Ohio Lawmaker Proposes Workplace Freedom Bill

Published December 6, 2015

An Ohio lawmaker is proposing a bill that would prohibit employers from requiring union membership as a condition of employment in private-sector businesses.

Currently, workers in some workplaces are required to join or contribute money to unions, regardless of whether they wish to be represented by a union.

Competing for Job Investments

State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-Mount Lookout) says increasing workers’ economic freedom improves a state’s economic competitiveness.

“It is very important to be competitive when it comes to jobs, and Ohio has not built a multimillion-dollar factory, probably since Honda back in the 1970s and 1980s,” Brinkman said. “We are increasingly seeing big factories go to South Carolina and Alabama and other right-to-work states. Statistics show that since Michigan has passed right-to-work, their private sector job growth has been seven times that of Ohio, in less than a year.”

‘Competition Is Always Good’

Brinkman says right-to-work laws improve the economic outlook for union members.

“Competition is always good, and right-to-work adds a level of competition,” Brinkman said. “Right-to-work might say to a union, ‘Hey, you need to represent your people better, or they will not join the union or go to another union.’ Unions will have to compete. They will have to provide a service and a benefit for their members.”

Brinkman says now is the time to create workplace freedom in Ohio.

“Our neighboring states are starting to see the benefits of right-to-work, and I just don’t think Ohio can wait too long,” Brinkman said. “Businesses are making plans. Factories have to make decisions, and if we wait too long for this, within two, three, four years, those job sites are going to go to our neighboring states. … I think the time is now, and we just can’t afford to wait years to see how it plays out.”

‘A Personal Choice’

Aparna Mathur, a resident scholar in economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, says workplace freedom laws give workers more choices and flexibility.

“I believe it’s good to have right-to-work laws, because it allows people who think there is a union wage premium to belong to a union, but if some people value flexibility instead, they are free to choose or not choose union membership as a personal choice,” Mathur said.

More Choices

Mathur says right-to-work laws are all about giving workers more choices and freedom.

“In states that have right-to-work laws, union membership is going down because it is not being forced on workers, but that suggests to me that people are weighing the benefits of union membership,” Mathur said. “If they see benefits, they would choose to be part of the union in states where they have a choice.”

Brinkman says right-to-work laws are an inherently American concept.

“America is about competition, and we should revel in it,” Brinkman said. “That’s what I’m trying to do with this bill.”  

Tony Corvo ([email protected]) writes from Beavercreek, Ohio.