Union Protesters Gather At The Indiana Statehouse

By Mary Collins
By Scott Sarvay
By Megan Trent

March 10, 2011 Updated Mar 10, 2011 at 8:02 PM EDT

UPDATE: INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Around 8,000 protesters gathered at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis Thursday to protest what they call a radical Republican agenda.

Protest organizers were expecting more than 30,000 protesters, but the actual attendance numbers fell short. Some say the chilly weather may have kept some people away from the capitol Thursday. Still, the protest was one of the largest in recent Indiana history. Now in it's 18th day, it is also one of the longest running protests in state history.

We caught up with three Fort Wayne union employees. William Kline says, "We believe people will see the value in coming together for a good cause and in a peaceful manner. We just hope that the legislators that we put into office see that too."

Casey Hoffman says crippling unions would destroy middle America. "Just keep us in the middle class. That's all we're asking. We're not asking to get more. We just don't want everything taken away from us."

Herb Anderson joined others on a bus from the Summit City to the Statehouse. "We're trying to bring some sense to our politicians who are waging a war on the middle class - on our children and our children's education."

Department of Administration officials say 60 buses from around Indiana made the drive to the capitol Thursday. They were joined by 48 buses from Illinois, seven from Kentucky, two from Michigan, and one all the way from Florida.

Legislators will not be in session Thursday or Friday of this week, but House Speaker Brian Bosma has said there is some hope Democrats will return from where they've been staying Urbana, Illinois next week. That's something House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer has called "a stretch."

At least one Democratic House member made their way back to Indiana today to address the crowd, but most will remain out of state until a consensus is reached with Republicans. Democrats say they're still working despite their absence from the Statehouse.

For more on the message protesters hoped to send to legislators, please read the article below.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., (Indiana's NewsCenter) - A massive rally on the west side of the Statehouse, is expected to be the largest since 20,000 union members rallied in 1995 to protest legislation targeting their wages on public projects.

Union members say their wages again are under assault. Combined with proposed education reforms that they think will hurt the public schools their children attend and in which many union members teach, they've launched daily protest rallies.

The bills that affect collective bargaining have united union members, including laborers and teachers.

The fight over these bills is why House Democrats are, in essence, on strike. They remain in an Urbana, Ill., hotel, refusing to give Republicans the quorum they need.

That standoff began Feb. 21. Democrats want a handful of bills either killed or changed. Their top targets include House Bill 1216, which covers the wages and bidding on public construction projects, and HB 1003, which would let tax dollars fund private school tuition.

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