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 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. ja

    can't the voters recall the governor, and seems like Eric Holder, should be indicting him according to the duped conversation, or did anyone else hear the contents

    March 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • GBFAN

      Even if we wanted to recall the Gov – it can't happen until he has been in office for 1 year. The voters already spoke last November.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. sanity please!

    Seriously....Middle Class??? Please stop believing that we are being robbed by the "RICH SCARY WHITE MAN" I know they are an easy scape goat...but, in my Ohio school district a teacher with 10 years of teaching experience makes 70,000 for 10 months of work. Remember in those "working months" there is a Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring addition they are given very generous pensions and great benefits that are paid until they die. That equals a HUGE sum of money. Oh, and by the get to keep your job no matter how you perform!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Agreed

      I don't get to collectively bargain for anything... I have to WORK for it.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • socal frank

      You should join a union. In a free market economy – everyone should have the right to organize and negotiate a price for their products and services.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasper

      Wow lucky you. If the average teacher in your district earns $70k, then you must live in a high tax district, in a community that cares about kids educations.

      The public workers unions include all employees. The employees have already agreed to paycuts, and increased contributions to health and pension plans. Collective bargaining is a promise established years ago so people can focus on their jobs.

      Personally I don't know how much time is spent in private industries trying to survive re-engineering, implementation of new strategies, mass lay-offs. Corporate workplaces are not the answer.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      In Alaska, a greenhorn on a crab boat can earn $70000 in a little over a month, so your statement means nothing. It seems like you glossed over a lot of things in your statement. My neighbor just retired from a wealthy district in NY, and his house is worth no more than $115K. NO teacher I know makes that kind of money after 10 years.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • job killer

      Actually, union members can be fired any time. However, the administrator needs to do their due diligence and write down any activities they see the "lazy" employee to be doing. The expected job responsibilities can all be negotiated in the contract. Your assumption that these people cannot be fired is false.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff O

    Personally, I'm glad the public employees salaries and benefits are finally getting exposed to the general public.
    The best the union can do is retain bargaining rights, but they've lost the fight on the generous salaries and pensions.
    welcome to the REAL world.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • dam

      Let's all do the dance to the bottom, shall we? Absolute rich and absolute poor. No middle. Here we come! Move over China!

      March 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • PoliSciMon

      Why is that good for anyone?

      March 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • job killer

      I wish the mis-information that public employees get paid more than private employees would stop. You can't compare two people with two completely different jobs when making these assessments. When comparing similar positions, the trend shows 4% lower salaries and benefits in public sector compared to private.

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

    Good, looks like The American Middle Class is not going to go quietly into the night like the rich want. Good, very good.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasper

      Right on Triple A. Wonder what Joe the Plumber is thinking now, since he and those like him elected these republicans. What were they thinking, that big business was really going to stimulate the economy? That being American is about protecting our freedom overseas in a war that costs $1B a day.

      If only we didn't pass that federal tax break in December. If only we would buy american made products.

      If only we were so proud of our country we would put our money where our mouth is and support fellow americans.

      If only...

      March 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Scott

    Scott Walker should stand firm. The public employee unions have over reached with their pension plans which are bankrupting every state in the country. The unions need to go. Scott Walker is a hero.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasper

      Actually Scott, the pension plans were established by the governments decades ago, with promises to sustain them. The reason the pensions are underfunded is that state governments have been raiding them to support corporate tax breaks. Now the CEOs of those companies are well compensated.

      C'mon, be real. If this is the best country ever, then what is so wrong with providing pensions for workers?

      March 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • TB

      Isn't WI primarily a Democratic state? So that would mean that the Dems have been raiding for all these years and now you have a Gov that can actually count?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasper

      No WB, this happens since Walker came into power.

      And part of his proposal, the part that isn't being discussed, is that the gov. wants to give away power plants to the Koch brothers who supported his election.


      March 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      @ TB, just so you are aware, Tommy Thompson was governor of WI for a 14-year stretch from the late 80's through the 90s. He is obviously a major player in the decision to raid pension funds to cover for tax breaks, as was George Pataki of New York. The number of states that have budget shortfalls that also had Republican governors presiding while the pension funds were raided certainly raises questions about their judgement. Significant tax cuts were enacted that were targeted at attracting business to these states, efforts that ultimately failed. If anything, you should be angry at a policy of creative book-keeping that failed to a ttract and hold business in many of these states. The unions kept their part of the bargain, and are now being used as whipping posts by people who used credit-card economics to fund tax beraks to people who broke their word.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. owtdorsmn

