Restoring the Right to Work in New Hampshire

After several years of complacency and conceit among New Hampshire Republicans, the combination of which saw the Democrats take a U.S. Senate seat, both House seats, the governor's office, and both branches of the NH legislature, the Republicans had a resurgence in 2010.  In the midterm elections, Republicans, invigorated by the Taxed Enough Already (TEA) party, swept both houses of the legislature and both U.S. House seats.  Incidentally, all this wasn't enough to defeat the extremely popular Democratic Governor John Lynch.

The Republicans, with a whopping 297-103 advantage in the NH House and a 19-5 advantage in the NH Senate, set about a return to small government.  In a July 2011 speech to a Republican gathering, Speaker of the House Bill O'Brien said that the Republican-dominated legislature cut the budget 11%, from $11.5B to $10.4B while significantly reducing business taxes.  State unemployment fell from 5.7% to 4.8%.  The unemployment rate is not all good news, though; Speaker O'Brien tells us that "[i]n part it's because our young people are leaving New Hampshire."  New Hampshire needs new business and new jobs.

The Republicans passed a Right to Work (RTW) Act, HB 474, by margins of 221-131 in the House and 16-8 in the Senate.  Governor Lynch vetoed the bill.  Sixteen to eight is sufficient to override in the Senate, but the House seems to be a few votes short.  According to Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, there are some 35 Republican union supporters who will vote to sustain the veto.  (Trade unionism is a legacy in some families, surviving from the days when a union job could be passed from generation to generation.)

Rick Perry, in a campaign stop in New Hampshire, said, "If you really want to put a magnet for jobs in New Hampshire, you make this a right-to-work state."  Perry also said that "people will come here in droves" to work and raise their children if the lawmakers are successful in overriding the veto by Governor Lynch.

So what is the Right to Work?  Harvard economist Professor Robert Barro, in a WSJ piece titled "Unions vs. the Right to Work," stated, "There is evidence that right-to-work laws -- or, more broadly, the pro-business policies offered by right-to-work states -- matter for economic growth."

New Hampshire HB 474 states:

Declaration of Public Policy. It is hereby declared to be the public policy of this state in order to maximize individual freedom of choice in the pursuit of employment and to encourage an employment climate conducive to economic growth, that all persons shall have, and shall be protected in the exercise of, the right freely, and without fear of penalty or reprise, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from any such activity.

Note that the public policy protects the right to organize unions.  It also protects the individual's right to refrain from joining a union.

Questions -- What if you are a worker in a field that is typically unionized?  What if you are appalled by the current thuggery of the unions in your field?  Can you get a job?  Having been hired, must you contribute to the strong-arm practices of the union in that field?

Answers -- If you are a worker in a field that is typically unionized, in general, you cannot get a job without contributing to the union practices that you find unacceptable.  The exceptions?  If the state where you live has a right to work law, you need not contribute to the objectionable practices to get employment.

The following chart provides a summary of the law:

Shop Type

Definition

Legality

Closed Shop

Person must join union before being hired.

Illegal, per Taft-Hartley

Union Shop

Person must join union within probationary period (e.g., 30 days) after being hired.

Legal, per Taft-Hartley

Agency Shop

Person need not join union but must pay dues or an agency fee to the union.

Legal, per Taft-Hartley

Open Shop

Person need not join union or contribute to union as a condition of employment.

Illegal, unless the specific state has passed a Right to Work law.

The agency shop permits non-union employees but requires that they support the union either with dues or with an agency fee.  The theory is that the non-union employees benefit from the unions' collective bargaining.  In 1988, the Supreme Court, in a decision known as the Beck Rule, found this practice to be acceptable, but the fee charged could cover only direct union benefits.  The costs of union political activities are not to be included in agency fees.

How consistently is the Beck Rule applied?  Consider a few of the New Hampshire public-sector unions.  Nashua teachers charge 80% of the full dues (including state and national) for non-members.  Manchester firefighters pay an amount equal to the monthly dues.  Bedford firefighters pay 50%.  Berlin department heads pay 100%.  See Jennifer Horn's We the People Freedom Forum for backup.

Republican administrations have required workplace posting the Beck Rule explicitly, while Democratic administrations do just the opposite.  Transparency?

