July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Brunswick City Council opposes ‘right-to-work’ legislation

BRUNSWICK — City Council members approved a resolution opposing “right-to-work” legislation Monday night, with the support of more than 30 union members and their families in attendance.

Council members drafted the resolution so they could send a copy and message to state lawmakers considering any right-to-work legislation.

Ken Schlick, chairman of the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce, and Andrea Rodriquez, a sheet metal worker and union member, speak during Monday’s meeting. (GAZETTE PHOTOS BY LOREN GENSON)

“This entire resolution isn’t about unions; it’s about working families,” said Councilman Brian Ousley, at large, who pushed for the legislation, which passed 4-1.

Ohio House Republicans scrapped a proposed “right-to-work” bill, but Ousley and others on Council expect lawmakers to bring another bill to the Statehouse in the near future.

There is also a petition drive under way to put a “workplace freedom” state constitutional amendment before voters, which would impose “right-to-work” laws making it illegal for workers to be required to join unions and banning union dues being taken directly out of paychecks.

Ousley, a 26-year member of Laborers Local 310, said six out of 10 states with the highest unemployment rates have right-to-work laws in place, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Councilman Ron Falconi, at large, voted against the resolution and Councilman Mike Abella, 1st Ward, abstained from voting. Councilwoman Pat Hanek, at large, was absent from the meeting.

Voting for the resolution were Ousley; Vince Carl, 2nd Ward; Anthony Capretta, 4th Ward; and Dave Coleman, 3rd Ward.

“It was a closer vote than I expected,” Ousley said, adding Hanek likely would have voted for the measure because she supported it during committee discussions.

Capretta, a Republican, said he decided to support the resolution because the wording supported working families. Without his vote, the measure would have failed.

“I thought that resolution was common sense,” Capretta said. “My father was a union man. I support the unions.”

Abella would not comment on why he abstained from voting.

During committee discussions on the resolution, Falconi said he didn’t think “right-to-work” would have a negative impact.

“From what I understand, it’s about whether or not someone wants to pay union dues in order to work somewhere,” said Falconi, who is running unopposed for mayor in November.

More than 30 union members and supporters attended Monday’s meeting.

“We support our families with our prevailing union wages,” said Andrea Rodriquez, a sheet metal worker who said she and many of her family members belong to unions.

“Our union wages go towards income tax directly supporting the city,” she said.

There was opposition to the resolution.

Ken Schlick, chairman of the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce, said Council should spend time on other matters, like trying to fund street repairs without placing an extra tax on seniors.

“If it was disrupting families locally, I could understand; but this is a state issue,” Schlick said.

Council plans to send a copy of its resolution to state lawmakers.

Ousley said he expects lawmakers to take up a right-to-work measure again, and pointed to the “workplace freedom” amendment as an example of a push to make Ohio a right-to-work state.

“Nationally, the Chamber of Commerce is behind this and they’re going to keep pushing it,” Ousley said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.