New Bill Sparks More Debate On Union Dues

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The Ohio Statehouse(Photo: tlarrow (flickr))
The Ohio Statehouse(Photo: tlarrow (flickr))

Most of the news coverage on the collective bargaining bill that Ohio legislators passed has focused on provisions such as the ban on public employee strikes and a mandate that all government workers pay at least 15 percent of their health care premiums.

But there’s another part that unions especially abhor. It says public employees no longer have to pay the equivalent of union dues. That change sparks a question – will majority Republicans push yet another plan — applying that thrust to private companies? Ohio Public Radio’s Bill Cohen reports.

Union activists have long argued, if teachers, prison guards, garbage collectors and other government workers get the benefits of being represented at the bargaining table by a union, they should at least be required to pay what’s called a “fair share” payment to the union. Its not official union dues but the amount is close.

Majority republicans in the legislature though, are using the new collective bargaining plan they’ve OK’d to ban those required ‘fair share’ payments. GOP lawmakers call it a matter of freedom and personal choice. Lou Blessing is the number two leader in the Ohio House.

“if they don’t want to be in an organization why should they have to pay for it. So that’s why we got rid of it.” Says Blessing.

The collective bargaining plan for government workers does not deal with the private sector, but could there be a new bill that would?

Republican legislative leaders say they have no plan to try to make Ohio a so-called ‘right-to-work’ state where private labor contracts could no longer require all of the company’s workers to join the union and pay dues. (for full story on this issue click the listen icon.)

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