Could Ohio Become a Right-to-Work State?

Fresh off a resounding ballot-issue victory at the polls, many of those who worked to pass Issue 3, the "Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment," on November 8, thereby hardwiring a statewide rejection of ObamaCare's mandates into Ohio's Constitution, have begun the process of getting a right-to-work initiative on the ballot in 2012 or 2013.

A spokesman for the usually aggressive John Kasich indicates that the Buckeye State's governor, fresh from the stinging defeat of Issue 2, his signature public-sector cost control and collective-bargaining reform law, doesn't find this development particularly helpful: "Right now is the time to pause and take stock. ... Now's not the time to be taking up or considering these types of issues."

As explained at the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a self-described "legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse," Ohio's right-to-work initiative would provide that:

  • "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."

It also "would not prevent any person from voluntarily belonging to or providing support to a labor organization," and would not affect preexisting agreements and contracts.

Currently, the U.S. has 22 right-to-work states. All of them are in the South, West, and Central Midwest. During the past 15 years, these states have collectively outperformed the rest of the nation to an almost embarrassing degree.

The aforementioned 1851 Center has a strong rundown of key statistics and facts, including these:

  • "From 1995 to 2005, incomes of residents in right-to-work states grew by 142 percent more than the incomes of Ohioans," and "private-sector job growth was 500% greater."
  • After passing right-to-work legislation in 1986 and 2001, respectively, Idaho and Oklahoma both experienced explosive growth in their economies and overall employment.
  • An after-tax dollar earned in a right-to-work state has more real purchasing power than it does in other states, "because union labor tends to raise (the) costs of goods and services."

I took a look at economic growth in the individual states during the past decade as measured by gross domestic product (GDP). What I found also shows that right-to-work states clearly outperformed the others: