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. Sick & tired

    The GOP strategy as always is to divide & conquer. They always need a scape goat. At the moment it is public employees. Public employees do a job that was deemed necessary and fairly advertised to all. If you qualify for one of those jobs you had the opportunity to go for it. You chose not to or you weren't good enough. The GOP wants to blame budget shortfalls on teachers, firemen, policemen, scientists and many others who do difficult jobs that no one else wants to or can do. Meanwhile, taxes are lower than they have been since Harry Truman. We can't raise taxes to the level they were under Eisenhower or Nixon or Reagan? Malarkey. This is smoke and mirrors. I seem to remember a time within recent memory when we ran a budget surplus and were regularly reducing the deficit. Taxes were higher & people had jobs. The answer from the GOP is always the same. Running a surplus? We need a tax cut. Times are tough? We need a tax cut? Why? Because the GOP are owned body & soul by the likes of the Koch brothers. What do they want? No regulations so they can churn out profits without worrying about the health effects of the pollution they generate on everyone else. Low wages and a work force convinced that it's the best they can do. Eight years of unregulated everything including financial markets led to the financial collapse that is now effecting all of us except those who caused it. Bailed out wall street executives must receive their bonuses to retain their "talent" and meet their contracts. But teachers, or research scientists or policemen must take a cut from their contracts AND must loose the ability to bargain. Nonsense. Raise the capitol gains tax to match what wage earners pay in tax on their earnings. Let the wealthy give back the tax concessions they have been given to level the playing field. These guys did not just get rich from the "free market" It is ridiculous to expect that all of the adjustments must come from the working people. If you want to see what countries look like where all the wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few and everyone else works for whatever the rich are willing to pay in their generosity you need only look to Mexico, almost anywhere in the middle east, most of Africa and the rest of the third world.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joe The Plumbass

    The only jobs that are left in America are the Government job,now you want to take that away.
    Why don't we hired people in Indians and China for less, so we can balance our Budget.
    While you are at it, might as well shut down everything and post store for rent, since they will all be empty.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AllStooges

    Notice how the guy in the picture looks like Curly Howard? What a stooge. Shut your yapper, it's not very becoming. Whoop whoop whoop!

    March 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rikers

    These people have got to realize there is compromise if things are going to get any better.

    March 1, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John in PA

    I hate the term "working familiies", as in "Democrats support working famiilies".

    After getting graduate level education, my wife and I each work 10 hour days and we have an income in the top 10% in the USA. Does that NOT make us a working familiy? Isn't it the American way that, if you are smart, get yourself educated, and work hard, you can do well?

    it seems there is an entire party of politicians out there who don't respect or want to protect the rights of families like ours.

    They should treat us a little better – after all, the top 10% of earners pay something like 50% of all taxes ALREADY! (and the top half pays something like 95% – which means about HALF the country effectively pays almost none of the total tax burden. Hmmmm, how is THAT fair?)

    March 1, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tidho

    These Republican Governers are not the villians here. They are faced with economic realities. Its not a matter of phylisophical debate, its 8th grade math.

    Unions are expensive and they create an uncompetative environment. The high taxes needed to support public unions mean less private sector jobs. Its an absolute economic death spiral.

    Unions, want to make the problem go away? Become competative and impliment accountability measures (this means you teachers) .

    March 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beemann

      You really think that public employee wages are to blame for the conomic crisis? Your 8th grade math teacher should be fired.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Franpar

    While unions are not perfect they protect us from domination by corporate interests. Corporations routinely abused workers and their rights. It took the triangle shirt factory fire in the 1920's when over 140 men women and children died because the doors where locked from the outside and they either burned to death or lept from windows. It took getting beat-up by company thugs for workers to get the rights they deserved. If you don't think corporations wouldn't still "screw" the worker if they had the chance just consider the greed and avarice of Wall Street, handing out huge bonuses as we the "the poor schmucks" bail them out!

