Last November, our Ohio members joined thousands of other working families and stood up to Gov. John Kasich and corporate interests by overwhelmingly repealing Senate Bill 5, which would have cut collective bargaining rights for over 350,000 Ohio workers.
But only a few months later, a Quinnipiac poll shows that 54 percent of Ohioans would support a so-called “right to work” law, which in 22 other states have lowered wages for all workers, created less safe workplaces, and weakened the ability of unions to represent their members. (This does not bode well for the future of Indiana, the 23rd RTW state).
The question was phrased this way:
Indiana recently became a “right to work” state, meaning that workers can no longer be required to join a union or pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment. Do you think that Ohio should become a “right to work” state or don’t you think so?
According to the poll, those who said Ohio should become a right to work state include 55 percent of independents and 31 percent of Democrats, and 32 percent of union households, in addition to 3 out of 4 Republicans.
The campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5 was successful in explaining how the collective bargaining restrictions would hurt all workers. We must do the same for so-called “right to work.”
The goal of a “right to work” law is the same as the goal of Ohio’s Senate Bill 5 – weaken the voices and power of working people. Where Senate Bill 5 went through the front door, RTW laws go through the back door, draining the resources of the institutions that protect workers.
Like Senate Bill 5, the RTW pushers will talk about getting Ohio’s economy back on track. But RTW laws reduce wages for all workers, both union and non-union (accounting for different costs of living in the states). How on earth does putting less money in workers’ pockets help the economy?
Like Senate Bill 5, the RTW pushers will talk about the rights of workers. But RTW laws lower the likelihood that employees – both union and non-union – will get health care or pensions through their jobs. In addition, the rate of workplace deaths is 53 percent higher in RTW states.
Like Senate Bill 5, the RTW pushers will talk about the need to bring businesses to the state. But RTW is not a meaningful factor in those decisions. A survey of manufacturers in Area Development magazine showed that RTW laws ranked 16th in terms of influencing location decisions, slipping from 14th in 2009. RTW has never ranked in the top ten factors influencing where businesses move.
Like Senate Bill 5, the RTW pushers will talk about the need to create jobs. Yes, we agree: jobs should be the number one priority for Ohio leaders. But RTW laws have no impact on job growth. None whatsoever. There is no evidence that these laws get people have to work or improve the economy in any way.
“Right to work” isn’t about rights, and it’s not about work. So what’s it about? Like Senate Bill 5. It’s about politics. Right-wing legislators and conservative groups, aided by massive amounts of out-of-state money, want to divide working people: union and non-union, public and private. They want us to be squabbling and distracted while they further enrich the ultra-wealthy.