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. Greg Gilbert

    This is all overblown. When the democrats come into power on the next swing they can put everything back the way it was. I know democracy sucks but you don't get your way all the time.

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

    Swiping this from Larry Geddes: A public union employee, a tea party activist and a CEO are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies in the middle of it. The CEO takes 11 of the cookies, turns to the tea partier and says, "Watch out for that union guy; he wants a piece of your cookie"

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

    And obviously mauser you Connies forget that Reagan functioned with only half a brain for much of his reign, which of course explains quite a bit about the fascination.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Duane - St.Pete FL

    wow, the union thugs are screaming because they may lose their security blanket......what a bunch of BABIES. Welcome to the real world you bunch of lazy loud mouths. Here's a crazy idea, be good at what you do and you will always have a job. UNIONS SUCK

    And you Democrats....it's so funny how you all have shown what a temper tantrum looks like.....not getting my way...I'm leaving and stomping my feet the whole way. BABIES, UNPROFESSIONAL and STUPID, yeah, that about covers it.....:o)

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

    It's amazing that some people here are so gullible and stupid that they ACTUALLY seem to believe the union guys who pick up your trash are the "privileged elite" and the corporate billionaires like the Koch brothers are regular guys who are getting ripped off. These useful idiots vote against their own interests and serve America's right-wing, the most destructive and immoral force in our nation. Amazing.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry B

      Exactly!

      March 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Obamination

    And so it begins...

    March 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TigerFan91

    Bust the Public Sector Unions NOW. Trumpka & Andy Stern might as well have their own keys to the Oval Office. Crooked Unions fund Crooked Democrats. ENOUGH. Time for the Democratic Party to stand on their own rather than recieve payola from the Crooked Unions.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Check the facts Tiger fan. In the last election the groups giving the most money for the democrats were unions that ranked 5, 6, and 7 in giving. Republicans controlled 1,2,3,4,8,9,and 10th places in the most given. Much of that came from groups bankrolled by the Koch brothers and other billionaires.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. vegas01

    Amazing how the media spent so much time trying to find boisterous individuals at Tea Party rallies and discredit them as 'staged goons' but now supports the pro-public sector union collective bargaining protests that are admittedly 'staged' by liberal groups and condoned by Dem politicians to include Obama. What happened to 'grass-roots' is what counts?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paul

    Republicans won't stop until every "wage" earner is earning less. The plan is to dismantle the pulblic unions, then the private unitons, then anyone making a decent wage. The R's have once again proven that the working class is beneath them as they represent the rich. Stand strong America. The Republicans have gone too far to the right and the sleeping giant has awakened.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tessa

    Jeeze, these folks are militant and obnoxious, and then they wonder why we don't want to be anything like them. I know, I know, if we'd all just do as they say everything would be utopia. What a bunch of sanctimonious jerks. Give the union members YOUR money if you want, just keep your hands off of mine. I will not let my family do without in order to make theirs richer.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dj23

    if they cant work, why dont we just fire them and replace them with people willing to work? unions are almost as frustrating as newborn triplets

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

    One man is trying to tell a whole union of people they have no right to bargain for their rights: Tell me we don't need unions!

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

    Screw unions. They are good for nobody but the members. These organization artificially drive up prices and contribute toward inefficient work practices. There was a time when these were needed, but no longer.

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

    Unions give us the cities like Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland. Oh that's right, these cities are thriving with manufacturing jobs. NOT! Also, these thugs actually only work 4 out of the 8 hrs of the day if we are lucky. Last I checked Wisconsin education system produced some of the worst scores in the nation. Anybody wonder why that is and why these teachers feel they need more money. Get rid of them all and bring in the educated teachers who actually teach and get this country on the right track by educating our youth.

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

    There is no "RIGHT" to collective barganing. State employees might want to take note of their Federal counterparts:

    Fact: President Obama is the boss of a civil work force that numbers up to two million (excluding postal workers and uniformed military). Fact: Those federal workers cannot bargain for wages or benefits. Fact: Washington, D.C. is, in the purest sense, a "right to work zone." Federal employees are not compelled to join a union, nor to pay union dues. Fact: Neither Mr. Obama, nor the prior Democratic majority, ever acted to give their union chums a better federal deal.
    Scott Walker, eat your heart out.
    For this enormous flexibility in managing his work force, Mr. Obama can thank his own party. In 1978, Democratic President Jimmy Carter, backed by a Democratic Congress, passed the Civil Service Reform Act. Washington had already established its General Schedule (GS) classification and pay system for workers. The 1978 bill went further, focused as it was on worker accountability and performance. It severely proscribed the issues over which employees could bargain, as well as prohibited compulsory union support.
    Democrats weren't then (and aren't now) about to let their federal employees dictate pay. The GS system, as well as the president and Congress, sees to that. Nor were they about to let workers touch health-care or retirement plans. Unions are instead limited to bargaining over personnel employment practices such as whether employees are allowed to wear beards, or whether the government must pay to clean uniforms. These demands matter, though they are hardly the sort to break the federal bank.

    From Fri. WSJ

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