Ohio Right to Work Could Go to 2012 Ballot

When it comes to gathering signatures, Ohio working families hold the record. Last year, in response to the blitzkrieg passage of the union-busting Senate Bill 5, Ohioans across the state gathered 1.3 million signatures to get a repeal measure on the 2011 ballot, over six times the required number.

Anti-worker conservatives have some big shoes to fill.

Even though the unpopular Gov. John Kasich doesn’t want to touch the so-called “right to work” issue, conservative leaders are going ahead with it anyway. Earlier this month, Attorney General Mike DeWine approved language for a “right to work” amendment. That means organizers now have to gather 385,253 valid signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. To have a buffer, anti-worker organizers want at least 600,000 signatures.

In a state that just overwhelmingly smashed Senate Bill 5, does such an effort have a chance? One of the measure’s backers, Ohio Liberty Council’s Chris Littleton, was trying to downplay expectations. “Ohio will become a right to work state,” said Littleton last Friday, “I just can’t tell you a timeline.”

But just like with Senate Bill 5, there’s going to be a lot of money flowing into Ohio to try and convince people that such a law would be good for the economy, even though in 22 other states such laws have led to depressed wages and unsafe workplaces. With neighboring Indiana ramming through a right to work law earlier this year, anti-worker forces may feel that they have momentum on their side.

One of the best metaphors for why “right to work” laws are bad for all workers comes from the Union Review’s John Crumbler, who calls them “right to shirk laws.” Say you had to cross a river to get to work in the morning. If there was a bridge and it had a toll booth, everyone who used the bridge would have to pay the toll – otherwise you could use a ferry. But what if you were told the toll was optional? Of course people would opt not to pay the toll if they could cross the bridge either way. Soon, the bridge would fall into a disrepair and collapse, because no one would be paying for its upkeep – which is what the ferry companies wanted in the first place.

If you’re in Ohio, or you have friends and family there, make sure they know about this “right to work” effort and make sure they decline to sign this petition. Make sure they know the facts about what “right to work” laws do to wages, to workers’ rights, to women, to minorities, and to workplace safety.

Workers in 22 states are already suffering under these laws. Don’t let Ohio join them. Don’t let the “ferry companies” win this one.

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