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. FRANK LONGO

    Notice all these people who work for some company that has lousy pay and benefits complaining that everyone else should have the same fate as themselves. That's EVERYONES future if the Robber Barons have total control. Big corporations have no soul,money is their God. And there will NEVER be enough money to fill their greedy little fingers.

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

      What a statement! So it's okay to have a tax supported Middle Class elite of government employees? They drive costs up for the private sector employees who lost their unions through greed. You want everyone to support the greed of state workers and their union which bargains for benefits for their members with other people's money, through politicians their dues elected. What I see in comments like yours is selfishness, and political corruption. If Walker has done wrong in signing tax relief thinking that will stimulate business, that is another subject, but not a justification for union and Democratic corruption and campaign finance fraud.

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

    .....I see what is happening as yet another slap in the face by our government. All the jobs in china that used to be here...are there because of one reason...'no worker representation'. I agree that unions should be reasonable
    when negotiating contracts, but if our unions are broken up...then 'we the people'...will surely lose our voice for
    fair wages, fair working conditions and fair representation. If you think our elected officials are looking out for our
    rights as workers... you better just think again. ...If I read correctly...the union said they would be willing to negotiate further...it was the governor that made the mistake of telling the workers they were going to lose their bargaining rights
    along with their wages.......bad move!!!

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

    Unions have taken too much power. These people screaming at cameras look like they're doing pretty well, don't you think? I know a few people who work where there are unions, and it's almost impossible to fire anyone, even if a person shows up for work drunk to work a forklift. It's gotten out of hand. Unions were started when workers in this country were treated like dirt and could barely feed their families. Now they're draining production in this country and making things too expensive. Anyone see the news report about the Chrysler (or GM) employees who go get drunk and high at lunch? They'll probably never get fired–Union.

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

    I'm a union worker and unions are pointless. They were created for workers to have safe working conditions and to stop working 70 hrs and getting paid a dollar a day. We have osha who takes care of safety and the dept of labor for labors complaints. These weren't around when unions were formed

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

      The Department of Labor for labor complaints? someone needs a civics lessons. What do you think they do, take your complaint and call the bossman, ask him to lighten up? There are no labor laws in this country other than child labor laws and wage laws and who do you think enforces them??? public employees. Good luck trying to get your job back through your mythical labor complaint department cause ther is no such thing.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. docserveralson

    I just dug up my 1984 Bob Dylan record, Union Sundown; very fitting for listening to now. The refrain is, "Well, it's sundown on the unions, and what's made in the USA. Sure was a good idea, until greed got in the way." I recommend all look up the lyrics at least. But it's a pretty catchy tune.

    Unions lost the private sector due to greed and corruption. Now they are dug into the taxpayer, via state employees. They bargain for pay and benefits from wealth all voters produce. They donate from automatically deducted dues to the Democratic Party. So they sit down with legislators they paid to get elected to bargain for pay and goodies for those who funded them through their taxpayer supported jobs. These jobs are services, not goods produced that will bring in money to the economy. It looks like a straight up case of parasites outgrowing the host. When the Middle Class is comprised solely of government employees something is wrong because that means the Middle Class is a Socialist Class that feeds of the private worker and entrepreneur. Since we know that the upper 2% don't pay texes, it means that those people are being impoverished by the Socialist Middle Class. This is not fair and will result in class warfare; that according to an article that briefly appeared on CNN Money last week. (It was pulled after only a few hours, likely because of the prediction of class warfare). Put your thinking caps on. Those who are comparing these union strikdes to Libya are idiots. Wait until you are being shot and have no medical response, must sleep, eat, and defecate in the streets.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. FRANK LONGO

    And what about all the Teabaggers who live outside of Wisconsin who are bussed in by the Koch brothers,that's ok? Teabaggers=traitors to Americas Middle Class. 100% for the wealthy!

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

      We are just sitting back and laughing at how stupid you ppl are!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MiddleClass

    I think the Tee-Pee Party may have tipped over there cup

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

      If you are an example of the Middle Class then I must wonder why I am not a wealthy elite, because I know how to write with proper English grammar.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Scott

    Unions are as corrupt as the Wall Street bandits that put us in this great recession, and almost as immune to prosecution. Power to the people in the 21st century means getting the mandatory union requirements and union officials out of our pockets. SCOTT WALKER FOR PRESIDENT IN 2012!!!! Way to stand your ground man!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. erin

    Maybe politicians like walker should turn down their madatory raises and pay in more money for their heaslthcare and pay for their own cars while they are at it.

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

      Erin, Learn proper grammar and spelling!

      March 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Reason

    @Buggy
    "Wages established by threat are not free market wages, and it is the free market that determines true value."

    Well said.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Avg Txpyr

    Civil employee unions were started in the 60's & 70's to give the worker a fair days pay for a fair days work and align benefits (sick, vacation, retirement, working conditions, and labor hours) with those that were being provided in the private sector. They did their job. Now that the private sector's benefits have all been erroded how can you ask the average taxpayer to pay for benefits they themselves no longer have? I've worked in union environments and I have seen the good and bad at work. We all know those that have taken advantage of union rules. I would be more supportive of unions in general if they ousted those that abused the system instead of protecting them so vehemently! Time for a realty check.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • MiddleClass

      By jioning a Union

      March 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. raoul

    Its a fact, gov walker wants to save the day. He is cutting cash from middle class on down. What have the rich given up? We have lost our jobr, our houses, and figurativalx and literally our lives. Now walker and the republcans want mord. What and when wil5 the rich ante up? Really. Never. Their answer ir for us to provide 700 billion in tax cuts for them each year. I call it, food stamps for the rich.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dan

    There has been a gross mis-coverage of these union "supporter" protests across the country. The people protesting are not union supporters....they are union members. Union members a a vast minority of the population. The union members are the ones who fear change. To make these protest out to be supported by a vast majority of Americans is irresponsible. It the vast majority of Americans supported unions, why are there not more employees in unions. Why should it be an issue to make union membership optional (right to work). If unions are so great, everyone should want to be in one.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beemann

      How do you know if the people attending rallies are union members and not simply Americans who support the fundamental right to join together to better their lives? They are supporters of the right to bargaining with their employers for better wages and benefits, to redress grievances together because it ain't rocket science to figure out that there is strength – and safety -in numbers. The Founding Fathers did exactly that when they drafted the Declaration of Independence – America's first grievance!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Barbara Mann

    Why did you find it necessary to site a study as flawed as the USA Today analysis of the compensation for public employees compared to private sector employees when the study clearly says that it did not control for education or part time status. Are you really that desperate for a story? CNN = pathetic.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dale

    I think unions are a problem now; unions were formed because of employer abuse hundred years ago. Today there are labor laws in place and the U.S. work force is educated enough now.

    Today’s unions are nothing but big Corporation, organization, and have become corrupt, Creating all of these different employee benefit pyramids.
    These pyramids rely on permanent full-time employees that are paying in with matching employer funds to maintain the pyramid foundation.

    Today when an employer hires someone it is a temporary position they do not pay in for benefits or a union due which causes the pyramid to cave-in due to lack of support.

    In the many ways the unions were thinking to better the American way of life, but unions became union due hungry corrupt $$$.

    The only thing that they do now is manipulate hold the companies and the people they represent hostage to get their way $$$.

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

      what labor laws might those be?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
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