Ohio

Teachers Union Desperate, Delusional Due to Workplace Freedom Campaign

Campaigns

Absurd Ohio Education Association (OEA) talking points show the union’s desperation to obscure the truth about workplace freedom, which would allow Ohio teachers to opt out of paying the dues that make OEA bosses wealthy and powerful.

OEA Facebook post

The image shown at left, posted by OEA to the union’s Facebook page on January 5, 2013, is one of many examples of the panicked union response to the Ohioans for Workplace Freedom campaign.

After Michigan’s governor signed a workplace freedom law in December, OEA added a new page to its website declaring, “Right To Work Is A Lie – It’s No Rights At Work.” The page is a jumble of contradictory figures, old and new propaganda from union front We Are Ohio, and feverish rhetoric.

Next to a We Are Ohio “No Rights At Work” graphic which first appeared the same day OEA began using the phrase, the teachers union starts by maligning workplace freedom’s supporters.

“Supporters of so-called ‘right to work’ laws argue that they advocate for a cause whose noble aim is to advance personal liberty and promote economic growth,” OEA writes. “They wield buzz words like ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’ for their messaging. They opine that too many workers needlessly suffer because corporate America cannot free itself from the shackles of greedy labor unions.”

OEA extracts mandatory dues from the paychecks of taxpayer-funded public school employees. In districts which have voted to unionize with OEA at any point in the past 30 years and where OEA chooses to force “fair share” dues, teachers can currently choose between paying OEA or finding another job.

According to OEA’s annual report to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the union collected $58.4 million in dues in the most recent fiscal year alone.

OEA’s shot at “corporate America” is a transparent attempt to paint workplace freedom as a policy of the rich and unions as champions of the downtrodden. However, OEA President Patricia Frost-Brooks was paid $267,916 last year, and was 1 of 25 OEA staffers and officers paid over $150,000 in forced dues.

“The true goal of right to work is to put more money into the pockets of corporate shareholders,” OEA warns. “The consequence of these purposes, whether intended or unintended, is a diminished middle class.”

To bolster its narrative about the villains behind workplace freedom, OEA’s “Right To Work Is A Lie” page includes the We Are Ohio “‘Right to Work’ is WRONG” infographic previously debunked by Media Trackers.

As Media Trackers explained on December 10, 2012, every item in the union front group’s December 2012 infographic came from a 2002 AFL-CIO document titled, “The Truth About Right to Work for Less.”

Below the graphic asserting workplace freedom means less pay, higher poverty, fewer health benefits, and more workplace deaths, OEA lists a number of similar talking points. Several of these contradict the “facts” in the immediately preceding We Are Ohio graphic.

For example, the We Are Ohio graphic says wages in right to work states are, on average, $5,333 a year lower than in “free bargaining” states – “free bargaining” being a union euphemism for forced unionism. But underneath the graphic, OEA claims that “empirical research” proves average wages are $1,500 less in right to work states than in forced unionism states.

Although OEA cites no sources for any of its figures, the $1,500 average appears to be from a recent Economic Policy Institute (EPI) study, which itself contradicts other figures listed in the We Are Ohio infographic.

EPI is a union think tank whose board of directors includes the bosses of the United Auto Workers, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and other powerful national unions. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is the current chairman of EPI.

In short, EPI studies invariably support unions because EPI is run by unions – who also pay handsomely for EPI’s research. DOL filings dating back to 2004 show that unions paid EPI over $12.2 million in the last eight years.

To drive home how little OEA respects Ohio teachers, the union concludes its “Right To Work Is A Lie” page with even more hyperbolic warnings against making union dues optional.

“In addition to fewer, lower paying, less safe jobs and an erosion of infrastructure and decreased levels of public services, RTW robs our country of its democratic principles. Research shows that a weakened labor movement results in lower voter turnout and less participation by ordinary citizens in the political process,” OEA writes, again citing no sources for its claims.

Until Indiana and Michigan passed workplace freedom laws in 2012, Ohio and every neighboring state allowed unions to force payment of dues. Based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, every workplace freedom state created jobs at a far greater rate than Ohio, Michigan, or Pennsylvania from 1991-2011.

OEA continues with its assertion that workplace freedom means the end of democracy, writing, “Maybe that is exactly what the RTW folks want; a means of keeping the political cronies of the richest in power so their interests will be forever served. Right to work is a carrot for a select few at the top of the economic food chain and a stick for everyone else.”

The implications are almost too ridiculous to comprehend: OEA bosses, who are paid six figures in mandatory dues taken from Ohio teachers, are employing class warfare to keep union dues mandatory.

When it comes to desperate rhetoric, OEA is in good company. We Are Ohio recently compared the passage of right to work in Michigan to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and portrayed right to work backers as racist. International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 18 purchased a billboard that reads, “Workplace Freedom Act poisons workers” along State Route 315 in Columbus.