By Jason Hart | Ohio Watchdog
Labor groups supporting big government and mandatory union dues gave $178,867 to eight Republican incumbents in the Ohio Senate during the most recent campaign finance period.
Kevin Bacon, Bill Beagle, Cliff Hite, Shannon Jones, Frank LaRose, Gayle Manning, Scott Oelslager and Bob Peterson each received more than $5,000 in union donations between July 1 and Oct. 15. Kris Jordan is the only incumbent Republican senator seeking re-election Nov. 4 who received no union contributions.
Beagle, Manning and Bacon got union money while facing tough Democrat competition, as evidenced by Ohio Republican Party and Republican Senate Campaign Committee spending in their respective races. ORP and RSCC gave Beagle more than $700,000 of in-kind support during the reporting period and more than $600,000 of in-kind support to both Manning and Bacon.
RSCC did not respond to a request for comment on increasing Big Labor funding of caucus members. Beagle, Manning, Bacon, LaRose and Oelslager also received union contributions while staving off primary opponents earlier this year.
During the pre-general reporting period ending Oct. 15, labor unions donated $39,356 to LaRose, $37,856 to Oelslager, and $36,906 to Manning. All three got money not only from construction unions benefiting from increased infrastructure spending but also from government unions.
Ohio Education Association donated $12,155.52, the maximum contribution allowed, to LaRose, Manning and Oelslager. Manning and Oelslager each received $1,000 from Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, an affiliate of the massive American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
OEA is the state’s largest labor union and most powerful leftist group. OEA and OCSEA both take mandatory dues from public workers’ taxpayer-funded salaries.
Beagle received a total of $23,150 in union contributions during the pre-general reporting period. Bacon received $22,500; Hite, $7,100; Peterson, $6,500. Jones got $5,500 from unions, despite having been the primary sponsor of the public-sector labor reform bill that prompted a $40 million union repeal campaign in 2011.
With Republicans likely to maintain supermajorities in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate, union bosses have been shoring up opposition to reforms — including worker freedom, which allows workers to opt out of paying union dues and fees.
When Quinnipiac University last polled Ohioans on the issue in early 2012, worker freedom — also referred to as right-to-work — got support from 77 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Independents. Neighboring Indiana and Michigan enacted worker freedom laws in 2012.
Three separate worker freedom proposals were introduced in the Ohio House on May 1, 2013, but they have gone nowhere since. Courting union support for his re-election, Republican Gov. John Kasich insists he sees no reason to let Ohioans opt out of paying union bosses.
Asked about worker freedom in a recent Cleveland Plain Dealer interview, Kasich said, “As long as I’m governor, I do not anticipate a need for that, period.” Kasich told the Toledo Blade worker freedom is a non-issue “because we have good relations between labor and management,” adding, “the legislature isn’t going to pass right-to-work.”
“There’s no reason even to discuss it. Period,” Kasich assured a Washington Post reporter who asked him about worker freedom.
After Democrat Ed FitzGerald’s campaign collapsed in August, Kasich got endorsements from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18, Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters and Ohio Laborers’ District Council.
IUOE Local 18, the union behind highway billboards portraying worker freedom as poisonous and communist, donated $7,000 to Bacon, $5,500 to Manning, and $1,000 to Beagle during the pre-general reporting period. IUOE Local 18 gave $165,450 to Republican officials last year.
Ohio Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Patton and Sen. Jim Hughes, Republicans re-elected in 2012 and will be term-limited in 2016, have each received more than $100,000 from labor unions since 2011.