Hold legislator’s feet to the fire

Dear Editor,

On Tuesday, Dec 1, Legislators in Columbus introduced House Bill 377. This is a Right-to-Work bill that is designed to undermined workers in Ohio, both union and non-union. This is a follow up attack on the working class that was initiated in 2011 with Senate Bill 5.

The bill eliminates a union’s ability to collect dues from all of the employees that it protects. By doing this, the union will stand up for the rights of all workers in a union shop but individuals can choose not to pay dues to the union, thus getting a free ride. They get all the benefits with none of the responsibility.

Proponents of the bill claim Right to Work (RTW) legislation allows for more economic development. This claim is not supported by data. According to Newsweek 5/17/15 “In fact, the scientific research actually shows the opposite of what right-to-work proponents have claimed.” A 2011 nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute study “found that right-to-work laws result in lower wages and a lower likelihood of health care and pensions for union and non-union workers. It also shows right-to-work laws have no impact on economic growth.”

What is the true intent of this legislation? Could it be to further expand the wealth gap? According to Forbes Magazine, (Nov1, 2011), the top 1% of the population owns 42.7% of the nation’s wealth. The next 19% of Americans own 50.3%, and the bottom 80% owns only7%. In other words, the top 20% of population owns 93% of the nation’s total wealth while the other 80% of the population owned the remaining 7%. Who is it that our representatives in Columbus actually represent? It looks like they answer to the richest 20%. Are you one of the top 20% of Americans who owns 97% of the wealth?

Research shows that both union and nonunion workers in RTW states have lower wages and fewer benefits than comparable workers in other states. Although right-to-work laws are presented as an economic development strategy, their real goal is to undermine workers’ collective voice and power. Economic development is not a result of Right to Work legislation. After enacting RTW laws, manufacturing employment in Oklahoma fell sharply in the first three years after the state passed its law.

Average hourly wages (both union and non-union) are 15.8 percent lower in RTW states. I don’t understand how cutting the wages of workers in Brown County will help our overall economic development. It seems that will just further the gap of the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer.

House Bill 377 just isn’t good for Brown County or Ohio. Our legislators that we send to Columbus need to listen to us. They gave us Senate Bill 5 and we overturned it. In fact, 64% of Brown County said No. State Senator Joe Uecker voted in favor of SB5 back then. Rep. Doug Green was not a member of the legislature in 2011 but at a debate of candidates held at West Brown High School he stated “I never outwardly supported Senate Bill 5” when posed a question by former News Democrat Editor Steve Triplett. Gov. Kasich has said repeatedly that Ohio does not need a right-to-work law.

To whom are our state legislators answering? We clearly told them how we feel about laws that attack the working class but they continue to introduce anti-working class bills. Let’s get a clear picture where they stand. I pose this challenge to Sen. Joe Uecker and Rep. Doug Green. Respond to this Letter to Editor. Have the courage and conviction to open your response with either “I support the Right to Work legislation…” or “I do not support Right to Work legislation…” Please be clear and direct so all can see which side of this line you stand.

Michael Wilcox