(Indianapolis, Ind.) - It was a large rally in support of unions in Indianapolis Thursday, but there are disagreements over how many people were there.
The AFL-CIO and other unions organized the “Stand Up For Hoosiers” rally at the Orr Plaza outside the Indiana Statehouse expecting 25,000 people. While they admittedly did not meet that figure, their highest estimates were around 20,000 despite chilly weather.
The figure rivaled a 1995 union protest at the statehouse in 1995 which is believed to be the state’s largest ever.
On the other hand, Indiana State Police estimated about 8,000 according to the Indianapolis Star.
“All of my caucus is here. Every one. We stand up here with these people that came from all over the state to let people know that it’s time to draw a line in the sand,” said State Sen. Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville), adding she was disappointed Republicans weren’t in the capitol city to witness the rally as the legislature took off for a long weekend Thursday.
Some of the union members at the rally were bused in from other states including Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Illinois. A bus was chartered to take dozens of union members from Lawrenceburg as well.
“It’s important that each state represents not only their state, but every other state. We’ve got o cover each others’ backs,” said one protester from Bloomington.
Meanwhile, Indiana House Democrats say they could be back to work next week if the same anti-union legislation targeted by the protests is dropped by the GOP majority. Those bills include changes to collective bargaining for public unions, wages for public construction projects, and school vouchers that would allow taxpayer money to follow students who attend private schools.
House Minority Leader Pat Bauer (D-South Bend) told the Indianapolis Star his party members may not be back Monday or Tuesday, depending on Republicans’ actions.
“If they hear the voice of the people, they recognize the voice of concern not just from Democrats, but Republican teachers,” said State Rep. Bill Crawford (D-Indianapolis).