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. Joe

    Of course all of this is done on purpose to make all of you people freek out..the threat of a government shut down is not only utterly irresponsible, but economic terrorism. Now everybody is fighting and killing and slaughtering, the middle east is going to hell in a handbasket and oil is skyrocketing. Did you stop to be grateful that they aren't firing you from your jobs did you stop to be grateful that at least your still employed and that you still have benefits and your health? Everybody is screaming and complaining about what they don't have or what they might loose and not looking at what there is to be happy about. This is what the Elite want US to tear our throats out and be scared.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PoliSciMon

    Who are these people that don't support the labor force having decent wages and healthcare benefits? It is obivious that they do not understand the history of unions and how they have benefitted the working middle-class. It is ridiculous for any American not to support democracy and that's what unions provide to American's. The very people screaming they are PATRIOTS, really should look in the mirror, because their not Patriotic at all. I do not want to work 60 hour weeks for the same or less pay, and have no health insurance or vacations, because we become a society enslaved to the corporations who are attempting to take over our government. If you are a middle-class American, a true Patriotic American, A veteran who has fought for us to have these rights, it is time to stand up and support the unions, whether you are union or not, they have made the benefits you have as an employee possible.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • owtdorsmn

      None of have benefits paid for anymore!! We in the private sector pay for our own and have for over 5 years or since the recession started. Where you been?
      And take your union crap speech and save it. You want a free ride just like the rest of the union workers. Quit and somone will take your job from the private sector!! Please do!!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • spottingLies

      More non-sense. The lawmakers (public sector) have created a special class. These are not middle class working stiffs like the rest of us. They are paid BY US. And as such have created their own system outside of the private sector – living off of our wages. To call them the middle class is an insult to the true middle class that is working every day to pay their wages and benefits.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      I have watched unions close companies and picket empty lots for months. I have watched manufacturing operations shut down because a light bulb went out and only a "union electrician" can replace a light bulb. My friends watched union members disable their vehicles so they could play poker on the clock, that is before the company went under. I have watched people who should have been fired, promoted due to senority and kma policies. I have NO USE FOR UNIONS PERIOD. THEY HAD THEIR DAY AND ITS DONE!!!!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reason

      When it comes to private unions, your arguements may hold some water. This discussion is about public unions.

      They make above average salaries in 41 states off your dollar. You're ok with that?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dean

    One needs to ask: What is the average income (including benefits) of the public servant that is part of the union, and what is the average income (including benefits) of the legislator wanting to remove the collective bargaining rights? The purpose of this is supposed to be to reduce the costs of government. The question then must be asked: Who provides more of a public service – firefighters, police and teachers or legislators? Which would you rather affect the incomes of?

    March 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mercury6

      I'd have no problem cutting Legislators first. Realize however, that would not even come close fixing the budget shortfall in most states. The top 2 budget items on state budgets are medicare, and education- making them the largest and easiest targets for cuts. Since every politician respects the AARP crowd, education is #1 on the chopping block. Too bad most posters here can't get past their own bias to see that these are tough problems that are going to require painful solutions. There is no magic bullet for the states, they're going to have to cut deeply into things you love or they're going to have to tax the heck out of you, (or maybe both) to get out of the holes they are in. This is just the beginning.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      You asked the wrong question. You could pay the legislators ZERO and it wouldn't affect the budget at all.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. johnny

    Please! This isn't a Tea Party moment. This is about a system on the verge of collapse due to the lack of funds. If union idiots can't accept compromise doing these hard economic times, let them get crushed as municipalities fail.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick San Diego

      Hey PAY ATTENTION. They have agreed to the $$$ part.It;s COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • ZweiStein

      johnny...the union has offered to give in to the money cuts. The issue is more about "collective bargaining." The beginning of a very dangerous, fascist power-grab.

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

      Hey, pay attention – it's collective bargaining rights for civil servants who's collective bargaining rights ARE NOT THE SAME as private employees! Get it?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bzarr

    When it comes down to it, Saddam never did anything to me. On the other hand Bush doubled my nations debt, and ruined its economy.

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

      Yeah, and idiot Obama had quadruipled Bush's debt in only two years you moron!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • firemedic

      Obviously you are clueless. Obama has more than quadrupled the deficit in two years. But yet you still blame bush.
      Also for those of you who believe that this legislation is anti middle class ought to look at the numbers a little more. Nationwide the percentage of union members is a little over 10%. And govt employees make up more than half of all unions now. So what you all are trying to say is that the only middle class is gov't employees.
      Unions are a thing of the past. Needed then not needed now. With mass media and gov't regulations and the internet, bad employers get outed to the world and that reduces their income. Bad for buisness.

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

      Yea, Tony, .... to rescue what he could of a rapidly sinking ship. You, of all people, really shouldn't call others "moron."

      March 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reason

      New flash: Bush is no longer in office.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • ZweiStein

      ..@firemedic.... .. You wrote: "With mass media and gov't regulations and the internet, bad employers get outed to the world and that reduces their income. Bad for buisness."

      Judging from what you wrote, leaves one only to believe that you're not paying much attention to anything. Take a look at conditions in China, Mexico etc etc. All the countries our (so-called) corporations manufacture in. The American companies that pay almost no tax here. Why are you all for them and not for you or our middle-class?
      And, btw, those companies didn't move their operations overseas because they weren't making profits here....they just wanted more and said "pi*s on you," and moved. Now you still buy their products and defend them – real bright.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • ZweiStein

      @Reason....Reason! Get back in your hole! Hurry!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Obama has NOT quadrupled the deficit since he took office. He inherited a 1.5T deficit from Bush and the deficit for the first fiscal year of his first budget was 1.2T.

