State Representative Nancy Dembowski Discusses Right to Work

Indiana Statehouse

The right to work bill passed the Indiana House Wednesday and the debate on the bill lasted five hours. Democrat State Representative Nancy Dembowski said it was grueling.

“It was one of the worst things I’ve ever been through,” she said. “They’ve got all of the people demonstrating in the hallways and they shut off the speakers so the people out there can’t hear what’s being said. We insisted that they have a right to hear and we demanded they open the doors because the Constitution says that you have to have the doors open unless you want to do something in secrecy. Our people were trying to open the doors and they instructed the police to stop us. People have no idea what it was like. Person after person after person just pleaded with them that it was going to hurt the common working man and stop and they stuck together and they got it accomplished.”

Republican State Representative Tom Dermody had said this week that he intended to vote against the right to work bill and the leadership allowed him to vote against the bill.

“He was given the opportunity to do so by his leadership because they’re worried about his election the next time around. However, when it came time to vote on the referendum, which would keep it with an amendment – to give people the voice and let people vote on it, let people decide whether it was right or wrong – Representative Dermody voted against that. Somehow that makes his words, I think, rather hollow. He mentioned also that he had been in the minority. That’s very true, but when he was in the minority, there was never this kind of radical legislation passed.”

“We got blamed for blocking all of the legislation in the House, but the Majority made it their top priority. They said that was what they were focusing on and they didn’t care whether everything else got blocked up. They were going to keep after it. We were just simply trying to stop it with the only weapon we had available to us.”

The Indiana Senate will act on House-approved right to work legislation next week, which could lead to a final vote Wednesday before the Legislature breaks for the Super Bowl.

With the right to work bill out of the way, Dembowski said that there are other bills on which the House can now focus.

“There’s still a number of things that we can work on like the smoking ban, but there are also some very onerous things out there. One of the things that I’m particularly concerned about is in education. There is a bill that would allow 51 percent of the parents to ban together and sign a petition to turn a public school into a charter school. Those kinds of things are still coming. It’s been a pretty radical session.”