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Ohio reacts to Michigan’s right-to-work legislation

Published: Wed, December 12, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.

right-to-work legislation


By Jamison Cocklin

and Burton Speakman



With Michigan’s governor signing into law a package of right-to-work legislation Tuesday, labor officials, politicians and others across the Mahoning Valley remain at odds on just how the move might affect Ohio.

Michigan’s Legislature gave final approval earlier Tuesday to two separate bills that likely will curb the power of both private- and public- sector unions, a once unthinkable and hotly contested move in what long has been a bastion for organized labor.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed them both within an hour.

Little more than a year after Ohio voters repealed Senate Bill 5, a piece of legislation signed by Gov. John Kasich that would have significantly curbed collective-bargaining rights for more than 350,000 of the state’s public workers, some wonder if Michigan’s efforts will lead Ohio’s right-to-work advocates to push for legislative concessions here.

“The anti-worker laws drive down wages and benefits for workers; as for how Ohio will be affected by what they did in Michigan — I don’t know,” said AFL-CIO President Tim Burga. “However, we had a very similar vote on SB 5 last year, and citizens defeated it by unprecedented margins.”

The Michigan legislation makes it the country’s 24th right-to-work state. Such laws ban requirements that all employees either join a union or still pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services.

Unlike the labor battles that have dragged on for weeks at a time since 2010 in places such as Maine, Wisconsin and Tennessee, the dispute in Michigan has unfolded in less than a week.

Republican lawmakers, who have the majority in Michigan, introduced and rammed the bills through both chambers with little public input, according to labor leaders.

“The citizens there don’t want it,” said Bill Padisak, president of the Mahoning-Trumbull AFL-CIO Labor Council. “They locked the doors of the statehouse and refused to let the public inside. From what I understand, they passed it without any public opinion.”

Passage of the Michigan legislation may embolden Gov. John Kasich to attempt similar legislation in Ohio, said Glenn Johnson, president of United Autoworkers Local 1112 in Lordstown.

Padisak agreed but said it was more likely that third-party groups would be persuaded to step up petition efforts to land proposals similar to the Michigan legislation on the Ohio ballot next year.

State Rep. Robert Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, said the Ohio Legislature does not have time to take up right-to-work legislation in the current session. He added that the Legislature does not appear inclined to tackle the issue.

“I think Republicans heard loud and clear that collective bargaining in Ohio is not to be messed with,” Hagan said, referring to voters who overturned SB 5 last year.

Right-to-work supporters claim such laws give workers more choice and boost economic growth, but critics contend the legislation is aimed at draining unions of the money they need to negotiate effectively.

“Look at right-to-work states versus Ohio. They often fall in the unenviable category of high unemployment, low wages and benefits, and they fail to attract new businesses. It doesn’t work out,” Burga said.

But Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, sees it differently.

“Legislators in Michigan were taking action to save the state,” Munroe said. “Michigan has one of the worst economies in the U.S. and it’s not surprising they’re searching for ways to rework themselves.”

Munroe countered Burga by saying that states with right-to-work laws have stronger economies than those without them.

Already this week, Kasich has taken multiple occasions to remind reporters that Michigan-like right-to-work legislation isn’t on his agenda for the new year.

“I have a very aggressive agenda for ’13 and ’14 that includes things like education reform, both at the university level, community college level, K-12,” Kasich said. “We have a big change coming with our infrastructure program, tax reform, managing a lot of these businesses, including fracking, and that’s the agenda that I’m focused on and what I’m going to continue to be focused on.”

A conservative group, Ohioans for Workplace Freedom, still could place a right-to-work issue on the 2013 ballot. Backers need to collect about 386,000 valid signatures to accomplish the task. Kasich would not comment this week on whether he supported that effort.

“If they try to do something in Ohio, we’ll have another referendum like with SB 5,” said Dave Green, president of UAW 1714 in Lordstown. “We’ll have an open and honest discussion and let the public decide.”

Marc Kovac, Vindicator Columbus correspondent, contributed to this story.


1kurtw(1823 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

It's a conundrum. This particular issue. Everybody has the "right to work" that's a given, but if you enter a workplace enjoying benefits and privileges earned for you by union members, doesn't that obligate you to support that organization? And, if you don't, isn't that the definition of a free-loader?

How onerous are union-dues after all? When I hear anyone talk about "right to work" that's a euphemism for "bust the union".