      Yes, that's right morons. Obama's first deficit was SMALLER than Bush's last deficit.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MiddleClass

    Bender get real ! The single party system is exactly what the Republicans want.

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

    The Faction's Union tantrum is no surprise.
    Obama has shown that the 'Rule of Law' is only helpful to those who choose to enforce it. And that is usually to protect their own faction and afflict their opposition.
    It is sad that these factional unions are usurping representation and pushing their will upon the 'People's Union'.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. american citizen

    The state government shouldn't be attacking and trying to weaken the Unions. It is a shame and the politicians are blinded by the arrogance. The real problem was that we allowed our politicians to send jobs away and all the out sourcings has made our country weak. SAVE THE UNION and the TEACHERS UNION.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rick

    I think people are finally waking up to the tea baggers, a front group for corporation led by Koch brothers. Tea beggers woke up a sleeping gaint.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    Well I am going to milk every last dime I can from this system because I can.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Just like this guy did ha:

      Another firefighter took four and half months worth of sick leave last year but never four shifts in a row, so officials could not investigate it. The same employee worked more than 2,200 hours of overtime and made more than $200,000 last year

      That's a great scam!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. locco

    These unions have crippled this country, and that's why most union members love America so much...because they're getting a free ride. I've worked in the private sector for 20 years and I have to save and pay for my retirement! I've seen people in GM factories getting $90 an hour to screw in a tail light while I manage a multi-million dollar budget and a staff. Why do companies go to other countries for manufacturing? NO UNIONS! Ditch the lazy crooks and rebuild this country!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony


      March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • bruce Heinemann

      WRONG!!!!!!! Wall St. and the financial industry is destroying the country, not working people... idiot!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joel in Ohio

      Wah , then why don't you Unionize if you believe you are under paid. it is not the Unions fault if you believe you are under paid.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gabe

    why not just have the voters remove walker from office?

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

      because he has to be in a year first.......designs to recall state senators is currently happening

      March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMissal

      Perhaps they won't vote him out because they just voted him in under the premise that he do exactly what he is doing.

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

    Another goal of the rich Robber Barons is that anyone who's not wealthy become home schooled. Who needs a stinken education they say. An educated work force is a a dangerous one for the Robber Barons. They will not accept a serf like work environment and serf wages if their educated. A dumb Jethro and Ellie May will do what we tell them and keep quiet. Hey Jethro how do you like working 80 hours a week?

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

      Yes, let's all do away with Education ! That way, you'll have people willing to work for 3rd World Wages.

      Because when that happens, we will be a 3rd World Country.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. owtdorsmn

    I agree fire em and hire non union workers and watch and see how many applicants you get. Bye...Bye...Unions!! Or better yet. Get back to work, dont you all still have jobs?

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

      And watch the wages drop and health insurance costs go up for those non-union workers because all standards and regulations will be thrown out the window...crazy...go read a history book.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • sparky

      yeah, hire Bob's handyman to come wire your house the way.....why aren't you working idiot?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • PoliSciMon

      You are like soap on a rope... it will even be worse for private sector workers than it is...

      March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bg in oregon

    Unions certainly had their time and place in history, however that time has past. But since there is power and money involved they are not going to quietly go away, but they must.

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

      If there's no unions are you stupid enough to think your job is safe?

      don't be an idiot

      March 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • bg in oregon

      I’m self employed and unions have absolutely nothing to do with my work, nor anybody that I deal with, nor anybody that I know. Unions are nothing more than the “buggy whips” of the 21 century.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reason


      Thinking your job is "safe" is another name for complacency.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • neptonomist sentry

      sparky, are you so worthless that having a union contract is the only way you can maintain a job?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Unions don't need to disappear, they need to be re-structured !!!!! Bankrupt is the only solution !!!! I don't want to pay more taxes so they don't loose their benefits.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • bg in oregon

      Hmmm, sparky appears to seriously have issues.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phyllis

      Really? Unions serve a purpose nowadays to represent the thousands of workers if they need it against their employers. Even the government has balance in their legislative and justice branches. There are many employers out there that would treat employees in an unfair, dictator-like way if it weren't for some checks and balances. One little employee against the big school systems, for instance, would not have any weight. Employees should have the right to unions to help them out.

      Also, the study that came out saying Wisconsin public sector jobs paid more than private sector jobs is bogus. Perhaps they are not comparing COMPARABLE JOBS or COMPARABLE EDUCATION or COMPARABLE EXPERIENCE. Many private sector jobs require little education or skills. A person with a college degree and years of experience in a professional job SHOULD get more pay than some person with no higher education. Most people in the private sector don't want to work at public sector jobs, in fact, most couldn't hack it. So don't expect public workers, such as teachers to work for less, when most people wouldn't do the job for a million dollars. Politicians keep saying [teachers] need to suffer with the rest. Well, we HAVE already suffered enough. We've been told for years that we might get lower pay than other professionals, but at least we have good benefits, so don't take that from us. Most teachers have h ad no raises lately and have already incurred higher health insurance costs. I read an article just last year about how the average teacher, police office or firefighter does not make enough money to qualify for a mortage on an average house. What's fair about our salary then???? Don't even call us middle-class then

      March 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
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