    March 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rikers

    Funny how their middle class rhetoric always enters into it.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John

    and so it went with the USSR just prior to it's collapsed as the second superpower. I'd suggest that you start stocking provisions as the US collapsed won't be nice either.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ctc

    First I am from a southern state, we don't have union workers in public jobs. I am not a union worker and don't wnat to be, but others do. Every worker in a non management positions can thank the unions for the work they have done for many years for pay scales, benifits, and keeping a job. I said our state doesn't have union teachers, so our education levels are below those of northern states. Is it because they are union or because they manged to get better workers by offering better pay? Do the northern staes offer free madical care and benifits to people in our country that shouldn't be here? The issue of political donations for elections, have every one that donates double that donation to the level of government in which the person won to add to their budget as soon as they take office. If they want to buy an offical, give him a budget to start with. I don't think union busting will solve these problems of budget shortfall, the people need better management from the people in office.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Teo

    It is interesting to me how teachers are now called "GOVERNMENT WORKERS", as if the service they provide, along with police officers and fire fighters, isn't one of the most important jobs in any nation. Personally, I believe EVERYONE should make some sacrifices to put our economy back on the right track. We should reverse the Bush tax cuts for upper income brackets (yes and those brackets include me). Teachers should contribute to their health care plans and pensions if they are not already. If teachers want to keep their CB rights, fine. However, I would prefer to take away tenure and give them incentive pay instead. They should be paid according to the results they achieve. Higher pay will attract better teachers, and motivate others to better educate our students (who have already fallen behind many other industrialized nations).

    The budget problems in the states aren't going to be solved on the backs of teachers and other public workers. There is NO give at the top anymore. Everyone needs to sacrifice, so why are we giving tax cuts to people who don't need them while making demands on teachers??

    And please, no more overblown arguments about how the rich NEED tax cuts to create jobs. They have had tax cuts for the last 10 years and have done NOTHING but ship jobs over seas. The jobs aren't gone because our taxes are too high, the jobs are gone because they can pay the Chinese 3 bucks and hour. Should we pay teachers the same?

    March 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cynthia

      Very well said.
      In Canada, we are watching this attack on teachers in the US with shock and dismay.
      How warped are people's values when they think it is fine to give tax breaks to the rich then take it from essential workers?

      March 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • RTinKC

      Tax the rich. Tax the "greedy". Tax them and tax them too. Same old answer. How about we cut the costs of government so all of us can be taxed less.

      Tell me – are you boycotting the companies that are sending their jobs overseas or are you buying their products and services while you sit in front of your computer that some foreigner built for pennies an hour complaining that others aren't doing enough?

      March 1, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • fuyuko

      the state needs to simply collect the tax it is owed in use tax. most people don't even bother paying it, but it is owed on all online/out of state purchases.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • UHhello

      Well said!! If the right were to deal with the deficit to include both revenue AND cost reduction The Democrats would be on board. Enough democrats are serious about the deficit to get a quorum anywhere. There will allways be some hard core folks on both sides. The problem is that the right has limited it's party to ONLY hard core extremist platforms where there is NO room for compromise. If Scott Walker wants the Democrats to "do there job" then he should "do his job" which is allow the state congress to negotiate and compromise. That is how our republic works!!

      March 1, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • csr

      I couldn't agree more.

      Warren Buffet himself said the rich need to be taxed. You cannot give them tax breaks and expect to recoup the current deficit from the people waiting tables at Dairy Queen. The republicans seemed to have short term memory when pushing for an extension of the bush tax cuts. What happened to all the increased jobs and trickle down effect when these cuts when into effect 10 years ago? I realize any impact won't happen immediately, but we should have seen something within 4-5 years. Nothing happened except an increase in debt and higher unemployment.

      If you are going to extend tax cuts under the guise of a trickle down effect, then there should be some measure of accountability that justifies/proves the benefits of the cuts. If nothing affects the economy as promised, then the tax cuts get rescinded. And we try a different tack.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      @cynthia I'm from Ohio and I agree with you. A tax break of a few cents on the $1.00 starting at an income level most people will never see in their life time. Tax breaks for the rich instead of spending money on our most priceless asset educating our children.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lydia

      You couldn't have said it better!

      The Republicans are making scape goats out of those who belong to unions because they believe public workers do not have the clout or money to withstand their attacks.

      We give away outrageous subsidies to the oil industry, allow the financial giants to gouge the consumer while helping them become profitable on the backs of the middle-class and yet, Gov Brown wants to blame the unions for their financial distress.

      How sad and how short-sighted this governor is. It's the middle-class who oils the machine that allows this governor and the US government to grow and prosper.

      While the very wealthy have gained over 10% in income in the last decade, the middle-class has shown a marked decline in their financial health all because of the excesses of the top 1%. The "masters of the universe" have truly shown themselves to be the "disasters" of our economy.

      March 1, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      Teo – well stated. Yes, of course, the Republicans are trying to drive all middle class wages DOWN. Under the guise of then being able to compete with the blossoming third world countries, they think we will all eventually become nearly equal in pay, as those other people's wages continue on upward – until we meet in the middle. I, for one, do not want to wait that long – if it ever happens. And as you say, tax breaks for the rich have been there for 10 YEARS now (8 from Bush and 2 from Obama) and WHAT JOB CREATION HAS THERE BEEN??? NONE! – they just keep giving our jobs away to make more moola, moola, so their wives can continue on at their Country Clubs. Nice. The Republicans do nothing but LIE and distort the facts. And then there is that great thought: "Trickle down economics." I am about ready to vomit whenever I hear that one again – after hearing it for 30 years already. Enough.

      March 1, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carmel

      this is the price we pay for living in a capitalist society. I long for the days of yore where democracy reigned supreme and EVERYBODY paid their fair share. Now it is only the middle class paying for everybody – including the richest corporations in the U.S. who pay no taxes and get government funded subsidies....can anyone say OIL! The Republicans were quick to say those subsidies would NOT be on the chopping block. Of course not. But lets go over the police, fire, teachers and social workers.

      March 1, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • ANGRYINOHIO

      I'd have to agree with you Teo... very well written... however teachers often share ideas with other teachers and they help each other within their profession... where do you think the sharing of teach strategies/ ideas will go? I believe this will create a "dog eat dog" mentality and the students will suffer. Teachers will be forced to butt kiss to keep their jobs, salary, benefits. What happens when the wealthier school districts can pay their teachers better salaries? Everyone will flock to that district. What happens to the poor districts? The sh*#y teachers will be teaching the low income districts.... NOT exactly FAIR now is IT? I can see the great divide on the horizon...

      March 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Honestly one of the main reasons that job get sent overseas is because of union groups that fight for increased pay above and beyond that of the inflation rate. In order for big business to compete on a global scale, which is what they have to do in order to create new jobs they have to be able to sell products and services at reasonable prices. The only way they can do that is by lowering their cost of good sold, you can only do that by having labor cost at reasonable levels. Labor cost in the United States are far and away high than any other country in the world save maybe a small hand full of others. So as long as unions are able to man handle labor wage negotiations they way they have been for decades, US based firms will continue to ship jobs over seas. Pensions are not only dismantling what was once the greatest manufacturing countries in the world, but they are also making it close to impossible for state and federal governments to balance budgets. Why should a teacher, a police officer, or DMV worker get paid a salary during their retirement years and have all of their benefits paid for to without having to put some of their money in the pot. Why can they be putting portions of their salaries into retirement accounts like private sector employees have to in order to fund their retirement.

      Burden ends up being lumped on the backs of the hard working americans who to saved for retirement so they didn't make other people pay taxes to fund their retirements...how is that fair? You all love to play on the line that our kids are going to be affected by poor teaching, how about leaving a deficit so large that they have no way to fix it and state services begin to dwindle to nothing...then their won't be any public schools to worry about cause we wont be able to pay for all of the retired state workers and be able to higher new ones to replace them...the system is broken because of unions.

      They have the most powerful lobbyist in the country contrary to thinking that big business actually does. Unions as they currently operate are the problem, and they are going to make this country broke. Big business will always be paying taxes and they don't get pension plans payed for by US tax dollars they fund the pensions...

      March 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stan

      I agree... nicely said. It's time the middle-class takes it's gloves off against the Republican power grab for the rich.

      March 1, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      hmmm. Obama and his liberal allies pumping in bus loads of professional protesters in these states too I see.

      March 1, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Teo, nicely put. Thank you for restoring some faith in my view of the "public". I am one of those civil servants. Yes, we are all in this together and we all should be working to fix it. Maybe we should start by cutting off some "foreign aid"?

      March 1, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      Sounds just like political rhetoric. How do we measure teacher performance? Do we take into account whether he/she wound up with a good class or a rowdy one for the year? Do we base it on testing? As if we need more testing, right? Do we ask parents of students to evaluate teachers? That would be a hoot. I'm at a loss. How do we get rid of tenure and evaluate teachers as you and so many others suggest? It's easy to make big blanket statements, but very difficult to name specifics.

