Is Ohio Republican pledging loyalty to Big Labor?

By Jason Hart | Ohio Watchdog

Union front We Are Ohio says state Sen. Scott Oelslager, a Republican, has signed a pledge to oppose any attempt at implementing worker freedom in Ohio.

TWO THUMBS UP: Scott Oelslager gives union front We Are Ohio a shred of bipartisanship

We Are Ohio’s pledge calls worker freedom “complicated, confusing, and costly,” but the policy — proposed as a ballot initiative to amend the Ohio Constitution and as legislation in the Ohio House — is simple.

Enacted in 24 states and often referred to as right-to-work, worker freedom laws protect a worker’s right to choose whether to support a labor union. Under current law, Ohioans can be forced to pay union bosses as a condition of employment.

The reason “citizen-driven, community-based bipartisan coalition” We Are Ohio opposes worker freedom is equally simple: We Are Ohio is led and funded by union bosses.

Oelslager, the only Republican among 48 elected officials pledging to fight worker freedom, is featured atop We Are Ohio’s list of pledge signers. The other 47 signers include 37 of the 39 Democrat members of the Ohio House, nine of the 10 Democrat members of the Ohio Senate and Democrat U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Oelslager did not respond to repeated Ohio Watchdog inquiries about his inclusion on the list and his reasons for signing.

“These elected officials and candidates for office, Republicans and Democrats, have signed pledge cards to oppose any effort to bring ‘right to work’ to Ohio,” We Are Ohio asserts in the pledge. “We want to thank these leaders for standing up for working and middle class families.”

Since We Are Ohio’s 2011 inception, more than 95 percent of the group’s funding has come from labor unions and almost half of its funding has come from unions in Washington, D.C. We Are Ohio’s chairman is a union boss, as are all the members of We Are Ohio’s executive committee.

If Ohio were to adopt worker freedom, the unions that fund and operate We Are Ohio could no longer take mandatory fees from Ohioans.

The Democrats who have signed We Are Ohio’s pledge are heavily funded by the same National Education Association and AFL-CIO affiliates that lead We Are Ohio. So is Oelslager, who received Ohio Education Association’s 2011 “Friend of Education” award for fighting the union reforms We Are Ohio was created to overturn.

Including donations from the Ohio Republican Party, Oelslager’s second-largest campaign contribution since Jan. 1, 2013, was a $9,500 check from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 11. One of his top donors, AFSCME Local 11 has given Oelslager a total of $11,000 since Jan. 1, 2013.

Oelslager has received $9,000 from Sheet Metal Workers Local 33, $8,000 from International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18, $7,156 from OEA, $7,000 from Laborers District Council of Ohio and $5,000 from Service Employees International Union District 1199 since Jan. 1, 2013.

International Union of Painters and Allied Trades sent Oelslager $5,500 from its headquarters in Hanover, Md., and several other unions made contributions of $1,000 or more.

As part of the Keep Ohio’s Heritage campaign financed by $1 million from IUOE national headquarters, IUOE Local 18 has purchased billboard ads throughout Ohio portraying worker freedom as poisonous and communist.

We Are Ohio began running web ads to get signatures for its “People’s Pledge” in 2013, describing worker freedom as “another attack on working and middle class families” that will “make your workplace less safe.”

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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