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“We Are Ohio” Makes the Union Case Against Right to Work

Union front group shares shallow talking points

Union campaign committee We Are Ohio prepared a slogan and talking points against a right to work initiative in Ohio using some of its $700,000 cash on hand at the end of 2011. Nearly a year later, these materials still represent the best arguments union bosses have offered for maintaining Ohio’s status quo.

We Are Ohio’s slogan regarding the constitutional amendment proposed by Ohioans for Workplace Freedom reads like a combination of George Orwell and Dr. Seuss: “Right to work is wrong.”

As proof for this catchphrase, We Are Ohio – which received nearly half its funding from D.C. unions in 2011 - alleges, “The tricky titled ‘right to work’ is WRONG because it is an unsafe and unfair attack on workers’ rights, good jobs, families and the middle class.”

“It is unsafe because it places our everyday heroes, their co-workers and the families and children they serve at risk.”

Tellingly, the union front leads with the contention that “families and children” would be endangered by right to work. We Are Ohio asserts with no evidence that freeing workers from mandatory union dues would be unsafe for “our everyday heroes” and by extension our children.

At no point does We Are Ohio admit that right to work would simply end forced unionism.

“It is unsafe because it makes it harder to collectively bargain for life-saving equipment, staffing and other safety issues,” We Are Ohio warns.

We Are Ohio suggests – again, with no evidence – that giving workers the freedom to opt out of paying a union boss would result in a shortage of safety equipment or in unsafe staffing.

“It is unfair because if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be treated fairly,” We Are Ohio claims next.

Under current law, Ohioans who do not wish to join a union can be forced to pay union bosses hundreds of dollars per year in “fair share dues” or “agency fees” as a condition of employment. We Are Ohio makes no attempt to explain how current Ohio law is fair, and provides no evidence right to work results in unfair treatment.

“It is an attack on workers’ rights because the worker loses his or her voice to speak up in the workplace,” We Are Ohio asserts. “It strips workers of collective bargaining rights. Workers will be intimidated into losing their freedom of speech to point out potential safety issues regarding products, equipment, manufacturing and other problems.”

We Are Ohio leveled each of these talking points at Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) in 2011. While SB 5 limited public employees’ collective bargaining privileges, right to work would not do so in any way.

Additionally, right to work would impact none of the myriad existing state and federal worker protection laws.

It is worse than SB 5. Voters have already spoken on this issue by voting ‘No on Issue 2′ last November and vetoing SB 5 by a 62-38 percent margin,” We Are Ohio claims. “Ohioans support collective bargaining rights.”

We Are Ohio insists that “collective bargaining rights” equal forced unionism. Logically speaking, this is like saying people who enjoy movies would enjoy being forced to buy movie tickets they do not want.

We Are Ohio seeks to silence any discussion of workplace freedom by pretending the lies used in 2011 also apply to right to work, but right to work would not reduce any Ohioan’s collective bargaining privileges.

It is wrong because it means less money, lower wages and fewer benefits for you, me, all of us,” We Are Ohio alleges.

This charge is partly true, but not as the union front intends: because right to work would free Ohioans who do not want to be in a union from paying union dues, it would mean less money for We Are Ohio.

Voters should expect no honesty from We Are Ohio, as the political action committee has lied continuously since its founding.

“We Are Ohio is fueled by a citizen-driven, broad-based coalition of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, businesses, pastors, workers, employees, and others,” an April 15, 2011 press release announced. By that date, We Are Ohio had already received $2.75 million from D.C. labor unions. Through 2011, over 95 percent of the group’s funding came from unions.

Using more than $40 million from state and national union bosses, We Are Ohio succeeded in its 2011 campaign to repeal SB 5. The union mantra that public union reform was “unfair, unsafe and hurt us all” was bolstered by a dishonest ad campaign twisting various provisions of the 304-page Republican bill.

Though We Are Ohio clearly intends to argue otherwise, the measure proposed by Ohioans for Workplace Freedom is nothing like SB 5. Perhaps this is why We Are Ohio devotes an entire page of its website to talking points against right to work without once citing the amendment or describing what the amendment would actually do.

The full text of the proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution is included below.

Be it resolved by the people of the State of Ohio that Article I, Section 22 of the Ohio Constitution be adopted and read as follows:

ARTICLE I

Freedom to choose whether to participate in a labor organization as a condition of employment

Section 22 (A)  No law, rule, agreement, or arrangement, shall require, directly or indirectly, any person or employer to become or remain a member of a labor organization.

Section 22 (B)  No law, rule, agreement, or arrangement shall require, directly or indirectly, as a condition of employment, any person or employer to pay or transfer any dues, fees, assessments, other charges of any kind, or anything else of value, to a labor organization, or third party in lieu of the labor organization.

Section 22 (C)  Nothing in this section shall (1) prevent any person from voluntarily belonging to or voluntarily providing support to a labor organization; or (2) apply to agreements entered into or renewed prior to the enactment of this section.

Section 22(D)  No other provision of the Ohio Constitution shall impair or limit the rights contained herein.

Section 22(E)  This section shall be implemented to the maximum extent that the United States Constitution and federal law permit. Any invalid or inoperative provisions shall first be construed as not conflicting with federal law, and then, only if necessary, severed from remaining portions of the section, which shall remain in effect.

Section 22(F)  Any person, directly or indirectly affected or threatened with any harm by a violation of this section, may bring a civil or equitable action to enforce this section, and upon prevailing shall be entitled to injunctive relief, reasonable attorney fees, costs, and other damages.

Section 22 (G) Definitions

(1)  “Labor organization” means any agency, union, employee representation committee, or organization of any kind that exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning collective bargaining, grievances, wages, benefits, rates of pay, hours of work, other forms of compensation, or other conditions of employment.

(2)  “Person or employer” includes all persons and employers in the state of Ohio, whether public or private, with the exception of the federal government of the United States and its employees.

(3)  Indirect requirements, include, but are not limited to the imposition of fines, penalties, or other costs or charges for, or the conditioning of public or private sector employment or employment opportunities on (a) failure to become or remain a member of a labor organization; or (b) paying or transferring dues, fees, assessments, other charges, or anything else of value to a labor organization. Indirect requirement further includes payments to third parties in lieu of the payments prohibited above.

(4)  “Fines, penalties, or other costs or charges” includes but is not limited to any civil, criminal, contractual or other penalty; any fine, tax, or monetary charge; or any salary or wage withholding or surcharge or fee that is used to punish or discourage the exercise of rights protected under this section.

Cross-posted from Media Trackers Ohio.

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