      March 1, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jill

      I support public schools, teachers, firefighters and police, and State police and believe me, we need them a lot more than some idealogue windbags currently sitting in our State Capitol. I have worked in Indiana in a very large insurance company for more than 25 years and I know for a fact that in most insurance companies and banks the administrative assistants make more than teachers. Yes Yes they do! And we should all understand these windbag idealogues are pitting all segments of the middle class against each other. They are at the top with the rich folks and corporations and we are at the bottom of the barrel in their view and so rather than be united, they laugh at us as we fight for our "position in the bottom of the barrel". Do you all really want to disagree over whether you deserve to be at the top of the bottom barrell or pushed down to the bottom of the barrel. We don't have to accept that if we all stick together. Teachers are out there standing up for OUR CHILDREN so lets stand up for the teachers. Firefighters and Police protect US so let's stand with the the police and firefighters. For once in your life, stand up for your own interests and that of your family and not some damn right wing creep that cares less about you.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      A CEO, A TEA partier and a member of a public employee union are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies. The CEO reaches over and takes 11 cookies, then turns to the TEA partier and says," Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of YOUR cookie."

      March 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe Citizen

    " USA Today reported that Wisconsin is one of 41 states where public workers earn higher average pay and benefits than private workers in the same state."

    Private workers like those at wal-mart and mcdonalds?

    Interesting how those right-wing elitist America-hating studies never actually take a look at the types of jobs held by public-unions when doing these worthless comparisons; firefighters, teachers, police, civil-engineers, prosecutors, public-health nurses, research-scientists, programmers, etc etc. OBVIOUSLY they make more than wal-mart

    March 1, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      You nailed it, Joe. The right-wing "studies" always do this. That's the republican party–lies and intellectual dishonesty (or disability, take your pick).

      March 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey

      Exactly!!! Of course police, firefighters, and teachers make more than a clerk. I certainly hope they would! I wonder how many people would take a bullet, run into a burning building, or teach a class of 12 year olds for $5.00 an hour. Use your heads people. The unions have agreed to concessions already – taking away collective bargaining has nothing to do with deficits and everything to do with power.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cynthia

      And so they should.
      Are they comparing teachers' wages to other professions that require 5 years of college?

      March 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • fuyuko

      teachers also have a lot of educational debt to pay off, the result of our great public education system.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobbie

      Where have you been Mickey? Minimum wage is a LOT more than $5.00 an hour now.

      March 1, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jill

      They should know that the wages of Wisconsin insurance, banking, and manufacturing employees all make better wages than teachers (probably even police and firefighters). Where do they get their stupid reports anyway.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      @Bobbie:

      Sure – Minimum wage is what, 7.25 an hour? x 40 = $300 a week – minus taxes health (IF you get any). x 4 = (gross) $1200 a month.
      minus rent if you live somewhere – $900 for a small place
      minus food if you eat – $50 a week x4 = $200 a month if you don't eat healthy quality food
      minus gas to get to your job – $4.00 a gallon x 10 gallon tank = what, $40 a week x4 = $160 a month
      minus ANY entertainment – tv, newspaper, books - $10 a week? $40 a month
      Heat? Services like water? sewer? (condo vs home)

      Please add that up. Better yet, add a child to that mix. or two. or a pet. how about any *unexpected* expense – or even a intermitten one.

      You just keep thinking unions are the problem.

      March 2, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tidho

    People need to realize that government workers are the most efficient workers in any economy. If they weren't they'd be held accountable. I think its important that they be able to protect the status quo. As long as their are more 'rich' people to tax that should always be the first option.

    Hmmmmm.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • sped

      Love the sarcasm, government employees held responsible for their actions-that is a good one

      March 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really

      "People need to realize that government workers are the most efficient workers in any economy."

      Really? Hahaha. Yeah our government is soooo efficient. That's why we are in the mess we are in because .gov is doing a great job with our money....hahaha.

      March 14, 2011 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. Kerry Hall

    Things that have been bargained for along time ago should not be considered the damaging factor in the governments budget. That we elect officials to run our government and they do a poor job should not be put on the public employees backs. Let some of the elected officials give back some money. Don't our politicians in DC get healthcare and a pension for life after just one term????? Others work 30 years or more and have to worry that what they thought they would receive may be taken away. If that's the case then let people get their jobs back.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John Calif

    The unions time has come and gone their purpose met and they're existence is finished. Come into the 21st century FleeBaggers. Change is what you stand for isn't it? The time is now..........

    March 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • arduck

      Without facts to support your opinion, you sound so 19th century,

      March 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
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