Just as the state legislature was finalizing its work for 2017, two Republican legislators were tying a bow on a package of the most dangerous and divisive proposed workplace restrictions our state has ever seen.

The package is a gift of sorts for out-of-state interests that are hoping to rig Ohio’s economy against people who work for a living, in favor of big money extremists who pour millions into political campaigns.

The super-rich already play by different rules than the middle class in this country, but these six proposed state constitutional restrictions will make most of us even poorer and less safe on the job in Ohio. This set of fraudulently named “right-to-work” restrictions is wrong for a state that historically has put a premium on hard work, strong families, and common sense protections that keep us all safe.

Families today won’t be stronger when mom or dad are not allowed to come together with colleagues and speak out for fair pay, reasonable benefits, and safe working conditions, as these restrictions suggest.

If we embrace these bad ideas, we risk losing the next generation of skilled tradespeople by outsourcing good-paying jobs as electricians, mechanics, and technicians to out of state, low-wage contractors.

At a time when wages are declining, income inequality is rising, and the stock market is posting record profits, we owe it to our children and our grandchildren to root out the real problems with our upside down economy.

Is it that employees have too much power in the workplace? Is it that families are spending too much time together instead of working? Are middle class families hoarding cash instead of reinvesting in the economy? I don’t think so. But at the heart of it, that’s what these fraudulently named “right-to-work” proposals are suggesting.

Working people and their families have never been the problem in our country. Indeed, most of us enjoy overtime pay, benefits, protections against child labor, and a 40-hour work week because employees have worked together for standards that made us one of the most competitive and productive countries in the world.

As we progress into the new year, my hope is that the Ohio legislature can put aside divisive and dangerous proposals and focus on issues that reward hard work, increase opportunity, and put families first.

~Democrat Michael P. Sheehy of Oregon is the District 46 state representative.