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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.


1pwhite1027(106 comments)posted 6 months, 2 weeks ago


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2olddude(201 comments)posted 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Above posters can label it as they may, but as one of 50 states competing for jobs, the Global Economy has changed the rules.Ohio has no choice but to adapt to survive...Can anyone imagine if the whole state mirrored Ytown?

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3walter_sobchak(1910 comments)posted 6 months, 2 weeks 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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4papa1(662 comments)posted 6 months, 2 weeks 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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5tnmartin(234 comments)posted 6 months, 1 week 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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6papa1(662 comments)posted 6 months, 1 week 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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