Indiana right to work law protest comes to Super Bowl week
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels this week signed the right to work bill into law. Labor unions, which say the bill will weaken them, are bringing their protests to Super Bowl week, but they face a difficult balancing act.
Earlier this week, Indiana's governor signed a "right to work" law, making the state the 23rd to implement what is widely believed to be an anti-union measure.
Indiana also happens to be the home of the upcoming Super Bowl, typically the largest media spectacle in the world. It's presented both a risk and an opportunity for unions looking to protest the new measure.
Under a right-to-work law, unions may not charge dues unless people join the union — even if the union is negotiating a contract on their behalf. Wednesday, union members and their supporters marched to Lukas Oil stadium, where the Super Bowl is being held.
They're threatening to protest again on Super Bowl Sunday — though they've publicly worried that they might provoke a bigger backlash.
Chris Sikich, reporter for the Indianapolis Star, said they believe this measure weakens unions and will bring lower-paying jobs to the state. He said Wednesday's protests were loud and boisterous.
"It was unlike anything I've ever seen in Indianapolis," he said. "They were loud. There were a lot of them. They were rambunctious. Once they started marching to the Super Bowl village, though, the mood got a lot more quiet. They walked through; they held their signs and they went back to the Statehouse."
Sikich said they didn't want to start any trouble. They understood the football fans were there for football. They wanted to make their point, he said, and get out.
Sikich said a lot of union members were torn over whether to use the Super Bowl to get their point out.
"The union workers kept making the point that they'd built the streets for the Super Bowl village, they had built Lukas Oil Stadium and they wanted to remain respectful of the Super Bowl," Sikich said.
Most labor groups, Sikich said, have planned not to protest on Sunday. He said the AFL-CIO will be handing out leaflets to educate people about their cause, but nothing else is planned.
The NFL players, however, members of a union themselves, have said they support the protesters.
"They've released several statements saying they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Indiana workers," Sikich said.
"Here and Now", from WBUR in Boston, is an essential midday news magazine for those who want the latest news and expanded conversation on today's hot-button topics.