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. jewelgirl

    Sorry folks, unions are outdated and serve no purpose or should I say meaningful purpose. What about the rest of us who are in professions not protected. We have to show up on time, sober, and keep our skills up todate at our on expense or we are fired "at will".
    Grow up and pay your own way like the rest of Americans are already doing.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amanda

      Wow. You're bitter.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chaz

    Pro or Against unions.....Americans are all greedy people who want something for nothing

    March 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Against unions (bullies)

      really chaz? tell me someone who DOESNT want something for nothing? THATS EVERYONE.. No shizz Sherlock.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Stevelb1

    You wanted the republicans, this is what you get. Next time go out and vote. Everyone was crying and moaning about Obama and the Dems. Well we get Republicans the screamed bloody murder to cut the taxes of the Rich and in the process stick it to the middle class. Enjoy, you all made your bed and now you can all lie in it.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob117

      You really need to stop reading the liberal hand book of lies. There were no tax cuts for anyone a sthe tax code sayed the same

      March 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • stickyd8

      The Republicans are doing what they said they would do if elected. They are trying to balance the budget. Read the article! It explains that unions can no longer negotiate labor rates. Meaning they can still receive pay increases to compensate for inflation, but any raises above the inflation rate have to be voted on by the public and tax payers. How in the world is this not fair!?!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • LaHoney

      It's not fair because Unions are being used as scapegoats for a financial mess that was created by the banking, auto and housing collapses and the deregulation of those industries and their shady practices. The banks got huge bail outs for running schemes they knew didn't work and their CEO still walked away with millions in bonuses and some got Golden Parachutes in the tens of millions to retire but the Unions are to blame? How about this guy Walker divulge the real reason he's doing this, mainly his pals the Koch brothers. THis isn't some guy trying to balance the budget, this is a guy paying back a favor for all the money the Koch brothers threw at his campaign.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Fed Up

    What the main stream media fails to report is what an overwhelming majority those in support of these state bills are. They want to make it look like Egypt, etc, where the majority is rising up, but its nothing like it. These are a minority or workers who take take take and don't want to give anything.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveL

      Your another one who acts as if the entire burden of the budget falls on your shoulders, and your shoulders alone.
      You would turn your back on your friends and neighbors who contribute in a big way to all our communities, rather than to have them retain their collective bargaining rights... and that's after they agreed to the cuts...You would accept Governor Walker's beyond arrogant position, just to possibly save a few bucks in taxes down the road. Everyone has a price for throwing other's under a bus... and yours is shamefully low!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Not to mention, these protesters are probably still getting paid even though they are not at their jobs. DaveL the country is tired of handouts, bailouts and free rides...This is the voice of the majority just Google November 2, 2010 if you have any doubts. Union officials are corrupt as any corporation, they skim off of the wages of true laborers to play golf with the other lobbyists.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    Hey Mike, You got everything backwards!

    Working Americans do not make more many since Reagan, so do not blame unions for greed. At the same time top 1% more than doubled their income!

    Comprehende, Amigo???

    March 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DaveL

    I notice a few Tea-Baggers on here and have to ask, What is with you people? Everything is about you and your money,
    with absolutely no regard for others You expect workers who have already accepted cuts to also give up their freedom to have a collective voice. We tolerate your organizing...despite that your group has embarrassed the nation...Freedom is a two-way street!
    Something Tea-Baggers and Republicans seem to not understand.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob117

      Nice try, but you are still lying. You are clearly a union crybaby-Way past time for you to Adult Up.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      DaveL.....your not smart enough to comment on this topic. Put on an old war movie and root for the German's.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveL

      BillyBob....Your name sort of says it all...I am not a union worker...my benefits were cut....my salary reduced...I just have compassion for others...The world is not all about me and my misfortune...A novel concept for narrow minds like yours?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Because you ppl have been stealing the private sector's money for way too long.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • TRouble

      Should I being trying to support your family or mine? Everyone gets an equal shot. What they do with it is up to them.

