Photo Caption: Ohio Rep. Debbie Phillips, D-Albany
State Rep. Debbie Phillips, a Democrat from Albany, has joined others in her party in slamming so-called "right to work" legislation that Ohio Republicans want to bring to the ballot box.
Two "right-to-work" bills introduced by state Rep. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, had their first hearings last week in the Ohio House's Manufacturing and Workforce Development Committee.
A third "right-to-work" bill has been introduced by state Rep. Ron Maag, R-Lebanon, and has not yet received a public hearing. The legislation would essentially prohibit public employers from requiring workers to join a union or pay dues.
Roegner has another bill that would extend that to private employees and a proposal to ask voters whether to put a "right-to-work" clause in the state Constitution.
Phillips, in a release, said that the legislation would attack workers' rights to collectively bargain in the private sector. She also slammed the version proposing a state Constitutional amendment.
"Ohioans rejected Governor Kasich's attack on the middle class by voting down (Senate Bill 5), yet House Republicans seem to have missed the point and continue to push unsafe, unfair and divisive policies," Phillips said. "We need to stand together and demand an end to these attacks."
In her release, she said that workers in states with "right-to-work" laws have lower wages, with an average household income $6,437 less per year and less safe workplaces, with 36 percent more workplace fatalities.
State Rep. Armond Budish, D-Beachwood, who recently finished a stint as House Speaker and then Minority Leader, said "extremist Republicans" are ignoring the will of the overwhelming majority of Ohioans who rejected S.B. 5.
"Democrats stood with our hardworking brothers and sisters and fought off the attacks on workers' rights then and we are prepared to do so again," he said. "We will work to ensure Ohio does not become the next casualty on the growing list of states that have rammed through so-called 'right to work' legislation in the dead of the night."
This last line is a reference to similar legislation being proposed and in some cases passed in states such as Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and now Ohio.
Most of these efforts are tied to an entity known as the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a right-wing public-private partnership non-profit organization that creates draft legislation and works toward passing it through various state legislatures as part of the Republican "Red state model" effort.
Ohio Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, has said that the "right-to-work" legislation is not on his caucus' agenda.
"After discussions with other leaders and my caucus, I don't believe there is current support for this issue in the General Assembly," he said in a statement at the beginning of May. "The only purpose this discussion serves right now is to generate a bunch of breathless fundraising appeals from the Ohio Democratic Party."