Workers Protest in Columbus, Ohio — GRITtv Special, Day 3

Protests in Madison, Wisconsin Saturday February 20, 2011- Photo by Natalie Rosen

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This video is part of our special coverage from the workers’ protests in Madison, Wisconsin and Columbus, Ohio — a result of collaboration with Free Speech TV and WORT FM in Madison.

As thousands protest Ohio governor John Kasich’s plan to gut public workers’ collective bargaining rights, Brian Rothenberg of ProgressOhio notes that the election that put Kasich in charge was the result of a lot of people staying home out of frustration, and that those same people have been awakened by the moves of the new administration. Like governors in Wisconsin and Indiana, Kasich’s early moves have sparked widespread anger, and a newly invigorated protest movement that isn’t just made up of union members is striking back.

Laura spoke to Rothenberg in Columbus, Ohio during the protests.

“I think we’ve been inspired by Madison; I think we’ve been inspired by Egypt, frankly,” says Ohio state representative Nickie Antonio from the statehouse in Columbus, where thousands of protesters were locked out yesterday when they attempted to protest Governor John Kasich’s legislation to end their collective bargaining rights.

Laura spoke with Rep. Antonio from the statehouse when protesters were allowed into what she called “The people’s house.”

Back in Wisconsin, “This movement has to expand, we have no choice. They have no interest in compromise. . . we have to bend them or break them, because that’s what they’re doing to working class people in this state,” says Ben Manski of Wisconsin WAVE, a new organization fighting austerity measures. He notes that labor organizations have nearly unanimously voted for to prepare for a general strike should Scott Walker’s attack on unions be signed into law. And Kabzuag Vaj of Freedom, Inc. notes that, “If Governor Walker can attack people with some resources to fight back, he has no fear of poor people or people who have no resources.”

Laura sat down with Ben and Kabzuag before she left Madison for Columbus, Ohio to discuss the wider movement, expanding beyond union rights, in Wisconsin and the rest of the world.

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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