TOPEKA — It’s like a little bit of Wisconsin right now outside the House chamber at the state Capitol.
About 50 to 60 labor supporters have formed a gantlet at the entrance, cheering their supporters in the Legislature and yelling “Vote no!” at supporters of a bill to reduce union political influence.
The bill, HB 2130, would outlaw a paycheck checkoff that allows workers to have donations to their union’s political action committee deducted directly from their wages.
The bill won preliminary passage Wednesday and is on the calendar for final action today.
The demonstration is inspired — albeit at a much lower level of participation — by the situation in Madison, Wisc., where labor unions and their supporters have packed the Capitol for almost two weeks to fight efforts by that state’s governor to take away benefits and collective-bargaining rights.
The Topeka protesters are peaceful, but at times loud.
At one point, a Highway Patrol officer leaned over the rail overlooking the demonstration and yelled “‘Scuse me folks, no disturbances, this is gonna be your last warning.”
“People’s house!” one of the protesters shouted back.
As the session began, union supporters filed into the House public viewing gallery.
Bruce Tunnell, executive vice president of the Kansas AFL-CIO, told them, “Keep quiet, but when 2130 comes up, do whatever you want.”