The Ohio Workplace Freedom Amendment, which would “guarantee the freedom of Ohioans to choose whether to participate in a labor organization as a condition of employment,” will appear on the November 2012 ballot if 386,000 signatures are submitted by early July. Specifically the Amendment would provide that, in Ohio:
- No law, rule, agreement, or arrangement shall require any person or employer to become or remain a member of a labor organization.
- No law, rule, agreement, or arrangement shall require, directly or indirectly, as a condition of employment, any person or employer, to pay or transfer any dues, fees, assessments, other charges of any kind, or anything else of value, to a labor organization, or third party in lieu of the labor organization.
The Amendment would not prevent any person from voluntarily belonging to or providing support to a labor organization, or apply to agreements entered into or renewed prior to the enactment of this section.
Similar worker protection is provided in 22 other states, primarily in the south and west. Ohio would be the first Midwestern state to pass such an Amendment. Backers of the Amendment, which was drafted by the 1851 Center, include many of those who successfully implemented the 21st Section to Ohio’s Bill of Rights, the Health Care Freedom Amendment, as Issue 3 on November 8. If passed, the Amendment would be the 22nd section in Ohio’s Bill of Rights.
“Ohio’s current unemployment rate remains over 9 percent – – it’s no coincidence that this rate of unemployment is much higher than in states that prohibit forced unionism, while private-sector job growth in those states has dramatically outpaced Ohio’s,” said Maurice Thompson, Executive Director of the 1851 Center. “This Amendment will make it clear that Ohio is a safe place to start, locate, or keep a business, and also a safe place to gain employment without being commandeered by powerful political machines.”
Before circulators can begin gather signatures, the Amendment’s summary must be approved as “fair and truthful” by the Ohio Attorney General, and its text as one subject by the Ohio Ballot Board. By law, the Attorney General and Ballot Board each have ten days to complete their respective processes.
Added Thompson “Ultimately, freedom to associate also means freedom not to associate – – it’s time for Ohio to end labor conditions that compel its citizens to participate in highly-politicized labor organizations, or instead pay a considerable penalty.”
Since the New Deal era, federal regulations have dramatically tilted labor markets in favor of unions, and have left little room for state autonomy. However, states are explicitly permitted to end forced union participation within their borders.
FULL TEXT OF THE AMENDMENT
Be it resolved by the people of the State of Ohio that Article I, Section 22 of the Ohio Constitution be adopted and read as follows:
Freedom to choose whether to participate in a labor organization as a condition of employment
Section 22 (A) No law, rule, agreement, or arrangement, shall require, directly or indirectly, any person or employer to become or remain a member of a labor organization.
Section 22 (B) No law, rule, agreement, or arrangement shall require, directly or indirectly, as a condition of employment, any person or employer to pay or transfer any dues, fees, assessments, other charges of any kind, or anything else of value, to a labor organization, or third party in lieu of the labor organization.
Section 22 (C) Nothing in this section shall (1) prevent any person from voluntarily belonging to or voluntarily providing support to a labor organization; or (2) apply to agreements entered into or renewed prior to the enactment of this section.
Section 22(D) No other provision of the Ohio Constitution shall impair or limit the rights contained herein.
Section 22(E) This section shall be implemented to the maximum extent that the United States Constitution and federal law permit. Any invalid or inoperative provisions shall first be construed as not conflicting with federal law, and then, only if necessary, severed from remaining portions of the section, which shall remain in effect.
Section 22(F) Any person, directly or indirectly affected or threatened with any harm by a violation of this section, may bring a civil or equitable action to enforce this section, and upon prevailing shall be entitled to injunctive relief, reasonable attorney fees, costs, and other damages.
Section 22 (G) Definitions
(1) “Labor organization” means any agency, union, employee representation committee, or organization of any kind that exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning collective bargaining, grievances, wages, benefits, rates of pay, hours of work, other forms of compensation, or other conditions of employment.
(2) “Person or employer” includes all persons and employers in the state of Ohio, whether public or private, with the exception of the federal government of the United States and its employees.
(3) Indirect requirements, include, but are not limited to the imposition of fines, penalties, or other costs or charges for, or the conditioning of public or private sector employment or employment opportunities on (a) failure to become or remain a member of a labor organization; or (b) paying or transferring dues, fees, assessments, other charges, or anything else of value to a labor organization. Indirect requirement further includes payments to third parties in lieu of the payments prohibited above.
(4) “Fines, penalties, or other costs or charges” includes but is not limited to any civil, criminal, contractual or other penalty; any fine, tax, or monetary charge; or any salary or wage withholding or surcharge or fee that is used to punish or discourage the exercise of rights protected under this section.
November 10, 2011: Reuters – Tea Party Groups to Keep Pushing Right to Work
November 10, 2011: Dayton Business Journal: Tea Party Group Pushes for Ohio Amendment
November 11, 2011: Columbus Dispatch: Ohio Voters Could See Right to Work Issue
November 12, 2011: The New American: Ohio Could End Forced Unionization
November 21, 2011: PJ Media: Could Ohio become a Right to Work State?
November 24, 2011: FavStocks: Could Ohio Become a Right to Work State? Part Two
December 20, 2011: Political Realities: The Battle Over Right to Work Comes to Ohio
January 5, 2012: The Plain Dealer: A Right to Work in Indiana could be a Learning Experience