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. socal frank

    Why the teachers need to take a pay cut:
    BANK OF AMERICA: In 2009, Bank of America didn’t pay a single penny in federal income taxes. The same year, the mega-bank’s top executives received pay “ranging from $6 million to nearly $30 million.”
    – BOEING: Despite receiving billions of dollars from the federal governmentin taxpayer subsidies, Boeing didn’t “pay a dime of U.S. federal corporate income taxes” between 2008 and 2010.
    CITIGROUP: Citigroup’s deferred income taxes for the third quarter of 2010 amounted to a grand total of $0.00. At the same time, Citigroup has continued to pay its staff lavishly. The bank’s highest paid executive – a compensation package worth $9.5 million.
    EXXON-MOBIL: The oil giant uses offshore subsidiaries in the Caribbean to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Although Exxon-Mobil paid $15 billion in taxes in 2009, not a penny of those taxes went to the American Treasury. This was the same year that the company overtook Wal-Mart in the Fortune 500. Meanwhile the total compensation of Exxon-Mobil’s CEO the same year was over $29,000,000.
    GENERAL ELECTRIC: the world’s largest corporation — filed more than 7,000 tax returns and still paid nothing to U.S. government. They managed to do this by a tax code that essentially subsidizes companies for losing profits and allows them to set up tax havens overseas. That same year GE CEO Jeffery Immelt “earned total compensation of $9.89 million.”
    – WELLS FARGO: Despite being the fourth largest bank in the country, Wells Fargo was able to escape paying federal taxes by writing all of its losses off after its acquisition of Wachovia. Yet in 2009 the CEO of Wells Fargo saw his compensation “more than double” as he earned “a salary of $5.6 million paid in cash and stock and stock awards of more than $13 million.”

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

      Many of us were against any bailouts of any kind.

      With the freedom to succeed you must have the freedom to fail otherwise you have no freedom at all.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jay

    Why don't we keep throwing money at the problems, like health care? Welfare system is broke beyond belief people living off the government and collecting benefits now we have to pay for their insurance too? If they first fix what's wrong immigration included, medicare fraud, we'd get some where.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      Actually they will be helped to pay for their own insurance...maybe you should read further. Plus, if you think you are not already paying for the uninsured you are the most ignorant person I know. Do you think hospitals and health care providers are not passing on what they don't get paid for in the emergency room to your health insurance premium? Check into how much more the uninsured cost the insured each year.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheryl

      The CBO says the heath care bill will REDUCE the
      deficit.

      You are already paying for "their" health care and
      always have been. That's why making people
      pay what ever they can is the better of 2 evils.
      Either we become a country when the ambulance
      arrives at a car crash they ask for proof of medical
      insurance, if they don't have any they leave them
      on the side of the road. Or
      everybody is forced into paying what they can.
      Which country do you want to live in?

      They way it has been going is unfair to those that
      have health insurance as we are carrying everyone else
      on our backs (as usual).

      And I feel it is time to charge per person, no more family plans.
      Why do I have to subsides someone who decided to have 4 kids?

      March 1, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobbie

      Cheryl, you haven't read the most recent CBO figures, have you? The current administration is doing a good job sweeping their "cuts" to Obamacare under the rug. The bill is well over $1 trillion now and they said originally it would be $750 billion.

      March 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. B-RY

    We need to figure out a way to trick al-Qaeda to unionize. That will bankrupt and ruin them for sure, bombs wont work, no one will want to be a suicide bomber without hazard pay... I am onto something here....

    March 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really

      You are my new best friend.

      March 14, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Millie Bea

    To the "union" workers: The perception in the "civilian" world is one of spending inordinate amounts of time in government offices- DMV, Post Office, Any Social Service agency- where there is a pace of accomplishment equal to a club-footed snail. The employees in these same places are at best indifferent- but most of the time they are just rude. They take breaks all together, and they go to lunch all together- so even though the signs say that service is available between 9 and 10AM, and 12 and 1PM, and 2 and 3 PM, that's just not so.
    Then if we can finally get our business done there, we are treated to road crews who have four guys, where one is working. This is not a joke and punchline- every single person I know has their own personal story about the four guys and a ditch and only one was working.
    We have heard the stories of people who did one thing with an electric screw driver on and auto assembly line was making more than a teacher, and who would retire in 20 years with full medical benefits and almost full salary- the effort of that individual during his career does not warrant that pay and or retirement. If he had saved his pay for retirement- we have no issue with that. But many of these same people who so many things going for them were also the ones who took out mortgages they KNEW they could never pay if they had to go to "plan B". They also did not save money. They now expect US to continue this cycle of supporting those in an inefficient manner.. Not that Teachers and Emergency personnel don't derserve top dollar- they absolutely do. But you have to start participating in your own health care- I have to pay for myself, why shouldn't you? Your unions used up your "pension" money- money they have taken from you- go after them- not us- we didn't take your money.
    If you trun a screw driver all day-bless you- but don't expect to be paid like a scientist. You don't deserve it. If you work in a toll both- thanks- but neither do you. If you are supposed to be digging ditches- you should be digging- because if there are four of you, then four holes will happen much faster if you each take one.
    Union folk- nothing against you except for your view of your worth and our reinforced perceptions of how hard you work.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really

