Right-To-Work Myths Unchallenged In Ohio Media

Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

Major Ohio newspapers used right-wing framing to cover the re-emergence of a right-to-work movement in the state after recent right-to-work victories in Indiana and Michigan. Though the narrative is only just developing, the Toledo Blade and the Cincinnati Enquirer already failed to challenge the veracity of statements from the movement's special interest supporters.

The Cincinnati Enquirer parroted the demand of the state and regional chambers of commerce that right-to-work in Ohio "needs the law to compete" with Indiana and Michigan." From the December 11 article:

As neighboring Michigan moved Tuesday to become a "right-to-work" state - and 10,000 protesters jammed the lawn of its Capitol - Ohio groups who support the laws say Ohio has to follow suit or watch jobs leave.

"When we are working with companies who want to investigate locations, the first question on their list is right to work," said Phillip Parker, president and chief executive officer of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. He later backed off his statement at an afternoon press conference, but there are other indications the fight may be coming to Ohio.

A group called Ohioans for Workplace Freedom is gathering signatures to put the issue on the fall ballot. They need 385,253.

"Indiana has done this. Michigan will. What choice will Ohio have," tea party activist Chris Littleton of West Chester told the Toledo Blade this week. "This is economic jet fuel for job creation, wage growth and a vibrant Ohio economy. If two border states do this, how can Ohio afford not to do this?"

Meanwhile, the Toledo Blade reported on December 11:

As Michigan lawmakers prepare today to make the Wolverine State the latest right-to-work state, petitions are circulating on Ohio streets to put a similar issue directly before Buckeye voters.

"People are ready to double-down. ... Michigan has revitalized a lot of our effort," said Chris Littleton, former president of the Ohio Liberty Council, the closest thing Ohio has to a statewide Tea Party group.

He said the petition effort was sidetracked by the 2012 elections, but a meeting of regional volunteers last week was energized by what's happening in Michigan. The goal is to gather roughly 380,000 signatures needed by early July to qualify for the November, 2013, election.

"Indiana has done this," he said. "Michigan will. What choice will Ohio have? This is economic jet fuel for job creation, wage growth, and a vibrant Ohio economy. If two border states do this, how can Ohio afford not to do this?"

The assertion made by the Ohio chambers and the Tea Party source -- that Ohio won't be able to remain competitive without a right-to-work law now that its neighbors have passed them -- will likely be repeated in the coming months, even though it runs contrary to expert opinion.

The Center for American Progress and the Economic Policy Institute both found that right-to-work laws have "no significant positive impact" on employment and "no statistically significant impact" on job growth. Hofstra University professor Lonnie Stevans found that right-to-work laws yield "little or no gain in employment and real economic growth," and studies show that right-to-work states have lower wages among both union and non-union workers.

The Economic Policy Institute also debunked the claim that right-to-work plays a primary role in a company's decision to open shop in a given state when they found "not a single" business executive in Indiana who said right-to-work "made the difference" to their decisions:

Not a single company says it came to Indiana because of RTW

[The Indiana Economic Development Commission (IEDC)] is a vocal advocate for RTW. Yet, while the agency reports that scores of companies have "communicated" that RTW "will factor into their decision-making process of where to locate," the commission's Legislative Update report does not identify a single company that says RTW made the difference in their decision to locate in Indiana. The commission offers quotes from a number of executives who praise RTW, but not a single one says it made the difference to their decisions.

Posted In
Labor Unions
Toledo Blade
The Cincinnati Enquirer
State Media
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