Unions oppose Right to Work legislation

June 6, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

The Ohio Right To Work law has apparently hit a wall for now. The legislation known as House Joint Resolution 5 (HJR5) which has been heavily opposed by unions around the state, saw the light of day momentarily on Monday. HJR5, a resolution introduced jointly by Representative Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and Representative Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) is an offshoot of the original House Bill 151, which specifically addresses the private sector, introduced by Roegner, was introduced in the House on May 2, 2013. There is other legislation that deals with the public sector.

“This past Tuesday it (HJR5) had its first hearing in the Manufacturing and Workforce Development Committee,” a spokeswoman for Rep. Roegner said. “The chairman announced that it will not have any more hearings at this time.”

Is it basically dead?

“For now,” the spokeswoman said. “They don’t seem to have any interest in putting it forward.”

Some of the wording of the bill says, “No law, rule, agreement, or arrangement shall require, directly or indirectly, any person to become or remain a member of a labor organization.

“No law, rule, agreement, or arrangement shall require, directly or indirectly, as a condition of employment, any person or employer to pay or transfer any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges of any kind, or anything else of value, to a labor organization or third party in lieu of the labor organization.”

“It’s all about freedom,” Roegner said. “You can join a union if you want to, but the bill says you don’t have to. You don’t have to pay those union dues.”

The bill specifically declares that nothing in the bill “shall prevent any person from voluntarily belonging to or voluntarily providing support to a labor organization or apply to agreements entered into or renewed prior to January 1, 2014,” and “No other provision of the Ohio Constitution shall impair or limit the rights contained in this section.”

Mark Johnson, Assistant Business Manager for the building trades in this area says Right to Work status is not good for workers, period.

“It’s more than just a union versus non-union thing,” Johnson told the Daily Times. “I represent construction workers. Look what the wages are in Right to Work states versus what the wages are in non-Right to Work states. You can take a trip across America, and you will see in the Right to Work states that a worker, instead of making $22 an hour in Ohio, is making maybe $10, $11, $12 an hour in a Right to Work state like Mississippi, and then have no benefits whatsoever. In Ohio it will include a health care package and a retirement package.”

Johnson said anyone can look at the prevailing wages in Right to Work and non-Right to Work states on the Davis Bacon website.

“These anti-worker so-called ‘Right To Work’ laws just force all working families to work harder for lower pay and less benefits, whether they’re in a union or not,” Tim Burga, President of Ohio AFL-CIO, said. “The average family makes $6,437 less and pensions are lower and less secure in so-called “Right to Work” states. Click here to send a letter now to stop these hearings on so-called ‘right to work’ and tell our elected officials to start working on creating good, middle class jobs.”

“Ohio would be the 25th state to adopt this - half the country would be going that way,” Roegner said.

Indiana and Michigan recently became “Right to Work” states.

“When the CEOs look where they’re going to locate plants and facilities, they look at the business environment, what it’s like in the state,” Roegner said. “A lot of factors go into that - the tax climate, but also your workforce. Are they skilled? Do they have the educations needed for those particular jobs? And, are they free? With Michigan going ‘Right to Work,’ and Indiana, both of those our immediate neighbors, I believe that gives them another tool in their tool kit to attract jobs.”

Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or flewis@civitasmedia.com.