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. ???

    The USA Today article on pay differences is terrible. It didn't take into account some basic concepts like education, training, and experience. I wonder who will make more money; (a) someone with a graduate degree in education or (b) a high school drop out at McDonalds? Are we suddenly deciding that they have to make the same amount?

    March 1, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really

      If they were in the same union they would. The college educated lead scientist would get paid the same as the head bottle washer. The manager would get paid the same as the idiot who spits on your french fries. The education and hard work would not get rewarded. There would be no raises or pay differences based on individual work or education or even merit. You would get paid based solely on your union contract or your time in. This is what unions do.

      March 14, 2011 at 4:20 am | Report abuse |
  2. bailoutsos

    Anyone of the thousands of protesters could have run for governor, right?

    March 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kyle Benjamin

    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–a Resource Based Global Economy. 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. Live. Learn. Love...

    March 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kyle Benjamin

      Apologies to everyone for the duplicate post. This was NOT my intention. I thought the first post was being blocked, so I editing the wording a bit... Live. Learn. Love...

      March 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. eeee

    well i think that this governer is a friken union breaker

    March 1, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John Anonymous

    It should be noted that the reason cost of production overseas is low is because foreign governments don't care how our corporations treat their citizens, or their environment. The typical worker's rights that most Americans enjoy, such as a 40 hour week, overtime pay, paid vacations, employer-sponsored health insurance, 401k, etc, resulted from over a century of hard fight against employer's desire to cut costs. However, countries such as China, Mexico, India don't have any laws protecting workers, period. As a result, manufacturing costs, and in the case of India, even services costs are much cheaper. However, if you have ever seen the rat-infested hellholes that the typical workers from these countries live in, and the vast toxic waste spewing from the factories they work in, you'll realize that the price of efficiency is a lower standard of living for the masses, which results in a highly dysfunctional society where the middle class don't exist, the rich are really rich, the poor are really poor, and upward social mobility is all but non-existent. This change toward a dysfunctional society had already begun in the US, as the gap between the rich and the poor grew significantly during the Bush administration due to his fiscal policies (check the Department of HHS report from 2000-2010 if you don't believe me), and the number of people who are middle class actually shrunk for the first time since the end of WWII. This trend will only continue if we allow the GOP to continue Bush's policies. People who aren't millionaires and are clapping for the Republican's policies are shooting themselves in the foot, and fits the very definition of "dumb".

    March 1, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. gtg

    If you are against unions I beg you to read Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" and see what it was like before workers organized. Do you really thing any job that pays well and has good benefits does so because they love you ? No they pay well because they have to. even non union employers pay better because of the unions.Citgo pays its operators $35.00/hr they are union. Mobile pays $1.00/hr more to keep their employees from joining a union.

    March 1, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really

      While it was true that unions were needed years ago to force companies to protect workers, pay them a fair wage, and make their working conditions safe, among other things, there are now state and federal laws that enforce all those things. Now all that is left is for unions to "force" companies to pay through the nose. I have a very expensive education, and work hard, and you cannot convince me that a guy who turns a screwdriver all day gets to be paid the same as I am simply because he is union.

      Pay should be based on skill, education, productivity and merit of the individual, nothing else.

      That is why so many union people (not all, I know a lot of good ones) are scared for the unions to go away. They may have to actually work harder and perform better so someone better and hungrier doesn't come along and take their job.

      March 14, 2011 at 4:32 am | Report abuse |

    REGARDING: chris, "hmmm. Obama and his liberal allies pumping in bus loads of professional protesters in these states too I see."

    As a man who took a day's pay cut and drove 300 miles (to and from) Columbus, Ohio, I can tell you first hand, Obama did not fund any bus loads of protesters. As someone who sacrificed 250 dollars today (more than my family spends in groceries every two weeks), I can tell you first hand: we, all 20 thousand + of us, union and non-union alike, paid to take ourselves to the capital to protect our children, our futures and YOU. The Koch brother, their kind, and their misinformed minions are trying to take out the last organization that hopes to use the dollars paid to billionaires to keep the country alive. Unions are the last real representative of the middle class; they are the middle class. Chris, if you want a two class system, I'll see you in the breadlines. Hopefully, you are the one wearing the white suit rather than the one crying next to me.

