Could New Hampshire be a Right to Work state

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May 14, 2011

by Eileen McGuire-Mahony

Concord, NEW HAMPSHIRE: The battle to turn a little corner of New England into a right to work state isn't over, yet. The Republican dominated legislature passed a bill, HB 474, that would curtail unions' collective bargaining privileges by stopping them from automatically deducting the costs of such bargaining from employee paychecks.

Democratic Governor John Lynch promised a veto and made good on Wednesday. In rejecting the bill, Lynch used talking points perhaps more readily connected to Republicans, saying the bill represented an unnecessary state intrusion into private contract negotiations . His message to lawmakers partially read, “...there is no compelling public interest in passing this legislation...There is no evidence that this legislation will offer any benefits to New Hampshire's economy or workers.”[1]

As New Hampshire flirts with becoming America's 23rd RTW state, policy experts argue over what it might do for the state, with unions and their allies pointing to the Granite State's comparatively low unemployment and healthy economy as proof that New Hampshire has no need to alter its labor policies. Opponents hold that weakening unions would only boost the economy and bring more business in, something testable only if the bill passes.

The legislature, where the GOP controls both chambers, immediately set to work on an override. The first Senate vote, at 16-8, was sufficient to override Lynch, meaning the matter really now rests with the House. There, the first 225-182 vote did not reach override levels, but 31 members who were absent or who abstained from casting a ballot are more than enough to make up the difference. Republican leadership and their allies among political advocacy groups freely admit they are pushing the 47 GOP members who did vote against 474, and the 22 who did not vote at all, to change their minds.[2] House Speaker William O'Brien sounded am optimistic note for RTW supporters when he told press, “They are starting to come around to understanding why they need to support the Republican caucus”.

With May 25th set a tentative date to try to break Lynch's veto, there is still a chance to bring Right to Work into New Hampshire.

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