House Bill becomes star of the show for Ohio labor unions

With memories of Senate Bill 5 still fresh in the minds of many union activists; Ohio lawmakers discussed a new version of the So-Called "right-to-work" legislation.

More than 100 union supporters showed up and made their presence known at the December 1, House Commerce and Labor Committee meeting where House Bill 377 was discussed.

The proposed legislation prevents private-sector employers from requiring workers to contribute union dues or automatically deducting fees from their paychecks, even if the employees receive the same benefits in union-negotiated contracts.

Supporters of House Bill 377 claim Ohio is facing a competitive disadvantage and passage of the proposed legislation would level the playing field between Ohio and neighboring states right-to-work states like Michigan and Indiana.

House Bill 377 differs from Senate Bill 5, which was repealed by Ohio voters 61 percent to 39 percent in 2011 through a referendum vote.  HB 377is aimed only at private-sector unions.

Passage of the new legislation would make Ohio the 26th state in the nation to enact laws many view as union-busting efforts.

Matthew Szollosi, Executive Director of Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT) Ohio, attended the hearing and called the proposed legislation terrible.  He went on to say the bill will not help Ohio economy that is steamrolling along, especially with an overall unemployment rate just above 4 percent, which is lower than numerous states with so called right-to-work laws.

Opponents of the bill provided statistics suggesting wages, workplace safety, healthcare and other benefits in the so called right-to-work state are not as good when compared to non-right-to-work states. 

Democrat committee members argued against the bill, calling it divisive.

Republicans on the committee indicated HB 377 will be the subject of multiple hearings before it is considered for a vote.

Governor John Kasich (R) has repeatedly said Ohio does not need a right-to-work law.  Following the defeat of SB 5, the governor said he would not bring the issue up again.

Szollosi noted that the Ohio Building Trades have worked closely with Jobs Ohio on some major job-creating efforts, and the governor recognizes the Ohio Building Trades as an asset to draw industrial development to the state because of the trades’ ability to “build anything.”

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Topics: Public Relations, Labor Issues

Laura Ziemianski

Written by Laura Ziemianski