Ohio

Eye on Education

Teachers Unions Say They’re Ready to Fight “Right to Work” Bills – UPDATED

Jo Ingles / Ohio Public Radio

Republican Representative Kristina Roegner speaks with reporters about her "right to work" legislation.

Republican lawmakers introduced several bills in the Ohio House yesterday that, if passed, would mean employees in unionized workplaces can no longer be required to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

That includes teachers unions.

“The people have already spoken during the Senate Bill 5 campaign so it’s unfortunate that we have to go through this battle again,” says Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper.

Voters repealed Senate Bill 5 in 2011 – a repeal teachers unions fought hard for. Cropper says they’ll fight just as hard this time around.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Republican lawmakers proposed three separate “right to work” measures:

In a news conference this afternoon at the Statehouse, GOP representatives Kristina Roegner of Hudson and Ron Maag of Lebanon said they filed three pieces of legislation: one to bar mandatory unionism in the public sector; one to do so in the private sector; and one that would allow voters to decide whether Ohio should be a right-to-work state.

Cropper says people already have the option of opting out of paying union dues that go towards political activity.

“Right to work is simply giving people the right to freeload and say I’m going to reap all the benefits of that contract without paying for any of those benefits,“ she says.

Employees who opt out of the union still have to pay some union dues, known as “fair share fees.” Cropper says those cover the costs of collective bargaining that affect all employees – like contract bargaining.

But one of the bills’ sponsors, Kristina Daley Roegner (R-Hudson) says this effort is not “Senate Bill 5 lite.”

From the Dispatch:

Debating the links between Senate Bill 5 and right-to-work legislation, Roegner said Senate Bill 5 was “about putting guardrails around collective bargaining” and the new bills proposed are “quite the opposite.”

“This is saying ‘workers, you have the freedom, you have the freedom to join a union, to pay to be represented by them, or not.’ ”

Some Ohio unions were already protesting at the statehouse as the bills were being rolled out.

UPDATE

It looks like teachers unions won’t have to rally their troops after all. Not long after the Right to Work bills were introduced, Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) said there isn’t enough support for the legislation, effectively killing it.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

“After discussions with other leaders and my caucus, I don’t believe there is current support for this issue in the General Assembly,” Faber said. “The only purpose this discussion serves right now is to generate a bunch of breathless fundraising appeals from the Ohio Democratic Party.”

 

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