We Are Ohio Visits OU Campus

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The political action group We Are Ohio stated its case for why right-to-work is wrong at Ohio University’s Baker Center on Thursday night.

The Columbus-based coalition led the successful opposition effort to Senate Bill 5, a 2011 measure that tried to curb public employee unions.

The organization is now opposing the rising tide of right-to-work laws and hoping to prevent the Buckeye State from becoming the 26th state to adopt such a measure.

Right-to-work laws explicitly state that employees can choose to join a union and cannot be forced to do so.

Ted Linscott, a member of the Athens chapter of the Bricklayers and Craft Workers Union, led off the meeting by stressing the importance of unions in his life.

“Everything I owe is to my union because it’s provided me a way to live [and] a way to put food on the table.”

We Are Ohio Communications Director Dennis Willard says college students were a large part of the voting bloc that helped in 2011 and can again serve a major role in keeping unions strong statewide. Ohio University was the first campus visit of many for the organization this year.

“We’re going to go to college campuses all across this state and talk to students because students need to understand that if they want true freedom on the job – if they really want rights, they’ve got to fight back against right-to-work because it’s wrong.”

Two of Ohio’s neighbors, Indiana and Michigan, have already passed right-to-work laws this year.

Thursday’s presentation and discussion came in the wake of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker inking a right-to-work measure in the Badger State – one of the most traditional union strongholds in the country.

Walker signed the bill on March 8th and claimed the bill was a victory for employee rights. AFSCME Ohio Council 8 Legislative Director Robert Davis says that right-to-work will soon make its presence known in Ohio.

“Organizations like the Koch Brothers…they will make sure that worker’s rights here in the United States will be the lowest in one hundred years.”

Davis represents many city and county employees, including non-teaching staff members at Ohio University.

The argument against right-to-work stretched to religion as well. Amanda Hoyt from the organization Faith in Public Life invoked the Beautitudes as support for We Are Ohio’s work.

Hoyt, a self-described Evangelical, says God believes “income inequality is immoral” and that the evangelical community has untapped potential with regard to supporting Ohio’s middle class.

After about forty-five minutes of speakers, an open discussion quickly turned into a workshop on activism and how attendees could beat back right-to-work challenges should they come to Ohio.

Other supporters of right-to-work laws, like the National Right to Work Defense Fund, argue the standard of living is higher for residents in right-to-work states and that the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 gives all employees the right to workplace freedom.