Rally opposes common wage law repeal

(WISH Photo/Ron Nakasone)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There was a big rally at the Statehouse Monday conducted by opponents of the bill to repeal the common wage law.

It’s a repeal supported by the governor and GOP leaders in the General Assembly but Republicans took part in the rally, too.

It was a rally that looked a lot like the right to work rallies of years past that were staged by the labor unions. Most of the attendees were union workers, but it was organized by contractors and many of them are Republicans.

The rally was attended by thousands and in the crowd was John Gregg, a former and possibly future Democratic candidate for governor.

Democratic lawmakers told the crowd to remember this come election time.

“Enough is enough,” chanted Rep. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend). “Just vote no.”

But there were Republican lawmakers there, too, and Republican contractors who say that promises from the governor to cut construction costs by 20% on public projects just don’t add up.

“The only way they would get the savings,” said Phil Kenney of Wilhelm Construction, “is to drive wages and benefits down to next to nothing.”

Workers are worried.

“Take that away and it’s gonna hurt a lot of our families,” said Josh Rusher. “I mean, a lot of us rely on this money and put it back in the community.”

“I think it would be a downward spiral,” said Nina Rivas, “and bring too many people from out of state to work (here).”

But they also know they are fighting an uphill battle and that may explain some of the rhetoric.

“You tell me that it’s gonna save 20% to bring out of state contractors in here,” said contractor Frank Marshall. “(Expletive).”

Some of the contractors who staged the rally met with the governor recently. They failed to change his mind and during the rally, tweets from a Mike Pence twitter account encouraged the state Senate to pass the repeal.

The Senate put off consideration of proposed amendments to the repeal Monday afternoon. Instead, it will consider them Tuesday.

A final Senate vote on the repeal is expected by the end of the week.

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