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2kurtw(1823 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

My views are conservative on most issues and they are on this particular issue as well. I don't like the idea of someone reaping benefits they didn't earn- if you go to work in a unionized company and you benefit from the union, then you ought to be willing to pay for those benefits- in other words, join the union and pay the monthly dues.

I'm sorry, I may have a hearing problem, but when I hear someone say "Right to Work" it sounds just like: "Bust the Union" to me. Maybe I need a hearing aid, but, maybe, I don't.

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3chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Unions are being destroyed from within. Membership is declining. Union preidents are now 1 percenters.

The union protest in Michigan showed the mob beating a reporter asking questions.

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4ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Unions aren't concerned about "fairness" or choice to workers, only in increasing their political power.

SB5 was defeated but I welcome a similar vote on a "right to work" law.

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5lee(544 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

When I sign on to work for a job that's who pays me not the union, I have worked in union and non union shops, and I much prefer the non union shop. The union has way to many silly work rules.

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6republicanRick(1736 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Unions, starting in the 1930's, did their job. They improved working conditions, pay, and benefits. Gradually the courts took over these oversights.

Now, unions are just political organizations that threaten violence if they are not followed. This is America?

I do not know how anyone who attends church can now belong to a union. These people are living in the past and do not see the great harm that union bosses are causing our society.

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7peacelover(839 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, if you consider vacation time, overtime, health benefits, and a 40-hour week "silly rules".

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8glbtactivist(321 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

The greedy Republicans are not standing up for the freeloaders who want the union to negotiate a good wage and then not pay the expences. The Republicans want to continue robbery of the income of the middle class. Wages have plummeted since unions have been forced out by greedy business owners and despirate workers. All we get for the loss of unions is lower wages, increased numbers of people on food stamps.

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9Attis(1134 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

"All that harms labor is treason to America. No line can be drawn between these two. If any man tells you he trusts America, but fears labor, he is a fool. If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar" -Honest Abe, 16th President (a Republican) of the USA, rolling over in his grave at the fools, liars and traitors in his Party and beyond.

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10redvert(2240 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Unions are fine for people who do not feel that they can advance on their own merits and are happy to advance when Bubba who has one day more of seniority dies, retires or whatever.

As you union members well know, the union bosses decide what is "best" for you, not you. You also have no decision on what is done with your union dues whether you think you do or not. If you agree with a decision, fine, if you do not agree, tough luck.

Why are the union bosses against a Right To Work law, because it tends to degrade their power over the worker, and the rank and file have been conditioned to not understand that!

So how soon will their be a strike at one of the Michigan auto plants over new employees who do not feel they need to suck up to the union bosses? Don't worry, it will not be a GM plant, obowser will not allow it!

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11redeye1(5669 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

What have unions done lately for the workers? First,they caused Hostess to shut down putting 18,000 workers out of jobs. They never even asked the workers to reconsider, they just said NO. Then there is GM where the older workers make a boat load of more money then the new hires will ever get. Unions seem to protect only the lazy ones . People who can't work a real job without union protection . They are the ones out protesting. They are afraid they just might have to work a full 8 hrs to get paid for 8 hrs of work. As I have told my sons unions are for the fools who can be led around by their noses.

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12palbubba(809 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

mufasa has the most intelligent post here. The liberals all preach "choice", but want no choice in union shops. If the unions are so good no one is going to leave them and anyone hired will be glad to join. That is certainly not union busting. Just the fact that Hagan is against right to work should be enough to convince you that it is alright.

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13redeye1(5669 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

mufasa & palbubba Both your posts are right on!

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14jojuggie(1723 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

The essential issue, with the MI debate, is LIBERTY. Every American worker should have the right to join a labor union. And also the right not to.

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15republicanRick(1736 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Union head Hoffa has declared that this is war!

That's why the second amendment, the right to own guns, is important. Otherwise union leaders could strong-arm, intimidate, and impose their beliefs on average Americans.

With guns we can protect ourselves and our families.

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16DSquared(1788 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

So non-union workers are "freeloaders" for not paying for benefits they receive from union contracts? Kinda like Obama voters who contribute NOTHING to society. but receive Food stamps, WIC, Housing subsidies, Healthcare, Tax credits, Unearned income credits, and ObamaPhones with 250 free minutes a month? Like that??

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17DSquared(1788 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Why no pictures or video of Union Goons punching out the reporter in Lansing protest. CBS, NBC, ABC??? I guess it doesn't fit the democrat template!

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