Unions Prepare For New Fight As Republicans Push Right To Work Bills

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With the chant of "O-H-I-O, Right to Work has got to go," organized labor rallied outside the statehouse Wednesday, protesting Republican efforts to make Ohio the 25th Right to Work state.

Ohio AFL-CIO president Tim Burga says voters already decided the labor issue two years ago.

"What we're seeing is more Senate Bill 5 type legislation, which is simply an attack on worker’s rights and collective bargaining," said Burga.

Republican lawmakers inside the statehouse quickly dismissed any comparison between Right to Work and S.B. 5, which went down to a landslide defeat in 2011.

"There were guardrails put around S.B. 5, and it strictly talked about collective bargaining.  This doesn't do that," said Republican Rep. John Adams of Sidney.

GOP Reps. Ron Maag and Kristina Roegner introduced three bills that would ban public and private employers from forcing workers to join or pay union dues.

Another bill would send the issue to the November ballot.

"These bills simply say whether you want to belong to a union or not belong to a union," said Adams.

But Burga says it isn't that simple.

"Right to Work states have less health care security and less retirement security," said Burga.  "All in all it's been devastating to the middle class and working families of those states."

Tea party activist Maurice Thompson says conservative lawmakers should back Right to Work, despite any political consequences for Gov. John Kasich next year.

"Part of the problem for Republicans here at the statehouse is they have to play this narrative where Kasich is creating jobs, when the truth is Ohio's job creation hasn't been that great," said Thompson.

Labor supporters say it will mobilize unions and Democrats.

"We have a state legislature that just continues to ignore the will of the people," said Deidra Reese.  "This is S.B. 5 all over again.  How many times can we tell you we don't want this?"

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown told 10TV Wednesday that Right to Work may have appeal on the ballot.

"I think clearly the term 'right to work,' even though it's right to work for less money, is an attractive looking slogan," said Brown.  "But I also know what it means to wages.  Those Right to Work states typically have lower wages, a weaker middle class, and people can't organize collectively to get a decent benefit.  It may be a good little phrase, but it's bad policy."

Through a spokesman, Kasich said it would be premature to weigh in on the Right to Work bills.

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