype Rally" With House Dems In Illinois

By John W. Davis

March 22, 2011 Updated Oct 22, 2013 at 9:01 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Taking a stand for the working class and public schools. That was the rallying cry at a local union hall in Fort Wayne Tuesday night.

Local union workers video chatted on the internet via Skype Tuesday night, with Indiana House Democrats who have fled the state to Urbana, Illinois.

"I think that the working peoples voices need to be heard more than the state legislature who's just trying to push their own agenda through," said Local 166 Plumber Richard Perry.

Perry said he has been a member of Local 166 for 21 years.

"Everything that happens with the union, we all are affected by it and all people benefit from it," said Non-Union Member Pat Moore.

"Whether it's a 40 hour week, insurance benefits, vacation, all of these things were fought for by the union," explained Moore, the wife of a retired teamster.

Moore said she also has daughters who are union members.

The rally took place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday night, at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 166 Hall on Ludwig Road in Fort Wayne.

Union workers showed their support for Fort Wayne House Democrats Phil GiaQuinta and Win Moses, and asked them to stay in Illinois until more concessions are made.

Democrat Win Moses delivered the following message to his constituents via Skype:

"Make sure they understand the consequences, the terrible difficult consequences of these bills that the Republicans were just trying to shove through the pipeline as fast as they could," said 81st District Indiana State Representative Democrat Win Moses.

"We're gonna be in caucus out of the state until we reach an accommodation," said Moses as the crowd of nearly 200 union and non-union workers drowned his voice with applause.

House Democrats have staged a 30-day walkout, fighting against several bills they believe will have a negative impact on labor unions and working class salaries.

According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, Indiana's average per capita personal income is about 14% lower than the national average.

House Democrats believe several bills could lower Hoosier salaries ever further.

However, Republicans say they've killed the controversial Right To Work bill that has union members in a frenzy.

House Democrats are also leery of education reform bills, likely to promote the growth of charter schools at the expense of existing Indiana public schools.

"100% agreement with them that they are standing for not just union rights but all Indiana worker rights. (They're) trying not to make us a poverty state," said Local 166 Welder Brian Raatz, a 17-year union member.

House Majority Leader Republican Brian Bosma and House Minority Leader Democrat Pat Bauer have met this week to work on a compromise that would bring House Democrats back to Indianapolis.

However, Democrats want additional Right To Work promises and charter school concessions.

Meanwhile, an April 29 deadline has been set for all budget and legislative decisions.

However, Indiana Governor Republican Mitch Daniels has previously said, he will extend the session until Democrats come back to Indianapolis and work with Republicans.

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