      My father and grandfather worked at one of the largest car manufacturing companies in the world and retired from there. You would not believe some of the stories they told me about how alot of the union guys operated. And we wonder why cars cost so much.

      Reality tells us that sweeping a floor is only worth so much money, period. If your only ambition in life is to be a janitor, then you should expect a certain amount of pay. If you work hard however, go to college, become specialized in your field, you should indeed get paid more. You put more in, you paid for your education, and you busted your butt because you wanted a higher paying job that paid equal to your skill. Unions however have made your hard work and sacrifice worthless, because that janitor gets paid the same as you (or more) thanks to his union contract.

      How does this make any sense to anyone? How is this fair or just? Why should people get paid the same for varying degrees of work? Why should people not be paid based on individual performance and merit? Unions had their time and place. They were needed at a time when workers had no protection, no state and federal regulations. Now they do, and unions are (at times) rewarding lazy and unproductive workers, and are just another hand in the cookie jar.

      I work at a union shop. I see people who need to get fired so bad that it makes me sick, but the non union management is powerless to fire them, so they continue to get paid. This happens more than anyone will admit. How is this not rewarding bad behavior, and how is this good for anyone or anything besides that worker who gets to mess around and get paid for it?

      Refute this union people. You cannot.

      March 14, 2011 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. chloe's comments

    I read these comments and am ashamed. Have no awareness of what life is like for employees in third world nations? Would you like to be stripped of your rights, your protections, and a decent standard of living? That is what the unions did for America. The corporations and the very rich that fund the GOP are using the GOP (and faux news) as a means to spread lies and by that create hate between Americans. This is an effort to control and destroy the middle class by destroying he unions. Remember the famous lines: "When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist. ... When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out." (Niemöller)

    March 1, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. berealistic

    It just prooves that the poor to middle-class (those to whom the majority of the tax burden has been placed) are more fair employers than the wealthy. Unions raise the pay standard...though i find union construction employees sluggish, at times, and I feel accountability need always in place to ensure any employee is earning his keep. management will always welcome a reason to cut overhead and increase profit and before unions they'd work people to death in jobs with no hope of growth, school or much else. As far as the gov workers...they are being paid to do a job, and in spite of biased parroting cynicsm...most earn their money and the pensions they get are a part of that pay. period. it makes as much sense as public funds supporting private schools while your child is in a class of 60 due to public lay-offs at the same time as the wealthy, who have been proven to withold investment money in hard times, get to continue their enormous tax breaks at the expense of everything else. wake up dummies

    March 1, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • fedup

      I'm sorry, but the top 20% of earners paid 86% of all federal income taxes on 2006, while the bottom 40% actually got money back from the government. I fail to see how the majority of the tax burden has been placed on the poor/middle class.

      March 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mike

    wow..someone responded to my post with the comment "the sweetheart pay and benefits" you get as a public/union employee. really? my sweetheart pay and benefits? I can assure that my pay as a teacher (salary frozen for 2 years at this point) and my benefits (which I elected not to take because my wifes are far superior–nurse and union member) are not a sweetheart deal. however, I am not in a union at this point. I like my job but you are mistaken if you think that all public/union are living in a sweetheart deal. Also, even though I am not union I fully support the right to have unions and collective bargaining. and yes it is a right under the national labor relations act.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean2009

      Mike, that poster is ignorant of the fact that when it is all broken down, and you figure in what your education cost, the ever increasing size of classrooms, and the hours spend in preparing lessons and grading papers, it is possible that you are working for less than what a babysitter would make per hour.

