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. EarnYourOwn

    They need desolve all Public Unions and implement the Federal Government Employees System (GS) and a Pay for Performance based review system. This system has worked for decades for the Feds why not the state and local levels? Probably because Dems won't have Union pockets to reach into when it comes election time.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DADvocate

    "Rally to Save Ohio's Middle Class" I could puke. I'm part of Ohio's middle class. All they're rallying for is the power to make me pay more taxes and keep benefits, etc that the rest of the middle class don't enjoy.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark B.

    Listen – private sector unions are ok. It is the Public Employee unions that have bloated , corrupted and taken advantage of rank and file for poltical gain. These chumps screaming are NOT the middle class as they would have you believe.
    Their benefits, raises, overtime and retirement packages rival Wall Street's and are breaking the backs of the REAL middle class. DO NOT FALL FOT THEIR BRAVADO!

    March 1, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      It would be nice to see some stats to back these claims up otherwise every idiot could make them. Oh wait...

      March 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hugo Stiglitz

    These are the same government workers who treat me like garbage when I go to the DMV, Court House, Social Security Building etc etc. NO Unions. I do not want to pay for their bloated salaries and benefits. NO UNIONS!

    March 1, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brian

    Welcome to the Collapse.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John Calif

    The unions were once needs but their time has come. Come into the 21st century FleeBaggers. You're more than welcome to.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. enoughis

    The only people supporting unions are dumbocrats and those in one! Yes, I spelled it dumbocrats.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • patrick

      How witty of you

      March 1, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • lionhart

      Spoken like a true DUMpublican

      March 1, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave in Ohio

      Libs laugh at us conservatives and call us "teabaggers". Well, I'd rather be a T-bag than a D-bag!

      March 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TheGiant89

    A few years back the United Autoworkers Union was under fire. This was partly the fault of the auto workers, but it was also in part to the current economic situation. No one stood up and fought for the UAW, you didn't see any of these big protests and debates for them. Auto workers got the shaft, but then they are not the only Americans hurting in the current economic situation. Public employees however are one of the few groups that are relatively unaffected by all this, their incomes are guaranteed. John Doe a former GM employee maybe unemployed and flat broke but he still must pay taxes to pay the salaries and benefits of public employees. People keep saying this debate on unions is about people trying to kill the middle class. The middle class is already dead and has been for a few years now, you are now either rich, or the "Working poor". I side with the Gov. of Wisconsin, crush the unions... welcome the Public employees to the party of the "Working poor"

    March 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • irav57

      Seriously, how can you cry poor UAW when they get layoff and still collect 95% of their pay. Why don't you tell the guy that got laid off from a"Union" construction job that. Really!!!

      March 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fred

    If they really wanted to save the middle class, they'd quit the unions.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. YoMod

    The Conservatives agenda – Send the jobs to China and cut the middle class worker wages & his bargaining rights and ensure the CEOs take home a bigger paycheck from improved profitablity bcoz of lowering of wages. In reality the people at the top/CEOs etc have done nothing except make sure these conservatives are paid to keep this policy going.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. irav57

    So how many of these so call protesters are actually "paid" protester. How much is the union paying them to stand out there? I think it is time someone grew a pair an cuts back on the fat that government turns it's head on. Why should the people that have to struggle from day to day pay for someone to get paid for standing in a building for nothing. This should be the group of people that are getting screwed, the average worker needs to get the break not the unions!

    irav57

    March 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Davel

    Walker is just another arrogant Republican full of "Spin"... The unions agreed to the cuts, but that is not enough for him...He wants to silence their voices permanently... This is nothing more than union busting... Worth millions to the top 1% as the result of him being successful would impact workers, both union and non-union, negatively across the country...If you support him in the hopes that your taxes will go down or the price of goods will decrease... you have a serious "selfishly stupid" disorder... consult your doctor.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Big Brother

    I would like to see the Governor of Wiscounsin what's his name give up the same amount of salary, health and retirement benefits as he is asking teachers, firefighters, police officers, nurses and the rest of the state workers give up. His pockets are full of money from rich Republican Corporations who want to control the media and the backbone of america. We are getting ready to send millions if not billions to save the Arab countries yet we can't find money to pay our own teachers. Something is wrong here... If we did not have Unions working conditions in america would be the same as a sweat shop. Governor walker will never be re-elected again. Mark my word. His fifteen minutes is almost over. Rich Republican Corporations will make sure that he is taken care off. Wake up republicans!!!!!

    March 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Justin

    Unions have always made great sense for the public workers, you know, the people who take care of you and even those close to you. Want to see education go down the drain? Kill unions. Want to see progress from education? Don't promise tenure to teachers unless there is a form of assessment to warrant them maintaining their jobs. What I don't get, is that the people of Wisconsin already said they would pay more for insurance and pensions, yet the republicans wouldn't meet them halfway with keeping collective bargaining...talk about a one way agenda...

    March 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. James

    First the Tea Party came for the "socialists",
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a socialist.

    Then they came for the immigrants,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an immigrant.

    Then they came for the unionists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a unionist.

    I wonder where this will end?

    March 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      When the middle class is gone and we're back to the days Upton Sinclair wrote about in "The Jungle".

      March 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just A Teacher

      And the they came for the teachers...
      And I didn't speak up because I didn't know how.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
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