As the buildup begins for the 2020 election, various Ohio media outlets are again tracking Ohio’s building trades efforts to build a bipartisan coalition of elected officials, who support initiatives important to the union construction industry.
A recent Cincinnati Enquirer analysis of 2019 political contributions found building trades unions and other labor unions combined to spend about the same amount of money on Ohio Republicans as they did on Ohio Democrats. Multiple other Ohio media outlets picked up on The Enquirer’s report.
Historically, unions have supported Democrat candidates. However, for Ohio’s building trades unions, such action would not make any sense considering the GOP holds supermajorities in the Ohio House, Ohio Senate, State Supreme Court and controls all statewide offices.
Throughout the state, the union construction industry has worked to educate elected officials on both sides of the political aisle in order to gain support regarding key industry issues – and it has produced benefits.
Unlike neighboring states, where anti-union legislation has been enacted, the decision to reach across the aisle has directly benefited Ohio’s construction trades unions and their members.
The approach used by Local unions, District Councils, Regional Building Trades Councils, the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council and Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT) Ohio have helped to create a building trades friendly legislator and executive branch, which has refused to take action on proposed legislation such as So-Called “Right to Work” and the repeal of Prevailing Wage.
“ACT Ohio, under the direction of Matt Szollossi, and our board has played an integral part in building and maintaining a bipartisan coalition,” said Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Dorsey Hager. “This coalition has acted against harmful (proposed) legislation to keep our members out of harm’s way.”
Through education, aided by political donations, Ohio has a growing building trades majority in both legislative chambers, made up of politicians, who understand the issues important to the state’s highly skilled and highly trained building trades members.
Besides building a coalition, Hager said it is equally important to maintain that coalition.
“I try to stay in touch with the local legislators in our area to keep them abreast on state and local issues,” he said. “Maintaining a good working relationship is equally as important as building one.”
In addition to the efforts at the Statehouse, bipartisan advocacy extends to the county and municipal level as well.
“Locally, we reach out to elected officials at the municipal and county levels to educate them about the importance of apprenticeship training, Prevailing Wage, fair contracting, the use of PLAs and other issues important to all working people in the state of Ohio,” Hager added.
For members of Ohio’s building trades, the formula to build and maintain a building trades coalition has helped create an environment throughout the state for the union construction industry to succeed.
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