      People have a right to their earnings and property. There is nothing wrong with that belief. Nobody should be forced to give their earnings away. I am an independent voter (and not religious), but even I recognize that more congregations and churches donate there time and money to charity than anyone else. The so called evil conservatives. I don't want a right wing take over either, but stop the bashing. Those of us in the middle are sick of it. All people should be encourage to be generous with their time and money, not just the financially successful.

      What I personally find preposterousness is that the wealth that government itself does not generate is (forcibly) redistributed to those that do not contribute. I also find it sickening to see all these people protesting for things non of the rest of us have, and pay for ourselves (ie 401k, etc).

      Time to get back to work – some of us do have to work for a living so we can pay those public employees.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tom mcnamara

    my suggestion is for all the union people in wisconsin to walk out and tightened his ass right up till it puckers.Can you imagine no dmv,no roads plowed,no garbarge pick up or any services at all . I can imagine all the other people who aren't union to start raising hell over no services for awhile,afer all Mr Walker you just can't pull people off the streets to perform services that have taken years for others to learn.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Please Union Member's....walk off your jobs today. There are thousands of hispanics that would love to do your job and do it better.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      There are thousands of unemployed ready to take your jobs...I second the call...go ahead and walk out all you union members, let returning soldiers and people whose unemployment has run out take your place

      March 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Against unions (bullies)

      I also approve you guys walking out. Lets see how you will do with out a paycheck. Trust me if people want the jobs.. they will migrate over for them.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • danny

      Hey Tom. those are not the people protesting, the people protesting are teachers and SEIU members that do not have a job they are just on the union payroll.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gizmo

    In response to number 3, the very people that's causing all this drama are the right wing religious nutjobs! They simply want control of my life and everyone elses in the name of their faith! I'm an agnostic and proud of it!! Organized religion has alway's been more drama than it's worth, just like them Republicans! It's because of them is why my President can't get anything done!!!! NO BRAINER!!!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob117

      You are one pathetic person.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • FishinBuddy

      "Your" president can't get anything done because he doesn't know how to do anything.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Sounds like someone needs Jesus.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. k

    I am a liberal, but I can't say my heart bleeds for Union people, my heart bleeds for people(and animals) who are really suffering

    March 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John

    I can't fathom why unions think they deserve better benefits then our military. The military has had to increase their portion of health benefits. They protect our liberties, the unions accomplish nothing but wasting taxpayers funds. If anyone should pay their share it's the unions

    March 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. pboggs1980

    Perhaps someone can explain to me why Executive compensation in the private sector has skyrocketed since 2000 while the salary of the rank and file and middle management in the private sector has remained stagnant. Or why only 6% – 7% of all employees in the private sector belong to a union. Or why private corporations used to furnish pension plans for their employees yet since the mid '90s have pushed everyone into 401Ks. Looks like it probably sucks to work in the private sector right now but please don't scapegoat public employees place the blame why it truly lies. Your very own bosses are ripping you off!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Private sector companies got rid of pensions because they saw the writing on the wall and need to remain profitable in order to stay in business.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillyBob117

      But you are ripping off the taxpayers. You must be a union member or work or one-or is that the same thing-–

      March 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • pboggs1980

      So why were Executives still receiving bonuses even when their companies were reporting losses? If you like I can give examples...

      March 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • pboggs1980

      Yes I am a government work and union member. Since the crash they are hiring less people so we all are working harder. We have taken mandatory furloughs and have foregone raises. I worked in the private sector for a number of years but everyone knows that no matter how much you contribute to an IRA it will probably not completely cover your retirement (especially with life expectancy at 80yrs). I also worked for Hewlett-Packard before Carly Fiorina took it over, ran the company into the ditch, laid off thousands of workers and still received a $20mil compensation package (just to get her to go away).
      If I still worked for HP I'd call Carly and tell her that I need my money back...for my retirement!

