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. AceRyder

    Public employees earn more than the private sector, the get guaranteed retirement benefits, historically could retire after only 20 years, are in unions and therefore aren't the best service givers (think DMV, public works, etc; firefighters and police are generally a proud bunch who work hard).

    We are giving these public "servants" too much.

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

      Actually, that is not true. The USA Today study is flawed – they failed to control for things like education and part time v. full time status. they compared part time burger flippers in the private sector to public sector employees with masters' degrees.

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

    Unions are a joke, a one time good idea gone bad due to corruption, fraud and abuse...now they fork over millions to democrats in order to protect their themselves...where do all the union dues go? Into the pockets of democrats and union officials. All they want to do is keep their pockets lined with hard working peoples money. Its not the 1900's anymore, companies can't get away with the things they used to when there weren't any government oversight and regulations...unions is a anitquated concept that needs to go.

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

    I am curious as to who is paying the salaries of these protesters and who is having to do their jobs back where they are employed and absent.

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

      Real taxpayers of course. 🙂

      March 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beemann

      Are you serious? Do you really think that people just ran away from their jobs to go protest? They take earned vacation time, they work the night shift, they are students, they attend during lunch breaks or on their days off – obviously they think it is important to be there. People are fighting for everyone's right improve their lives. You're welcome.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Andrea

    A friend of mine today sent me an op-ed about the Wisconsin mess, and it boiled down to: Elections have consequences. It would be interesting to see what percentage of protesters actually voted.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Con me not

    This is what happens when you let foreign countries donate money to crooked politicians mainly republicans.China donates so republicans can run their lying ads on tv and radio so they can get elected to ship your job overseas to china.The same goes for oil and the middle eastern countries.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. stan

    Manufacturing jobs outsourced as an opportunity to make more money...unions were a direct reason for the outsourcing...I wish we could outsource teachers, fireman, policeman & other public workers so they realize just how good they have it

    March 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John Calif

    The Attorney General seemed to take personal offense at a comment Culberson read in which former Democratic activist Bartle Bull called the incident the most serious act of voter intimidation he had witnessed in his career.

    "Think about that," Holder said. "When you compare what people endured in the South in the 60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, to compare what people subjected to that with what happened in Philadelphia, which was inappropriate....to describe it in those terms I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line for my people," said Holder, who is black.

    Holder is CLEARLY a racist.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David

    @Against unions (bullies): Amen brother! Employees should be graded on individual merit and performance, not a part of a "Borg" collective. Too many lazy under-performers continue to have jobs because of the unions. Bad teachers continue to have jobs because of the unions. They have outlived their time and need to go...

    March 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Former Democrat

    It's the 21st Century, Unions have lost their purpose.
    There are many labor laws on the federal books (unlike in the 1930's) these days that protect employees at ALL levels. The only thing the Unions do now is try to squeeze companies into giving perks such has lower insurance premiums, fully paid pensions and higher than market value salaries (just a few samples). All of these falling on the taxpayers when the unions are public/government unions. I for one am offended that my tax dollars have to go to assist paying extra benefits to workers who are not on MY payroll.

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

      Yeah like Govenor Walker. Former DEM the audio of Walder and rich friend Koch Bros. was released and the only objective was to crush the union and laugh about how they will treat the workers. Either your Govenor Walker or Koch Bros. because you cannot be a middle class worker. The Unions gave us the laws we have. The only reason they want to destroy it is to punish the workers and make them pay for the banks greed and stupidity. Maybe Walker should not have given his cronys all the tax breaks before he asked the middle class for money. And the middle class already had agreed to insurance hikes and 5% concessions.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bob

    Republicans are pretty stupid people, for the most part. They go around supporting billionaires thinking that somehow the will receive some kind of benefit from their support. But what they will get instead is minimum wage jobs without benefits – which is still more than the billionaires want to pay. See you in Pottersville my foolish republican neighbor.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DoctorWHO

    unions are modern day Mafia thugs in some instances. In upstate NY they got elective cosmetic surgery for members and families – GET REAL. who gave them that and for what in return.

    we could not make changes without tons of rules. So in other words to help a county hospital run better and lower costs we had to walk then talk and deal with the union. We were changing some jobs from keypunching to Scanning and ran into walls and they wanted something every time we proposed a change or someone was yelling that's not fair.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Richxx

    Get a bunch of union workers together and rage is the word. Fueled by each other they become an uncivilized mob. Even well educated teachers take on the mentality of aircraft workers. I hope they all lose their jobs by preventing the States from balancing their budgets.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wabbit

    Its all broken. Nothing will fix us now. We will argue ourselves into oblivion.

    Goodbye "United" States of America

    March 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Former Democrat

    Obama's keeping quiet on this issue because he know that on one had he needs the Unions cash and on the other hand the majority of the United States is against public Unions. Its fun watching Obama dance on this stage.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      He came out on Monday and supported the unions non-Dem. You did not read the article? He said taking away the bargaining right was not getting anymore money.

      March 2, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. GeorgianForSolidarity

    How in the world are people thinking it's OKAY to dismantle unions? Please. Understand it to me. I want to know there is some logic.
    But, THERE'S NOT.
    THERE IS NOTHING MORE AMERICAN THAN UNIONS.
    Any of you people in Walker's favor actually belong to a union? Nope? Didn't think so.

    Repubs are so gung- ho for the wipeout of the Middle Class, they don't know which end is up! But newsflash to all you brain dead "conservatives"- YOU make up more of the lower classes in this country than Democrats.

    Ridiculous. Unforgivable. Walker should first take the stick out of his ass and then resign. And then BEG for Americans to forgive him. Honestly, that man should be in GITMO. Or at least a good shrink's office.

    Shame on Governor Walker and MORE SHAME on you who lack the mental capacity to think for yourselves and support this tyrant. Shame.

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