Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, will speak in Fort Wayne next week. Sanders will talk at an Indiana AFL-CIO luncheon on June 15 that is being put on in conjunction with the Democratic Party's state convention at Grand Wayne Center. The AFL-CIO website calls Sanders "a true champion of working people everywhere." The luncheon will be at noon to 2:30 p.m. at Scottish Rite Center, 431 W. Berry St. Tickets are $50 a person and $1,000 for sponsorship groups. Jeff Harris, communications director for the AFL-CIO, said he expects about 300 people to attend. "A lot of Democrats and progressives will be there to help out with our fundraising efforts," Harris said. The organized labor federation lined up Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, as the luncheon speaker "by luck, really," Harris said. Union leaders had put out feelers for prospective speakers, Harris said, "and Sen. Sanders' office responded that he would be willing to come out and was aware of the fights we are having in Indiana." Harris said those battles have included the right-to-work law that prohibits employment contracts from requiring all represented workers to pay union fees, an erosion of public employees' collective bargaining rights and an expansion of charter schools and education vouchers at the expense of public schools. Sanders was first elected to the Senate in 2006. He was a member of the House from 1991 through 2006 and if a former mayor of Burlington, Vt. In December 2010, he gave an eight-hour speech on the Senate floor to denounce the extension of tax cuts for the wealthy.
Last updated: June 8, 2012 8:06 a.m.