8:06 PM EST, January 6, 2012
A stalemate at the statehouse entered its third day Friday, as Democrats once again boycotted the session in the House of Representatives in order to prevent action on controversial Right to Work legislation.
The legislation, favored by Republicans, would prevent businesses and unions from entering into contracts that require workers to pay union fees.
By not showing up on the floor, Democrats are preventing the house from beginning its session. Democrats said it's the only way to block the legislation because of a republican majority. After three straight days of boycotting, Republican Speaker Brian Bosma now has the ability to fine the Democrats $1,000 a day for bolting.
"It's kind of a last resort," Bosma said. "We'll go there if we have to. I'm still waiting to hear something from official Democratic leadership."
That leadership would include Minority Leader Pat Bauer, who wasn't on the House floor, but did emerge from caucusing with his party to say that they haven't decided when to return.
He said they need more time to educate the public on Right to Work legislation, which he hopes to accomplish with public meetings around the state this weekend.
"We're discussing things like, is there a way to get the public to get even more involved in this whole process, like a referendum and is it time to bring those kinds of things up," Bauer said.
Republicans contend that the public has had plenty of opportunity to hear about Right to Work, including during a marathon five-hour labor committee hearing earlier in the day, where experts argued both sides of the issue.
Those in favor of the legislation said it will bring more jobs to Indiana from businesses that shy away from doing business with unions. Those opposed to the legislation said it's nothing more than a union busting tactic that results in lower wages.
The Senate committee did approve the Right to Work legislation 6-4, sending it on to the full Senate.
Hundreds of Union Protestors watched all the events of the day. They cheered loudest after hearing that the Democrats were once again absent from the House of Representatives.
"That expense and those fines is not nearly the tally of the loss that we'll have by implementing Right to Work in Indiana," said Kurt Colins, a member of Boilermaker Local #374. "It's not worth it."