      March 1, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Calif

      From what I've heard my whole life everything is a right. Wa wa

      March 1, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. listen

    Folks. Take time to listen to the facts. The issue is specific to the Public Sector Unions. They are staffed with workers who work for monopolies. They elect their own bosses – and can use their Union Dues to throw them out (or re-elect them.) They have lifetime jobs. They can't be fired, don't have to perform or even show-up. Collective bargaining is fine in an environment where the health of the company is necessary. That isnt' the case with Public sector workers. They can ultimately hold out until they get their way – and for that you get the bill. There is no need to punish these folks. Give them a fair playing field. "Any pay increases beyond the rate of inflation would be subject to voter approval" – what is wrong with that? Ultimately you are their real boss.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dennis

    I am a Police Officer and a union member. I took an oath to protect and serve and for close to thirty years, I and thousands like me, have fulfilled our oath. But apparently, as I read some of these comments, what we have actually be doing all that time is destroying the USA.
    There is only one way to answer that charge and that is with a little humor. So it goes like this. A corporate CEO, a teapartier and a union member are seated at a table with twelve cookies on it. The CEO takes eleven cookies for themselves, then turns to the teapartier and says "That union guy is trying to take your cookie".
    In 1980, when union membership both public and private was at its peak, the richest 1% in this country controlled app. 20% of the wealth. Thirty years later, with union membership significantly reduced, that 1% now controls about double the wealth, app. 40%. And yet I'm supposed to believe that these corporate "masters of the universe" are looking out for the working man.
    Unions are imperfect, always have been, and probably to some extent always will be. But to pass legislation to take away the collective bargaining rights of any union, public or private, is an overreaction that ultimately will serve only a precious few Americans, namely the 1%, the "masters of the universe".
    Union members pay taxes too, just like you do, although that is not something you'll see reported on FOX News or the Wall Street Journal. There is something else we do too, just like a lot of other working class Americans. We spend money when we can, we shop in your stores, buy your goods and eat or have a beer in your bars. We drop off our dry cleaning and have leagues in your bowling alleys. We buy sandwiches in your delis and appliances in your stores.
    There is much that unions, both public and private, need to do better to shoulder their fair share in this difficult times. But for all those who want to demonize us out of all sense of proportion, to those who have declared war on us, I would say only this. Be careful what you wish for. Because if you can pass a law outlawing collective bargaining for public unions in Wisconsin, then you can pass a law outlawing collective bargaining for private sector unions anywhere else. If you can do one, then you can do the other, all you need is the votes.
    And if that day comes, when unions both public and private are a thing of the past, we will all get to live with the results. The union members will get to live with the results and so will everyone else. All the empty small businesses, the delis, diners,appliance stores and lets not forget the bowling alleys.
    Unless of course the "masters of the Universe" decide to start a bowling league.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lydia

      Thank you!

      Although I have never belonged to a union, I strongly support them. Why? Because without them, workers would have sub-standard wages and horrific working conditions.

      Until the employers were forced to pay a fair and decent wage, improve the safety of their worker's environment, and provide for the employee's welfare and health, the individual worker was at their mercy.

      While true, the union management went overboard with some of the benefits and conditions, on the whole, the employee benefitted which in turn helped the employer. Those negotiations went both ways. The management could have put on the brakes or could have negotiated more reasonable benefits if they thought the benefits were too one-sided. Apparently they weren't because they made a profit.

      The problem became acute when the employer/owner morphed into a public corporation and the hungry investors wanted higher and higher returns on their investment.

      So going back to the unions, they've agreed to cost cutting but don't try to gut them and put the blame on public workers as if they had a hand in shaping our current dire financial condition.

      No one forced banks to make stupid mortgage loans that turned out to be 'toxic" to our country and no one forced Wall Street to invent "derivatives" and pass them on as "safe" investments while earning their arrogant, ignorant salesmen obscene commissions on products they had no clue how to explain.

      I hope Walker will wake up and common sense returns before he becomes a one term governor or worse, he destroys the very fabric of society he claims he wants to protect.

      March 1, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • fuyuko

      It surprises me that more police and firemen's unions aren't protesting what the governor is doing to the teachers. If they are doing so, they aren't making the news here in CA.

      March 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Eric

    TEACHERS CANNOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR STUDENTS WHO DO NOT WANT TO LEARN. I CHALLENGE ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE TO GO TEACH 5-6 MATH CLASSES, 150-190 STUDENTS, IN AN URBAN PUBLIC HIGH OR MIDDLE SCHOOL FOR 2-4 YEARS, AND SHOW BETTER RESULTS.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Calif

      And yet other countries (Some) don't seem to have a problem, I take it they're just beter than us?

