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. bronxgal

    Well said Gary Wolf.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff

    Anyone who read the whole USA Today article knows that the statistic about public compensation vs. private compensation is moot because it didn't take into account any factors at all such as education, trade, or anything. It lumped everyone together. So, you're comparing public administrators against a private sector that includes bankers, pro sports players, doctors, attorneys, etc. etc. Of course you're going to get that outcome, but you bet the protesters are all out repeating that line from USA Today, having no clue what they're talking about.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brian

    One statistic I keep seeing is that 40% of union members vote Republican. When I ask them why they say "because my pastor told me to." Hmm, a working person voting Republican is like a black man voting for the KKK. How can people be so simple?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MiddleClass

    He don't need money he has ours

    March 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Wallster

    I don't belong to a Union but I do work, and I've been working for less every year. Our problems are systemic of a Government that is not working for you and me, but instead are legislating for the wealthy corporate lobbyists who pay for elections. We've gotten down to these special interest groups jockying against one another and labor unions are the target. Our owners, the campaign contributors who today (thanks to a recent supreme court ruling) are considered people, people who can spend unlimited money to fund their representatives. These corporate Oligarchs want a Nation of cheap labor with few rules. They've positioned their organizations in a way that through Government tax loopholes, they can finance their fight with our tax dollars, and the fight is against our right to live the American dream of prosperity.
    We need to stand up and fight for our Country. We need campaign finance reform for our Country and bring an end to lobbyist driven laws written to only benefit the top 1% of America!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    Johny & Danram, just go out a bit more, you know, Europe, Asia, and you will see how they "respect", or respected Bush.
    And yes, THEY DO RESPECT OBAMA!

    Capiche?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. boogers

    if you people were worth employing you wouldnt turn away a union job

    March 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Trey Davis

    Power to the teachers!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ricardo101

    Thank god I don't work for a union shop, otherwise I would have lost my job many years ago.
    Instead, they kept the workers that were more productive, dedicated and willing to learn something new.
    Now we are in great shape with plenty of work and a lott of overtime.
    I worked for a union once, where senior workers did the least amont of work, while the new guys did most of the work.
    now that company is no longer in business.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TV Guy

    Up with unions. Down with union leaders.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MiddleClass

    obvious reasons?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tpm

    I've been a union member for 38 yrs and if it wasn't for the unions most of us would be on welfare or living in squalor if these people like walker has his way.My suggestion to all the people in Wisconsin walk out and tightened his ass up until it puckers!!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Fred

    ASTROTURF. Nothing more and nothing less. Hired hands yelling and screaming and name calling and threatening. Liberals walking hand in hand with Communist and Socialist groups. I have to give the liberals credit. I've never seen so many blatantly false straw man arguments in my life. The union bosses have all of their lemmings hard at work on the message boards while drawing a taxpayer funded salary with lavish pensions and benefits. Thankfully unions make up a laughably small percentage of the country which drives home the astroturf charge even more. Unions showing their ogreish behavior for all of the fence sitters to see. Talk about destroying the cause you're fighting for. To think that a few weeks ago I didn't care about this issue at all. Now I see the unions, how they behave, who they work with and I'm officially anti-union, through and through.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Merit Based Pay For Work

    Well I am tired of seeing all this Union bull crap on the news and in the papers. Unions had their time and place up till 50 years ago, come into the 21st century people. I have ALWAYS had a 100% commissioned position, so I only get paid for what I produce. In other words, unless I give 110% EVERYDAY my kids do not eat. I wish all of America was like that, we wouldn't be loosing so many jobs to other country's if people were paid for their actual production. Because of "Union Job protection" no one in a Union job has accountability except the Union Boss's who are collecting those poor suckers dues every month.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • MiddleClass

      you know the more some people talk, the more you realize, they haven't got a clue what they are talking about

      March 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dr. James O. Hadnott

    See you put those little Hitler in office and you see what they are doing to you! They are determine that Hitler will come to the Governors house all over America! You went alone with the program. Now the rich are going to take over America and take the Middle class out. Governor Walker like the Hitler genda, and he is doing Hitler work for him, he was just waiting for this moment and you the voters have given him the power to implement Hitler policies.

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