By Marc Kovac
Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to make Ohio a “right to work” state have collected about a quarter of the signatures needed to place the issue before voters.
Chris Littleton, former head of a statewide tea-party coalition and one of the petitioners, said the group (online at www.ohioansforworkplacefreedom.com) has fewer than 100,000 names with plans to circulate petitions in earnest with the return of warmer weather.
They’ll need 386,000 valid signatures to qualify for the general election.
“We’ll be back out, grassroots style signature gathering,” he said About prospects for appearing on this November’s ballot, he added, “It’s a big hurdle, with a lot of signatures in a short period of time, so we’ll hustle through spring and summer and see if we can. But if not, we’ll put it in 2014.”
The amendment would ban forced union membership or dues payments, a move supporters say is needed to make Ohio more competitive for businesses and protect residents who don’t want to join unions.
Michigan and Indiana both recently adopted right-to-work laws. Ohio voters rejected a similar move in the late 1950s.
Democratic and union leaders oppose the amendment, saying it would hurt organized labor and, ultimately, all working Ohioans. In Washington, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is seeking passage of national legislation that would apply right-to-work principles to every state in the union.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has said he has higher priorities than seeing Ohio follow the lead of Michigan in enacting right-to-work statutes.