Protests grow louder in Ohio, Indiana
Protesters rally last week at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus against a bill curbing public workers' collective-bargaining rights.
March 1st, 2011
01:36 PM ET

Protests grow louder in Ohio, Indiana

As Wisconsin's pro-union protests rage, a huge crowd in Ohio is gathering Tuesday for the event "Rally to Save Ohio's Middle Class." The movement, which reportedly could draw 20,000 people, is being documented live on Facebook. The AFL-CIO also is tweeting the event.

Protesters are demanding lawmakers drop a bill that would end Ohio public employees' right to collective bargaining. An Ohio Senate committee has said it will revise and vote this week on the legislation that would affect about 350,000 state workers, teachers, public safety employees and others.

And in Indiana, lawmakers have stooped to name-calling in a debate that pits union forces against legislators who want to undo union rights.

Are you in the middle of any of it? Send an iReport.

Though the stakes are different in each state, what is clear is that a fight in Wisconsin has ballooned into a huge national debate pitting Republicans against Democrats. President Barack Obama voiced his support for public workers Monday, and the liberal activist group Moveon.org has been staging demonstrations across the nation in support of unions.

The debate is loaded with nuance and complexity, and informed by the history of unionizing in the United States, Slate points out. USA Today analyzed the numbers and on Tuesday reported that Wisconsin is one of 41 states where public workers earn higher average pay and benefits than private workers in the same state.

The Columbus, Ohio, City Council opposes legislation in its state because members say it would hurt families, CNN affiliate WBNS-TV in Columbus reported. The council said it wants more discussion on ways to fix the state budget shortfall.

"We want to sit across from our police officers and our firefighters," council member Zach Klein told WBNS. "We want them to know that we're supporting our teachers and other working families, to have an arms-length, reasonable conversation about wages and benefits, and that's exactly what collective bargaining has done."

In Mahoning County, Ohio, Democrat David Betras decried the bill as an "assault on middle class values," according to CNN affiliate WKBN-TV in Youngstown. He told the station, "It puts political patronage and cronyism back into our public employees. We want to keep that out. Public employees do a good job. ..."

E-mails from as far away as Germany and Scotland have been flooding the offices of House members, The Columbus Dispatch said. One office reported receiving more than 10,000 e-mails, according to the paper.

Protesting hasn't gotten as heated as the political rhetoric in Indiana. Lawmakers started the week by meeting behind closed doors at an Urbana hotel to negotiate legislation. It went downhill quickly.

State Rep. Charlie Brown, a Gary Democrat, called Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma a "windbag," CNN affiliate WRTV-TV in Indianapolis reported. "He's a 6-foot-4, 230-pound windbag," Brown said. "He doesn't know how to negotiate. He doesn't know how to move his ego aside and get down to the nitty-gritty."

Brown told the station that Bosma had "backed himself into a corner" and "doesn't know how to fight his way out of it." Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels referred to Democrats spending time in the hotel's pool and hot tub, WRTV reported.

In Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has threatened massive layoffs if his bill limiting collective-bargaining rights for public-sector employees doesn't pass. The bill also would force public workers to cover more of their retirement plans and health care premiums. Watch Walker discuss the bill and the state's projected $3.6 billion budget gap by 2013. Wisconsin's 14 Democratic senators have left the state and gone to Illinois to prevent a quorum of 20 votes needed for the budget repair bill to pass.

Passage of the bill would limit collective bargaining to wages. Any pay increases beyond the rate of inflation would be subject to voter approval.

Pro-union forces say the governor is trying to curb long-held labor rights under the guise of fiscal responsibility.

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Filed under: Illinois • Indiana • Ohio • Protest • Wisconsin
soundoff (1,061 Responses)
  1. Buggy

    The union posts seem to be saying, if you want rich benefits like mine you need to join a union. Yes, you paid in maybe 10% of the funds in the pension plans but the taxpaying public paid in the rest. If we all had union sized benefits where is all that money supposed to come from? All we would be doing is lowering everyone's standard of living. Tax the rich more you say – do the math, even if the top 1% who already pay 25% of all taxes were to be taxed at 100% there still would not be enough to eliminate the deficit. Public service unions are the ones being tackled now, not the working class, not the general public. You guys have managed to negotiate your way to an unsustainable, undeserved benefit and now the public has figured it out. You want a CEO's pay, go get the education, put in the effort and prove yourself deverving. If you don't get it through merit, don't try to get it through thugery.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buggy

      Sparky – thank you for the well thought out and articulate response. Just tellind somebody they are wrong without any logicial argument is like banging somebody over the head with a picket sign. Now what sized paycheck do you think you deserve? Wages established by threat are not free market wages, and it is the free market that determines true value. Public service unions have leveraged their power to create unsustainable benefits. You tell me where the money is coming from.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buggy

      As to who the thugs are, guess you did not look at the picture at the top of the page. And why would you insult nurses? To suggest that non-union nurses are less capable or dedicated is demeaning. My doctor is non-union and so is my surgeon. You think I should not trust them to be competent?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMissal

      Buggy, welcome to the typical response of a union THUG. Unions have ALWAYS resorted to violence of some kind when they are unable to negotiate what they want.

