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

    "If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool." – HONEST ABE LINCOLN

    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bisqueen23

    This is actually kind of funny. The Regressives cry about running goverment like a business, but let's face it, governement is who business turns to when Katrina brings a major US city to its knees. I do not see business running to build a new road to one of our coastal areas so they can do more business. No, what I hear is that if state government (the taxpayer/little guy) doesn't build that road business will take its business to China or somewhere else where they can pay the lofty sum of a dollar a day. The problem here is not the middle class worker and/or blue collar worker. The problem is business. Exxon, Halliburton, etc., etc. have all made record profits from this country while receiving massive tax cuts (oh, right, when its business its an incentive to prove a few jobs) and infrastructure with which to move its products to continue to rake in record profits. The problem is not government workers making a decent wage with benefits. The problem is private business constanting slashing wages and gutting benefits to its employers all to increase a bottom line. There is little or no research and development monies spent by these companies (they get that back in the way of incentives from the federal governement.

    It is absolutely shameful (and we will ultimately pay) that we treat our teachers so poorly. Maybe the schools would be better if the rich white people kept their children in public school and worked with those schools they way they do with their expensive private schools.

    The reason why you have a 40k and not pension is because a 401k is a no loss situation for your private employer. The employer need not sink a dime into your 401k.

    Is this class warfare? You bet your bottom dollar it is.

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

      Treat out teachers so poorly laughable and fiction.......they work half the year whine continuously and get paid better than the average FULL TIME REAL MIDDLE CLASS workers..........if they missed work and lied they only deserve one thing.FIRE EM!

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

      Treat out teachers so poorly laughable and fiction.......they work abou half the year, whine continuously and get paid better than the average FULL TIME REAL MIDDLE CLASS workers..........if they missed work and lied they only deserve one thing.FIRE EM! If I miss work and lie about it for weeks I get fired, half these protesters are not public workers or even union just students from the leftist university nearby same as the doctors handing out fraudlent fake excuses....

      March 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • PoliSciMon

      Very well said

      Unfortunately these Tea Bag/GOP trolls, don't seem to get it. I haven't figured out are they just stupid or is it their bigotry that is driving them to slit their own throats?

      I agree with you whole heartedly.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bobby

    Give thanks to the self-serving republicans and their idiot tea party followers for destroying the middle class.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. FRANK LONGO

    The Koch brothers and their Robber Baron friends would love to get rid of the Middle Class. Keep them dumb,ignorant and uneducated and these serfs will obey all orders and never question that dollar an hour job.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nobama

    When I was growing up and things got a little rough for my family and I we all had to make sacrifices. There was one exception though and that was Uncle William. Uncle William was special and didn’t have to make the same sacrifices as the rest of us and Uncle William figured that the contributions he had made to the family were far more important than the rest of our contributions and we all had to pay out of our own pockets so that Uncle William could have things that we didn’t have… His nickname was “Union Bill”.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Uncle Sam

    is this the same USA Today that reported federal workers are over paid.
    Get the fact before reporting, Stupid !!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dtcpr

    I don't know about other states, but I live in NY and I am a Public employee. I have a BA and i don't even make enough money to move out of my parents house. That is not because I waste my money on foolish things, it is because I have bills like everyone else. My pension comes from my paycheck. I pay into it each payperiod. My employer puts in less than I do. We invest the money and I get my own money back when I retire.
    Public employees are not lazy, ignorant GED grads. We are people working hard, we are the people who clean your streets, who provide saftey to your town, who care for the elderly and the poor.

    Don't spew hate without knowing the facts.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasper

      Yo dtcpr,

      Thank you for doing a good job. Its unfortunate that people fail to recognize the hard and necessary work that state workers do.

      Unfortunately many of us have had the experience of dealing with poor customer service at the DMV (for example). In these areas I do think the government could do a better job in training. They have gotten better though 🙂

      March 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe

    Teachers work longer than most people realize. A 2008 research study reported that full-time teachers work, on average, 55 hours per week. [1] (This includes all the after school and evening and weekend work in correcting papers at home, preparing tests, designing lesson plans, attending after school functions as well as parent meetings, etc.) If you multiply 55 hours x 38 weeks in a regular teacher’s contract, you get 2,090 hours of work. Divide the 2,090 by 40 hours per week (average workweek) and you have a typical teacher working 52.25 weeks per year! They do this in a compressed nine-months of time. It should also not be forgotten that when teachers “ . . . are compelled not to work during the three months of summer, they won’t be able to collect unemployment compensation.” [2] However, other “seasonal workers” have that right.

