I wrote yesterday about the conservative attempt to destroy private sector unions in Indiana. Union members and others in Indiana of course plan to resist this effort. But, as we’ve seen in state after state, small government conservatives (and the wealthy libertarians who fund them) instituted new rules yesterday to limit public access to public property:
Want to take an issue to the Indiana General Assembly when lawmakers return to work today? Get in line. Literally. Under new policies announced by the state, access will be limited to about 3,000 people.
And members of the general public will have to enter only through the east entrance — except for all the people who don’t. Those folks include not just government employees, but lobbyists, reporters, anyone attending a special event such as a school tour or today’s prayer day, anyone with an appointment or court hearing, and anyone whom a legislator has told State Police to let in, such as people the lawmaker wants to testify for a bill.
In a testy news conference Tuesday to try to quell mounting questions about the policy, three state officials — Department of Administration Commissioner Robert Wynkoop, State Fire Marshal James Greeson and State Police Capt. David Bursten — repeatedly said the new rules are about public safety, not denying public access to their elected officials, state courts and legislative process.
“Believe me,” Greeson said, “that is the furthest thing I want to do, is limit access to this building. But you do have to maintain public safety.”
Critics, though, say it is aimed at one thing: Stifling the labor union protests that filled the Statehouse last year and are expected to be even more clamorous this session as the legislature debates the so-called “right to work” issue.
Of course the new rules are aimed at stifling labor union protests. Walker put new rules on in Wisconsin, Kasich actually locked citizens out of the statehouse in Ohio, and now Mitch Daniels seeks to limit public access.
Here’s a helpful primer on the three GOP frontrunner positions on collective bargaining and federal protections for workers.
Santorum, who represents the religious base of the GOP, is lock-step anti-US labor, but he believes US workers should subsidize union organizing efforts in Iran. Romney says whatever he’s told to say depending on which state he happens to be standing in. When he was in Ohio, he was anti-union. I don’t know what he says when he’s standing in Michigan or Indiana. Paul, as the GOP’s libertarian, believes most federal protections for working people are unconstitutional. He does, however, support passage of a federal law protecting managers and owners from unions, with his enthusiastic promotion of a federal “right to work” law.
We know the conservative-libertarian candidate views on unions, but It would be great if we could get these three men to weigh in with an opinion on the hasty rule changes designed to limit or quash dissent that we’ve seen in Wisconsin, Ohio and now Indiana. These rule changes are designed to protect legislators and governors from the people in these states. Why do conservative leaders require new protections from peaceful protesters? Why all the new rules? Shouldn’t people in Indiana know conservatives are trying to drive down their wages?
What would have been the conservative and media response had President Obama, Democratic Congressional leaders or local authorities rushed through rule changes to limit or discourage peaceful protests during those few months in 2009 when members of the GOP base rebranded themselves as “The Tea Party” and organized public events protesting access to health care for poor people?
I don’t know if conservatives will succeed in their efforts to drive down wages in Indiana with passage of this law, but, based on events in Wisconsin and Ohio, I’m confident they’ll fail in their frantic, shameful efforts to limit political speech, and political accountability for their actions.
Update: Rules are political disaster for them, Daniels folds, old rules restored, they all run away from/deny backing rule changes.