Unions vs. budget battles continue across US
Many US states continue to debate anti-labor legislation, some passing harsh messages as pro-union protests are met with Tea Party opposition calling for budget cuts.
Following ongoing events across the Midwest, some of which saw hundreds of thousands of protestors in the streets opposing anti-union legislation, new anti-union bills are being introduced in other states, some harsher than the bells under consideration elsewhere.In Ohio the State Senate passed a bill to limit the collective bargaining rights of government workers and also eliminate their right to strike.This follows recent similar legislation in Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, Connecticut, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Iowa and others. Multiple states are considering Republican lead bills to restrict or eliminate collective bargaining rights, cap pay rises or curtail other labor rights. In Ohio more than 8,000 pro-union protestors descended on the State Capital expressing vehement opposition to the law which would impact hundreds of thousands of state workers, ranging from teachers to police to firefighters. Republicans and Tea Party members speaking in support of the legislation however contended cuts and changes to union laws are needed to give greater flexibility to local and state governments in order to reduce deficits and balance municipal budgets. "This isn't about deficits. This is about union-busting," protestor Evan Goodenow told Reuters. Democrats and union supporters contend the law goes too far in restricting rights and oversteps necessary measures to bring down budget shortfalls. However, a recent study conducted by USA Today indicated that in 41 of the 50 US states and the District of Columbia, public sector union workers are on average paid more than their private sector counterparts – including in both Wisconsin and Ohio. Many union supporters argued the study was misleading and did not account for all possible variables, such as education which can account for higher pubic pay rates. A number of others supporting the labor legislation have cited the report as further evidence changes are needed. Corey Ansel, an organizer for the Columbus A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition in Ohio argued conservatives are attacking America’s workers.“The people will continue to mobilize against this very anti-worker legislation,” he said.The people are opposed of the direction the state is going, many worry the government is serving the interests of big business and corporations.“The people will not take it anymore,” Ansel added. “There are many aspects of this bill which are absurd.” He argued the bill is not popular among any of the people in Ohio, and that it is being forced on them and that the Republican controlled government do not relate with the people of the state. “The struggle of the working class here is not something in just one state. It’s something that will span across the country,” Ansel said.