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. dood

    You people are boring

    March 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. marc

    Go Unions. Protective bargaining created America's middle class. If CEOs had their way workers would be making $1.00 an hour without benfits along with 12 hour 6 day weeks. 9 years old Children would be working in textile plants. This fight to protect unions and bargaining rights cannot be lost. MJY

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

      Oh, that's silly. We have OSHA. We don't need unions.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      How does Lil think we GOT OSHA??????

      GO UNION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. spottingLies

    "The Columbus, Ohio, City Council opposes legislation in its state because members say it would hurt families..." paying the salaries and benefits of these workers with my taxes in hurting my family!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ken

    So ask yourself this. In these tough times, how are ALL of these people affording to spend time off from work to go and walk around with pickets. Why, if you or I wanted to go off and march about, we either have to take vacation time, or, take time off with no pay. Ahhh .. but not the unions. You see, many contracts have claused that allow for people to take time off from work with pay for union business. And of course all the dues paid go into funds where the unions can also spend money to support these folks, buy meals, purchase signs, etcetera.. In other words, all of these protesters are doing just fine and not really losing any money, as we the taxpayers are still paying them despite their not doing their jobs (as they are on union business, or being funding from the union funds). That's right, we the taxpayers are paying them to effectively go protest having the government do anything to stop raising our taxes. Isn't that just great ... and a sure sign of why Walker is right.

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

      Well said. It cracks me up that most news stations make it look like these people are "sacrificing" something. This only goes to show how out of touch with reality unions and their members are.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ProperVillain

    "Passage of the bill would limit collective bargaining to wages. Any pay increases beyond the rate of inflation would be subject to voter approval"
    This is what most private sector employees get every year! Note to all delusional union members: this is normal! This statement is the only thing you need to read to understand how greedy and out of control unions and its members have become. Pathetic. Again, they want a big raise every year for no apparent reason. Something for nothing. Budgets and taxpayers be damned.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sonny chapman

    Now we know where Haley Barbour & the Repubs. want to "take back" this country to; powerless workers, share croppers, child labor, no minimum wage or OT pay.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Paul

    As an immigrant from one of these countries that the ruling class together with the rich control almost all resources, it is very sad to see America is becoming JUST LIKE THEM. President Eisenhower was absolutely right, but he could and should phrase the problem as a continuing degrading of the rights of the FREE. America is NOT a free country anymore especially in view of the Supreme Court ruling that allow the super rich almost infinite power in choosing their candidates. My $2 extra income a week cannot and match the $200000000 that the Koch Brothers can use to destroy all unions. How many effective unions are left in the private industry? The super rich will own all of us soon as their SLAVES! We need more leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and Bobby Kennedy!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. J0nx

    Love to see it. Bust criminal wall street banksters first before even THINKING about busting unions. Make it your rallying cry folks. Don't let them steal you blind. If we have the money to bail out banks for their crimes then we have money for your paychecks and benefits. Enough is enough. March and tell them you won't accept the fact that criminal banksers got away scot free while you have lost your jobs and your life savings.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nida10

    Good. We are learning something from Egypt.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. FRANK LONGO

    Question to all GOP/Teabaggers: why do you hate the Midlde Class? Why do you favor the very wealthy over Joe Middle Class? I'm still waiting for all those jobs the GOP promised and all that money that's supposed to "trickle" down from the wealthy. Why don't the rich ever sacrifice? Tighten their belts? Do with less? Why does the disparity between the wealthy and the average American grow wider every year? These are questions their supporters will never answer! The only response will be GOP BS talking points no doubt!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • job killer

      No, their MO is to ignore this as liberal propaganda.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. granny11

    The Wisconsin Governor is acting in accordance with American beliefs, not Socialist beliefs. Too many people are ignorant of the past efforts to socialize this nation such as Walter Reuther, union leader, who went to Russia in the 1920's and came back with the order to "socialize American through the unions.

    There may have been a place for unions at one time, but it's gotten out of hand. The Teacher's unions especially, have been very vocal making demands that exceed expectations, all the while the quality of education has plummeted. It just may be possible that the educational unions are the ones that have lowered the academic level in America, and that's why jobs have been lost to other countries and foreigners. Without the demands of the unions to protect the teachers who aren't doing their jobs, always screaming for more money, which money doesn't buy a better education. Home schoolers have proved that one null and void. It doesn't take a lot of money to get a good education.

    Knock it off already you protesters. Real Americans deserve better.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • nokidding

      Nicely said!!!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasper

      Granny11,

      In deference to your age, I will go easy on you. America built its wealth on labor, labor is based on unions. Without unions, people endured dangerous working conditions, ethnic and racial discrimination, as well as low pay.

      The WI teachers are not "screaming" for more pay, they have conceded to lower compensation as requested. They don't want to lose their right to collective bargaining.

      Do not confuse socialism with communism. That's being ignorant. And don't believe for one second that corporate america will fund a thriving economy. The capitalist system is set up to maximize profits, which can mean outsourcing jobs.

      Collective bargaining is necessary for workers to retain their right to safe work environments.

      As Keynes said, in the long run, we are all dead. You probably before me, and I'll have to live with the ignorant ideas you have supported.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Phil

    "Higher average pay."

    But NOT higher than private workers with the SAME JOB and EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Unionworker

    I am a municipal employee. Have been for 20 years. If you people out there had any clue as to how little work is required here you would be shocked. We are union shop and have so many layers of protection, frankly it's embarrasing. I don't think government workers should be unionized. They protect troublemakers and slackers, and prevent hard workers from getting ahead. It is a disincentive to work. I'm all for union labor in the corporate work force, but in the governmenit's a joke. We do not produce equal to our compensation. We don't have to. I can go out and break my ass or sit in the office and read a book, I get paid either way and nobody cares; as long as you make it look good once in a while.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • marc

      That's not my experience. MJY

      March 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lil Irish

      Oh totally. Cook county in Chicago is the WORST. The lawyers, public defenders, and states' attorneys work MAYBE 3 hours a day. And most are drunks who protect each other. Chicago cops are the same.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Truth

    Looks like the Liberals' Rent-a-Mob and Union Thugs are still going strong.
    LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Remeber Rand Paul's blackshirts that stomped on that woman's head during a campaign rally back in the Fall, then demanded she apologise? Don't talk about union thugs when your lot are the first to use violence.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dale

    I am the son of a union worked who was there in the beginning of the movement in PA when he worked for Merk Sharp & Dome. I remember the strikes we had to endure as a family jsut to get the basic benefits. I went on to become a teacher, principal, and college prof. In all of this time I never got a bonus or a golden parachute. I always had to work vacations to support my family with odd jobs until I became an administrator. After all of this, it's awfully hard to get any respect for the essential teacher, the root of a democracy. Instead we get jeers and namecalling from the likes of Limbaugh, Walker, and the Jersey Guy. They have the stage and it's sickening.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasper

      Right on Dale,

      Collective Bargaining is essential. Can you imagine what will happen to the teacher an upper middle class liberal school district who happens to mention that God is the maker of the Universe. Going lose that job for sure, know what I mean?

      Don't mind most of the comments made here. The negative comments are poorly defined and communicated, C work at best.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
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