INDIANAPOLIS – Tens of thousands of union members and their supporters flooded into this city, Indiana’s state capital, March 10, in defense of union rights. (Video below.) Official estimates ranged between 20,000 and 32,000. United Steelworkers District 7 alone brought 50 buses from around the state and from Illinois.
The crowd was electric with excitement and militancy. As one steelworker retiree put it, “If the speakers had called on us to take over the Statehouse, we would have done it. And cold as it is if they had said ‘lets march on Washington,’ we would have done that too.
The mood was also festive. Electrical workers and teachers danced and sang to the music from the stage before the speakers began. All kinds of chants broke out: “One day longer!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” and “Hell no, we won’t go,” in solidarity with union rights supporters occupying the Wisconsin Statehouse.
At one point a lone tea-bagger made his way to the front of the crowd and tried to heckle the speakers. Unlike last years tea bag events there was no violence and no nasty name-calling. They did, however, drown him out with chants of “Union, union.”
Led by a veteran teacher to begin the program the crowd sang a rousing “America the Beautiful.” It very much reflected a theme of the rally that workers’ rights are democratic rights and the country does not belong to the rich, the powerful and the corporations. Summing up the rally program a steelworker in the crowd was heard saying he thought the speeches were great and he thought the speakers were all trying to outdo Eugene Debs, the legendary labor leader (from Terre Haute, Ind.) and socialist.