Ohio State Rep. Tom Brinkman has announced that he is planning on introducing a bill that will ban “closed shops” and forbid unions from charging “fair-share fees” to non-union workers at private-sector workplaces.
He has indicated that the bill will not apply to public-sector unions, which would have been similarly restricted by Senate Bill 5, which was signed into law in late spring 2011 and then overwhelmingly rejected by ballot referendum in the fall of that year.
Brinkman has justified the bill with the usual arguments—that it will somehow increase employment and that it will prevent workers from being forced to pay dues to unions whose political agendas they may not support.
In an article on the bill published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jeremy Pelzer notes: “A number of studies have looked at the economic impact of ‘right-to-work’ laws, though it’s hard to find definitive proof of whether such laws help or hurt a state’s economy.”
That may be, but what is very clear is that the workers in a “right to work” state do not benefit from it in terms of their employment options, compensation, benefits, working conditions, or broader quality of life. That is an awful lot to sacrifice in order to avoid paying a few dollars a month in union dues.
Pelzer notes that “Gov. John Kasich, who is running for president, has said that he doesn’t anticipate a need for a right-to-work law in the state.”
But Brinkman himself has rather blithely pointed out that “other Midwestern Republican governors, including Mitch Daniels in Indiana, Rick Snyder in Michigan and Scott Walker in Wisconsin, voiced similar hesitations, but all ultimately signed ‘right-to-work’ bills.”
House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, a Dayton Democrat, has been no less up front, asserting that Brinkman’s bill, like other “right-to-work” measures, is “’an unfair piece of legislation’” that attacks unions’ ability to protect workers’ health and safety.
“’I’m really disappointed that this kind of thing keeps coming back,’ Strahorn said. ‘It tends to stir passions, quite frankly, particularly among the tea party folks on their side and working people on our side. It gets their attention.’”
Perhaps Brinkman believe that the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Friedrichs case will impose “right to work” on public-sector unions nationwide. Unless he is incredibly naive politically, he cannot possibly believe that public-sector unions in Ohio will ignore an attack on private-sector unions. For if there were any illusions that any union could somehow be unaffected by an attack on any other unions in our state, those illusions evaporated during the extended campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5.
Pelzer’s complete article is available at: http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2015/09/right-to-work_bill_being_drawn.html.