      March 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • arduck

      @John Calif....parents there teach and emphasis respect for teachers and learning.

      March 1, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. listen

    Amazing how easy it seems when you drink the kool-aid. Com'on folks. There were no tax breaks for the rich. There were tax breaks for Americans – everyone. That only mattered, however, for the fraction of Americans who pay taxes. The "Rich" run and work for companies that earn a profit – something you'll never see from a government job. The profit earned by the company is what it uses to fund the "CREATION" of new jobs. That's something else you'll never see from a government job. Any new government job is simply added to your tax bill.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brian Zwart

    I'm from a family with a father who worked for General Motors when they were still an auto industry, my father had no choice but to pay the UAW for union-representation, as it was a requirements of his position for some 25 to 30 years. There was no 401k back then, when my dad retired before turning 65 he ended-up with a good pension, but I have accepted the fact that pensions do not exist in the information era. I have to make my own pension. I work hard for the 30k/year job as a dispatcher, and I know that when I pay off my mortgage in florida I will be able to further invest in my retirement. I am not middle-class, middle-class is too good for me, although I am college-educated I work very hard to maintain my indpendence, and I also believe that unions are the mechanisms of the past.

    March 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Justin

    It's completely ridiculous that the GOP is going after public service workers in order to cut costs. I mean, here the GOP is talking tough about 'fiscal responsibility' ...and they come up with a budget that has around 100 billion in cuts. I know that sounds like a lot on paper... but it's actually less than 1 percent of the annual deficit. And most of these cuts are aimed a eliminating or scaling back essential services. WHY??? IT WILL NOT MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO THE ECONOMY. All it does is cut services to citizens that actually need it and as usual, the lower-income brackets suffers the most.

    It's insane (or at least really bad math skills) to think that if we cut spending and cut taxes our economic problems will magically go away. We either have to cut services, or raise taxes....or heck, maybe even a little bit of both!

    The real problem is defense spending, medicare/medicaid, and social security. These programs make up about 63% of the national deficit.

    Until we get leaders who are actually brave and strong enough to make the unpopular changes our country so desperately needs, all of our economic problems will persist and eventually escalate further. All we're doing now is, once again, kicking the can down the road.

    March 1, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Calif

      100 Billion is a godo start. I'm still waiting for what the FleeBaggers have on the table. So far nothing from them.

      March 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ForTeachers

    Just an FYI: No, I didn't become a teacher because I couldn't major in anything else and wanted my summers "off." I have two master's degrees plus a post graduate and oh student loans that I'm paying back for 30 years. When your child comes to school ill prepared and hungry, I take money out of my paycheck to feed him, buy him school supplies and spend extra time making sure he can READ, even though I am hungry b/c I did this over my lunch and after school. So I don't drive a Suburban. I make parents see their children's most amazing accomplishments even after I have called with the not so good news. Children smile because they complete something and it isn't for a trip to the toy store in my class. The reward is hard work. I make children like learning. I set the bar high and expect nothing less. I celebrate birthdays, new babies, lost teeth and graduations. I mourn deaths, lost homework, a bad test, parents who dont live up to their potential, and lost pencils. I mediate fights between friends, sworn enemies and families with the efficiency of a lawyer and psychologist. My peers may agree they do the same...and yet we are made out to be villians because we ask for enough.
    Without Collective bargaining rights, your child could be in a class of 50 kids, or could lack the basic cleanliness that our union bargains for. To the parents, come visit your child's school, take an interest in their classroom environment, talk to their teacher. Be a part of the solution and not the problem...Thank you.

    March 1, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teach

      Prior to moving to Ohio I taught in a non union state and had fewer children in my class than I do now in Ohio. The school I taught in was cleaner and newer than the one I work in now. I also had a lot more technology available for me to use in my classroom. My salary was also comparable to what it is in Ohio. I also didn't work with so many slackers who cared less about methods of best practice and actually teaching children. Teachers in my school are so worried about getting their 2% increase when our levy hasn't passed in 2 years...give me a break!

      I seriously wouldn't jump to the conclusion that without collective bargaining schools and salaries will regress to substandard conditions.

      March 1, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Colonelphoenix

    Not a single one of these protesters has offered up any viable solution to assist in the financial conditions they helped create. Would seem to me they would take a good hard look at what they have and figure out how not to loose all of it rather than just part of it like the rest of the taxpaying workforce.

    March 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
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