Ohio Republicans fled from their own party’s union busting legislation this week. In spite of House Republicans introducing three bills taking aim at turning Ohio into a “right-to-work-for-less” state on May 1st, Republican Senate lawmakers quickly killed the effort fearing it would only serve as ads for Democrats in 2014, as Governor Kasich remained pensively quiet.
Perhaps they recall that the Ohio voters already spoke loudly and clearly on this issue, and they did not agree with Republican union busting efforts.
The Dispatch detailed, “Kasich, the face of the GOP’s failed collective-bargaining limits sought in Senate Bill 5 in 2011, has refused to support the right-to-work movement here.” Further, it was unclear if the bills even had the support of key House leaders.
Republican Senate President Keith Faber of Celina all but drove a stake through the issue in a statement yesterday, saying he doesn’t think there is support for the issue in the General Assembly and that bringing it up only serves to “generate a bunch of breathless fundraising appeals from the Ohio Democratic Party.”
Meanwhile, organized labor geared up for a big fight as they rallied outside the statehouse Wednesday chanting, “O-H-I-O, Right to Work has got to go!”
The Ohio state House Republicans are apparently clueless about a) the utter failure of SB5 b) the 2012 election in which Obama won Ohio by a comfortable margin and he ran on strong jobs and supporting unions. So, Ohio House Republicans brought up three bills, trying to kill unions in the private sector, the public sector and a joint resolution to amend the state constitution by placing “right-to-work” laws before the voters on the November ballots.
Republicans call these anti-union bills “Workplace Freedom” bills, saying they will simply allow workers to not have to pay for the representation that results in the benefits the union negotiates for them. And then the unions could “decide” whether or not to extend those benefits to those who chose not to contribute to the joint representation. That would turn worker against worker, and who would that benefit? Not the workers.
Perhaps on the surface the misnomer “right-to-work” makes sense, but when you examine it, it serves to kill the power of the union and therefore kill the union. The union only works when it is representing the majority of workers, because that is where its power comes from when standing up against big money and power. Without the union, you get more job outsourcing and the ability to Wal-Mart your workers with part-time jobs that offer no benefits and force employees onto government programs just to survive. That benefits the corporate owners, not workers.
Ohio AFL-CIO president Tim Burga explains, “Right to Work states have less health care security and less retirement security. All in all it’s been devastating to the middle class and working families of those states.” Furthermore, contrary to what Republicans claim, the law already protects the freedom to find a job, and choose whether to join a union. So, it’s not Workplace Freedom, it’s Workplace Fiefdom.
Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-26) called bull on the “freedom” argument during a news conference, saying, “This legislation is worse than Senate Bill 5. It’s not about making workers free. It’s about taking their rights.”
These bills serve no purpose other than to kill the unions. Unions tend to be a powerful ally for the middle class – even non-members benefit from the bargaining power of a union. Hence, given Republicans current corporate agenda, unions tend to side with Democratic policies more often than Republican policies. So this is an effort to keep the working class from having any kind of lobbying power in government.
The effort to turn Ohio into a right to work for less state is hardly over. The Dispatch reports that Tea Parties are trying to collect enough signatures to place right-to-work laws on the ballot, and if they fail, they’ll just reload against decent pay in 2014. But they’ll face the same fired up unions and Democrats as they did this week, and it looks like the Governor and Senate Republicans understand that they can’t afford to play this particular ALEC game this time around.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.