INDIANAPOLIS -- Thousands of construction workers gathered at the Indiana Statehouse Monday to demand that there be no cut in unemployment benefits.
Between 4,000 and 5,000 workers packed the inside of the building and spilled out onto the Statehouse lawn, 6News' Norman Cox reported.
Workers said they are angered by a bill that would cut jobless benefits to help keep the fund solvent. It would classify most construction workers as seasonal employees who would not be eligible for checks.
"We have to let our legislators know you're not going to do that to us, not when we're down and out -- no cut in benefits," said Dale Johnsen, of the Building Trades Council.
"You are taking their ability to feed their family if you take our benefits away," said Mike Summers with the Iron Workers Union. "If you put us down as seasonal workers, I don't know what we'll do. We'll be standing on these corners, begging for money. We are not here to beg."
Democratic House Speaker Pat Bauer said he agrees with workers.
"You've worked too hard and you earned those benefits," he said. "You will keep those benefits."
The bill as currently written by Republicans increases business taxes, reduces benefits for most jobless claimants and tightens eligibility standards.
Democrats want higher business tax increases and no benefits cuts.
The state's unemployment insurance fund has been paying out hundreds of millions of dollars more in benefits than it has been collecting in employer taxes.