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. AmazedinVA

    Instead of you unemployed republican's talking about breaking the unions and how they get pensions, why don't you go get a job with the state and get a pension yourself? Remember, most teachers have a master degree, so you'll probably have to go back to school first. Or better yet, unionize your private workplace (if you have a job) and collectively bargain for a pension. Your millionaire CEO boss should pay you more than 1/3,000th of what he makes a year. Don't you think you're worth at least a little more than that? Have some self respect and faith in your abilities. Nobody is keeping you from getting a state job and the benefits that come with it. BTW, those benefits are not "free money" that is given to state employees. It is part of their overall compensation package. A little less take home pay now, for a bit more security in retirement. You could have that too if you weren't so intent on cutting your own economic throats in the name of ensuring that those not "like" you, don't get anything either.

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

      Well said!!

      March 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Paul NYC

    Only in the American media can the middle-class be treated with such out and out disrespect that the needs of the rich and corporations are put far above them. Perhaps it's time that CNN and other news outlets realize that the circles their executives and anchors travel in are not the reality for most people who struggle to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. Workers in American work hard - very hard. Yet they are told by the elitists that they should be happy to have a job, as if what they do happens magically without their blood, sweat, toil and tears.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nobama

    I have enough trouble covering my own retirement fund and health care premiums. Why on Gods beautiful green and blue earth should I have to cover theirs!? I am middle class as well and these people are not fighting to save me, they are fighting to live happily ever after at my expense.

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

      because, Doofus, they are the people that put out your house when it's on fire, protect your property, educate your children, take away your garbage, build your roads, pull your drunken ass out of the ditch and take you to the hospital ect ect ect. Public workers are your neighbors moron.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Maybe because they educated your kids, protected your neighborhood, and were willing to put out a fire should it break out? I'm willing to pay for that, why are you so cheap? D you think this stuff is free- wait, I forgot you are conservative, of course you think they should do it for free.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bailoutsos

    Wow. They do not like what is happening and they get to scream at their boss. f II screamed at my boss and refused to leave the premises, the cops will be here to take me away.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Harold Anderson

    Forget about Communism, Socialism parnoia.

    It is about saving america. All you idiots standing up for the corporations that are RAPING AMERICA need to shut up.

    RIGHT NOW you need to spend your energy focusing on saving the middle class.

    Help stand up for these Unions. Once they are gone. The goverment and the corporations will know they can take away everybody rights in the Middle Class!!!!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coldstar

      Another person that knows nothing about economics...

      March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bailoutsos

    Wow. They do not like what is happening and they get to scream at their boss. If screamed at my boss and refused to leave the premises, the cops will be here to take me away.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KMart

    unions collect dues from members to elect politicians who then turn around and reward them with lavish bennies to repay their loyalty. sounds like a fair system. IDIOTS!! no one is working in a blast furnace or open pit mine for a dollar a day.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • PoliSciMon

      You're right their not working for a dollar a day...they are not working at do you think the private sector got away with outsourcing so many American jobs? By getting rid of the Unions in the private they want to do the same in the public sector, their goal is to control the world and create two classes rich and poor.

      Where will you fall is the question?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tom

    Question: Shouldn't these people be at work on a Tuesday? Or does their bloated union rights give them the right to take time off for wasteful type of behavior?

    March 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Aman Singh

    If people in Arab countires are fighting with the tyrants, middle class in US fighting the Wall street guys. These Harvard studeid (Wall street guys) first tanked the economy, then government give them free rein to fix the economy. Wall is nothing but a huge ponzy scheme and hard working Americans have been duped to invest in it. Now people suddenly relaise that their houses are worth less, debts have soars and the great American dream have bypassed them.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. union guy

    A union member, a CEO, and a Tea Party member are all sitting at a table. On the table are a dozen cookies. The CEO grabs 11 cookies, and says to the tea bagger – "watch out for that union guy, he wants part of your cookie"

    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AvgAmerican

    Speaking from experience both as "state of WI employee" household and a "private company employee" household, union employees have it WAY better. Their health benefits, etc. are AMAZING and cost practically nothing for the employee, no wonder state employees never leave their jobs. They can't match the pay and benefits for their education in the private sector. It doesn't exactly seem fair. The exception of course are first responders who willingly risk their lives as they serve their communities. They deserve every dime they get!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. monnie11

    maybe people will now realize they needed to vote in the midterm elections and not let the republicans gain control; the governor of wisconsin is exactly what we got; he cut corporate taxes (his buddies) and now wants to make up the money by busting the unions; the american people are showing they are not as dumb as he thought

    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • PoliSciMon

      I agree..great comment

      March 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mfn57

    If the governors are being fed by the Koch brothers, then the protestors are being fed by the Democratic party who don't want their cash flow from forced dues to dry up. Obama people are predicting they will spend $1 billion in the 2012 election campaign. Where is that coming from?
    This isn't the 19th century, and teachers aren't the Molly Maguires crawling into coal mines. Though they act like hoodlums, Spreading feces on the wall of the capitol building in Columbus? Really, really? Thank God you are all college educated and "professional".
    Oh, and I'm a teacher and a card carrying member of the OEA and NEA. Here's an idea teachers, quit and get a better paying job in the private sector – Hahaha .

    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      You're a teacher, with grammar and syntax like that? Why don't you take your own advice and quit?

      March 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Roberto

    THis is all about the GOP attack on unions to reduce the power of the Democratic party. If you read the issues carefully, one of the items is to stop the unions from collecting union dues and to make paying union dues optional. The GOP knows that 50-75% of union employees will stop paying dues which will in turn reduce the money the Dem party gets from unions.

    It's a power play by the GOP to take over America once and for all.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • LibsRliars

      First off protests require permits esp on government property they are costing COSTING tax payers millions to protest illegally and disrupt meetings and endanger lawmakers. After the liberal shot the blue dog dem in AZ you think they would have learned you cannot trust criminal violent liberals (who make up 98% of or our violent incarcerated prisoners). Union thug leaders make several hundred thousand dollar (claimed) income while residing in mansions costing millions and vacationing with the family at (union) meetings in Florida......frankly the WI Govenor has been too weak on these protesters too em all, incarcerate em all and yes USE teargas and arrests to clear em out and regain law and order and lesson the damage to the capitol building and abusive costs to law enforcement.......thirty days in jail with their employers informed why they are missing work (for real why) thn they might look for new work in a socialist failure state like Illnois, Wisconsin is just trying to clean up the mess left to them from a democrat controlled congress.............same with our federal congress...........Democrats leaving the mess Bush's entire second term ala Nancy and Dirty Harry Fredie Fannie Dems........

      March 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      @ LibsRLiars: Have you taken your meds today, because your rant made no sense. Seriously, when you start to advocate violence and arbitrary arrests, you are playing into the stereotype that everyone has of a conservative. You gave me a much-needed laugh, because your arguments are a joke. I think Ghaddaffi and you have a similar sense of reality.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. owtdorsmn

    Dennis F. your an idiot!! Free trade and unions are the reason those industries have moved over seas. Costs associated with paying union workers and benefits pushed the government to allow goods to be imported to this country and the american people ate it up. Keep the goods coming in or destroy unions and bring product manufacturing back to the US!! Unions have always been the problem!!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lil Irish

      You are absolutely correct! We can also thank Clinton for NAFTA, which allows absolute FREE TRADE between our country and Mexico/Canada. Thanks, Clinton. Let's put blame where blame is due

      March 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Agreed

      I believe that's what he was getting at.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
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