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Right-to-work would help Ohio workers, GOP lawmakers say

(January 23, 2018) — A pair of Republican lawmakers said their proposal to put six right-to-work amendments on the 2020 ballot would help Ohio workers.

In fact, Reps. Craig Riedel of Defiance and John Becker of Union Township near Cincinnati said right-to-work laws, which allow workers to not join unions, would benefit the entire state.

Riedel, who worked with a steel company in Indiana for many years, said he saw the benefits of right-to-work in that state.

“This is not an affront to unions,” Riedel said. “This is not an affront to collective bargaining. This is about workers’ rights to decide if they want to be part of a union.”

In total, the six proposed amendments would:

‒ Prohibit private sector union shops, or a place of work that requires its employees to join a union. This is the only amendment that deals with the private sector.

‒ Prohibit public sector union shops.

‒ Prohibit public sector contractors from paying prevailing wage, or the hourly wage, usual benefits and overtime, paid to the majority of workers, laborers, and mechanics within a particular area.

‒ Prohibit certain labor clauses in government contracts, such as favoring or discriminating against bidders based on their union or non-union status.

‒ Require an annual election of an “exclusive representative,” meaning an employee organization or other representation group, by a majority of members of a bargaining unit.

‒ Prohibit union dues from being deducted from a public employee’s pay, and prohibit union dues from being used for a political purpose without an employee’s consent.

The AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the U.S., says on its website that such laws can harm workers and limit unions.

House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn released a statement Tuesday saying right-to-work laws could harm working families.

“Instead of restrictions to make working people poorer and less safe on the job, we should prioritize common sense ideas that grow our economy and create good-paying jobs that give working families the opportunity to go ahead,” Strahorn said. “The Republican package of so-called ‘right to work’ legislation is wrong for working families and wrong for Ohio.”

The proposed amendments are different from the 2011 measure in several ways, the lawmakers said, such as no language about prevailing wage. Riedel said the separate amendments would allow Ohioans to pick and choose their own components.

“A lot of folks in Ohio felt like that was rammed down their throat … We want the citizens of Ohio to vote on this,” Riedel said. “Whatever that outcome is, we will live with that.”

Workers would still be able to unionize under the Republican proposal, but union dues and membership would be optional.

A total of 28 states currently have right-to-work laws, including Ohio neighbors Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky.

Riedel said he hopes the passage of the amendments in 2020 would make Ohio a more business-friendly state, and that competition between employers who come to the state as a result of the right-to-work policy would drive up wages.