On June 30, Rep. John Becker (R-Union Twp) introduced a “right-to-work” (“RTW”) bill for the public sector.
As we reported to you previously, earlier in the legislative session, a “RTW” bill for the private sector (HB 377) was introduced, but at the time, no similar bills for the public sector were put forth. Republicans were counting on the Friedrichs U.S. Supreme Court case to deliver that blow for them. But the death of Justice Scalia led the Court to a tie, affirming the lower court’s decision in favor of unions.
Rep. Becker’s legislation, House Bill 583, would allow non-members of a public employee union to “opt-out” of the union, and the union would not be required to represent those workers. Currently, non-members have to be represented by the union and pay a “fair share fee” to the union for contract enforcement.
Rep. Becker is using these tactics in an attempt to inoculate against the “free rider” argument that unions have made for many years against “RTW” — that non-members should pay a fee for the services and benefits they receive from the union. However, the language in this bill opens up a whole host of other problems.
For instance, employers would have to negotiate individual employment contracts with each non-member. Employers could use this as a “divide and conquer” tool; that is, give better wages, benefits, and other perks to non-members in the short-term to peel off members from the union.
“RTW” bills in every form have been thinly-veiled union-busting tools, and HB 583 is no different.
Thus far, the bill only has been introduced. Over the next week, we expect it to be referred to committee, where it is likely to sit until after the election. It is possible that Republicans try to pass the bill during lame duck session. It is possible they do nothing with it. We hope to learn more over the next few weeks and months.
OCAAUP leadership will be ensuring that our association is as prepared as possible for the worst case scenario. We continue to be active with We Are Ohio, the coalition that successfully repealed SB 5 nearly five years ago, so we again will be closely aligned with our other union brothers and sisters should we have another battle on our hands.
As always, we will keep you informed with any developments. In the meantime, we wish you a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.