Feb 19, 2011
In what union leaders say is becoming a national fight, protests against legislation to restrict public employees’ collective-bargaining rights spread from Wisconsin to Ohio.
In Madison, Wisconsin, crowds that police estimated at 25,000 engulfed the Capitol and its lawns yesterday during a third-straight day of protests as Democratic senators fled the legislative session. In Columbus, Ohio, about 3,800 state workers, teachers and other public employees came to the statehouse for a committee hearing. President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohioan, argued over whether the bills are “an assault on unions.”
Ohio firefighters Dave Hefflinger and Jerry Greer said they were. They 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. The measure would eliminate collective bargaining for state workers, prevent local-government employees from negotiating for health insurance and replace salary schedules with merit pay.
This article was posted: Saturday, February 19, 2011 at 3:45 am