Granite State Lawmakers Remain Rock-Solid Against Right-to-Work 06/28/2011

Proponents of union-busting Right to Work legislation were dealt another defeat this week when New Hampshire Republican House Speaker William O’Brien announced he would continue to run from an override vote that would have killed the latest attempt to implement the legislation in the Granite State.

The victory comes just three weeks after labor effectively led a Republican-controlled legislature to “table" a public-sector Right-to-Work bill in Maine until the next legislative session in January. 

While O’Brien has pledged to revisit the issue in the fall, opposition to Right-to-Work continues to build as AFSCME, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO and other like-minded unions, citizens and organizations continue to spread the truth about the legislation and the real agenda of the corporations and fat-cat right-wing donors behind it. 

“Our members and the many organizations and individuals who oppose Right-to-Work legislation continue to do a fantastic job spreading the truth about this harmful legislation and refuting the outright lies of its union-busting supporters,” said Council 93 Executive Director Tony Caso. ‘We know these battles aren’t over and in fact, they may never truly end.  But we will remain vigilant and we will fight as long and as hard as we have to in order to keep these harmful initiatives out of our four-state region.” 

Speaker O’Brien started running from inevitable defeat on May 25 when it was clear that a coalition of Democratic and Republican legislators had the votes needed to sustain Governor John Lynch’s veto of the legislation. Without Lynch’s veto, New Hampshire would have become the 23rd state in the nation to adopt Right-to-Work legislation and the first state to do it since Oklahoma passed the measure more than ten years ago. 

Supporters of Right-to-Work have been falsely claiming the legislation will help create new jobs and entice businesses to move to New Hampshire.  However, a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found that manufacturing jobs in Oklahoma steadily declined in the decade following passage of the law and (compared to six surrounding states) had no impact on job growth or the unemployment rate.  The EPI study, entitled Right-to-Work Wrong for New Hampshire,  also found that the number of out-of-state businesses operating plants in Oklahoma decreased after passage of the law while 100 facilities closed and an additional 160 businesses announced mass layoffs.Moreover, according to the AFL-CIO, the average worker in a Right-to-Work state makes $5,333 less per year than workers in other states. 

When their false job-creation rhetoric fails, supporters of Right-to-Work turn to the deceptive claim that the legislation is it is needed to prevent workers from being forced to join a union against their will.  They try to mislead lawmakers by stating that workers are being forced to pay union dues which in turn are being used to support union activities that run counter to their religious and political beliefs.  But the truth is workers are already protected from such outrageous mandates.  Under current law, workers are not and can not be forced to join a union. But, current law does allow these workers to be charged a modest “fair share” fee by a union because they fully benefit from the wage increases and improved benefits and working conditions secured through union negotiations.  However, if the worker believes this fee is being used to support activity that runs counter to their religious or political beliefs, they can have that fee donated to a legitimate charity of their choosing.

In exchange for paying this fee – even if they decide to have it donated to a charity – these workers receive the same pay raises, benefits and improved working conditions enjoyed by their full dues paying union member colleagues. Moreover, should they find that they have been wrongfully disciplined, fired or denied a promotion to a better job; they have access to the same union legal representation as full dues paying members.  In fact, these workers can even sue the union if they believe they were inadequately represented in such instances.  If that seems a bit unfair to workers who pay full union dues, it’s because it probably is.  However, it is a system unions are willing to accept knowing that these fees, while drastically lower than full union dues, help provide us with the resources we need to do the important work we do for every worker.

The real agenda of Right-to-Work supporters is to strip labor organizations of these "fair share" fees while simultaneously forcing unions to expend substantial resources fighting the initiatives, thereby weakening labor's ability to organize and adequately represent members.

Council 93 encourages all AFSCME members to arm themselves with the facts about Right-to- Work and join the efforts to stop it by educating family members, friends and elected officials.