House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) today spoke out against anti-worker restrictions the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature continues to push this year. The latest attack on working families, Republican Tom Brinkman’s right to work” legislation – House Bill 377, would effectively weaken collective bargaining rights in the state by outlawing what are known as fair share fees, or costs stemming from the collective bargaining process that typically brings higher wages and better benefits for all employees, union and non-union alike. A Republican-led panel will consider Brinkman’s bill later this afternoon.
“So-called right to work restrictions do not create jobs – instead, they start a race to the bottom, lowering the quality of life for families by making people and communities poorer and workers less safe,” said Leader Strahorn. “Workers in right to work for less states take home less pay, face higher poverty and infant mortality rates, and are more likely to die on the job. There is a reason workers in Ohio are not lining up in support of right to work: because they know right to work is wrong. It is wrong for working families and it is wrong for our state.”
National studies show that workers in states with right to work for less restrictions have a 36 percent higher chance of dying on the job and are stuck in more low-wage occupations than workers in free-bargaining states like Ohio. The Economic Policy Institute calculates that workers in states with right to work restrictions earn $1,540 less a year, while U.S. Census Bureau data shows that median family income is at least $6,000 less compared to other states.
A study by The National Education Association also reveals that these same right to work for less states invest some $3,000 less per-pupil for public education than their free-bargaining counterparts. Children and families in right to work for less states are also more likely to lack health care coverage, especially through work, according to The Kaiser Family Foundation.
The House panel’s consideration of HB 377 comes while the House also considers legislation that would hurt unemployed Ohio workers by gutting unemployment compensation benefits. This week, the House is expected hold additional hearings on HB 394, Republican legislation that would reduce employer payments into the unemployment compensation fund by slashing benefit weeks for employees from 26 to as few as 12 while reducing benefits for unemployed workers with children. The bill would also slash unemployment payments for workers that collect Social Security benefits.
“This is an unbalanced approach that shifts the responsibility of unemployment security even further away from businesses onto the backs of workers,” said Leader Strahorn. “While Ohio corporations will continue to enjoy paying less into the system compared to the national average, Ohio workers will struggle to pay their bills, put food on their tables and stay in their homes because of these cuts.”
House Bill 394 will also do away with the Unemployment Compensation Advisory Council, a body that traditionally has brought businesses and unions together to negotiate a balanced approach toward making Ohio’s unemployment compensation fund solvent.
“The growing number of attacks on working people in Ohio is not a step on the path to prosperity,” Strahorn added. “It makes it more difficult for people in Norwalk or Marietta to go to bed at night knowing their hard work will pay off and that their family will grow stronger through the broad-based economic opportunity that built our nation and made it great.”
The consideration of House Bill 377 today adds to a growing list of anti-worker policies being pursued by Ohio Republicans. Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers used the biennial state budget to codify Gov. Kasich’s order to cut collective bargaining rights for home healthcare and in-home childcare providers. The final state budget also included provisions to exclude employees of district community-based correctional facilities from having collective bargaining rights, allowed county Job and Family Services offices to privatize adult protective services jobs, and also gave political subdivisions the power to enter into lease-back agreements, which could lead to cuts or layoffs for public sector custodians and maintenance workers.
“Tearing down workers in our state will have a shattering economic ripple effect throughout our communities and state,” said Strahorn. “The road to broad prosperity that reaches all people in all corners of our state is not paved with lower wages, less access to healthcare and restricting rights in the workplace.”