By Keith Benman

The Indiana State AFL-CIO kicked off a Protect Hoosier Jobs tour at Laborers' Local 41 headquarters on Tuesday, aimed at defeating what it calls the "Pence-Holcomb agenda."

State AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies pointed out to about 15 assembled union members that Gov. Mike Pence used his campaign funds to help overturn Indiana's prevailing wage law and charged that as governor current Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb would follow suit when it comes to labor policy.

"The Pence and Holcomb agenda hasn't just hurt us on the job, it has also left our families behind," Voorhies said.

Republican Holcomb is facing off against Democrat John Gregg, who lost to Pence in 2012, for the governor's job in the November election.

Unions are still stinging from Pence's drive to repeal Indiana's prevailing wage law, which culminated with his signing a bill to do just that in May 2015. The prevailing wage law basically maintained union-scale wages for public works projects throughout the state.

Dan Murchek, AFL-CIO Northern Indiana Area Labor Federation president, at Voorhies' side, said they don't want union members to lose track of state and local races amid all the noise generated by the U.S. presidential contest.

"We have a very important election in front of us, and it's important we vote our pocketbooks and our pensions," Murchek told members.

The tour already has stops planned for South Bend, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, Voorhies said. More are planned.

Laborers' 41 member Alejandrina Anguiano listened to the union leaders from the folding chairs hurriedly set up in the union hall. When asked if she would be voting her response was quick: "Oh, of course," she said.

Anguiano said she has seen firsthand along with other union members that non-union contractors are appearing on jobs where they have never been seen before since the prevailing wage statute was overturned.

"That's why we have to get out and vote," she said. "They are taking money from our families."

(c)2016 The Times (Munster, Ind.)