Ohio Governor Has No Credible Excuse For Waving the White Flag on Right to Work


An Ohio Prescription for GOP: Lower Taxes, More Aid for Poor


Buckeye State GOP Gov. John Kasich just announced he is preemptively surrendering to the union hierarchy on the Right to Work issue. But his rationalization for backing Ohio’s forced-dues status quo is based on a false reading of the outcome of a 2011 state referendum.

Scientific polling indicates there is strong public support in Ohio for a Right to Work law prohibiting the termination of employees for refusal to pay dues or fees to an unwanted union, and more and more Buckeye State citizens are getting actively involved in efforts to pass such a statute.

There are multiple good reasons why Ohio should become the 25th Right to Work state.  First of all, a state Right to Work law would correct in Ohio a grossly unfair aspect of federal labor.  Federal labor statutes provide legal protection for the individual worker’s freedom to join and pay dues to a union, regardless of whether or not his or her employer and fellow employees approve of that union.  But an individual employee who doesn’t want to join a union may legally be fired for refusing to bankroll it, if the employer and a union deemed to be backed by a majority of employees cut a deal authorizing forced dues and fees.

In the 24 current Right to Work states, unlike in Ohio, the right to join and financially support a union and the right not to join or financially support a union are equally protected.

Ohio Right to Work supporters oppose laws denying any employee a job for refusing to pay dues or fees to a union he or she would never voluntarily join.  Overwhelmingly, they believe forced-unionism laws are just plain wrong.  In addition, many believe a Right to Work law would be good for Ohio’s economy.

A wide array of economic data lend support to the latter belief.  For example, from 2001 t0 2011, total private-sector nonfarm employment as reported by the U.S. Commerce Department grew by 6.8% in the five Midwestern states that had Right to Work laws at the time.  Meanwhile, private-sector employment fell by 0.4% in Midwestern forced-unionism states as a group and by 2.6% in Ohio alone.  (Since 2011, two Midwestern forced-unionism states, Indiana and Michigan, have switched over to Right to Work.)

Unfortunately, despite the compelling moral and economic arguments for enacting an Ohio Right to Work law, GOP Gov. John Kasich made it clear this past week that he will stand in the way of labor-policy reform.  In a front-page article for the Wall Street Journal August 14 (see the link below), reporter Neil King Jr. broke the news that Kasich will actively oppose efforts by his fellow Republicans in the Ohio Legislature to revoke union bosses’ compulsory-dues privileges:

Mr. Kasich . . . has promised union [officials] he will oppose efforts to turn Ohio into a “right to work” state that bars labor contracts requiring all workers to be union members or pay dues.

Further down in the story the governor adopts Big Labor’s spin on a November 2011 special referendum in the Buckeye State to justify his turning his back on the vast majority on Ohioans who support the Right to Work.

The referendum was engineered by the union brass to overturn a labor-policy and budget reform adopted by the Ohio Legislature and signed by Gov. Kasich in early 2011.  Key provisions in the reform barred the extraction of compulsory union dues and fees from state and local public employees and sharply limited the scope of government union officials’ monopoly-bargaining power.

Thanks to union bosses’ lavishly funded assault on this reform, known as S.B.5, it never took effect.  And the Big Labor media blitz against S.B. 5, which Kasich and GOP legislative leaders barely tried to counter, basically ignored its actual provisions and claimed, with no foundation, that it would lead to massive reductions in teaching and public-safety jobs.

In reality, since union bosses succeeded in overturning S.B.5 in November 2011, job losses in Ohio schools and public-safety departments have been far more severe than those that occurred in Wisconsin, which adopted a reform similar to S.B.5 in 2011 that remains on the books today.

A genuine Ohio leader who supported the Right to Work could accurately point out today that the union hierarchy’s campaign against S.B.5 was based on a tissue of lies, and add that the complete falsity of the attacks is now evident from the disparate trends in K-12 education and public-safety employment in Ohio and Wisconsin.  But Kasich is opting to wave the white flag.  Ohioans “want” compulsory unionism, the governor now claims, despite polls showing the contrary.

It makes no sense whatsoever for Ohio union chiefs to be rewarded again in 2013 for successfully lying to Buckeye State citizens in 2011.  The fact is, the anti-S.B.5 campaign did not put a dent in public support for the Right to Work principle. If Kasich now changes course and opts to tell the truth about what happened in 2011, instead of allowing Big Labor to rewrite history, prospects for adoption and retention of a Right to Work law protecting private- and public-sector employees alike are good.  Once the union bosses’ lies of 2011 have been exposed to the people of Ohio, they will have much less ammunition left to fire against a future Right to Work statute.