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Thousands Protest At State Capitol

Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 3:52 PM

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Crowds of public employees protested a sweeping Ohio proposal to strip unions of collective bargaining powers. The measure would end collective bargaining and replace negotiated salary schedules with merit raises. Ohio Public Radio's Bill Cohen reports.

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People pour inside the atrium to protest proposed bill. Crowd gathers outside the Statehouse. Groups in statehouse rotunda duel to support their sides of debate. Protestor objects to Governor's language toward office. Former Governor Strickland lends support to protestors.

Crowds of public employees numbering in the thousands today protested a sweeping Ohio proposal to strip unions of collective bargaining rights. The groups were wearing red, in an effort to steer public opinion away from the idea that unions are all-Democrat organizations.

The protesters who came to Columbus were union members, including firefighters, teachers, police and state workers. They were joined by a smaller number of tea party activists who support the legislation. The measure would end collective bargaining and replace negotiated salary schedules with merit raises.

The bill represents the biggest challenge in recent memory to Ohio unions, emerging after Republicans took control of the Legislature and governor’s office this year.
Governor John Kasich backs the bill and even more stringent union limitations.

His Democratic predecessor, Ted Strickland, made a brief appearance amid the crowd Thursday and drew cheers.

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