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. Eddie4

    Scott Walker is afraid of his wealthy backers. He is licking their shoes and thanking them for the opportunity. Unfortunately, he has no problem stepping on the faces of middle class Americans. Of course the state is broke. The wealthy keep getting tax reductions and are excised from paying their fair share. Shame on Walker. His is kist a butt-kisser for the Koch brothers.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. T Diddy

    Phil must be a union worker! He must also be on one of his ten "breaks" to have so much time to comment on here. Union workers are such quality workers!!! 🙂 Oh and Phil, your "stats" are completely out of whack! Union membership has been on the decline for years. Not many Americans belong to unions, nor do they support them, for the most part. And definitely do NOT support public unions! Get your facts straight. In fact, go and take another break, we know you've earned it, and do a little research. I'm outta here, I have to get back to my job where if I do well, I get to keep it and sometimes even get a raise!

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

      Why aren't you mad at your boss then? If he is making your workplace such a lousy place to work, why don't you and a few other top producers like yourself get together and tell him to shape up, or all of you are leaving. Grow up and stand up for yourself. Coward.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • T Diddy

      I love my job! My boss is cool. What is your point fool?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Godisnotreal

    Does any one see how this country is falling? Does no one see it started with a dumb black man in office? Does any one care that these democrats that have destroyed America are making 6 figured pay checks a year, to run away from voting and doing their jobs? Wake up. It's public office. Damn near means you shouldn't be making any money. And these unions you speak of, destroyed the free economics of this country with boycotts and strikes. Demanding more money than what it's worth to put a nail in wood and build a house! Labor is cheat America! That's why a dumb white or mexican can put asphalt on a road. Why does that fat guy on a steam roller need to make $25 an hour to just back up and go forward? Down with unions!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • SmellMyJunk

      I'm with you on all of this except for the 6 figured dems....it's any politician on either side of the aisle.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ABG

    Danram look on bright side 4 years of carter led to 8 years of Reagan

    March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John Linck

    Do the legislators understand that by negating the union contract for thier short term gains, the workers employed by the state then have the right to strike. How long can the state function with no workers who understand how the bureaucracy functions. It takes time to replace so-called greedy state workers with minimum wage laborers. Meanwhile, no license plates, no prison guards, psychiatric nurses, no snow plow drivers, etc. etc. etc. While we fight two wars, can the National Guard really handle this?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dood

    You moronic idiots complain about jobs but are too cowardly to follow them. . everyone of you are nutless gutless cowards!! maybe they should teach how to be a man in school since all of you have failed that

    March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MiddleClass

    Load at least they aren’t yelling for blood like the Tea-pee party

    March 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mauser

    People use common sense! Im neither republican nor democrat, im an independent voter who strives to use common sense when I vote. – now take this huge union issue: Yes I agree we do need unions in the private sector,without the union history we would be much worse off,but in the public sector the unions neef to be heavily regulated, we do not want to become like a socialist state,public workers should not use taxpayer money to elect their prounion lawmakers in- this amounts to extortion of the taxpayers, furthermore we desperately need to balance the budget, and with collective bargaining that is almost impossible,- so please use common sense people and do your research.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. FRANK LONGO

    I bet all those lazy firefighters and police officers don't mind losing all their benefits and working for next to nothing. They will gladly accept this of course. Who cares if these lazy workers put their lives on the line! Think of all the tax money the wealthy will save. that's what its all about!

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

    Remember the "Sit Down Strike" of the 1930's and let's do it again except make a national sit down strike.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tom G

    Question to all union members, as a worker in the evil private sector that has only a 401k to fall back on, why should I have to work until I am 75 years old to pay for retires from the public sector who retire at 55? Especially when you make more money than I do.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mauser

      RIGHT ON!!!!!!!!!!! Tom G, couldnt be more right.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Why didn't you become a police officer then? If they have it so great, why not do what they do. Instead, you complain and want to take away what they have worked for.

      I think CEO's make too much money. Let's put a cap on all CEO pay. That sounds fair to me.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debby

      John........ I wish he had the guts to include all the public sector unions including the firemen, state troopers and police.

      AMEN !!! I'm sick and tired of this unholy triumvarite of police, firemen and teachers acting as though they are better and more important than anyone else. EVERYONE who works is doing an important job! Another thing I'm tired of is every cop/firemen is a hero these days. Give me a break......we don't even know the definition of the word anymore. It takes away from the people of ALL WALKS OF LIFE AND JOBS that really are heroes.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    A worker voting Republican is like a chicken voting Colonel Sanders

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

    Yes, bush was president then, but I am grateful for how he did his Stimulus because I got the money needed to get this computer I am using now. Obama on the other hand gave us NOTHING, he passed it out to the Unions, he buddies and publicly owned companies that were to big to fail. WE got NOTHING out of this except the bill. Why it is that FORD stayed away from the Government bail out money because they wanted to keep getting paid and keep the Government out of their business. Ford didn't take a single penny from the Government and now they are doing great and those loosers from GM could of done the same they could of pulled out of this but they took the easy way out. Now it's GM government Motors and UNCLE SAM AKA the Government will forever own GM.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lou

    Could someone point out where CNN condemned the protester sign in Wisconsin that had cross-hairs on Governor Walker's face? I missed it.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. David M

    Ah yes. Nothing like reasoned and mature negotiating between the two sides. I guess it's more fun to resort to name calling, insults, and pouting. And politicians wonder why their approval ratings are in the toilet. The Democrats in WI are not helping their cause. Their actions give the very real perception they would rather run from the problem than face it head on. Now the Republicans have an open door to pass whatever legislation they want to. Poor way to run a government.

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