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. Jared

    .... politicians need to be abolished, they prey on stupidity and this world's cup overflowith of it. It's not about our COUNTRY!! Its about the WORLD and everyone in it!

    "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." We as a human species have flunked this on so many different levels......

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

    Unions are busy trying to maintain relevance. While a union once was a good thing, back in the 50' and 60's, they need to go the way of the dinosaur. Sure workers always want something more, but people need to take a look around...the economy sucks and businesses that have union workers are getting screwed because of the unrealistic demands from workers and the union bosses that incite such stupidity. I had a union job once, but never again...they were simply interested in taking a cut of my pay. Union workers need to get a grip on reality...the time will come where the company they work for has to close it's doors because it can no longer afford to pay their salary and they refuse to make any concessions...for those of you that want to cut off your nose to spite your face...feel free, but don't whine about it after the fact.

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

    One leaving thought: If it were not for private corporations and citizens, no Government worker would have a job as there would be no way to fund the Government. Let that sink in before you start critizing the private sector.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. irish71

    Unions in the public sector are unfair to the taxpayers. Taxpayers have no alternative to these public
    workers so essentially we must meet the demands they make. They call this collective bargaining,
    I call it extortion.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Wmaster@stopthedonkey.com

    Unions destroy everything that is good about America. If we were first in Education in the world, it wouldn't be so bad. But we are a joke, and they want more than the "rich" ( I call them fellow taxpayers). They manufacture enemies like "the Koch brothers" when the real enemy is themselves. They just can't see it, because they are blinded by a selfish, give-me-mine-first mentality. Blend that with ignorance and a mob mentality, and you have a union.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AZMom

    I support the unions but their states voted the Republicans into power. They can't put Republicans into power and then expect to do anything but be Republican (i.e. try to destroy unions). Maybe they got caught up in gay marriage and abortion rights and forgot that Republicans do not defend the middle class.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. David

    If the people of America don't wake up pretty soon everyone will be working for third world wages. After the unions are destroyed next will come the abolishment of minimum wage and labor laws. Now is the time to take a stand against the Republicans and corporations.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Eddie4

    Scott Walker is crying that the state is broke bit he keeps giving the rich more tax breaks. He is licking the shoes of the wealthy and stepping on the necks of the middle class. When he says "we're broke" why doesn't he admit that he is a pansy for the rich who are certainly not broke. BTW, he isn't broke either...

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

    Is your Union paying you to spend a week protesting? I guess you would rather run your mouth then put food on your table.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. niceright

    Public employee unions should not have collective bargaining rights period. This puts tax payers in a hopeless position with no rights or imput into the outcome of union contracts.

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

    We are living at a time when we no longer now who the servant is and who the servant is serving for. If you are a blue collar worker who works in a private company than you get paid less than your counterpart working for the local (municipality or state level) or federal government. And this is only one of the discriminations; yes I dare to call it discrimination. The blue collar worker who works for the local or federal government gets better health care plans at a lower rate as well as at a lower final cost.
    The main reason that makes it more unbearable is the taxation. The blue collar worker who works in a private company pays local and state taxes. The blue collar worker working for the local (municipality or state level) government in a way is the server of the blue collar worker who works in a private company. Why, because he (The blue collar worker working for the local (municipality or state level) government) gets paid using the dollars paid as taxes from the second one (the blue collar worker who works in a private company). Now the second one gets paid less for performing the same job, doesn’t get the pay increase and benefits like the first one. In the end the local government doesn’t have the budget to afford the pay and benefits increase for the first one and what it ends doing? – Increases the taxes.
    For the first one there is a benefit the increase is most likely higher than the tax increase.
    For the second one this is a double kill. Taxes will be higher and the pay gap between the two, government and private worker, will increase.
    You tell me who is the servant now?

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

      We are living at a time when we no longer know who the servant is and who the servant is serving for. If you are a blue collar worker who works in a private company than you get paid less than your counterpart working for the local (municipality or state level) or federal government. And this is only one of the discriminations; yes I dare to call it discrimination. The blue collar worker who works for the local or federal government gets better health care plans at a lower rate as well as at a lower final cost.
      The main reason that makes it more unbearable is the taxation. The blue collar worker who works in a private company pays local and state taxes. The blue collar worker working for the local (municipality or state level) government in a way is the server of the blue collar worker who works in a private company. Why, because he (The blue collar worker working for the local (municipality or state level) government) gets paid using the dollars paid as taxes from the second one (the blue collar worker who works in a private company). Now the second one gets paid less for performing the same job, doesn’t get the pay increase and benefits like the first one. In the end the local government doesn’t have the budget to afford the pay and benefits increase for the first one and what it ends doing? – Increases the taxes.
      For the first one there is a benefit the increase is most likely higher than the tax increase.
      For the second one this is a double kill. Taxes will be higher and the pay gap between the two, government and private worker, will increase.
      You tell me who is the servant now?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nobama

    It's okay middle class!
    no fear!
    the man sitting on the bobcat eating a cheeseburger is here!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Bend over, GOPers are here for their corporate cronys to take more from you. Govenor Walker had already negotiated with the union and the negotiation was 12% and 5% on insurance hike and wage diminished. Why take bargaining? Answer they want slaves too.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Clwyd

    We are with you from Wisconsin and the rights you have should be maintained. Don't let the morons who don't read and know that concessions on money have been made already and it isn't money that matters for you or those here in Wisconsin. The first group that Hitler eliminated from testing his power were the socialists (workers). We all know what happened after that! I will never ever vote for a republican again after seeing what my vote to Wisconsin! Anybody care to join me?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Commentmaker

    Funny, when the Tea Party was running for office it was all about "those darn minorities draining the system." It was all about suporting cuts. Now that the chickens have come home to roost and we find that it's actually middle class white people who will predominately be affected, people are marching in the streets. Welcome to the world you prayed for and that became a reality based on the voting choices you made in the name of race. Congratulations, you have officially screwed yourselves.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Quaker 75

    Some of you are foaming at the mouths like rabid dogs over collective bargaining and then extrapolating the Koch Brothers are your enemies just as you hate Fox News for linking to Soros all that is wrong. Think about how some of the vile thoughts coming from your mind. Is that going to solve your problems. Hating a fellow American because he may have wealth as several of you are thinking is scary; or simply hating someone because they think differently... that is a leap backward for all. To those brave souls who founded those early unions in the company coal towns in Kentucky or Pennsylvania, you are an embarrasment. You will call me names I am sure and as you do you will fall deeper into the abyss of self-pity rather than rise to self reliance as those brave souls in the company towns found vigor in self-reliance.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
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