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Workers Stand Strong as Ohio Senate Guts Public Sector Bargaining

Attacks on Rights Fuels Resolve, Protests from Coast to Coast

Ron Gay

CWA Local 4300 VP Ron Gay speaks Tuesday at a rally outside Ohio's capitol in Columbia. The crowd of thousands included CWA members from across the state.

Ohio Rally

CWAers in Ohio

The Ohio Senate this week approved Gov. John Kasich's union-busting bill, but the 17-16 vote in the heavy Republican chamber was closer than expected before the rallies and protests that drew tens of thousands of workers to the capitol and to events across the state.

Like Wisconsin's controversial bill, the Ohio legislation guts collective bargaining for public workers. If the bill now passes the Ohio Assembly, CWA and other unions will consider repealing it through a statewide referendum on the November ballot, CWA President Larry Cohen said.

To even get the bill to the Senate floor, the Republican chairman of the committee in charge of it removed two members of his own party who opposed the legislation. The final vote was 7-5. Cincinnati Sen. Bill Seitz, one of the Republicans booted off the panel, called the bill a "Heads I win, tails you lose proposition" and said, "Average Americans and Ohioans understand that is not a very fair method of dispute resolution."

On Tuesday, 20,000 people rallied outside the capitol in Columbus, where speakers included CWA Local 4300 Vice President Ron Gay. "We need to concentrate not on dragging people down, but raising people up. Now is the time to stand up for good jobs and strong communities," he said, repeating the theme of a new CWA-launched coalition. Find it on Facebook by searching for "Stand Up for Ohio."

District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen said that through the coalition, "unions, community groups, civil rights and faith groups across Ohio are gearing up to take this fight to a whole other level. We have a plan to fight the bill in the House and a longer-range plan to win if we are not successful there. However the fight is quickly moving far beyond this one bill."

Here's what's happening in some of the other embattled states:

Wisconsin


Wisconsin statehouse

Protesters outside Madison's capitol, where the governor has locked down the building while appealing a court order to keep it open.

Polls show that if an election were held today Gov. Scott Walker would lose in a landslide.

Walker has shut down the capitol to the public, but thousands of people continue to protest every day and a small crowd remains inside the building. A judge ruled earlier this week that the capitol must remain open, but the governor's office is appealing.

The state's 14 Democratic senators remain outside Wisconsin in order to prevent a quorum and a vote on Walker's bill to take away public workers' bargaining rights.

This week, Walker released a dire budget full of draconian cuts to state services and education, including large increases in college tuition. Walker continues to falsely blame public workers for the state’s budget problems, despite the fact that the state was on its way to surplus before he gave away $140 million in tax cuts to business and the rich during his first two months in office.

Public workers have already agreed to every financial demand Walker has made of them, as long as they can keep their bargaining rights. Walker continues to reject their offer.

New Jersey

CWA members from across New Jersey, as well as from New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia were among 10,000 people who rallied in pouring rain last Friday against Gov. Chris Christie's attacks on workers and unions. CWA President Larry Cohen was among the rally's speakers.

Indiana

CWA members are in the forefront of the battle in Indiana, where mass protests have led Gov. Mitch Daniels to pull back on for now on his so-called "right-to-work" legislation. But legislation to outlaw automatic payroll deduction of union dues, along with budget and education bills are among damaging proposals still being considered. Like Wisconsin's Democratic senators, 37 Democratic lawmakers in Indiana have left the state to stop votes on the anti-worker agenda.

Oklahoma

Members of CWA Local 6012 who work for city governments in Oklahoma are fighting to keep their bargaining rights. Local 6086 members are fighting numerous bad budget proposals, including deep cuts to the corrections budget that would jeopardize the safety of CWA-represented corrections officers.

Texas

The jobs of 10,000 state workers and 100,000 school district workers are at risk. CWA Local 6186 members are planning a major day of lobbying April 6.

Tennessee

A broad coalition of unions and community supporters are fighting proposals that would end collective bargaining for teachers, block public workers from making voluntary political donations and end the deduction of union dues from government paychecks. Local 3865, representing workers and faculty at seven University of Tennessee campuses, is leading the fight.

Missouri

CWA members are fighting "right-to-work" and paycheck deception legislation, as well as rollback of child labor laws, changes that would no longer protect 14- to 16-year-olds from long hours and late-night shifts. A lobby day set for March 30 in Jefferson City.

California

Members of UPTE Local 9119 are mobilizing with students against the University of California Board of Regents, which gave fat raises to top administrators while demanding pensions and health care cuts for UPTE faculty and staff. The board also wants to raise student fees again, even though tuition already has increased 40 percent since 2009.

Florida

Locals throughout Florida will be taking part in "Awake the State" rallies on Tuesday, March 8, to protest Gov. Rick Scott's deep budget cuts and other legislation harmful to workers. Among the anti-union bills is legislation to decertify unions if membership fall below 50 percent and a bill to end automatic payroll deduction of dues.