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New Report Finds Ohio Union Membership Holds Steady for Fifth Straight Year

Photo of Westlake teachers

For the fifth year in a row, the number of unionized workers in Ohio remained relatively stable. That's according to a report Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But some experts disagree on what the trend means for state policy.

According to the data, about 12.5 percent of Ohio workers are unionized. That's about one in every eight workers. And that ratio hasn't really changed in the past several years.

Right to work
Amy Hanauer is director of the progressive think tank Policy Matters Ohio. She wants to see union membership go higher.

"Many years into a recovery right now, we are seeing very limited wage growth," Hanauer says.. She maintains greater union participation would help more workers bargain for better wages. But she worries memberships could drop if Statehouse Republicans pass a so-called "right-to-work" bill.

H.B. 53 would bar public employers from requiring their employees pay fees to a union. Robert Alt, who heads the conservative Buckeye Institute, is for it.

"You shouldn't be forced to pay for speech you disagree with as a condition for employment, particularly if you're a public servant." 

He says, it's a matter of personal freedom.