In a world of disingenuous political rhetoric, so-called “right to work” stands a head above the rest.

“Right to Work” is built on a lie. No one is ever forced to join a union. Anyone who claims that is either misinformed or lying. In Ohio, employees cannot be required to join unions.

But state law does allow collective bargaining agreements to require “fair share” or agency fees. Those fees are lower than union member dues and cannot be used for services beyond contract negotiations.

“Right to Work” laws seek to defund collective bargaining units from being able to effectively negotiate.

The phrase “right to work” itself was coined in the 1920s by a racist named Vance Muse, an anti-semite who fought anti-child labor laws. The people who support “right to work” laws in 2017 are the heirs of the same swine that’s been assaulting the labor movement for nearly 100 years.

And here’s the thing, lovelies, organized labor and a revived pro-worker movement is literally our last best hope against the rampant wealth and income inequality that’s been crushing the American middle class for nearly four decades.

We are in a Second Gilded Age, much bigger and much badder than the first. We need a second, pro-labor Progressive Era to fight it. It worked in the 20th Century to give us the biggest growth in the Middle Class the world has ever seen.

Without it, we know rampant inequality only leads to one thing: Epic calamity. The wealthy classes will be fine; they’ll put bigger gates on their communities, hustle little Johnny and Susie off to their private-school bubbles, and segregate themselves away in their country clubs. It’s the rest of us who will suffer, endlessly.

Either we reduce inequality via a robust worker-movement, or we go the old fashioned way and inequality gets reduced as it has historically: Through war, revolution, state collapse, and deadly pandemics.

One is given to suspect which method Ohio Republicans prefer as they are now poised to move forward with their anti-worker agenda, pushing forward their odious and harmful R2W bill.

State Rep. John Becker, of Union Township in Clermont County, has introduced House Bill 53, which would inflict so-called “right to work” laws on public sector collective bargaining groups in Ohio.

It’s a blatant attack on the viability of public sector collective bargaining in Ohio. If successful, it will lead to lower wages, fewer benefits and working conditions that are less safe for our police, firefighters, public works crews, department of transportation workers and every other public-sector employee.

R2W makes communities poorer. The median household income in “R2W” states is $681 less per month than in free-bargaining states like Ohio. The fatality rate is 49 percent higher in “R2W” states because workers lose their voices, their freedom, their rights.

People who live in R2W states are less likely to have health insurance, and more likely to live in poverty with 12.9 percent higher infant mortality rates. R2W states spend 32.5 percent less per student on primary and secondary education, and there is no evidence that reducing wages, safety and benefits creates more jobs.

R2W is nothing more than a huckster attempt to by billionaire CEOs and corporate interests to end unions as we know them and stack the deck even more in their favor at the expense of the middle class. It will exacerbate inequality, and hasten the march toward large-scale catastrophe, pain and suffering.

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 He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.

  • JLM452

    Have a very close relative who is a staunch Republican, adheres to their concepts all down the line. Then one day his state university job was privatized (one of the GOP’s favorite ideas). Things became very bad for those in his department. They decided that perhaps voting to unionize might be beneficial and my close relative (who previously was steadfastly anti-union) helped to lead the attempt at collective bargaining. They lost the attempt by one vote. Management at the newly privatized department didn’t overlook my relative’s efforts at unionization and made his working life even more miserable. Due to a nervous condition he was able to take FMLA (thanks Bill Clinton) and eventually retire. As I said, he is a close relative but I have a hard time sympathizing his plight due to his positions. And now that he’s retired he’s back being a Trump lover.

  • MovingForwardMaine

    Although nobody is indeed forced to “join” a union, countless good workers are being forced to financially support a union as a condition of employment… that is what’s known as Forced Unionism and it’s opposed by a reported 82% of Americans.

    While the option for workers to join a union if desired is important to maintain, IMO, nobody in this USA should be forced to support an organization against his/her will. Today’s labor unions should be forced to earn members, just like how they did it in the good old days.

    BTW, the so-called “free rider” argument is a complete farce and the unions can avoid that issue if they want… just sign a non-exclusive agreement so they only represent the “members only” in the contract. FMI, see SCOTUS Case “Retail Clerks v. Dry Lion Goods” from 1962.

  • JLM452

    In which case the non-member employees should not be protected or enjoy whatever benefits are provided by the Union/Management contract. They should be on their own. Example: if a Union/Management contract calls for step raises and management wants to apply raises by merit only, the non-union members should abide by management’s criteria. Doubt if that would go over very well.

  • MovingForwardMaine

    You’re absolutely right with that, as all of the benefits should be for Members Only… but you probably know that some union bosses will never go for that because they actually want to represent non-members. It’s just a money making scheme to fund their political activities.

  • JLM452

    I am retired but when I was employed (a state government job) the union was obliged to represent non-union members whether they wanted to or not which is one of the reasons “fair share” came about.

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