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.
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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.
The protests may be growing louder, but CNN and the other major news organizations are trying to bury the story as deep as possible. Nothing on the front page at all today. Maybe they'd pay more attention if you lived in the Middle East, but they all appear to be following FOX's lead on this one and blaming it solely on unpatriotic liberals.
I feel as though this is one of the biggest issues to be up to date with since the merger or civil rights, which put African Americans with typical white students, with these mass protest it will show the government that the people of this union will not sit back an just let this happen, my father currently works at a prison in Ohio and with this new bill he could lose everything that he has worked for, is going to be real interesting in seeing how our Ohio legislature votes on this bill and to see what changes these officials will make to make the people happy!
I've been working at the Indiana Statehouse and the problem isn't a pay reduction, which the unions have conceded to, it the total eradication of benefits and pensions, plus the outsourcing of job projects to other states that the right to work bill would allow. If you can follow simple logic, they are not only seeing a pay reduction, but losing their insurance and pretty much their job to out-of-state contractors.
President Obama is doing the same thing to Federal Workers that Walker is doing to Wisconsin. He has already frozen their pay for two years, and supports not letting Air Traffic Controllers and the Military from unionizing. How is this different from not letting police and firefighters unionize. Perhaps the protest should be extended to protest President Obama as well. Why shouldn't all Federal Workers be able to collective bargain too!
You created a monster that allows people to be judged by the content of their excrement (pee testing) fake wars to prop up a BS economy and a retreat from the melting pot mentality due to a few wackos with explosives.
That monster is called USA. And for those that have no clue waterboard your children and see if ANY of the 50 States think it is not torture or abuse. I can make you SAY anything I want to hear with a pair of pliers on your canines.
Enjoy this cesspool while it lasts.
I seem to remember something about 'elections having consequences'...
The people have already spoken. Democrats are just not happy with what they had to say.
mitch daniels needs to leave this country!!!
IIf teachers can move to Australia, they will get much better salary than in USA. My friend, she is english teacher in Melbourne, Australia, her salary is over AU$50,000, and now AU$ is higher than US$. I am Indonesian and so sad seeing this happening iin US. In this great country, how could the government looks down on teachers.
in China now, professor and teachers are treated like the greatest people in the country, well paid and honored. Chinese government and its people know how important they are for the kids/students and society.
Enough with the broad, all or nothing statements. I have worked with union leaders that have looked beyond their self interests. I have also worked with union leadership that did not think rationally – they simply woke up every morning with an agenda. I can tell you from experience that union leadership can not deliver the consessions everyone is talking about. They must be negotiated at the local level – there's the rub. Some of the local union leaders will not go along with the crowd – they want their agenda and will give up NOTHING. By taking away the necessity to bargain the concession they can be implemented immediately and across the board. That is what is going on here and that is why. Not some conspiracy.