Julie Carr Smyth
COLUMBUS: Crowds of public employees protesting a sweeping Ohio proposal to strip unions of collective bargaining rights are wearing red in an effort to steer public opinion away from the idea that unions are all-Democrat organizations.
The move came as union protests by firefighters, teachers, police and state workers 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.
Gov. 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.