Right-to-work has been sweeping the country like a glorious fever (symptoms include swelling opportunity and dangerous spikes in liberty), even seizing brows in deep-blue union strongholds like Michigan.
But it looks like lawmakers in Ohio are determined to quarantine Buckeye Land, where the GOP-held Senate has tabled legislation that would make it the 25th right-to-work state. Senate President Keith Faber explained:
“We have an ambitious agenda focused on job creation and economic recovery, and Right to Work legislation is not on that list. After discussions with other leaders and my caucus, I don’t believe there is current support for this issue in the general assembly.”
This may be in part to the efforts of Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, who came out strong against the right-to-work proposals from Reps. Ron Maag and Kristina Roegner, claiming that “six out of 10 of the highest unemployment rates are also in so-called right to work states.”
It’s common refrain from opponents of right-to-work, but, as PolitiFact Ohio notes, is “misleading,” not least because two of the right-to-work states they list as damning examples of unemployment, Indiana and Michigan, have only recently passed their laws (last February and December, respectively), the full economic effects of which won’t be known for months or years. Furthermore, “Of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates, eight were right-to-work states,” a fact Redfern failed to note.
Whatever the actual economic effects of right-to-work, one would hope that it is only such rational calculi driving decision-making in Columbus. But Jason Riley in the Wall Street Journal sees other factors at work:
“The real reason that Mr. Faber and other GOP leaders in the state are backing off of right-to-work is because they—and Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is up for re-election next year—are afraid that Democrats will use the issue to paint the GOP as anti-worker. And to be sure, union leaders in the state have already compared Republicans to Nazis simply for proposing right-to-work legislation.”
Political courage is catchy. But some, it seems, remain blissfully and willfully immune.