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Is right to work alive as an issue?

Published: Sun, March 9, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is seeking re-election this year, has been avoiding the right-to-work issue like the plague, while the Republican leadership in the General Assembly says a proposed right-to-work bill won’t see the light of day. And, the Ohio GOP is determined not to let the issue become another Senate Bill 5.

Yet, unions in Ohio and their Democratic allies have a dire warning: A right-to-work bill will be taken up in the Legislature after the Nov. 4 general election.

“We don’t see a lot of traction or movement [on the issue] now, but it could move quickly in the lame-duck session,” Tim Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO, told The Vindicator recently.

Collective bargaining

Burga explained that a tea party-type group took up the right-to-work issue in 2011, a day after Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected a move by Republicans to strip public employees of their long-held collective bargaining rights.

The referendum on Senate Bill 5 in the general election two years ago attracted more than 2 million voters. Sixty-two percent blocked the collective-bargaining reform law, which had been signed by Gov. Kasich, from taking effect.

Republicans are still licking their wounds from that resounding defeat, which is why they are steering clear of right to work. It has the potential of triggering as violent a reaction from the unions and the Ohio Democratic Party as Senate Bill 5.

But that also explains why Burga and others are determined to keep the issue alive — even though Kasich has made it perfectly clear that he has no interest in even talking about right to work.

But the president of Ohio AFL-CIO insists that people should not be lulled into a false sense of security.

“Not if, but when,” Burga said of the GOP’s plan to make Ohio a right-to-work state.

There’s a method to this seeming political madness — given that there’s nothing on the general election ballot this year.

Republicans control all statewide executive offices, from governor on down, and all but one of the seven Supreme Court seats. They also control the state House and Senate and have a huge advantage in Ohio’s congressional delegation.

In other words, these are bleak days for the Democratic Party. Add to that President Obama’s approval rating at less than 50 percent and his signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), turning off Democrats and Republicans alike, and 2014 doesn’t look good politically for the minority party.

Right to work might be its only hope to generate interest among its faithful.

About a year ago, a fund-raising email from state Rep. Kevin Boyce, D-Columbus, sought to frame the debate.

“Two Republican lawmakers recently introduced so-called right-to-work bills. Like Senate Bill 5, these proposals would destroy collective-bargaining rights and tilt the balance of power in favor of CEOs who put profits before people.

“This is not a drill. We need your help right now.

“You may have heard the bills were DOA in the Ohio General Assembly because Gov. John Kasich said so-called right to work is not on his agenda.

“We heard these same claims before in Indiana and in Michigan where both Republican governors said so-called right-to-work laws were not on their agendas right before they signed these anti-middle class laws almost overnight.”

If this sounds like crying wolf, it is.

Marshaling forces

Democrats would be much better off if a bill were enacted by the General Assembly and the governor signed it into law. Then, the same forces that were marshaled in 2011 could be brought to bear this year.

Democratic voters need a reason to show up at the polls this year. The party’s expected nominee for governor, Ed FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County executive, is not well known throughout the state.

Likewise, other expected challengers to Republican incumbents aren’t household names politically.

That’s why the Democrats need an issue so explosive that it will drive voters to the polls.

It is worth recalling that more than 1 million Ohioans signed the petitions to put Senate Bill 5 up for a referendum vote.


1dontbeafool(2098 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Not a secret that GOP is trying to dismantle unions. It will be an issue for Ohio, it is just a matter of when they make their move.

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2redeye1(5673 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

@DBAF I have worked in non-union jobs and I also have worked in a union shop. I got better pay raises in the non union job then I ever did in the union backed jobs. Unions have out lived their usefulness. The reason I say that is most unions are in bed with the company . They sit down and see what will make them both happy. But they don't take the employees wants or needs into consideration anymore. As long they get their union dues paid monthly. I was accused of something that I DIDN"T do. The union wouldn't back me. I hired an attorney who got to the bottom of the problem and I was proven innocent of the matter. So if they do bring back the right to work bill I will vote in favor of it . that's for sure !!!!!!!!!

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3dontbeafool(2098 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

It may not have anything to do with the upcoming Gov race, but you aren't saying that the last two comments aren't true. It should be called the Right to Work for Smaller Wages and Benefits bill. Or the Right to Put More Money in My Owner's Pocket and Not Mine Bill.

