President Barack Obama showed support on Wednesday for opponents of bills in Ohio and Wisconsin that restrict unions and public employee bargaining rights.
During an interview with Cleveland television station WKYC, Obama said the bills were an effort to blame public employees for the nation's economic problems.
"Let's certainly not blame public employees for a financial crisis that they had nothing to do with. And let's not use this as an excuse to erode their bargaining rights," Obama said. "So whether it's Wisconsin, the state of Ohio, I strongly disapprove."
Thousands of protestors tried to block Senate Bill 5 before Gov. John Kasich signed it into law last month, 10TV's Maureen Kocot reported.
The measure affects safety workers, teachers, nurses and a host of other government personnel. It allows unions to negotiate wages but not health care, sick time or pension benefits. It also does away with automatic pay increases in favor of merit raises.
Supporters say the new law will increase flexibility in the workplace and help dig the state out of its massive budget deficit.
Kasich responded to Obama's criticism, saying "We have balanced our budget here in Ohio. With this budget that we've presented, along with preserving the tax cut. The president of the United States has, I think, a $13 trillion debt. Why doesn't he do his job? And when he does his job and gets our budget balanced and starts to prepare a future for our children, then maybe he can have an opinion on what's going on in Ohio."
Opponents trying to repeal the bill said they are trying to make voters understand it essentially eliminates collective bargaining in Ohio.
They must collect 231,000 signatures by the end of June to put the issue on the November ballot.
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April 23, 2011:
Opponents Start Gathering Signatures For Petitions Against Senate Bill 5
April 15, 2011: Group Gets OK To Fight Union Law
April 9, 2011: Opponents Of Union Law Rally At Statehouse
April 5, 2011: Senate Bill 5 Foes Turn In Initial Petitions
April 3, 2011: Opponents Fight To Repeal Senate Bill 5
March 31, 2011: Kasich Signs Senate Bill 5; Unions Prepare To Fight
March 31, 2011: Kasich To Sign Senate Bill 5 Tonight
March 30, 2011: Ohio Senate OKs Collective Bargaining Limits
March 30, 2011: House To Vote On Senate Bill 5
March 29, 2011: House Committee OKs Senate Bill 5; Full House Could Vote Wednesday
March 26, 2011: Ohio House Panel Could Vote On Union Bill Tuesday
March 23, 2011: Poll: Ohio Voters Oppose Proposed Union Limits
March 17, 2011: House Could Pass Ohio Union Bill By Early April
March 9, 2011: House Hearings On Union Bill Continue
March 8, 2011: Kasich: Budget Debate Won't Include Raising Taxes
March 7, 2011: Ohio House Hearings On Union Bill To Start Tuesday
March 2, 2011: Senate Bill 5 Approved
March 2, 2011: After Replacing Senator, Committee OKs Senate Bill 5
March 2, 2011: Committee Could Vote Today On Revised Union Bill
March 1, 2011: Thousands Gather As Senate Revises Union Bill
February 27, 2011: Columbus City Council Opposes Senate Bill 5
February 26, 2011: Workers Stage Protests Of Union Rights Bill
February 25, 2011: Unions Blast Collective Bargaining Bill
February 24, 2011: City, County Officials Join Firefighters In Opposition Of S.B. 5
February 22, 2011: Ohio Unions Protest Collective Bargaining Bill
February 17, 2011: Workers Pack Statehouse In Protest Of Union Bill
February 15, 2011: Unions Protest 'Collective Bargaining Killer'