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. private sector worker

    Can the union employees pay my healthcare costs, please?

    March 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • ProperVillain

      I don't think they care about private industry people such as ourselves. As long as we are footing their bill for full and practically free health coverage for them, they are apathetic and happy. As usual.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • job killer

      yeah, sure. Just drop insurance and go to the emergency room. That's what everyone else does. Then people who have insurance get to pay for it. It's the American way.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. goodjob2

    Remember, the majority are the quiet one, the big mouths that keep making all that whining noise can be crushed if we stand together…

    March 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bryan

    NEWS FLASH!! All middle class employees do not work for the public! In fact, the public ie. taxpayers are sick of giving their money to fat-cat unions and their spoiled brat employees. So if these jokers think their speaking for the public ie ME, no, we do not need unions anymore and all they are is another form of welfare.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • dannycco

      It's NOT welfare because we pay into the pension system. The states are threatening to take away money that we have already paid them. That's the problem. Imagine if the federal government tried to take away the social security system that you have paid into for your whole career. Educate yourself before you speak.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • TB

      The Government is already taking our money and more. Pretty soon, they will have taken all of it.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. job killer

    Yes, someone who works at McDonalds makes less money than someone who holds an advanced degree. That's true anywhere, not just private vs public. If you take into account experience and education, public sector pay with benefits are typically 4% less than private sector.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • common sense

      One word describes both sides of this issue: GREED
      in the 20th century, unions did a very worthwhile service to the 'middle class". Then they were infiltrated with organized crime. Remember Hoffa?? They work and bargain from threats. Their time is up.
      Management is no better. Most care nothing about their employees beyond production percentages.
      I once was proud to be called an american. Those days are gone.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. get rid of unions

    Unions have ruined the nation. It's time for them to go. From working middle class in right to work state. We are tired of protected workers getting special treatment when we are expected to perform to keep our jobs and company in business. I have no desire to share my hard earned gains with others. If you want decent living get a job and earn it. don'e expect me to pay you for not working.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • job killer

      This doesn't even make sense. Why would you have to share your hard earned dollars with people who are not working? Anyone can be fired in a union, all of the rules for firing or releasing workers is negotiated by the union and the employer. If these rules are not benefiting both sides they can be renegotiated. Union workers who complain about the current system just need to address these issues during negotiations. I'm sure your employer would be happy to make it easier to release/fire people working below expectations.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • dam

      Your right, we should all work for 3$ a day. Any other form of argument and your a gd commie!

      March 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      My, you are a miserable person. One can only assume you want teachers to go back to the status they enj oyed before certification began, which was they were fired for so called"moral infractions" such as ordering a drink at a bar. The benefits, such as pensions, were disposed of by private employers in favor of 401ks because it released them from the obligations they felt they would be facing from an aging workforce. GM was one of the last holdouts in that regard. Do you really think its fair to summarily dispose of the benefits they have spent a lifetime accruing? This is a fundamental issue of fairness to everyone, not just to satisfy some absurd bloodlust you have for a movement its obvious you don't understand. What is more to the point, you have exposed what the legislation si really about, which is destroying unions, not correcting some perceived wrong.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Richxx

    States have no money! States have no money! Taxes have been lowered to much to sustain the states high budgets. These union workers are nothing but a mob. They have no real solution to the problems. They just want their way. If they want to keep the status quo they need to recommend where to get the money to pay them.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baruch

      You made quite a leap there. Taxes have been cut too much, so the unions must now be broken...huh?? How about reversing the tax cuts on the wealthy and the big corporations? They all got rich because of workers here in this country and yet they do not pay their share.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      How about EVERYONE pays a flat 21% tax across the board? Doesn't matter how much you make from 5,000 a year to 5 billion, 21% gets the country out of debt in 5 years.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baruch

      Robert I like the flat tax idea too, but I think there has to be an exemption for people at the bottom of the scale. If someone is earning $15,000 a year, and believe me there are people earning that little who work, to have to give $3000 of it in taxes is going to be really harsh.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • TB

      @ Robert: You are brilliant. And I sincerely mean that. But it would never work. It's too simple.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Then raise taxes. If people want things, they need to pay for them. Seems pretty simple to me. These are public sector workers, dealing with all you primamdonnas who demand top notch services and skip out on the bill at the first available opportunity. Did you really expect them to be in a great mood?