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4walter_sobchak(2727 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Anyone that believes that right-to-work in Ohio is a dead issue is being either dishonest or delusional. It is just a matter of time and I don't necessarily have a problem with waiting a few more years. For Ohio, Kasich should be re-elected by about an 8 to 10 point margin. Then, if a Republican governor were to win the presidency in 2016, then 2017 will be the year. The US business climate has changed and the need for labor unions has diminished. And, I believe the taxpayer is fed up with public-workers unions.

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5billdog1(5942 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

The taxpayer is fed up because his/her wages have plummeted, while his public worker counter parts wages have not. Most public workers are educated, skilled workers. On the other hand you never hear your elected officials tell you how their wages out grow the private sectors workers wages at a rate that cannot be sustained much longer. To attack employees that make $40,000-70,000/per for getting an education or a skilled trade is only self defeating. Reducing those public workers pay, will only decrease even farther the private sector employees pay. Instead of resenting the worker making a living wage for doing the right thing, join them. Ohio has seen a reduction in wages, jobs, and standard of living while blaming it on the democrats. All the while, republicans have run the state for 40 years. How many republican governors have we had in the past 40 years? What is the percentage of republican to democrat in the state house? Yes we live in a democrat held area, but the entire state is hurting not just the valley. I have family that live in AZ, TX, and FL and none of them states are rocking the job markets either. Most won't realize how badly we have been duped until they are in their mid to late 60's when they realize, they will work until they are dead, unlike our parents and grandparents for those of us that are in our 50's. You all better learn to hunt, fish and garden, or you will starve. For those of us that have always worked, their will be no safety nets. The leaches will have sucked the system dry.

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6dontbeafool(2098 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Well said billdog. Let us look back to when this country had no unions. Think of the working conditions. Now think if certain politicians have their way and put into law legislation that would demolish unions. Who are in the pockets of politicians? Big business right? I think we can all agree on that. So once unions are rid of through legislation, do you think that there will be any politician that would fight to re-establish them? NO! Why would they when it is big business who they answer to? The conditions for workers would deteriorate and deteriorate quickly. In another 20-30 years the people would be put in the same situation that this country was in pre unions. They would have to lose blood to demand representation. Unions are in place for accountability on management. Without them, management has way too much power. Unions know that they have to not be greedy as well. If they are too greedy in contracts, they can work themselves and people that they represent right out of a job. So IMO, unions are needed just for checks and balances.

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7papa1(711 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

the repubs and especially rich repubs like the Koch bros have hated labor unions since the day they started. they've been trying to halt them ever since. the haves and have nots have become the have a lots and the barely making its. the vision for people like these are, and john Edwards said it, two Americas. they don't even want middle class kids to be able to afford college without owing decades in borrowed tuition. they want to destroy public education and make it near impossible for ordinary kids to progress any further. in essence, they want to create modern slavery. they're against raising the minimum wage. they're against anything and everything that helps the middle class. unions created the middle class and the American dream. and recently a senator in Tennessee lied to workers at a vw plant so they would vote against joining the uaw. hopefully people will take the time to see what's really happening in our country.

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8DSquared(1788 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Vote Union Yes......Help clear jobs out of Ohio! You're correct, ODumbo and his Band of Fools have sucked this country dry. Hard to believe some of you haven't had enough!

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9tnmartin(522 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Some of us have had a bellyful of the unions. Not only the public sector drones, but some of us have had the "joy" of dealing with the local building trades, the Teamsters, the UAW, IUE-717, steamfitters, operating engineers, CWA, Steelworkers, and far too many others. Spare us the mealy-mouthed garbage about the "working man" and the eeeevill Koch borthers and the equally eeevil Republicans.
Amazing how an area that's had almost no visibility of the Republicans for more than half a century and unionized everything has been such an economic catastrophe. Like Detroit in miniature perhaps.
amazing how well areas like, for example, Wisconsin, can do when workers don't have to pay baksheesh and protection money to the thugocracy of the AFL-CIO. Perhaps a breath of similar fresh air would do the Valley some good.

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10papa1(711 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

unions didn't kill the steel industry in the valley, Japanese steel did. they attacked us militarily on dec.7, 1941 and then they attacked us economically while selfish politicians gave away our technology and jobs. and that was the beginning of the end for manufacturing in the united states. believe it!

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