What’s behind “right to work” in New Hampshire

Right to Work legislation has been returning, like a zombie to NH since the 1980's. It's been rejected every time. This year, with an NH House filled with a huge number of freshman legislators who are allied with the Tea Party, the Free Staters, and even the John Birch Society, the out-of-state special found fertile ground. As Doug reported yesterday, NH Governor John Lynch vetoed the bill that had passed both the NH House and the Senate.

Last month, I wrote about a legislator who was threatened for refusing to vote for right to work. That piece had a link to the testimony of the NH Labor Commissioner before the NH House:

Copadis said he had held meetings with 2,000 New Hampshire businesses over the six years he has been commissioner and the issue of right-to-work legislation never came up.

If no one in NH wanted it - what is this all about?

Former State Senator Mark Hounsell provides some insight in The Keene Sentinel:

I maintain the bill is about union busting from personal experience. In 1985 as a member of the Senate I sponsored right to work legislation. My sponsorship provided me access to the intents and strategies of the Virginia based National Right to Work Committee. The NRW committee believes that if it can pass certain provisions state by state it will effectively cause the demise of unions nationwide.

That's what it's about. Hounsell says it simply, and he should know. He's been on both sides of this issue. He came into it on the side of Right to Work, and learned better along the way. He's been a staunch labor supporter for the last decade. He lays out the realities for NH workers should the veto be overturned very clearly.

If enacted, HB 474 will drive down wages and benefits, and the entire economy will suffer. On average union workers earn 28 percent more in wages and benefits then unorganized workers. On average, women union workers earn 34 percent more in wages and benefits than non-union women workers.

Workers in states with right to work laws earn $5,500 less per year than workers currently earn in New Hampshire.

The speculation has begun about who Speaker O'Brien and the special interest groups will "turn" in order to override the Governor's veto. There's plenty of time for threats and harassment between now and the vote on May 25, and we've seen this group isn't afraid of either.

We'll keep you posted.

Main Street, Thurs May 12 2011

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