Issues > Ohio Legislature: Workers’ and Unions’ Issues

What does Right To Work REALLY mean?

Remember SB5 in 2011? What is happening in Ohio now?

Ohio Republican Representatives John Becker (Cincinnati) and Craig Riedel (Defiance) have proposed a package of six separate constitutional amendments that is targeted for the November 2020 General Election - all requiring voter approval - that will turn Ohio into a Right To Work (Is Wrong for Ohio) state. These proposed amendments will:

  • prohibit the forcing of workers - whether in private- or public-sector - to join a union as a condition of employment. FACT: Employees already cannot be required to join unions as a condition of employment. 
  • RTW - Constitutional Amendments - Cliparteliminate prevailing wage, which sets a floor wage for skilled labor on publicly funded projects. FACT: Employees in Right to Work states earn less money where median household income is $728 less each month. Lower wages hurts all Ohioans - not only workers, but also their families, businesses and communities. Less money = Less purchases = Less tax dollars.
  • ban project labor agreements where the state or cities require union labor for construction projects. FACT: Right to Work states have a 58% higher death rate on the job. Union workers are safer in Ohio.
  • require votes to recertify workplace bargaining units every year. FACT: To conduct a recertification of any union would be tedious and unnecessary - other than to spend union funds and to frustrate not only the union representatives, but also to intimidate the workers.
  • limit how unions are funded by withholding 'fair share' fees from paychecks. FACT: State law allows collective bargaining agreements to require "fair share" or agency fees. Federal law requires unions to represent nonmembers.  For example, if a nonunion worker is fired illegally, the union is required to finance the expensive legal proceedings to defend the nonmember. The fee nonmembers pay are lower than union member dues payments and cannot be used for services beyond contract negotiations and/or grievance proceedings.
  • forbid union spending of dues or fees on political activity without workers’ consent. FACT: Union members opt into providing a voluntary contribution to their union's political activities on their own. These funds are then placed separately into a political action fund and are used for supporting candidates who support workers (such as health, workplace and safety legislation) and political activities (such as voter registration).


Ohio Right to Work legislation

1.07.18 - COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Supporters of "right to work" legislation are taking a different route to enact changes critics say would unnecessarily weaken unions in Ohio.

Ohio Republicans have shied away from advancing right to work bills after voters overwhelmingly voted in 2011 to repeal the controversial law Senate Bill 5, which would have limited collective bargaining among public sector employee unions.

Instead of a state law, a pair of Republican legislators want to put right to work language and other union-related provisions in the state constitution -- if Ohio voters approve.

Riedel said a lot of Ohioans felt Senate Bill 5 was rammed down their throats, and he and Becker are taking a totally different approach.

"We're not legislating any bills here," Riedel, a Defiance Republican, said in a Tuesday news conference. "We're bringing this to the ballot and we want the citizens of Ohio to vote on this so once and for all, we'll get this settled."

When would it be on the ballot?

Becker and Riedel want to see the proposals on the November 2020 ballot because turnout is higher in presidential election years. Riedel said it will take time to educate voters about the issues, and they want as many Ohioans as possible to weigh in.

Becker said there is some concern that the issues could drive Democrats to the polls and thus boost a Democratic presidential candidate. But he said the issues could also increase turnout among Republicans who might not otherwise vote.

Twenty-eight states have passed "right to work" laws banning mandatory union membership or fair share dues, including neighboring Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.


Click to print flyers on Right To Work information:

Top 10 Reasons RTW is WRONG - UAW and WeAreOhio

RTW is WRONG - Don't TRUST it - Ohio AFL-CIO

What is Right-to-Work?
These statutes are authorized by Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act and allow states to outlaw union shops which require all new employees to join the union after a minimum period after hire.

Right-to-Work laws are designed to financially cripple the union movement.
Federal law requires unions to represent nonmembers.  For example, if a nonunion worker is fired illegally, the union must finance the expensive legal proceedings to defend him/her.  Right-to-Work laws allow workers to enjoy a union's services without paying dues that cover the costs of union negotiations, contract administration and other union-provided job services.

