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. mike kerns

    Well the republican congress from 2001 thru 2007 bush gave huge tax cuts plus massive deregulation.and how was this dolf to the public.? The result was 10%. Drop in working class pay.massive job losses. Financial system meltdown.housing market collapse.and a 400% increase in our debt. So why after the worst economic performence since the last time we had a republican congress and president. So why if you work for a living not tar and feathering these radical right-wing thieves?

    March 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PDXSerric

    So where has the money been spent? Unions? Think again.

    Walker has been on all sides of many issues, including the two that he has made central to his campaign for governor: taxes and spending. While Walker wants the voters to perceive of him as a no-tax-increase budget hawk, the reality is that Walker has allowed the county’s spending to swell by more than a third, and its taxes to increase by almost 20%.

    Scott Walker’s proposed budget for 2003—*his first as county executive—suggested $1,100,274,125 in county spending.*

    One point one *billion*.

    *His proposed budget for 2010 suggested $1,481,577,120 in government spending. That amounts to a 35% increase in spending during his time as county executive.*

    Nearly one point five *billion*.

    Any Scott Walker campaign speech will also include a full dose of bumper-sticker slogans against higher taxes. But Walker runs into a problem between his talking points and reality on that issue as well. In his proposed budget for 2003, Walker suggested a $218,708,524 tax levy. In his 2010 budget he suggests $257,637,284.

    *That is nearly a $40 million (18%) increase over his time as county executive. These are his own numbers from his own proposed budgets and he should have to explain them to his supporters.*

    March 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rollingstone8

    if there are already laws to protect all workers at all levels – the federal workers wouldn't be protecting wouldn't they. thank the unions that you are not working in a sweatshop right now. it is becoming obvious now that this issue is not about the budget – it is about castrating the unions. koch's thugs are afraid of giving power to the working people. of course they should be.

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

    Check out some of the funny political shirts I found at the site absolutet-shirts. com

    March 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jon

    Get a load of the mug on that union thug. He personifies every nasty thought I've ever had about yankees in unions. Personally, I hate unions. They're principally made up of ignorant and useless thugs who use them for personal gain and protection to the detriment of everyone.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brian

    Unions = People doing the least amount of work possible and wanting to get paid as much as they can for it. They have dug their own graves for years.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Princeezee

    This is so sad but I have to say this, To every Dem who sat at home, refused to vote, and watched these thugs voted into office by Repugnant Tea-bugs, "You Reap What You Sow".

    But you will have another chance in 2012, DO NOT MESS IT UP AGAIN.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Charles

    wow the protesters are looking pretty upset and intimidating.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rudy

    agree with the governors. Cut cut cut especially those making a lot of money on a high school diploma and teachers who can barely count to 10. Yes, I admit it. I am a Democrat as well.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mikey

    These elected officials are simply following upthe platform for which they ran for office. The unions taking over state capitols appears to be an affront to democracy. The unions constant droning "Tax the Rich" does sound a bit like lets redistribute wealth, a rather Marxist ideology. I think the public unions should have a emplem with a hammer and sickle.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. EarnYourOwn

    I am still waiting to hear the Liberal response to why the Federal Government does not have a Union, and why can't State and Local governments adopt the Federal Employee Plan. Think I will be waiting a long while to hear back.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff S

    I love it. States are having an issue providing funding for the services we all rely on. All I here from the Unions is me me me. They are not doing a single thing to help, they are just lining up with their hands out.

    Screw it. Wisconsin should just cut other funding. Cut the state police services, cut transportation funding, and everything else.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jerry C

    Demonrat or RHINO doesn't matter. Bankrupting America is the goal to collapse the world reserve currency, $. Then a NWO with a computerized microchip to control everyone & everything. It's all a game and you've been played as a pawn. Bankrupt & have us fight each other, simple but effective. See the forest thru the trees.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ed

    Employees in the private sector are held acountable to performance standards. if they meet those standards, they move forward and are given improved compensation. If the they do not meet performance, they are given an opportunity to improve, and if they do not they are shows the door. This is good for private sector, but why is it not good for the public sector... This is about worker accountability, not collectively bargaining so that you are not being held accountable for your performance. There are already laws in place to protect workers, unions at this point are all about GREED and wanting increased benefits and compensation for decreased production and work quality. Unions have basically made the US steel industry extinct, they've come close to collapsing the auto industry, they've nearly collapsed the educational system. Allow the free market to dictate what the jobs SHOULD be paid. How many of us have been standing in line in the DMV, while everyone goes on break, regardless of who is waiting? Think that would happen if it was privatized? NO! People would hustling to get the job done...

    March 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • my

      Are you kidding me the government employees are the greedy selfish ones? Really? I wonder how it feels for a cop to go arrest a dangerous criminal whom the cops know are packing heat? How about the firefighters who drops into a fire zone from an airplane and spends two weeks with little or no sleep working 16 hours a day. How about a teacher who deals with spoiled rotten kids with indifferent parents on a daily basis. Some of those parents blame the teachers for their children's problems.

      Now look at some of the private corporations that noone is talking about. Lets look at the mortgage brokers who fooled people into signing loans that they could not afford or the Governor of Florida who made his money bilking the Federal Government out of billions of dollars. These corporations would literally do anything to make an extra buck, including SELLING OUT THEIR OWN COUNTRY! Now someone once again remind who the greedy and selfish people are?

      March 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JJ

    Jackbooted left-wing thugs

    March 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
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