“So Called Right to Work” opponents were out in full force at the Ohio Statehouse Tuesday, vocalizing their disapproval over a pair of bills aiming to strip workers of protections afforded by unions despite top Republicans’ claims of a lack of pro-labor support.
Hundreds congregated outside the capitol building in Columbus while the House Manufacturing & Workforce Development Committee heard testimony from Rep. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and Rep. Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) on bills to enshrine language in the state constitution making it illegal to require union membership as a condition of employment. Reps. Roegner and Maag claim HB 151 would make the state more competitive in attracting new businesses to improve Ohio’s economy.
What Reps. Roegner and Maag failed to mention during their hearing was that federal law already prohibits any American from being forced to join a union and that “So Called Right to Work” laws do not grant any rights, but rather prohibit worker security agreements between labor unions and their employers. This “free-rider effect” would allow employees to reap benefits negotiated by union leaders without having to pay dues.
As Rep. Tom Letson (D-Warren) stated in an article in The Vindicator, “If you are taking advantage of the fact that there is a union contract that grants, let’s say, pension benefits, health-care benefits, administration of a grievance process, step raises and other things that the entire workforce is granted…you are required to pay a small amount for the maintenance of those benefits [that have] accrued to you while not having to A, belong to a union, or B, pay union dues.”
Chairman Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) said after Tuesday’s hearing that, for a wide variety of reasons, members of the panel unanimously agreed not to continue deliberations on the proposals. This decision is in line with Gov. Kasich’s continued refusal to support a “So Called Right to Work” constitutional amendment and comes a month after Senate leaders quickly shot down the same proposed legislation in early May.