The massive, government-crippling protests in Madison, Wisconsin have now spilled over into Ohio, where over 5,000 rallied Thursday in opposition to a bill that would eliminate collective bargaining rights for state workers.
Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 is essentially the same as what Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proposed, and it seems to be recieving about the same response. Just last week, more than 800 people showed up to protest the bill while it was still in committee, packing out the statehouse in a show of numbers that Thursday’s demonstration easily topped.
The collective bargaining power of unionized workers is a key bullwark for American laborers, who’ve often been forced to organize throughout US history to force management into offering better pay, health insurance, greater job security, vacation time or even maternity leave. Without collective bargaining, the power of unionized workers would be reduced to their last and most extreme tool in their set: the general strike.
Teachers in Wisconsin showed earlier this week what that may look like, with more than 1,100 of them calling in “sick” and not showing up for work for one single day, to emphasize their importance in the education system.
Estimates on the number of protesters who turned out in Columbus, Ohio on Friday differed, but Cleveland’s WTAM 1100 News Radio put the figure at “thousands,” noting that it had grown from prior protests. The station also added that Friday’s demonstration also drew a counter-protest from a group of tea party Republicans, who were “far outnumbered” by the workers.
The Columbus Dispatch reported Friday’s protest attracted “about 3,500” demonstrators, with the Republican counter-protest stacking up at just over 200.
“Instead of focusing on solving the economic problems facing Ohio and creating family-sustaining jobs for the 500,000 Ohioans who still remain jobless, Sen. Jones and Senate GOP leadership are trying to scapegoat hard-working public service workers for our economic and budget woes,” Tim Burga, president of Ohio’s AFL-CIO labor union federation, said in a statement.
“This bill is a partisan assault on working families and does nothing but punish workers and hurt the middle class, plain and simple. This bill would destroy the middle class because the working families this bill affects not only provide vital services, but put money and resources back into their communities, which support local merchants and other small businesses.”
This video was published to YouTube by user truthaboutbills on Feb. 17, 2011. It contains adult language.