    March 1, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Denny H.

    The unions have priced themselves out of a job. Face up to it and move on.

    March 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Live better Work .

    Live better Work. Get to work.

    March 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mmmmm

    I can't believe the amount of working class appleheads are agreeing with gov walker. The state as an employer has entered into an contractual agreement with labor and now want to bow out as an employer of this binding agreement. This is unprecedented and the unions should gather the funds and initiate ligtagation in every viable forum. They should also initiate impeachment against the gov and any lawmaker who vote to upsurp the legal precedents set under labor laws and standards. This isn't about Wisconsin only it involves all 50 states.

    March 1, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really

      Right, and the unions have got to go in all 50. It's time for hope and change remember?

      Pay should be based on skill, education, productivity and merit of the individual, nothing else.

      March 14, 2011 at 4:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. Julibear

    First they came for the POOR, and took away fundings for Acorn who helped poor register for voting and get housing and I did not do anything as I was not poor Then they came for the GAYS, fighting against human rights for gays, and against repealing DADT etc. and I did not do anything because I was not gay. The they came for the WOMEN and fought against womens rights including to decide over their own bodies and I did not do anything because I was not a woman. Then they came for the WORKERS & UNIONS, trying to take away their right to negotiate a fair deal for the workers, and I did not do anything because I was not a unionised worker. Then they came for Me. and there was no one left to fight for my rights...

    March 1, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobbie

      So what you're saying is that because we get rid of unions we will lose all of our rights? Hahahaha....

      March 1, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scott

    Blaming Unions for sending jobs overseas. Ok, there's one problem here- A decision was made. Whose decision was it to send jobs overseas? In this analogy, if a druggie wanted Coke and couldn't get it in Texas, the druggie decides it's worth the risk to cross the border into Mexico for Coke. Don't blame other people for your bad decisions Corporate America! Keep it at home, and be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.

    March 1, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. childressrulz

    Tax the crap out of the rich! Cut military spending in half. Invest in our future with education. There is a true "trickle-down" effect. A better educated public has lower crime rates, and lead a healthier lifestyle both of which would save a lot of money down the road.

    March 2, 2011 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Really

      "The rich" already pay more taxes than anyone else. They average well over 60% of all taxes paid. You want to tax them more? That's nothing more than greed. I want what he worked for!!!

      A lot of the "middle class" and nearly all of the "poor" get tax REFUNDS. The rich do not. Yours is nothing more than the give me something I didn't work for and don't deserve mentality, which has helped unions to flourish. What happens when there are no more "rich" to take from and we are all forced into equal poverty? Who do you take from then? Will the unions stop asking for dies then to help you out?

      Remember, they "take" money from you each week...oh no....wait a minute....the unions might quite possibly be....oh wait for it....RICH....oh the humanity!!!! Say it ain't so!

      March 14, 2011 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. childressrulz

    I have my own business but I was Union for years. Even though I am not Union anymore they still have my support! GO UNION!

    March 2, 2011 at 5:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. SouthernBelle

    Everyone is saying the unions sent our jobs overseas...I don't follow that story. I live in a Southern state and most Southern states do not have unions (and never did). In the 80s and 90s Northern corporations moved their operations to our Southern states in droves to get away from the unions they said. In early 2000s those same companies packed up again and ran to Mexico; then when they heard China worked even cheaper they packed up again and ran to China. The unions had nothing to do with them leaving the US; that was their excuse for leaving unionized Northern states, but they didn't even bother with an excuse for leaving the non-union South for Mexico because there wasn't one. NAFTA is what sent all of our jobs out of this country. It was not the unions. Living in a Southern "right to work" state is fine, until you get hurt on the job or have a boss that just decides they don't like you for whatever reason. EEOC laws are said to prevent prejudice in the workplace. That's fine as long as you're not in a "right to work" state. Right to work state means your employer can actually be firing you because they don't like your race, that you're female, or your religion – the only thing is they don't have to tell you WHY they're letting you go! Just, "your services are no longer needed." And that's how they are allowed to terminate based on everything the EEOC says they won't – they can, and they do, and just don't tell. Unions would not allow that to happen. I'm not saying unions are perfect, nothing is – but neither are "right to work" states.

    March 2, 2011 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
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