ABC News' Chris Bury reports:
In Columbus, where more than 8,000 noisy protestors swarmed the Capitol grounds, Republican legislators are poised to strip away more power from public employee unions. A bill making sweeping changes to Ohio’s collective bargaining law, passed by a key committee today, would ban public employee strikes, replace seniority with merit promotions, and eliminate independent arbitration.
Unlike the controversial Wisconsin measure, the Ohio bill—backed by Republican governor John Kasich—would not end collective bargaining altogether. But union leaders argue that the elimination of binding arbitration effectively gives the final word in negotiations to state and local government employers.
Under the proposal, expected to pass both houses of Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature, any public employees who strike would face stiff fines: two days of wages deducted from their paychecks for each day of a strike. Public employees violating a court injunction against a strike would face additional fines and jail time. (Police and firefighters already are prohibited from striking.)
In Indiana and Wisconsin, where key Democratic legislators have fled their states to stall votes restricting union rights, opposing sides seem to be talking if not making deals. Today, the leader of the boycotting Indiana House Democrats, Patrick Bauer, drove from Illinois to meet in Indianapolis with House Speaker Brian Bosma.
Earlier this week, Wisconsin Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald met in the border town of Kenosha, Wisconsin with two Senate Democrats who fled to Illinois to block Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to repeal most bargaining rights for public employee unions. On Tuesday, the Senate Democrats insisted they were committed to staying out of state until Walker relents.
The Wisconsin Senate, meanwhile, today voted to levy fines of $100 a day for the 14 Senators who fled Wisconsin to stall the vote on Governor Walker’s budget bill.