Tom Lobianco has an article about whether Gov. Daniels and the General Assembly will take up a right to work (for less) bill in the 2012 session. The article makes it sound like the Governor will go passive on this issue like he has in the past. It seems to be one of those things that he isn’t going to spearhead, but if his party sees fit to proceed, he won’t stand in the way either.
The perniciously named “right to work” is a misnomer. What the law really does is use government authority to prohibit a certain kind of contract. As it stands now, employers and employees have the freedom to enter into a contract whereby one of the conditions of employment is that employees join a union or, at least, pay some equivalent of union dues so they are not tempted to be free riders, receiving union benefits without paying for them. So, it’s a contractual provision that is currently permitted but not required. “Right to work” is a limitation on this freedom to contract. The General Assembly tells employers that they are not permitted to make union membership a condition of employment.
This is typically dressed up as championing the rights of future employees who might not want to join a union as a condition of employment; but the oddity is that typically the advocates of this restriction on contracts are, in other contexts, champions of absolute freedom to contract and could rarely care less what a potential employee thinks about the conditions of employment set by an employer. (Don’t like that condition of employment? Fine, go work somewhere else.) But, when union membership comes up, horrors! Conditions that are pro-union or anti-gun are off the table, but pretty much anything else goes.
So, it looks as if the Republicans in the General Assembly will try to shove this one through, Gov. Daniels will be generally supportive, but a little distant, the Democrats will fight it tooth and nail – probably with another walkout if necessary; and, we’ll see in the 2012 elections whether it was worth the effort for either side. Unions are taking heart in the reaction to anti-union legislation in Ohio which got destroyed when put to a popular vote (Gov. Daniels’ support for Gov. Kasich in that campaign notwithstanding.)
I’ll throw out one more note of caution:
Mitch Roob, then Daniels’ economic development chief, told the study committee that “right to work” was needed to bring jobs to the state.
Roob’s track record in state government has been such that, if he is for something, the smart money should probably be against it.