Indiana House Democrats who fled to Urbana, Illinois nearly six weeks ago in protest of Republican anti-union legislation will be returning to their state after successfully winning concessions.

"Today we can announce compromises that are great steps forward for working Hoosiers," Indiana House Democratic Leader B. Patrick Bauer said Monday in a statement. "The principled stand by House Democrats forced concessions by the House Republicans that reflected the concerns expressed by so many people who came to the Statehouse in recent weeks."

Republicans have agreed to take "right-to-work" legislation that would prohibit union-representation fees from being a condition of employment and a permanent ban on public employee bargaining off the table in the Indiana House. GOP state lawmakers also killed legislation for a private takeover of public schools and an outright ban of Project Labor Agreements.

"The compromise reached by the Party leaders in the House is a significant retreat from the radical right-wing agenda the Republicans sought to advance a month ago," Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Michael Sargeant said. "House Democrats secured an important victory in their efforts to protect public education and workers’ rights."

Bauer noted the compromises were not perfect, but were something Democrats could at least work with. "And we are headed back to Indianapolis to do just that," he said.

Indiana House Democrats left the state on February 22 to protest the Republican legislation. The Indiana constitution requires two-thirds of the members of the House to be present to conduct business.

"We’ve protected working people from a march to the minimum wage," Bauer said. "We’ve protected collective bargaining rights for Hoosier workers and teachers. We’ve softened the blow to public schools and prevented passage of a bill for the private takeover of public schools. This timeout gave millions of Hoosiers a real voice in their state government."

Wisconsin Democratic state senators also attempted to protest Republican anti-union legislation by fleeing the state, but Republicans found a loophole in state law and managed to pass the legislation on March 9.

[Image credit: Charles Edward]