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. Savetheworld

    This crisis has been in the works for decades. We just couldn't get the politicians, unions, educators, financial community or government workers to see it. To borrow money on a 25 year bond to build a new library or a govt. building was ludicrous. It's time everyone woke up and realized, if we don't stop the bleeding NOW, we could face a deeper depression than 1929. Unions, you have a good run, but now it's time to pay up.

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

    Still waiting on a Liberal answer to why State and Local Governements can't adopt the federal Emplyee model that does not envolve Unions? it has worked for decades for the feds. Think I will bee waiting along time before I get anything worth while.

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

    Unions have no business in government works. They have killed the productivity of our country and forced the exodus of jobs. Now the want to cripple our state. It's a joke what we pay for these days. No wonder we are broke

    March 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Not A Union Worker

    They should all go back to work, be thankful they have a job, and realize that very few other workers in this great country have something called a "pension," and that they are going to get used to the idea of saving for retirement, just like the rest of us working folks have had to for decades.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MIke Roberts

    Do these pro-union democrats think that by yelling really loud they will change the rules of mathematics so that a nearly $4 billion deficit won't exist. These union people are so selfish and greedy it's incredible. If you offered each of them $1 million a year in salary and benefits KNOWING THAT IT WOULD COME FROM THE TAXPAYERS, do you think any of them would say "no, that's not fair." GREED GREED GREED.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Yeah if that Govenor Walder wouldn't have given his crony rich friends that 3.5 billion dollar incentive package, the state workers wouldn't had to have given 5% of wages and 12% more to insurance. You do not have any of your facts to make an educated judgment. Just your thoughts and all about you.

      March 2, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Truth Seeker

    http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php?order=A

    Look at this list of Top All-time Donors since 1989. Look how many in the top 20 are labor unions. And not one of them contributes to the GOP. And look, Goldman Sachs, #5 on the list, donates heavily to the Dems. I'm so tired of the misinformation people spread.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Because maybe they try to get rid of unions? Because GOP is not for working ethics for the middle class? Why would anyone give to a group if they fight to dismantle it? Think about it.................

      March 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tubatub

    I love the fact that these union supporters are constantly trying to deflect the issue at hand. Please stop blaming the Republicans and corporations. The tax structure should be re-evaluated and corporations/banks should and hopefully will be held accountable for a variety of economic issues...that said, it has NOTHING to do with the tax payers funding your benefits! If union members were better informed (and cared), they would realize that most public agencies are broke...due in large part by there unreasonable compensation demands. The numbers don't lie. Enough with "collective bargaining". Federal public employees do not have this privilege ...why should you? Union members may not be at the top of the tax bracket, but when it comes to job security and benefits, they're at the top of the middle class. Public unions didn't build this country...on the contrary they have taken advantage of the taxpayer for years and are FINALLY being exposed by individuals who are attempting to bring this country back in the right direction.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe

    The Union workers have my support as well as apparently a strong majority of the American people's support. Last time I checked, teachers weren't exactly being compensated like CEOs anyway. The Wisconsin state workers' Unions have offered to make compensation concessions in light of the fiscal situation, but to curtail their bargaining rights now and into the future is simply a Republican political tactic to crush their labor opponents. Moreover, pensions are smart ways to provide stable retirements to working class folks, and pension plans invest in the economy fostering job and economic growth the Republicans usually argue we are not creating enough of.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Michele

    Amusing slogan, especially since bloated union and government pensions ARE what have destroyed our middle class.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. abrian

    I am all in favor of compensating people for hard work and the value they bring to their jobs “daily”, just like us in the private sector they should get pay for their skills and daily contribution not because they are protected by their union, unions had a place in this country but today they equate to inefficiencies and corruption. I often consult for a unionized county department and I see how the newly hired employees work hard and try to advance while the old dinosaurs are lazy and complaisance their motto is “we have paid our due”, the problem is we pay their salaries and second problem when is time for cut back the hard workers newly hired are the first to go and the lazy dinosaurs stay, VERY BAD MODEL.

    If the union members are so unhappy with their jobs they should go back to school and retrain themselves and look for other jobs just like everyone else had to.

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

    protest storm encourage the whole world mid-classes to gain their rights ,
    Thanks to Tunssian & Egyptians revolts.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bigsk8fan

    republicans sure have a lot of hatred. just read this blog. i will never vote for another republican for as long as i live. republicans hate america, americans, and everything we stand for. why are they here instead of some fascist utopia that they keep dreaming about?

    March 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coldstar

      Because we want freedom, we hate America? Because we are sick and tired of you reaching into our pockets and stealing our money...we hate America? Since when is America a SOCIALIST COUNTRY?!

      March 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tiser

    Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit!
    We can get that for less than minimum wage. That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked, not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with
    45 min. off for lunch and planning– that equals 6 1/2 hours). Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day...maybe 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.
    However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations. LET'S SEE.... That's $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries). What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master's degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year. Wait a minute - there's something wrong here! There sure is!
    The average teacher's salary (nation wide) is $50,000.
    $50,000/180 days = $277.77 / per day /30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours =
    $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter
    (And they even EDUCATE your kids!)
    WHAT A DEAL!!!!
    *********************************************************************************************
    Make a teacher smile; repost this to show appreciation for all educators.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. abrian

    I am all in favor of compensating people for hard work and the value they bring to their jobs “daily”, just like us in the private sector they should get pay for their skills and daily contribution not because they are protected by their union, unions had a place in this country but today they equate to inefficiencies and corruption. I often consult for a unionized county department and I see how they newly hired employees work hard and try to advance while the old dinosaurs are lazy and complaisance their motto is “we have paid our due”, the problem is we pay their salaries and second problem when is time for cut back the hard workers newly hired are the first to go and the lazy dinosaurs stay.

    If the union members are so unhappy with their jobs they should go back to school and retrain themselves and look for other jobs just like everyone else had to.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Colonelphoenix

    As a former Hoosier who watched the unions kill the small towns and business off by demanding exorbinant wages and concessions and not think of the ramifications of that to the future costs of doing business, I would only have one thing to say to the protesters – buckle up and be prepared to either do without entirely or do with less. Those are the options when you have a faltering economy, fewer paying positions, and thousands of recepients of Government programs. Who do you think pays for those programs? If you answered the taxpayers, you are right. Now ask the other question – have the number of taxpayers increased to offset the costs incurred? If you answered NO, you'd be right. So all the protesters who are union members should be protesting your unions for getting you into this position.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
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