Ohio Could Soon Become A ‘Right To Work’ State

Republican Rep. John Becker of OhioScreengrab/woubpbs/YouTube

Two Ohio Republicans are hoping to put right-to-work constitutional amendments on the ballot in 2020.

Despite Ohio voters roundly rejecting the state's attempt to limit collective bargaining rights among public sector workers in 2011, the Republican-controlled legislature is back at it again, hoping to make 'right to work' changes via the state constitution.

Reps. John Becker and Craig Riedel have proposed a package of six separate constitutional amendments that would limit how unions are funded, ban project labor agreements where the state or cities require union labor for construction projects and eliminate prevailing wage, which sets a floor wage for skilled labor on publicly funded projects.

Their plan is to roll the issue out on the 2020 ballot, hoping that higher voter turnout typical of presidential elections will lead to more Ohioans supporting the measure and leaving time to educate the citizenry on what the proposal will do.

But Becker admits the plan could backfire by drawing out more Democrats who are opposed to their union-busting agenda.

"We're not legislating any bills here," Riedel, a Defiance Republican, said in a Tuesday news conference. "We're bringing this to the ballot and we want the citizens of Ohio to vote on this so once and for all, we'll get this settled."

Settling of the issue won't come without a fight, though, as opponents of right-to-work proposals will be out in force lobbying against the measures if they make the ballot.

"Reps. Riedel and Becker are carrying water for out-of-state interests like the Koch brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council," Dennis Willard, spokesman for We Are Ohio, said in a statement. "There are no workers lining up behind these dangerous, divisive and disastrous ideas for Ohioans. Right to Work is wrong for Ohio. Don't trust it."

The Republican amendment package might not even make it as far as the ballot. Even with a Republican majority, not all in the party have collective bargaining in their sights:

The proposals need to pass with a three-fifths majority of each chamber voting yes. Republicans hold such a majority, but legislative leaders from both parties have questioned the need for right-to-work legislation.

Gov. John Kasich has said right-to-work isn't necessary to bring jobs to the state and that it's not on his agenda.