Dozens of workers turned out Tuesday to a Middletown rally to hear labor and local leaders discuss what they called anti-worker threats, like “Right to Work,” coming from local, state and national levels.
“Right to Work, sisters and brothers, is wrong,” said Tim Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO outside IAM Local Lodge 1943. “It’s wrong because states that have Right to Work laws … their workers earn $600 less a month than in states like Ohio. Right to Work is wrong because workplace fatalities are 49 percent higher in ‘Right to Work’ states. ‘Right to Work’ is wrong because educational attainment drops, poverty levels rise.”
Jon Harvey, the International Association of Firefighters’ fourth district vice president, said “Right to Work” is about “silencing the voice of the organized so that the greed can come in and take over and make you work for less.”
Middletown Vice Mayor Dora Bronston railed against the notion that “Right to Work” is meant to help workers.
“How can it help us if we can’t pay our bills, if we can’t put food on our tables?” Bronston said. “It reduces our buying power and to me, Right to Work is wrong. It hurts our local businesses. I’m here as a councilperson to encourage and compel people to come into Middletown and open businesses, but less wages for workers means that less spending will be at our local business level. That hurts us all.”
West Chester Twp. became a lightning rod earlier this year after elected officials there expressed an interest in becoming a “Right to Work” place, following a federal court ruling that said they could.
Hundreds of union workers from throughout the region flooded the township hall on two occasions to oppose the move. The trustees put the matter on hold pending a motion for a hearing in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that could have overturned the lower court.
The Sixth Circuit on March 6 denied the hearing request, clearing the way for local jurisdictions — not just states — to adopt the designation.
West Chester Twp. trustees have said they are still considering whether or not to reopen the issue. They are hoping a newly introduced piece of state legislation will pass, making the whole state a “Right to Work” place.
“It goes back to workers’ choice for me,” West Chester Twp. Trustee Mark Welch previously told this media outlet. “If the individual has a choice then they can determine whether or not or how much of dues they want to pay. If you ask me, being a business guy, competition makes us better, it makes us work harder, it gives us a better product, better services… I think workers choice is a good thing, so if they (the state) do it we don’t have to.”
Matthew Bashaw, an instrumentation electrician from Dayton, said he hopes events like Tuesday’s rally lead others to believe that “Right to Work” is wrong for working people.
“If there is to be a middle class in the future, this has to be voted down,” Bashaw said.
“Right to Work” is “an attack on the voice of workers and the workplace,” Douglas said. “It puts more money in the hands of corporations and takes the … collective, elected democratic voice of workers away and that’s just absolutely horrible. We can’t have it and we’re going to oppose it at every level.”
Those levels, protesters said, include a bill in the U.S. Congress and two separate pieces of legislation introduced by the Ohio General Assembly, plus several townships and city councils supporting “Right to Work.”