Over the course of a week, national attention has turned to Wisconsin. There, a definitional battle between Democratic backed state workers and anti-union Republicans will play out over the course of days, amid the most impassioned protests the country has seen since the anti-health care rallies of August 2009.
But just across the Great Lakes in nearby Ohio, where Republicans swept control of government in November, a similar fight is brewing.
There, the state senate is holding hearings on Bill 5, which would end collective bargaining for state workers and severely limit those rights at the local level.The legislation is similar in many ways to the rollbacks being debated in Wisconsin. And just as in Wisconsin, they have the support of the state’s newly elected Republican governor, John Kasich.
But unlike Wisconsin, this fight didn’t erupt out of nowhere. In Wisconsin, governor Scott Walker introduced his plan and days later it’s hit the floor of the state Senate.
In Ohio, the process is playing out more slowly, and the opposition has been creeping with it. Thursday, over one-thousand public sector workers showed up to protest the legislation.
But the situations in Wisconsin and Ohio are not isolated incidents. There are similar efforts in nascent stages just about everywhere Republicans took control of one or more branches of government: Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, and to a lesser degree in Maine and Pennsylvania.
What happens in the states like Wisconsin leading the anti-union fight will have a tremendous influence on whether similar efforts are successful in other states.