    DOWN WITH THE UNIONS!!!! Close the gap on Spoiled middle class and bring them into the normal middle class. Then lets address and Dispose of Teacher Unions!!!! Way to go Republicans. At least your good for something.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CHall Hawkeye

    Don't talk to me about an "assault on the middle class." What a load of manure. Look, I'm middle class. I pay taxes out the ***. A few hundred thousand over-paid public employees with lifetime pensions are not the least bit middle class. And another thing–there are no such things as "union rights." There are wage and benefit increases, paid leaves etc. that the unions have negotiated for themselves with campaign cash, under the threat of work stoppage or slowdowns. Those ain't rights, my friend–especially when they are asking ME to pay for them. And pay and pay. Anybody who really gives a rip about the middle class will support the Governor of Wisconsin and all the other Govs who are trying to save our states from bankruptcy.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Explain how this saves the state from bankruptcy. Walker and his ilk looted pension funds to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy for the last 3 decades, and then crowed about having achieved balenced budgets. All they did was an Enron-style accounting trick of shuffling money around that did not belong to them. That is what you are supporting and congratulating.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. irene

    If the GOP backing groups (NRA, big business, Insurance Industry, Banking Industry, etc...) were protesting, they would be brandishing guns and somebody would have been shot by now. I don't agree with the pension benefits unionized workers get at our expense, but they have proven to be peaceful demonstrators and should be allowed to continue collective bargaining.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dennis F

    "Look for the Union Label"

    The Textile Industry in the US was Union...the industry is now overseas

    "Look for the Union Label"

    The Steel Industry in the US was Union...the industry is now overseas

    "Look for the Union Label"

    The Auto Indistry in the US is Union...It is now emerging from Backruptcy

    "Look for the Union Label"

    The State Legislatures in several states have now been hijacked by the Unions...

    Everywhere I look, I see the Union label...and it sure sucks!!!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • nokidding

      You definately would have thought people would have noticed this by now! Wonder if any of them can give us an answer as to why this has been happening?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Harvesting

    There is no RIGHT to have a job as a PUBLIC SERVANT, simple if you don't like the terms find a better job. The Unions have brainwashed people into thinking these are THEIR jobs and they are not. Now I do not live in WI or IL, but in my home state of Washington I can not name one service that when used makes me think anything in government can function correctly or effciently. If anyone can name a service that is performed up to their standards I am curious, why they feel they "derserve" anything.

    Personally I think they should separate the bill and pass a law that the state can't collect any due's for any group not required from the courts, exceptions of child support, divorce etc...

    March 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasper

      Yo Harvesting- you should so sue our old school district. You can barely spell or write with proper punctuation. I guess you weren't paying too much attention in history class either. If you did, you might know that the government promised to provide pensions to public employees. Shouldn't the government keep those promises.

      Or is this too logical for you? Never mind, just drink your kool aid.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jerry

    One of the reasons unions are in trouble in America is because of the loud-mouths such as those pictured in this article. These loud-mouths are not asking for more benefits and better pay, they are demanding/threatening whomever does not go along with their threats and demands.

    What is more ludicrous about these morons is that the Moron-in-Chief (President NObama) is indebted to his eyeballs to them and will do and provide whatever the greedy unions demand. There are unionized individuals (teachers, federal workers, etc., etc.) in all the ranks that should not be working at their current jobs. However, the unions keep employers from getting rid of the death weight.

    It's about time the Americans that really bear the burdens of the unions largesse stood up and said loud and clear: enough is enough!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasper


      They are not asking for more compensation. They are demanding continuation of collective bargaining.

      The president has absolutely no jurisdiction over these state issues.

      The President's name is Obama. Show some respect for the leader of this great country, the one elected by the majority of its ctizens.

      Who's the idiot now?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      As opposed to the GOP that is beholden to the new generation of plutocrats who feel the rules don't apply to them? Whom do you have more in common with, the Koch Brothers or those workers? I doubt you rub elbows with many billionaires.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BustDaUnion

    How come none of the Union people are at work???? who is paying for their time off so they can stand outside and cry for more money???? Oh ya .. we are the tax payer. Get back to work you Union Sc*m

    March 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • nokidding

      No kidding, my thoughts exactly! Most people need to actually show up to work to get paid!!!

      March 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. socal frank

    Scott Walker is the latest addition to the Koch Brothers collection of "My Pet Governors."

    March 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Junker

    Fire the teachers and impeach the runaway dems!!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris

    The unions are out of control. They need to come back to reality. Pigs always squeal when you shoo them away from the trough

    March 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
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