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. GG

    Well look who's shoe is on the other foot...where are the teabaggers these days?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. r rega

    We must remember why collective bargaining came to be.Because of gross worker injustice.Here we go again.The powers to be have no desire to bargain.They just want to dictate....out of the kindness of their heart.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Gene Poole

    Wisconsin is an excellent example of out of control Unions. Public Service Unions are holding the State taxpayers hostage. They force all Public Sector employees to join the Union and pay dues. Union bosses have had democrat politician­s on their payroll for decades, Governor Walker is challengin­g the status quo and needs to put the taxpayers back in charge. Liberals and their buddies in the media, are screaming because this could upset the cash flow (taxpayer funded) from Unions to democrat campaigns. They can run all the phony Polls they want but in the end Wisconsin is going broke. Public employee collective bargaining only works when both sides are representi­ng the taxpayer fairly. Union bosses own the democrat politician­s that are suppose to be representi­ng the taxpayers.

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

    What a joke! Is this an article or a game plan to help liberals mobilize? "Facebook page here"..."AFL-CIO is tweeting"...."moveon.org is whining". CNN.....you are worse than FOX News!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bevans

    This not a Republican vs. a Democrat...this is not an attack on the middle class...this is not corporations owning government..this is about the unions making their participants pay so that the money can be used to buy politicians so that they can continue to reap the rewards. Unions earn more than the average private citizen in regards to wages and that is before you factor in the envious benefit package the private sector can only dream of getting. The unions have continued to be a drain on the taxpayer and their true colors are coming through with their insults, name calling and outright intimdation all in the name of ensuring no one touches thier pay and benefit package. Continue down this path and this country will end up like Detroit....

    March 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. neptonomist sentry

    So what exactly do unions do? Charge their members a fee? Ask all of the laid off auto-workers or teachers about how well they protect jobs. And isn't everyone better off if these jobs are open to everyone, instead of only those who use bribes, kickbacks or nepotism to get into these unions in the first place? Sounds like the best thing for the middle class is to open these jobs up to everyone, instead of the same old cronyism that takes place where unions exist.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TC

    Here's the difference: In two years when the economy is rolling again, and people are getting raises and bonuses in the private sector, the public employee will get nothing. Teachers, police, or firemen dont get a check in the mail when the economy is clicking. Public employees arent getting rich... The thing that public employees have always had is job security, if you take away collective bargaining the public employee has zero protction against the whims of legislators.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mauser

    Want to know what Franklin Roosevelt, the great social security and prounion president had to say about public sector unions? This-

    "The process of collective bargaining ,as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service"due to"distinct and insurmountable limitations."-

    There folks, that should teach us alot about public sector unions.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CAnderson

    How much support would Walker have if it would not be for the tea party busing them in from out of state? Why our we paying health and retirement benefits to members of congress and senate, whom are no longer in office? Why is the middle class on down the only ones who have to make sacrafices?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Betty Marr

    Refresh your information about the history of collective bargaining and the incredible hardships suffered by those who formed unions in the USA at the turn of the century. Ignorance is dangerous. Seriously, do we want to go back to slave labor and living conditions that existed before unions when there was child labor and sweatshops?
    Unions are not bad, but corruption, greed, and ignorance prevail. The evidence is all too clear in the uniformed statemetns made in the comments posted. We either stick together or hang seperately.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramon

      You are right. Ignorance is dangerous!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    What are we? Banana Republic???

    Give tax breaks for wealthy in December and cut services for kids and women in February to pay for it???

    March 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. GBFAN

    UNIONS BREED MEDIOCRITY

    March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. spunky

    Taking out the unions will not destroy the middle class. The unions are helping to destroy the middle class. Can them all, and wish them well finding another job with similar ridiculous pensions and benefits.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dan

    Only below average workers would want to be in a union.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • TC

      Wrong Dan. As a collective unit, UNIONS built this country. If Unions go, your life will be run by corporate America, if it isnt already. Think about what public sector jobs do for this country, for your family, for your community. Right now, being a cop, fireman, or teacher is worth it. Take away the benefits.....you will have below average workers doing those jobs. Get a clue Dan.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
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