Ohio union bill speeds toward passage
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With barely a whimper of the protests that have convulsed Wisconsin, legislation to curb public employee unions is speeding toward passage in Ohio, an even bigger labor stronghold.
Labor experts said the greater tumult in Wisconsin reflects the state's long history of progressive political activism; the Statehouse's location in Madison, the famously liberal home of the University of Wisconsin; and perhaps a feeling of hopelessness among Ohio's working class, which has been hit particularly hard by the recession.
Days of protests in Columbus haven't added up to the numbers seen in a single day in Madison. The rallies there have topped more than 70,000 people, compared with roughly 8,500 on the largest day of demonstrations at the Ohio Statehouse. When the Ohio bill passed the Senate 17-16 on Wednesday, the crowd was estimated at 450.
"Madison is kind of a perfect storm of factors for this," said Don Taylor, assistant professor of labor education at the University of Wisconsin School for Workers in Madison. "It's an extremely progressive city in terms of politics. It's one of those places in the country where people will refer to it as a 'People's Republic.'"
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