On To The Next Labor Battle In Ohio: Workplace Freedom Amendment

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Fresh off their massive loss on Gov. John Kasich's anti-collective bargaining law, Ohio conservatives are already promoting their next assault on workers' rights, a push to make Ohio a right-to-work state. The so-called 'Workplace Freedom Amendment' is designed to undercut unions in the state in a way that Kasich wasn't able to do through his now-rejected Senate Bill 5.

The amendment is being pushed by tea party activists and Associated Builders and Contractors of Ohio, a non-union trade group. The proponents of the amendment suggest that it will make workplaces in the state 'more free' for workers, when, in reality, right-to-work laws in other states achieve two goals -- undercutting unions and making it easier to pay workers less and offer them worse working conditions and benefits.

The organizations are beginning a petition process that requires 385,253 signatures before the amendment is placed on the ballot. Projections suggest that it will take two years to get the amendment on the ballot. The long-term nature of the project means that the amendment will not be on the ballot during a presidential election year and it will take a organized movement that rivals what Ohioans had to mount this year in order to repeal Senate Bill 5. If activists and union organizers are not diligent, the SB5 efforts will be overturned with the passage of this amendment.

Ohio blog Plunderbund is already all over the misinformation be promoted about this amendment:

Note the deception already. They won’t come out and say it in the language that this is a proposal to constitutionally prohibit collective bargaining, but you can’t simulatenously have an effective to collectively bargain if you also have a right to individually bargain. The law of physics apply in politics, too– two things can’t occupy the same physical space. By creating a constitutional right to “individually” bargain, then collective bargaining becomes an infringement of that “right,” and therefore, the laws that permit it become subject to a constitutional challenge.

We Are Ohio, the key organization behind the defeat of SB5, is already on the case:

“Just two days ago, Ohioans spoke with one clear and emphatic voice, and voted by an overwhelming margin to support our everyday heroes and their right to collectively bargain,” said Melissa Fazekas, spokeswoman for We Are Ohio, the labor coalition that raised more than $30 million to defeat Issue 2. “Yet, today their voices are already being ignored, even after Governor Kasich and legislative leaders have promised to listen and reflect on Tuesday’s vote.

“Statistics show that right to work states have lower wages and that right to work endangers the safety and health standards that protect workers on the job. Now is the time to respect Ohio voter’s wishes, stop attacking hardworking Ohioans and focus on much needed job creation. Ohio’s leaders, including the governor and all legislators who supported Issue 2/Senate Bill 5 should go on the record now denouncing any attempt to circumvent the will of the people.”

Laura Clawson at Daily Kos also points out the dishonesty of the amendment supporters:

Proponents of this right to work (for less) bill are using the traditional language of "forced unionization," which of course ignores the fact that no one in any state can be forced to join a union; they can only be forced to pay their fair share of the costs of negotiating and administering their contracts.

Plunderbund also makes a strong case that the amendment push has racist foundations.

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