The struggle to defend workers’ collective bargaining rights continues in Wisconsin while spreading to Ohio and Indiana. On Tuesday, thousands rallied at the State Capitol in Columbus, Ohio, against Senate Bill Five, which would require public sector workers to abandon collective bargaining, fund a larger share of health insurance premiums, and switch to a so-called “merit-based” pay system. In a scene mirroring that unfolding in the Wisconsin State Capitol over the past week, an estimated crowd of up to 15,000 packed a state courthouse in Columbus, banging drums and chanting, “Kill the bill.” Meanwhile in Indiana, Democrats in the state’s Senate took a page from their counterparts in Wisconsin, fleeing the state to deny Republicans quorum, required for a vote on the bill. The move came in response to a so-called “right to work” measure from Republicans that would remove union membership as a condition of employment. Speaking to NPR’s Diane Rehm, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels could not explain how stripping workers’ collective bargaining rights would help reduce state deficits. Daniels ultimately acknowledged the chief aim of the measures is to undermine union influence.
Diane Rehm: “I still am totally in the dark as to how bargaining and the bargaining power of unions and taking that away is going to affect the budget process.”
Gov. Mitch Daniels: “Well, if my newspaper is correct, he’s not talking about that. He’s talking about narrowing the scope down to wages and, you know, that…”
Diane Rehm: “But they’ve already conceded wages.”
Gov. Mitch Daniels: “Well, you know, this is—I think he’s trying to fix a structural problem, which I’ve demonstrated or discussed to you already, Diane. The problem comes from the, you know, forced expropriation, whether they like it or not, of money from—that started with the taxpayer, from the salaries of government workers, circulated back into a political machine that is the most powerful out there. And if you’re worried about special interest power and special interest pressure in America, that’s—the government unions is where you ought to start.”