Labor reforms for Labor Day

Tom Lampman Sep 07, 2015

September 7th is Labor Day, a holiday commemorating the American worker’s contribution to American prosperity and growth. Unfortunately, Ohio workers today face limited opportunity and freedom. The Buckeye Institute is committed to labor reforms that will restore freedom and prosperity for Ohio workers.

Stop forcing workers to support monopolistic unions: embrace right-to-work laws. With no right-to-work law in Ohio, workers are forced to pay union “agency fees” to unions they do not belong to or support. These mandatory fees are a harsh limit on worker freedom that allow unions to ignore workers’ needs. The latest report from The Buckeye Institute shows that are more responsive to the needs of union members in response to right to work. Right-to-work laws are labor reforms that defend workers’ freedom and create jobs.

Let workers compete fairly: repeal the prevailing wage law. The Buckeye Institute has released a report detailing how prevailing wage reform would free workers and taxpayers from costly regulations that consolidate union power at their expense. The law requires any contractor bidding on a public construction project to pay employees the “prevailing wage,” which is determined by union wage schedules and not the market rate. When these often-inflated wages are set as the baseline, the 85% of Ohio workers not in a union cannot leverage their cost-effectiveness into competitive bids. Opportunities for all workers decrease, government spending and taxes increase, and a few small groups insulate their profits from competition. Reforming or repealing the prevailing wage law would give all workers the opportunity to pursue public construction contracts.

Create more opportunities for workers: end mandatory project labor agreements. Similar to prevailing wage schedules, project labor agreements (PLAs) allow special interests to define the terms of public works bidding before the first bid is heard. An earlier Buckeye report shows the burden placed on workers by this non-competitive process: construction cost spikes limit available projects, and non-union workers priced out of the market.

Workers have a right to decide what wages they will work for and what groups they will support. Extorted agency fees and distorted bidding processes rob workers of freedom in order to empower special interests. It is far past time to let workers set their own course for prosperity.