Thursday, February 17, 2011

Huge Wisco protests spread to Ohio (VIDEO)

Workers have been protesting Senate Bill 5 in Ohio all week, but today the crowd grew to about 4,000, according to news reports. SB 5 is a bill that would strip public employee unions of nearly all their collective bargaining rights, much as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's would.

Reports The Columbus Dispatch:
The spacious Statehouse atrium was packed mostly with public union workers outraged at efforts to end collectie bargaining for state workers and significantly weaken the ability for local workers to bargain for their pay, benefits and working conditions.
Unions made a strong showing for the bill's first two hearings, and they were joined today by more than 200 red-shirt clad tea party activists pushing for the bill's passage. The mix verbally clashed in the Statehouse rotunda, where each side did its best to drown out the other.
Meanwhile, the atrium had the feel of a rock concert or an Ohio State football game, as union supporters cheered loudly when Senate sergeants-at-arms led their leaders across the balcony and into the hearing room.

The ProgressOhio blog has some good videos of the protest here.

Bloomberg offers this:
Firefighters Dave Hefflinger and Jerry Greer stood near hundreds of workers elbow-to-elbow in the statehouse atrium and listened to a Senate hearing through speakers. Chants of “Kill the bill” echoed.
“We’re here to support our brothers and sisters,” Hefflinger, a 27-year veteran, said in an interview. “They’re trying to take away what we fought for all of these years.”
Hefflinger, 49, and Greer, 39, members of the department in Findlay, Ohio, drove two hours south to protest the bill.

...Joe Rugola, the former president of the Ohio AFL-CIO who also is executive director of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, said he represents bus drivers and janitors who earn about $24,000 a year.

“I’m still looking for this privileged class of workers,” Rugola said in an interview while waiting to testify. “This is just part of a national attack on working people.”