Right-to-Work laws decrease wages for everyone.
Because workers' organizing rights are diminished in states with Right-to-Work laws, the median household income is $728 less each month than in free bargaining states ($30,656 versus $37,787).  Across the nation, union members earn $9,308 a year more than nonunion members ($41,652 versus $32,344).  Clearly, these laws only provide a right to work for less.

Right-to-Work laws especially harm people of color.
People of color generally benefit the most from union membership.  On average, Hispanic union members earn 50% ($224) more each week than nonunion Hispanics; African-Americans earn 31% ($156) more each week if they are union members.

Right-to-Work states have more poverty, higher infant mortality rates and poorer schools.
Right-to-Work states have a poverty rate of 13.5%, compared with 12.2% in free bargaining states.  The infant mortality rate is 7.94% higher and the uninsured population rRTW - Stats - 2.15ate is 15% higher on average in Right-to-Work states.  And Right-to-Work states spend on average $1,680 less per pupil in elementary and secondary schools.  The lack of spending results in lower teacher salaries and student test scores - average teacher salaries are $6,943 lower and composite ACT scores are 3.55% lower in Right-to-Work states.

Right-to-Work laws endanger workers' physical security.
A union weakened by Right-to-Work laws has less power to act as a force for safer working conditions.  More workplace deaths and injuries occur in states with Right-to-Work laws.  According to calculations from Bureau of Labor statistics, the rate of workplace deaths is 58% higher in states with Right-to-Work laws.  And injured workers in those states have fewer benefits to help them recover physically and financially.  In 1996, workers compensation benefits were 50% lower in Right-to-Work states than in free bargaining states.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

In our glorious fight for civil rights,
we must guard against being fooled by false slogans as 'right-to-work.'
It provides no 'rights' and no 'work.'

Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining....
We demand this fraud be stopped.


  • Allows more government interference with freedoms of private businesses by restricting their right to negotiate with their employees.
  • Takes away ability to negotiate fair contracts between employers and employees elected representatives.
  • Takes away collective bargaining rights by employees elected representatives who bargain in the best interests on behalf of all employees.
  • Gives politicians the final say and too much power on important issues - i.e. staffing, safety equipment, training.
  • Allows employees who don't pay dues to receive same benefits as those employees who do pay dues.
  • Tilts the balance even more toward big corporations by taking away the voices of every day workers - i.e. police, firefighters, teachers, nurses - to have a collective voice within their workplace.


Does this sound all too familiar?
It should.
'Right To Work' is Issue 2/SB 5 in disguise.
The attack on middle class workers and our families continues.



  • ALEC - American Legislative Exchange Council -- a group that believes in limited government, free markets and federalism which equates to shipping jobs overseas to a country with the cheapest labor costs and the least (if any) environmental and worker protections.
  • Corporate super PACs that have unlimited funds from anonymous donors - $44 million was spent by such PACs in Wisconsin over governor's recall.
  • Wealthy special interests who give millions in campaign contributions - i.e. Koch Brothers, two billionaire brothers who have given millions to Wisconsin's Governor and other like-minded governors.
  • Ohio Governor John Kasich who attacks Ohio's workers with legislation such as Issue 2/SB 5 and supports changes to workers compensation laws that will hurt injured and sick workers.
  • Those supporting 'Right To Work' legislation are - once again - framing their argument in terms of "taxpayers versus unions" and talking about the "balance" between the two.

Issue 2/Senate Bill 5 - REPEALED! We'll remember EVERY Election! Every November!

With a HISTORIC vote, the referendum on Issue 2/SB5 was resoundingly defeated statewide by a 61 percent to 39 percent margin!

Issue 2 was SOUNDLY defeated in Erie County because of YOU!  The official final count in Erie County on Issue 2: 

  • NO - To reject/repeal SB5 - 17.905 votes - 66.24%
  • YES - To retain/approve SB5 - 9.126 votes - 33.76%

The message to the Governor and the Republican legislature was loud and clear:  Governor Kasich and the Republican legislature went too far -- Ohioans will not be bullied into accepting extreme legislation as public policy.  By using our citizens' veto, Ohioans spoke with our own individual vote!  THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!

THANK YOU for your time, commitment, support and hard work in defeating Issue 2/SB5 at the polls!  This major victory could not have been accomplished without YOU!