In front of the Ohio House Commerce and Labor Committee, the Ohio Chamber gave opponent testimony on legislation that mandates hiring quotas on oil refineries in Ohio. The legislation – House Bill 235 – will make Ohio’s oil refineries less competitive, shrinks the potential labor pool of qualified workers, limits contracting rights of employers, and increases compliance costs.
Under the legislation, oil refineries are restricted in their ability to enter into agreements with contractors unless the contractor employs individuals who attended a union backed apprenticeship program. This is problematic because it could limit the number of available workers on projects, increase operating costs, and exacerbate workforce shortages. The Ohio Chamber opposes HB 235 because as Ohio employers continue to struggle to find employees, they need the opportunity to hire contractors regardless of their affiliation with a labor union.
Legislation dictating who can and cannot work on a project is misguided and is an attempt to dictate workforce policies on Ohio companies. A uniform statewide policy requiring union contractors on oil refineries fails to account for the individual needs of each location and may have unintended consequences such as higher operating costs and fewer new projects. Likewise, HB 235 also infringes upon the contracting rights of employers by restricting which parties are eligible to perform construction services on oil refineries. This approach hinders the free market and can lead to higher construction costs since fewer contractors are bidding for a particular project.
The arguments put forward by proponents of the bill focus on safety. However, this motive is called into question by a plain reading of the legislation since the hiring quotas in the bill actually shrink the number of experienced workers – those with more than 10,000 working hours – required to work on a project from 55 percent in the first year HB 235 is in effect to only 15 percent by year three.
At the Ohio Chamber, we will continue educating lawmakers on how HB 235 is an unnecessary infringement by government on Ohio’s employers and why companies are in the best position to determine if they want to use union workers or not.