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. Frank

    Wait! If I join a union, I can skip work and hang out with my friends at the state house all day? Where do I sign up? My mean employer makes me work every day.

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

      I'm with you! If I were to skip work to demand what i want, I'd be out of a job the very next day, let alone a two week campout! Get back to work and stop wasting our hard earned tax dollars!!!

      March 1, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tim

    Republicans just loved all of the 'grass-roots" protests when it was the Tea party. What happened? They don't seem as enamored with the peoples right to protest when the people are protesting their rabid trickle-down policies.

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

      The hypocrisy of the democrats / union with their Nazi and crosshair signs would be quite amusing if it wasn't so sadly pathetic.

      March 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • arduck

      @John Calif. I mean no harm, but I find your rants entertaining but intellectually unchallenging and ill-informed.

      March 1, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. EarnYourOwn

    I am still waitingon a Liberal to explain to me why the Federal Government Employees System (GS) will not work at the State and Local level. It is not Unionized, the pay is based on your knowledge, skill level, experiance and job code. They also implemented a "Pay for Performance" system that makes the employees fufill goals that directly benefit the government. So why can't this system be expanded to include State and Local Employees? Or would this effect the ability of Dems to reach into the Unions pockets when it is election season?

    March 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • EarnYourOwn

      Were are all the bleeding heart Liberal's who valiantly defend public Unions? I asked a simple question as to why the Feds dont have Unions but thte State and Local Govs have to have them?

      March 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Billy Ray

    It's sort of interesting to perceive the vitriol amongst the posters. Please note that these are the sentiments the propel our elected officials to uncompromising positions. Get it?

    March 1, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Burbank

    How about a 10% flat tax on everyone, no write-offs, no exceptions, no poverty cut-off line since they get it all back in social services anyway. Also a 75% tax on anyone illegally here and milking the system and bilking the taxpayer. That should send them scurrying back across the border where they belong!

    March 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • EarnYourOwn

      I am all in favor of a FLAT tax but 10% is no where near the mark. Something like 25% Federal and 5% State would have to be set at first to level out the books. Once the finances are staigth then we can look into lowering them. They should also abolish all tax code as we now it and that would save billions a year just doing that.

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

      Fair Tax: http://www.fairtax.org/

      March 1, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. LongShot

    If the people with the money knew how to generate jobs it would be different. The only thing they know how to do is stand behind the people trying to tell everyone that they need tax breaks so they can generate jobs – another big lie. The people with the money can barely function in todays society much less generate jobs!!!

    March 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GianCarlo

    Yea, It's about time people started waking up to the RepubliKKKan's agenda to make the rich greedy people of this country richer. WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!! If the RepubliKKKans were serious about budget cuts they would start by taxing their rich buddies........Lets protest, by all means.......

    March 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Calif

      FACT: Democrats have a much richer history of racism than republicans. Even FDR was a racist.

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

      to each his own. Both parties have their own agendas. The republicans protect the interests of the corporations and the wealthy. Apparently, unions are the bread and butter of the democrats. Hence, the avg taxpayers, private sector employees are stuck footing the bills and carrying the burden. I'm against greedy, corrupted corporations AND unions! Right now, the debate at hand has to do with powerful unions so i'm standing by Walker! Let's get rid of these leeches!

      March 1, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobbie

      GianCarlo, you're obviously clueless. You have no political argument so you have to resort to playing the race card. Grow up and go get informed on what you're talking about.

      March 1, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. coder

    until humans treat everyone the same – we are all doomed to relive the past
    you cant take money with you when you die – there is no mythical place to go to
    creating a class war only hurts everyone

    March 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MikeBell

    No one likes finding out that they are part of the problem.
    Kids even get loud when they don't like not getting what they want.

    March 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ANGRYINOHIO

    Eleven years ago, I started my teaching career in N.C.. After the first year, I moved back to my hometown in Ohio. I was shocked by the "Right to Work" state mentality. I couldn't believe the difference in salaries, health benefits, working conditions, and most of all quality of education. When I moved back home, I discovered there was a $10,000 pay difference between the two states. I had paid 80/20 for my health benefits in NC... In Ohio, I was fully covered... Unions fight for quality... no unions= no quality Kill the Bill.... No senate bill #5

    March 1, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. conoclast

    Remember when there was what we used to call the "weekend"? For the Unemployed Generation that's back when everybody worked all week - mostly at union-shop jobs - and had Friday & Saturday to unwind and party hardy. The weekend was a cause for minor celebration, something I see as completely missing from life today (at least from middle-class life). On one side of the world people are literally dying for a taste of democracy while on ours we have to fight the encroachments of union-busting fascism!

    March 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Art

    The USA will never recover the jobs that have been sent to foreign countries. Greed destroyed the nations economy and greed will keep it that way.

    March 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Yosemite Sam

    Work harder, b!-Tch less. Always has been and will be my motto. Seems to have worked so far.

    March 1, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. FIRE

    What is with American greed?
    Why do you care so much about economy?

    March 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kyle Batenburg

    Politics solves absolutely NOTHING. It is simply the shifting around of meaningless rhetoric. And if a problem cannot be solved, politicians make a law. However, the fundamental 'truth'–or at least the closest thing to 'truth' (whatever it may be)–of all of our experiential situations is this: We live in a TECHNICAL reality with technical problems. These problems thus require technical solutions–not some politician's irrelevant opinions of the way the world 'ought' to be. Even your body is a technical construct that operates according to Physical Laws of the Universe. From Classical Mechanics and Electromagnetism, all the way up to Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and beyond, everything in the entire observable Universe can be described as a technical process. Unfortunately, our society tends to shy away from gaining any insight into our existence. In other words, Science and Mathematics take a back-seat to infotainment, pointless occupations that contribute NOTHING to the betterment or well-being of society and the environment, and the illusion of these things we call 'freedom' and 'democracy'.

    Anyway, my point here is this: Instead of servicing our problems with linguistic plaster by arbitrarily passing laws, acts and resolutions, why not actually try to SOLVE our technical problems, TECHNICALLY? There is a much better way for us ALL to proceed into the future on this planet, but it must be done collectively as a global family–not as separate so-called 'nations'. So, if you are someone that feels that our societal structure is actually working and you find yourself saying 'That's just the way it goes' or 'They will never let it happen', take a step back and ask yourself one, simple question: What are we doing on this planet to create a sustainable, efficient, access-abundant system that moves us forward out of a supposed necessity for monetary exchange, trade or any other form of debt or servitude, ALIGNS with Natural processes and allows us to live within the carrying capacity of Earth. After all, We are ONE species, sharing ONE planet with millions of others. And that is what we must NEVER forget: We already are not alone. (Check out a Resource Based Global Economy and the life-long work of Jacque Fresco to find out more.) Live. Learn. Love...

    March 1, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
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