Saturday, January 14, 2012

Now on the front burner: Ohio Workplace Freedom Amendment

It takes courage -- even chutzpah, in the wake of Issue 2's defeat, to introduce a Right to Work amendment in one of America's most heavily unionized states. But that is exactly what the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law and a group being organized as the Ohio Workplace Freedom Amendment. The group is presenting language to the Ohio Attorney General for an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would become Article I, Section 22 (full text here).
As the American Thinker argued in its call for a national Right to Work Act, the right to associate must logically include the right not to associate. Americans have the inherent right to form a union whenever they may deem it necessary -- and the right not to join one. The economic benefits of Right to Work are obvious. The states with growing economies have it. The states with stagnant economies generally do not.
What happens when a state enacts a Right to Work law? Employees of businesses still have the right to form a union, providing that no one is forced to join or compelled to pay dues. Members of the union can still strike, but they cannot prevent other employees from still working. The union can still negotiate contract terms for their own members, but they cannot bind employees who do not belong to the union.

So unions do not vanish in states with Right to Work laws. In Alabama, which has Right to Work, more than 10% of the workforce belongs voluntarily to unions. What Right to Work does do is place unionized labor in the free market, competing with non-unionized labor. Free labor, like free business [or free enterprise], is good in the long run for everyone.
I have written earlier about the convoluted procedure that unions put those of us through who object to paying the political portion of union dues. State employees have no choice, but to pay the collective bargaining portion. Forced unionism benefits one political party and philosophy against the interest of many of its members, and leads to leadership that is not accountable to its members, as I wrote October 20.

In the same post, I answered the usual union objection that without "fair share" fees (which are anything but fair to those who have to pay them), nonmembers would become "freeloaders" benefitting from collective bargaining without sharing its cost. This is bunk. The objection can easily be answered by placing nonmembers outside the protection of the union. This means that non-union employees may end up with the same arrangements as managers, or even contract for work as individuals. In other words, Right to Work enables labor to function as a free market -- just what the labor bosses abhor. Just what we need to empower individuals to achieve all they can without facing artificial barriers erected by socialist ideology.

So why is Workplace Freedom being introduced now? I suggest it is because Ohioans strongly objected to certain provisions of Issue 2 that clearly were designed to strip public employee unions of their legitimate functions to protect their members. However, it is also clear that Ohioans did not buy the entire package that the unions wanted to sell. Since workplace freedom does not interfere with the legitimate functioning of unions with respect to their own members, it should win the support of a majority of Ohioans in this November's election.

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