MADISON, Wis. -- Facing widening Republican attacks on organized labor, Democrats struck back Tuesday with legislative walkouts and boisterous rallies across the Midwest to defend one of their core constituencies.
In Indiana, Democrats in the state Assembly vanished, depriving that body of the quorum needed to pass a right-to-work law and limit government unions' powers.
In Ohio, an estimated 5,500 protesters stood elbow to elbow in and outside the Capitol chanting "Kill the bill!" as a legislative committee took up a proposal that would similarly neuter government unions.
Unions rallied from Michigan to Tennessee to Colorado to show support in what many see as an existential test for organized labor.
"It goes to the very core of the labor movement's ability to be viable," said Robert Bruno, director of the labor education program at the University of Illinois in Chicago. "You're talking about a national conflict between corporate America and its conservative allies and the New Deal coalition."
Democrats contend that the newly emboldened GOP is trying to eliminate one of the core supporters of their party -- organized labor.
Unions in all states say they're willing to make concessions to help states balance their budgets, but contended that Republicans are engaged in a campaign to undermine organized labor. They got a boost Tuesday from a Gallup poll that found that 61 percent of Americans disapprove of stripping public workers of their ability to collectively bargain.
-- Chicago Tribune