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. sequoia

    We must and will FIGHT against the right-wing's attempts to steal our freedom, destroy the middle classs and make us all slaves to the corporate oligarchy. They are destroying this country and ruining the lives of millions of American families. How about fewer tax cuts for corporations and millionaires instead of killing the American middle class? Unions are the only reason workers have ANY rights in this country and we WILL defend them. I support American workers over corporate greed and right-wing oppression. What side are YOU on?

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

      Start paying taxes instead of being paid with taxes and I'll listen.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kyle

    Unions were created because Rich Republican owners were paying SLAVE wages to their employee's. Anyone that thinks going back to the old way is an idiot.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane - St.Pete FL

      maybe in the 30's tard......it's 2011. no is getting paid .30 cents an hour anymore. If you are being taken advantage of, leave and get another job or start your own business. Only lossers want a union to do there biding for them....be a man and do it yourself.....sissies....

      March 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mapper44

    Unions have served a good purpose, particularly in their early days. Nowadays, they are "starch" in the fabric of employment. Unions keep things neat, crisp, and appealing during sunny, good times. They also remove flexibility; flexibility is very important during stormy times of stress. Too much Starch also can cause unnecessary discomfort
    anytime; we don't starch unemployment for those being "represented." Public sector unions, on the other hand, don't have to worry about those icky profit and survivability things, because we KNOW where "public" money comes from.
    Flexibility, in the public sector, consists of choosing between what are often modest pay raises during good times, and stellar pensions during bad times. Other bennies are sweetened up whenever. But, we have a president who really loves starch.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. personny

    Wow! http://nopolicestate.com

    March 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Avg Txpyr

    PLEASE stop using the taxpayer's children as human shields for your cause! When your household income changes for the worse all will share some of the burden.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kakaraka

    Roll back all those tax cuts to the riches. That would solve these budget issue instead of smatching middle class organized in group (unions) to defend their interest. It will now be big corporations, koch brothers against middle class. In the next elections, chose a democrat to avoid all these problems.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Reason

    @ZweiStein

    huh? What are you disputing exactly?

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

      @Reason.....Your reply "Bush is no longer in office," gave me (and still does) the impression that you were implying that just because Obama is now the President, that all our econ problems were of his (Obama's) doing. Did I get the wrong impression? BTW, it took me forever to get back to that post. Good luck if you can find your way back to this. ZS

      March 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. The Sonman

    I just wonder how our government would treat/react if what we see happing in Lybia was happening in Wisconsin?

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

    This is not just a union issue it is an American one. If we allow then to stop saying when we can protest then that is when we start lossing are rights as Americans! This is not okay in anyway and all people need to see this for what it is and that is an attempt to change are American rights!!!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Fred

    41 states where public workers out-earn their private counterparts. --

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-03-01-1Apublicworkers01_ST_N.htm

    March 1, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • DannyBoy

      And whose fault is that? Start a union and gain equality.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NoUnionsThnx

    Unions are a money laundering scheme used by Democrats and the public has to pay for it. Anyone who says this is for the "middle class" does not know what they are talking about. Unions are an antiquated form of establishment that serves no purpose other than itself. People who are unqualified or whatever can not be terminated, mandatory raises regardless of performance. The list goes on and on. Google "Top Donations 1989-2010" Big surprise the top 14 are to the Democrats. Good job looking out for the little guy!

    I also like the derp comment "we are in this mess because of Republican tax cuts for the rich" The tax cut was across the board, not for a select few. Just because in your socialistic thought process, "people who make more have to pay more" did not happen then all of a sudden its tax cuts for the rich. How about this. Flat tax no exemptions?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JLopez2011

    Somebody said today in the news (retired public worker) that he is not millionary and he only receive $3700.00 pension monthly just $3700.00 plus the Social Security pension (plus the health care), and he think that is nothing, tell me who, just one regular no union worker receive $3700.00 monthly pension plus Social Security, the regular worker receive the Social Security and in the last two years they no get any rise and the Social Security at least cover their expenses (without counting inflation) and they trying to keep afloat and losing their homes because can't paid for the out of reality property taxes the one's that yet keep their homes, and everybody tell me that is this a fair game, no way. The Union went too far and they bankruptcy the City, Counties, States and the Country for sure.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Barry B

    The only reason there ever was a middle class was because of unions. When corperate America and government busted the unions that started the decline. I can't belive people are so brainwashed to think that this is the unions fault. We all need to organize. That is the only thing that will improve the situation. We need strong unions to even the playing field.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bon

    GOP (goofing off professionals). I remember a time when the republican party actual had serious stand up leaders. The GOP has become a puppet for the corporations. The ultra wealthy are the share holders of this country. Since they have been able to privatize some of the military, schools, governt services etc. They are now trying fold the

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

      What you just said is exactly what the "sheeple" think. Democrats want to make you think they are for the little guy however end up doing more harm in the long run. If you think its one party versus another, you really need to watch more than liberal media.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rsprings

    If you want to save the middle class..cut taxes more and spend less. Bring Union work more in line with the private sector. The Union thuggery is absurd.

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