They’re scared of us, folks, and they’re smart to be. Ohio Republicans know that making any significant move on the “right to work” plan state Rep. Tom Brinkman has put forward would harsh their 2016 like nothing else could.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is still frowning his way through the big GOP Presidential Dance, and doesn’t want any part of the teeth gnashing such a bill would set off in his home state. While Ohio Republicans, in their heart of hearts, would love to kick unions as hard as they can, they know that if they try, Lucy’s going to pull that ball out from under them.
From my ol’ college professor and fellow Athenian Thomas Suddes:
Right to Work isn’t going anywhere in Ohio anytime soon, if ever, because the last thing key Republicans want is another Senate Bill 5…
HB 377 would forbid a private sector employer to require its Ohio employees to join or stay in a labor union, or to pay union “dues, fees, assessments or other charges.” That is, an employee who enjoys wages and benefits a union wins through bargaining wouldn’t have to help cover union costs.
Plainly stated, Right to Work (for Less) is about busting unions. And that hammers down wages and benefits and workplace rights.
HB 377 got a hearing last week. As Suddes notes, House rules require every House bill to get at least one hearing. It could get a dozen more, Suddes says, but “it’s not moving.”
Former state Sen. Nina Turner is fond of pointing out that Ohio Democrats have 1 million more voters registered in the Buckeye state than Republicans. When we fight, we win. When we vote, we win. The Republicans’ best hope for maintaining power is to keep Democrats from becoming motivated, from rallying this advantage.
Building a powerful coalition of interests working toward a common goal is one of the tallest orders in politics, requiring massive amounts of skill and organization. Maintaining such a coalition is even harder. Bringing a so-called right-to-work bill forward would remobilize the Ohio labor movement like nothing else. It would take care of all the heavy lifting.
This was on full display at the bill’s first hearing, when labor forces flexed by showing up en masse.
From the Columbus Dispatch:
Bringing back memories of the 2011 fight over Senate Bill 5 — the bill that targeted public-employees unions and was overturned by voters — more than 100 union supporters packed hearing rooms and a Statehouse hallway on Tuesday as a House committee heard a bill that would ban private employee unions from requiring that workers pay dues commonly known as “fair share” fees.
The article goes on to quote Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger as supporting “right-to-work” and then moonwalking backward as quickly as his legs could carry him.
“We have to start looking at whether it’s an economic tool that we need to look at as a state, but at the same time we have to be cautious,” he said. “We know what happened with Senate Bill 5. We’ll let the process work.”
State Rep. Ron Young, R-Leroy, chair of the House Commerce and Labor Committee, is a longtime support of “right-to-work” and has plans to “bring in experts to testify,” which I believe is weaselspeak for, “bring in Koch Brother goons to sales pitch snake oil.”
Young said that, “If we do anything with this bill, it’s going to take a long time.”
A long time, yes, perhaps even until after next year’s election. Perhaps when there’s a nice lame-duck general assembly with some free time in December 2016. Perhaps after Mr. Kasich’s Presidential ambitions have again been fully dashed. Perhaps when it’s convenient.
Perhaps those of use who support the labor movement would do well to keep our guards up and to keep Ohio Republicans on their heels. Perhaps we should give them a 2016 to remember across the Buckeye State, starting with the U.S. Presidency and the U.S. Senate, reverberating down through the ballot to the Ohio Senate, state House races, and local races across our 88 counties.
The Power of the People still exists in Ohio, I think that much is clear. Republican reticence when the stakes are high tells the story. Look at the moisture building on their brow. Let’s keep dousing the hot stones. Let’s sweat them out.
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.