      March 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. David

    It's about time!
    I don't know why union represented folks feel that they should be exempt from making concessions like everyone else.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    This whole debate would be hilarious if it wasn't so important yet almost all of you posters are too stupid to realize what's really going on. This is just another way for the elite to pit the middle class against each other. And that's it. And you're all too dumb to see this. Divide and conquer. Unions are needed, always have been, always will be. Have they gotten out of control is some cases? Yes!! Does that mean we should abolish collective bargaining? Absolutely not!!

    This issue is meant to destroy the middle class and the best part (or worst part depending how you look at it) is those in the middle class not in unions are going to help the elite destroy it and in turn destroy themselves.

    A teacher should make at least $40,000. And so should a firefighter and a police officer. Teachers take care of our children for the entire lives while we can go out and work. They're essentially babysitters that also happen to educate. I for one, want them paid a fair bit. I don't think I need to tell you American dimwits that people who fight fires and protect our streets need to be paid at least $40,000 but in case I do, I just did.

    All that being said, wage freezes can and may still have to be put in place and benefits cut but a union should always have the right to bargain. The problem with America is that there are not enough unions in the private sector and the ones in the public sector have gotten a bit too strong as a result.

    Your country is screwed anyways. This is just the beginning. Wait until more than 70% can barely afford food. All you nimrods think the riots in the Middle East are about freedom and democracy!! hahaha. It's about food prices you fools. And get ready, the prices and the riots are coming to a grocery store near you soon too.

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

      So since only the public workers have unions now, the Middle Class is merely a Socialist class, supported by the private sector. So where were they when the private sector unions were dying?, They were out shopping at Wall Mart and other made in China outlets. Now they want everyone to rally around them for the preservation of their very cushy and secure jobs and lives. The real issue is party politics, because in the age of computers and cell phones, these people could (and did) organize their protests without union reps. The union reps are fat cats themselves and bargain with taxpayer money with the politicians they got elected for benefits for their union members. This is unfair to all other voters and taxpayers in America.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rsprings

      Mark, did you ever wonder why there aren't more Unions in the private sector? It isn't because private employers are nasty. In a free market you pay the prevailing wage and benefits. Most private employers treat their employees well. Whe they don't employees leave and go else where. That with today's many proective laws have mad unions in the private secotr useless. In the public sector..Unions are a corrupting influence on the governmen and have given rise to unsustainable costs. The house of cards will collapse faster than you can say GM.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bogart

      Where I live in NY, teachers are making close to 100k, and contribute to their pensions for the first 10 years of employment...after that they're done, no more contributions! Guess who pays the rest of the way – the non-unionized middle class

      March 1, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Thank God somebody else realizes this. I'm so tired of my "middle class" aquaintances touting their republican elitist ideals, not even realizing that the people they support would just as soon throw them in the river...union worker OR private sector...they don't care. I remember when 20 yrs. ago the forbes 400 consisted of maybe 5 to 10 billionaires, now there are more than 100, that's the true republican party. You middle classers out their that support this crap are clueless lemmings lured on by half-wits like Rush and Glen Beck who make millions and don't even come close to representing where your true interests lie. Unless you make like a million a year, you probably shouldn't vote republican, unless your a religious fanatic, and none of the "genius" republicans I know even come close.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jnyc

    Until the government grows a set and actually enforces workplace laws like age discrimination, working conditions and other illegal things that corporations do, we need the unions to add the checks and balances. There is power in numbers. The question I have is why more americans don't want the same job security? Why don't they want a stronger say in how they are treated? Why they don't want an equitable part of the business that their hard work produces? Why shouldn't the worker who makes something get more consideration than someone sitting on their butt making money off of their sweat?

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

      So you are actually implying that Government employees don't have safe and humane working conditions? Ha, they have the best law enforced rights of any work force in the world! Where were they when the private sector unions were being busted?

      When government services can be outsourced, we might then say that their own hens have come home to roost. That is already happening in a way, through immigration and hiring policies, but that is another issue.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Barrie

    The union goons, most of whom are bussed in from other states, are doing what union thugs are paid to do: create fear of violence in the public. The real test is whether the politicians will stand up for the people who elected them to restore sanity in state and federal budgets, or whether they will bow down to the union bosses once again.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
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