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‘Right-to-work’ push under way in Ohio

Ohio Gov. John Kasich not expected to back the effort

Conservative Republican lawmakers are moving to make Ohio a “right to work” state where union power would be significantly diluted by making membership and dues optional.

“The momentum is moving in our favor. I think it’s no longer a question of if Ohio becomes a right to work state but when it becomes a right to work state,” said state Rep. John Becker, R-Cincinnati, architect of the bill.

Becker pushed the same bill last legislative session but it failed to gain traction. He notes that now all states surrounding Ohio except for Pennsylvania are now ‘right to work’ states.

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Becker has a dozen Republican co-sponsors, including Niraj Antani of Washington Twp., Candice Keller of Middletown, Nino Vitale of Urbana, and Paul Zeltwanger of Mason.

In early 2011, Ohio Gov. John Kasich pushed for Senate Bill 5, legislation that would have gutted collective bargaining rights for more than 715,000 teachers, firefighters, cops and other public employees in Ohio. Kasich signed the bill into law in March 2011 but Ohioans blocked it from taking effect in a referendum vote later that year. After 62 percent of Ohioans voted to block Senate Bill 5, Kasich stepped away from battling organized labor.

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“I know the governor is not going to get behind it,” Becker said of his bill.

House Bill 53 would eliminate any requirement that workers join a union as a condition of employment, pay union dues or pay a ‘fair share’ fee in lieu of dues. Making membership and dues voluntary could choke off funding and reduce ranks within labor unions in Ohio.

It would also remove a requirement that unions still represent so-called “freeloaders” who don’t pay dues or join the union.

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