Politics

Published on November 15th, 2018 | by Chelsea Kiene

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Ohioans Show Up in Strong Opposition to Anti-Union “Right To Work” Bill

Barely off the heels of the midterm elections, Republicans in the Ohio Statehouse are already trying to advance a so-called “Right-to-Work” bill that could deal a devastating blow to public-sector unions, working people, and middle-class families. But in a strong show of force, hundreds of working Ohioans from across the state convened at the Ohio Statehouse Tuesday to speak out against the controversial “Right-to-Work” bill.

The bill, House Bill 53 (HB 53), would make it more difficult for public-sector workers to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. On Tuesday, Representative John Becker (R), the primary sponsor of HB 53, testified before the House Finance Committee on the bill.

During Becker’s testimony, the committee hearing room was packed with union members, local leaders, and other concerned Ohioans opposing the bill, forcing overflow rooms to be arranged to accommodate the crowd. Among those present at the hearing was James Evanoff, a member of United Steel Workers Local 979 who said the bill would weaken unions and undermine workplace safety.

“I drove down here from Cleveland to make sure that all my legislators know that Right-to-Work is wrong,” said Evanoff. “It’s wrong for Ohio, it’s wrong for this country.”

Evanoff added, “Voting for Right-to-Work is basically saying you don’t care about the middle class and lower-paid workers.”

Research shows that so-called Right-to-Work laws drive down wages and reduce benefits for workers. In fact, workers in Right-to-Work states earn roughly $1,500 less each year and are less likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance or pensions than workers in non-Right-to-Work states. Right-to-Work laws also make workplaces more dangerous: the rate of workplace deaths is higher in Right-to-Work states.

During Tuesday’s committee hearing, Representative Becker also faced tough questions from Democratic lawmakers about his union-busting bill, including why Becker was trying to pass the bill after Ohioans overwhelmingly voted in 2011 to repeal a similar bill that weakened public employees’ collective bargaining power.

Brian Ousley, Councilman-at-Large with the Brunswick City Council, also attended Tuesday’s committee hearing. Ousley said his own experience growing up in a union household and being a union member motivates him to continue fighting for unions and workers’ rights. Earlier this year, the Brunswick City Council passed a resolution opposing efforts to make Ohio a Right-to-Work state.

“I’m here to fight every day to help the middle class,” said Ousley. “I’ve been on these steps too many times, in front of the Statehouse, fighting for us. And I will continue to do that.”

Lawmakers have until the end of the current lame-duck legislative session to advance HB 53. If the bill does not reach Republican Governor John Kasich’s desk by the end of the legislative session in January, lawmakers will have to reintroduce the bill and start the process all over again.

If Tuesday’s committee hearing was any indication, Ohioans are organized and ready to forcefully oppose legislation that would make Ohio a Right-to-Work state.

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Chelsea Kiene is the Deputy Communications Director of For Our Future Ohio. For Our Future Ohio is a statewide coalition organization that builds progressive power through voter engagement and community organizing to strengthen public education, create shared economic prosperity, advance social and racial justice, and preserve the environment.

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About the Author

Born and raised in northwest Ohio, Chelsea first got her start in politics when she successfully ran for student council in the first grade. Since then, Chelsea has worked for several progressive campaigns and organizations. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Nation, The Week, TalkPoverty.org, Greater Greater Washington, The Toledo Blade, and The Cincinnati Enquirer. Chelsea is currently the State Deputy Communications Director with For Ohio's Future, a statewide coalition organization. Twitter: @chelseakiene



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