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. Franpar

    This is union busting at its finest courtesy of the Koch brothers.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. West Hollywood Hairy

    So if Government Jobs pay better than the public sector, at what percentage of public sector jobs is acceptable before we all work for the government?

    March 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ed

    I think the public employee unions will finally get the message when a couple big states go bankrupt and then wipe out their pension obligations, just like what has happened in the private sector to millions of workers. Their generous health care benefits paid for largely by hard-working, tax-paying families employed in the private sector will be gone right after their fat, bloated pensions. Next will come headcount reductions based on performance, not seniority. Welcome to the real world, public sector employees. Think you can compete out here?

    March 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Ed, I don't think you could last one day in my classroom.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rich

    I am a teacher in NJ who currently pays into the pension program, pays into my health insurance (prescription and dental), Our district does not offer the state plan. Although, I still have to pay 1.5% of my salary to the state for benefits for those people that do take it. I make about 55,000 dollars. I have been a teacher for 15 years, I work summers. What about the rest of the people in the state? They should have to buck up too, I didn't create this problem with health care. Go after them, they can raise the rates 25% in a year and the state government does nothing about it.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Braveshopper

    Please do organize! I make $7.50 an hour. No sick days, no comp. days, no insurance, no hoildays save Christmas and New Year's day. I would like at least a half hour for lunch, but our boss sends us home at 2:00 p.m. to avoid 'lunch' – we get 20 minutes. And yes, I live in the U.S. As long as Corporation is king, the U.S. will sink lower than Death Valley. My grandson, who lives in Canada, makes as much working part time after school as I do all week. He makes $12.50 an hour. He also has health insurance, which I do not enjoy. Wake up America. What once was a good nation has changed for the worse.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeremias

    Before anyone condemns unions and the right to collective bargaining, they need to think about who's interests that really serves. People are so easily angered and persuaded to viewpoints, but does anyone really think the folks feeding everyone those lines care at all about "real hard working Americans". This is simply about money and power. Those that have it want more, and they don't want to share. Ao many of the comments here are written by people so clearly fleeced. Please open your eyes and have the courage to think for your selves...

    March 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lee Oates

    Its about time America started to fight back against the right-wing facist who are trying to destroy it. You certainly have my support.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. J. Mark Lane

    I say turn Gadaffi lose on these union thugs.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. G

    To all, let me inform you don't mess with peoples lively hoods. I was 17 years old and involved in a big labor dispute of the California big 3 supermarkets and you anti union people have no idea. If it was not for unions we would all be living like the people of poor countries. Why? because of people like you that let big companies lay them down and do as they please with them. Good job republicans betray the hard working people. o yeah and on the picketing line it got very nasty and republicans thought it was funny to purposely cross the line. recall these anti American worker fools now .

    March 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SaneCanadian

    You amerkuns are so amusing. You decry the demise of the middle class and in the same breath curse the unions who are its last best hope. You swallow hook line and sinker the corporate propaganda and look the other way while the government lines the pockets of the fabulously wealthy. You really do deserve this situation for being so freaking gullible.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JJ

    all the money I make comes from Corporations

    March 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Harold Anderson

    These Unions are the middle classe's last hope. If they loose their rights, prepare for all of us in the Middle Class to lose our rights to the Wealthiest 10% of Americans.

    The Wealthiest 10% of Americans are bullying the Politicans into crushing any rights the Middle Class has left.

    Welcome to extreme Class Warfare America! This is just the beginning!

    March 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bigsk8fan

    republicans will face this issue again in 2012 when the american middle class remembers exactly how the republicans started a war on the middle class.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ant

    This will have legs and it is growing in Florida they are having large turnouts.

    The reason the GOP Senator went to talk to the Dems is he is now feeling the heat and as time moves on they all will.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Don

    They own both sides of the table in what they call negotiations.

    They have the powerful and political active union itself.
    We can tell how powerful they are when state Senators go into hiding to protect them.

    Then they are negotiating with the elected officials whom they have spent large sums of money to have elected to those positions.
    Why would an elected official go into hiding unless he or she is afraid of what the union will do if they don't vote pro union?

    How can that be considered fair negotiations when the state unions have favorite standings on both sides of the negotiating table.

    Who else in this country has this type of power over their own salary and benefits?

    We need a change and need it now.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
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