NATCA Members Join Indiana Fight Against Anti-Union Bill
Friday, January 27, 2012
On Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, after the state Senate voted 28-22 to pass their version of the bill, an estimated 10,000 people protested outside the capitol in Indianapolis. NATCA members joined fellow AFL-CIO members and thousands of Indiana residents in protest, as the Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly voted to pass legislation making the Hoosier State the first ‘right to work’ jurisdiction in the Rust Belt.
In the crowd were five NATCA members from Indianapolis Center, including facility representative Tom Thompson.
Thompson said the law, when it is enacted, will not affect his or other FAA facilities in the state since federal employees already have similar rules in effect. But he said it was important for NATCA members to come out and support their fellow union brothers and sisters.
“We just wanted to show our support, to show that even if this passes, there’s a lot of anger about it,” Thompson said. “It’s inspiring seeing what other unions do en masses, and it really reminds you what being in a union is all about.”
The bill was held up in the Indiana House of Representatives, as nearly three-dozen Democrats had left in protest. But they were compelled to return, and the bill passed the chamber on Thursday 54 to 44, with five Republicans joining the Democrats’ unanimous opposition to the bill.
Governor Mitchell Daniels, a Republican, is term-limited out of office after this year and made passing right-to-work legislation the centerpiece of his legislative agenda in 2012. He has previously said he wanted to be able to sign a bill into law before the Super Bowl comes to the state on Feb. 6.
But Bob Obma, a ZID controller and a regional NATCA Reloaded representative who also attended the protests, said the fight wasn’t about stopping the bill itself, which nearly everyone assumed would pass.
Obma attended some of last year’s enormous rallies against Wisconsin’s union-busting law, and hopedthe subsequent recalls of two Republican state senators there and this summer’s upcoming recall election of Gov. Scott Walker would serve as a model for Indiana’s labor rights movement.
“I think there was more of a shock factor [in Wisconsin] than here, sure, because Indiana has generally been more conservative than the rest of this part of the Midwest,” Obma said. “But I’m still hopeful that the messages and ramifications in Wisconsin that are still happening will ring in here and people will wake up and see that these bills are bad for working people.”
Both Obma and Thompson said it was important for NATCA members to go out and support their fellow unions, even if it was a small number of NATCA members.
“It’s hard for controllers, when you work 24/7-type jobs, to get time off to go out and advocate,” Thompson said. “But it is still so important that we do what we can, because these types of bills impact us all in some way.”
Obma said NATCA needed to stand with the rest of the AFL-CIO, because all unions have gone through their own fights in some shape.
“Air traffic controllers have known hardship too,” Obma said. “We know our battles will come again, and we know that if we were the one’s being attacked, they would have our backs all the way.”