Operating Engineers Union Ramps Up Anti-Freedom Smear Campaign in Ohio

IUOE workplace freedom billboard
An IUOE billboard in Columbus

An IRS filing obtained by Media Trackers sheds additional light on “Keep Ohio’s Heritage,” an International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) front created to ensure Ohioans cannot opt out of paying union bosses.

Competitive Enterprise Institute reported recently that Keep Ohio’s Heritage received $1 million from IUOE headquarters in 2012. The union front’s stated purpose is “to promote economic growth and development, foster job creation, and improve working conditions by educating the public with regard to labor policy.”

Keep Ohio’s Heritage reported three officers in its 2012 IRS filing, all leaders of IUOE Local 18 in Cleveland: president Richard Dalton, vice president Mark Totman, and district business representative Ken Waughtal.

The three were not paid by Keep Ohio’s Heritage, but the union paid Dalton $142,338, paid Totman paid $116,785, and paid Waughtal $108,304 in 2012 based on IUOE Local 18’s annual report to the U.S. Department of Labor.

In addition to the $1 million contributed by IUOE headquarters in DC, Keep Ohio’s Heritage reported receipt of $72,750 in dues. IUOE claims to have 13,519 members across 85 Ohio counties.

During the nonprofit’s first eight months, Keep Ohio’s Heritage reported spending $250,973 on “consulting” fees, $10,690 on legal expenses, and $2,929 on advertising and promotion.

At the end of 2012, the union front reported $804, 288 cash on hand.

Signaling union bosses’ desperation to block workplace freedom in Ohio, IUOE put up billboards warning that workplace freedom “poisons workers” and comparing the policy to Communism, and recorded a series of staged news segments further tying workplace freedom to Communism.

IUOE also propped up Keep Ohio’s Heritage with a website at ProtectOhiosMiddleClass.org, paid advertising for the site, and a series of press releases cheering their own success at demonizing workplace freedom.

One of IUOE’s television ads warned that workplace freedom “is meant to kill unions and worker protections – just like what is done in communist countries,” cutting to a photo of an IUOE billboard with the words “Workplace Freedom Act” framed by a hammer and sickle.

A November 20, 2013 Keep Ohio’s Heritage press release announced a “major coup” resulting from the union smear campaign against Ohioans for Workplace Freedom signature gatherers.

“Right to Work supporters were handed a significant blow this month when Ohio labor groups crashed signature gathering efforts at polling stations across the state,” the union front crowed.

Keep Ohio’s Heritage proudly claimed to have “hired professional signature gatherers” whose propaganda prevented “roughly 75 percent of potential signees” at 200 polling places from signing workplace freedom petitions.

Separate from the Ohioans for Workplace Freedom campaign to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, two bills and a resolution have been introduced to enact workplace freedom through the legislature.

Despite Republican supermajorities in both houses of the Ohio General Assembly, Governor John Kasich (R), Senate President Keith Faber (R), and House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R) have worked against making Ohio the 25th workplace freedom state.