      I was a union member once (law enforcement) and will NEVER be a part of one again. I'll simply quit.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phyllis

      None of us get CEO pay. Get real.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buggy

      Phyllis – some of us do, in fact several thousand people do. How do they do it??? Mayble it is education, hard work, a lot of luck but somehow they manage it. i always thought that was the American way, as compared to Somali pirates who hold people to ransom – kind of like striking teachers witholding education.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rick

    When Bush was President, the world respected us? Are you from this world?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Funkyman

    Can't we all just get along ?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. HmmReally

    I wonder how many of the reporters that write stories on these union issues are members of the Newspaper Guild?

    www dot newsguild dot org

    Careful what you read, people...

    March 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sparky

    Give the GOP enough rope and they'll hang themselves

    March 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MiddleClass

    well JOE I can see your a proud man

    March 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • HmmReally

      You're!!! You're!!! You're!!! Not 'your'. It'a contraction of you are!!!

      And these teachers want raises huh?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Really?

    You quote an 'analysis' by USA Today that does not compare equal jobs, but just compares all private jobs to all public jobs. I'm trying to figure out what analysis that required. Analysis is to do comparison of equal jobs. To determine if the majority of private sector jobs are low paying and would benefit from unions. If the union public sector jobs are compared to the union private sector jobs. Raise the bar. Do you own study.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. The Dude

    Unions are for the fat and lazy

    March 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • sparky

      well you're fat and lazy and you're not in a union so what's that tell you retard?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joel in Ohio

      @ Sparky I concur, don't stop

      March 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debby

      Calm down Sparky........is that all you have, useless vitriol? The day of the union has passed and they have no one to blame but their own unadulterated greed and abuse of power. The private sector is tired of being held hostage to your demands. You don't get you're way so you shut down public services? Enough said!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Dude

      actually Sparky I am neither fat nor lazy. I work 40-50 hours a week and get paid what I deserve. I earn overtime and take sick days when I am actually sick. You on the other hand are fat, lazy, take sick days just because your union makes sure you have a ton of them, are overpaid for the little bit of work you actually do, and have an exhorbanant amount of vacation days. Oh yeah but you DESERVE them LOL as if you working 20 hours a week while sitting on the clock for 50 really counts as work.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jay

    These protester work for a living, they deserve decent pay and benefits, not some clown who don't like unions.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. johnny

    Huh, noticed most of the union thugs protesting are WHITE MALES! wonder why the media isn't blasting them for that just like they did the tea party. Oh, and the union thugs are far louder and more violent than ANY tea party protests. Again, the double-standard for these people is so far beyond belief. Make me want to puke.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe

    This too will pass. Just the flavor of the day, week or whatever.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. plantseeds

    union membership is now lower than 12% down from an alltime high of 36% back in the late 40's early 50's.
    union membership is hardly representative of the middle class. private sector unions, have at it. handcuff your bosses if you choose. public sector...guess what, you bosses are the citizens. 88% non-union and growing. connect the dots.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. FRANK LONGO

    How about all those veterans who are so lazy and getting all those government benefits. The taxpayer could save so much by eliminating them too! First the Unions and next your VA benefits will dissapear. It's a slippery slope to America becoming a third world nation. Just think though the very wealthy will save so much on their taxes! That's what it's all about!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andrew

    You all voted Republican last November and that's exactly what you are getting! Sorry

    March 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Dude

      Well put!!!

      March 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin

    Look at these screaming, disruptive people! This is clearly a battle between unionized government employees, who have had the leverage to screw the average taxpayer by holding government hostage. This is not democracy; this is blackmail. We cannot let the vast majority of Americans who understand the current fiscal situation of the state and federal governments to be overrun by screaming, irrational people, who do not care about the majority of the people in this country. It's time for those of us who pay their salaries to say "Enough is enough! It's time that you endured the same economic downturn as the rest of us. At a time when all of us have to make deep sacrifices and risk the markets with our own pensions, you will have to do the same."

    March 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
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