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

      How about the wealthiest 1 % of America paying their fair share of taxes ???
      *************************************************************************************************
      REPUBLICAN'S "ROBIN HOOD" ECONOMICS !!!
      Steal from the Poor – Give to the Rich !!!

      March 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobbie

      You've got that backwards Tiser It's the liberal policy that is "Robin Hood" economics. Take from the rich and give to the poor. That's what Robin Hood did, not the complete opposite you said.

      March 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. beowulf2

    Don't give into the union thugs

    March 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BustDaUnion

    Bust all Unions NOW !!! They all have to go. Time to get real jobs.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Name a real job with comparable pay and/or benefits.

      No answer? What a surprise.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. goodjob2

    must be nice to have all this "free time", shows you how hard they work!!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • TB

      Exactly! I could never take weeks off at a time to protest.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Coldstar

    When will people understand basic economics?!
    Complaining about corporate tax cuts – guess what? Corporations PAY NO TAXES – WE DO, every time we buy a product that has been marked up to cover the tax difference. Cut corporate tax rates to 0!

    Additionally, please stop saying that public employees are tax payers – THEY ARE NOT TAXPAYERS – it's identical to this: If I give you $1.00 and you give me back $.10, you are NOT paying me, you have cost me $.90. Public employees are the employees of TAX PAYERS and as employees, MUST ABIDE BY THE RULES SET FOR BY THEIR EMPLOYER – or find another job. Stop getting uppity with us (real tax payers) or we'll simply stop paying for you.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • TB

      Excellent comment.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Middleground

      Interesting arguement. But I believe you left an important part of your equation out. If you give me 1$ and I give you 8 hours labor, and give you .10$ back then yes, we are both contributing equally. Unless your employer just hands you cash, and doesn't require anything in return.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coldstar

      Mr. Middleground, yes, you are (hopefully) providing a service for the money you receive, but that still does not make you a taxpayer as you're not contributing monetarily to the system paying you...meaning, you're not increasing the tax rolls...it's still a loss. The government is parasitical in nature, in that it must feed off of taxes because it has no money of it's own...

      March 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. doctor dooooooooooolittle

    get rid of the unions! they are ruining everything everywhere! it's just one big scam just like scientology! it's all about money and power – NOT about the employees!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Middleground

      " its all about power and money, not the employees."
      And this is different from any group in the US how?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Wdrad

    You people are idiots if you think the middle class is represented by "blue collar" workers. If anything thats the lower middle class. And guess what, life ISNT FAIR. If your income changes you have to adjust your way of living.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • kristen

      Why should the people who have the least give up the most......i think that all these republicans should start digging in their own pockets and not mine! They can afford to give up one of their five yachts!i can't afford not to have a roof over my kids head!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • TB

      @Kristen: Dems have yachts too. Does the name "Charles Rangel" ring a bell? Dems and Reps both live the same, they just preach differently.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      @ TB: Dems don't forget where they came from. Thats why we fight for these things, even if we do have a yacht. If you like, I'll send you a pic of mine, I'm sure its worth more than your house. Btw, how much is your mortgage, or are you in foreclosure?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ricw

    Lets uncage all the out of work low lives to creat havac and scream and create a scene to justify the pay and benefits that these Union workers get.. The time has come, Right to work for all States!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Blackstroke

    I'll bet the dimwits voted for that republican. Now he's paying them back

    March 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fermin

    The time has arrived to also look at all the benefits it costs the American people to support the politcians. The news agencies should gather and post what it cost year after year and what benefits they get for life.let's balance the budget from the top.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
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