    [1] NEA Today (2008, September). Miscellaneous classroom concerns, 27(1), p. 28. [ED3-83]

    [2] Mattsen, John A. (2000, January 15). Big surpluses, but not enough to pay teachers decent salary. Star Tribune, p. A17. [FD3-84]

    March 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. George G

    Are people really that stupid? Do you not realize that up to 30% of state expenditures are for FIXED pension costs for a majority of states for unions. How can it make sense to have FIXED pension/healthcare costs, but variable income with less revenue and a reduction in assets to fund pensions. That's why a majority of Americans aren't smart, they listen to sound bites of the unions and don't realize that unions were great 50 years ago, but why do we need unions now? I'm a white collar union employee, I fund my own 401K, healthcare, flexible spending...but unions try to make raises and pensions standard.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      I read a recent article where the liberal writer claimed that the figures on pay and benefits for union folks were misleading. He claimed most government union folks were professional or management people and thus better educated, and so they were more deserving of the higher pay. And then he argued that if anything, compared to their peers in private industry, they pay averages are lower and hence they are really underpaid!

      Of couse this liberal fool left out some infomation. Such as their peers in private industry have no union! And despite having no union, they get better pay and rewards! How is that possible you ask? Well, in private industry, people are challenged and measured on accomplishments. If they achieve or exeed those goals they get rewarded, if they fail they get pay cuts or fired. Hence they get better pay as they are rewarded for better performance! This is unlike Government unions where you get more than cost of living pay increases despite your performance, and near automatic increases in work grades to higher levels of pay. Add in how seniority protects you from being fired except in the most incompetent of situations, and you see the difference.

      Also, from a productivity level, those professionals in private industry are twice as productive as government workers. In other words, measured on terms of equal results and productivity, the lazy bums in Government a paid way more that private industry for the same results. They are vastly over paid even from that measure.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • job killer

      @ ignorant Ken,

      It's hard to put a price on education, and there is no financial payout after you've graduated a student. Therefore, it's hard to pay teachers by output. WI state law gave teachers a maximum of 3% pay raise, even when inflation was much greater than 3%, and other industries were giving much bigger raises. That's why private sector salaries have increased, while public salaries of stagnated in this state.

      If union members are lazy, it's up to administration to record this activity (or lack of it) and enforce compliance. If the union is being difficult about removing these members, then during the next collective bargaining agreement, terms of employment and firing can be negotiated and agreed upon. There's no benefit for unions to protect lazy workers. It's in no ones best interest.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Uncle Sam

    Stop targeting the middle class

    March 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ron

    I do not understand why there is such a bill to prohibit collective bargaining? But, it is a right of employees to unite in union and bargain. The whole world recognizes that, why not the US? Capitalism is a nice system, but this is too much!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lil Irish

    When I see unionized construction workers for Illinois or Chicago making $70 an hour for standing around, looking at a hole, then performing shoddy work so they can come back for more work - the NO to Unions.
    However, when I see coalminers risking their health and lives every day for $20 an hour with NO assurances of safety or benefits, then I say YES to Unions; however, we have OSHA to protect them.

    Teachers, government workers, construction workers do not need unions. They should be subject to the same "at-will" employment as the majority of our population. Unions in this case are antiquated and are forcing companies to ship work to Canada and Mexico and force taxpayers to pick up their ridiculously huge pensions in the case of government workers – this includes federal government workers..

    March 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. inadaze2

    wow ...if this happens the government will have a "say" in everything
    Obama
    I thought you would stand in line with us WHERE ARE YOU

    March 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SaneinMASS

    "Elections have consequences" who said that! Obama did when he rammed Obamacare down our throats. Payback is sweet! Unions need to pay their fair share, not be subsidized by other middle income people. Unions are destroying the country and the rest of the middle class. No more pigging out at the trough for unions!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Phil

    In Egypt they took to the streets to throw their thieves out.

    In the US they took our money to Wall Street to pay our thieves bonuses.

    In Egypt the labor unions organized to get fair treatment. In the US, some people have been convinced that, despite years of declining living standards, unions are not even necessary.

    We could learn something from Egyptians. And I hope we do. Soon.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • T Diddy

      What, you wanna build pyramids?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      Yes.

      A monument to scabs.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
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