Ohio Bill Would Ban Worker Strikes, Punish Walkout

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Another showdown on an Ohio bill to restrict the bargaining rights of public workers could come as early as Wednesday with a vote by a Republican-majority legislative committee whose chairman says he has the support to send the measure to the Senate.

Worker rights and collective bargaining have sparked debate in statehouses across the country, most notably in Wisconsin, where a scheduled vote on a similar bill prompted Democratic lawmakers to flee the state.

As GOP Sen. Shannon Jones unveiled her changes to the Ohio bill Tuesday, a daylong rally drew 8,500 protesters who chanted, brandished signs, and listened to musical acts and speakers.

Labor sympathizers also planned to gather Wednesday afternoon for a vigil, anticipating the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee will approve the bill and send it to the full chamber. Republicans hold the majority in the 33-member Senate.

Republican Gov. John Kasich supports the effort. He said in a Fox television interview Tuesday that restricting collective bargaining would be part of a package he plans to present March 15 to address the state's $8 billion deficit, joblessness and poverty.

Democrats havs said her revised bill "gives power back to the taxpayer and restores flexibility to the management of their hard-earned dollars."