GOP State Legislative Leaders, Fearing Reaction Stop Right To Work Drives In Ohio, Missouri

COLUMBUS—Fearing public reaction which could hurt their party at the polls next year – symbolized by a mass May Day protest on the state Capitol lawn in Columbus, Ohio – Republican state legislative leaders in Ohio and Missouri effectively stopped drives for so-called “right to work” laws in those governing bodies.
But the fight isn’t over yet, at least in Ohio.  The Buckeye State’s Tea Party affiliate says it will gather signatures to put right to work on the ballot this November.  It faces a July deadline.  Labor is already warning members not to sign the petition.
Right to work is a longtime cause of business and its legislative handmaidens. Since the 2010 GOP sweep, the Radical Right – led by the secretive, extremist Ameri-can Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and so-called Tea Party groups – joined.
Those interests aim to weaken and destroy workers and their unions by laws to let millions of workers be “free riders,” taking advantage of union services, such as bargaining and workers’ rights protections, without having to pay for them via dues.
The point is to destroy unions by removing money.
Union leaders, members and activists call such legislation “right to work for less,” referring to lower wages, lessened benefits and weak job security in right to work states.
“What we’re seeing is more Senate Bill 5 type legislation, which is simply an attack on worker’s rights and collective bargaining,” Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga told reporters after the rally, describing the right to work schemes there.
ALEC and GOP Gov. John Kasich pushed SB5 two years ago.  That law stripped all Ohio state and local workers of all collective bargaining rights.  Labor and its allies petitioned SB5 to a referendum.  Voters bounced SB5, and endorsed collective bargaining, in Nov. 2011, 61%-39%.
That history led Ohio State Senate President Keith Faber (R) to turn thumbs down on right to work.  “”We have an ambitious agenda focused on job creation and economic recovery, and Right to Work legislation is not on that list,” he said.  In a statement, Kasich took no position on RTW, but did not put it on his agenda, either.
“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.”
“America’s right to work states are the poorest, most unhealthy and undereducated states in the union.  That is a fact,” Joe Rugola, director of the Ohio Association of Public School Employees, told local media.
In Missouri, State Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (R) said rank-and-file members of his caucus want to pass RTW and the GOP-run Missouri House plans to do so.  But Gov. Jay Nixon (D) will veto it and Dempsey says the GOP lacks the needed votes to override his move.  So Dempsey’s reaction was: “Why bother?”
“They (the state senators) recognize that we have a Democratic governor who has said he’ll veto the legislation and that we simply lack the votes to move it forward over his objections,” Dempsey said.
Right to work was not the only anti-worker scheme the lopsided GOP state legislative majorities in Missouri considered, though.  They also voted on a so-called “paycheck protection” bill.   The state AFL-CIO called on Nixon to veto that, too.
Paycheck protection, which labor calls “paycheck deception,” virtually throws workers out of political campaign contributions, lessening opposition to the plutocrats’ agenda.  It forces public employee unions to ask each worker, individually, every time they want to use non-dues dollars for politics.
And Missouri’s SB29 also says public worker unions cannot negotiate mandatory dues collection, either, without yearly approval from the workers.
“This bill has nothing to do with helping working people,” said state AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Mike Louis.  Missouri’s state and local workers “faced an uphill fight for collective bargaining rights and are 50th in the nation in pay.  It is shameful that instead of correcting real problems faced by the workers who care for our veterans, teach and protect children at risk from abuse and neglect, and serve so many other critical roles, politicians chose to again reward special interests at the expense of our everyday heroes.”
“We vote for legislators and expect them to work for us, not CEOs who seem to care more about big bonuses and profits for their shareholders and special interest groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and Americans for Prosperity,” added Jay Stevenson, an Auto Worker from Wentzville, who has spent spare time knocking on doors and buttonholing neighbors about the anti-worker measure.
“The legislature should focus on creating jobs in Missouri and boosting our economy.  SB29 does the opposite – it is payback for the same corporations that have been shipping our jobs overseas and dodging their taxes,” Stevenson said.