Many people object to the political activities of unions because of the thuggery often employed.  Consider the following New Hampshire cases:

  • Goons appearing at political events and acting in an intimidating manner are a prime example of thuggery. The NH blog GraniteGrok ran a piece on a Carol Shea-Porter town hall meeting (CSP was the Democratic Congressperson from the NH 1st District and was soundly defeated in 2010). At the 1:15 point on the first clip, notice the large young man wearing a purple tee shirt with SEIU markings standing during a question. This is an Alinsky tactic to intimidate the questioner.
  • Using the power of the union for political coercion is another illustration of thuggery. Littleton, NH, like many other towns, has monetary problems. They recently voted a severe budget cut that resulted in the layoff of a police officer. The State Employees Association (SEA), a state-level public employees union, led a boycott of several Littleton businesses that had supported the budget cuts.
  • James P. Hoffa, president of the Teamsters, wrote a strident anti-RTW op-ed for the Concord Monitor. Ironically, in his op-ed, he lambasted out-of-staters for inserting themselves into New Hampshire politics. This is the same James P. Hoffa who used the language of thuggery to call TEA Partiers "son-of-a-bitches" during a recent speech introducing President Obama to a campaign rally. More irony? Obama condoned, or at least did not object to, the characterization.

To go from my home in southern New Hampshire to the nearest Right-to-Work state would require a 500-mile drive through six other non-Right-to-Work states.  Wouldn't it be great if New Hampshire became a Right-to-Work state, and jobs and businesses flourished?  A conservative enclave in a liberal morass.

Overriding Governor Lynch's veto does not appear likely, but Lynch is not going to run in 2012.  According to this Daily Kos poll, no other Democrat comes within 20 points of him in popularity.

The enthusiasm is still there to sustain the Republican resurgence through the 2012 elections.  With large majorities in both houses of the legislature and probably the governorship, RTW can be passed and signed into law.  Once more, "Live Free or Die" will include the freedom to work.

Mike Johnson is a concerned citizen, a small-government conservative, and a live-free-or-die resident of New Hampshire.  E-mail mnosnhoj@comcast.net.

After several years of complacency and conceit among New Hampshire Republicans, the combination of which saw the Democrats take a U.S. Senate seat, both House seats, the governor's office, and both branches of the NH legislature, the Republicans had a resurgence in 2010.  In the midterm elections, Republicans, invigorated by the Taxed Enough Already (TEA) party, swept both houses of the legislature and both U.S. House seats.  Incidentally, all this wasn't enough to defeat the extremely popular Democratic Governor John Lynch.

The Republicans, with a whopping 297-103 advantage in the NH House and a 19-5 advantage in the NH Senate, set about a return to small government.  In a July 2011 speech to a Republican gathering, Speaker of the House Bill O'Brien said that the Republican-dominated legislature cut the budget 11%, from $11.5B to $10.4B while significantly reducing business taxes.  State unemployment fell from 5.7% to 4.8%.  The unemployment rate is not all good news, though; Speaker O'Brien tells us that "[i]n part it's because our young people are leaving New Hampshire."  New Hampshire needs new business and new jobs.

The Republicans passed a Right to Work (RTW) Act, HB 474, by margins of 221-131 in the House and 16-8 in the Senate.  Governor Lynch vetoed the bill.  Sixteen to eight is sufficient to override in the Senate, but the House seems to be a few votes short.  According to Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, there are some 35 Republican union supporters who will vote to sustain the veto.  (Trade unionism is a legacy in some families, surviving from the days when a union job could be passed from generation to generation.)

Rick Perry, in a campaign stop in New Hampshire, said, "If you really want to put a magnet for jobs in New Hampshire, you make this a right-to-work state."  Perry also said that "people will come here in droves" to work and raise their children if the lawmakers are successful in overriding the veto by Governor Lynch.

So what is the Right to Work?  Harvard economist Professor Robert Barro, in a WSJ piece titled "Unions vs. the Right to Work," stated, "There is evidence that right-to-work laws -- or, more broadly, the pro-business policies offered by right-to-work states -- matter for economic growth."

New Hampshire HB 474 states:

Declaration of Public Policy. It is hereby declared to be the public policy of this state in order to maximize individual freedom of choice in the pursuit of employment and to encourage an employment climate conducive to economic growth, that all persons shall have, and shall be protected in the exercise of, the right freely, and without fear of penalty or reprise, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from any such activity.

Note that the public policy protects the right to organize unions.  It also protects the individual's right to refrain from joining a union.

Questions -- What if you are a worker in a field that is typically unionized?  What if you are appalled by the current thuggery of the unions in your field?  Can you get a job?  Having been hired, must you contribute to the strong-arm practices of the union in that field?

Answers -- If you are a worker in a field that is typically unionized, in general, you cannot get a job without contributing to the union practices that you find unacceptable.  The exceptions?  If the state where you live has a right to work law, you need not contribute to the objectionable practices to get employment.

The following chart provides a summary of the law:

Shop Type

Definition

Legality

Closed Shop

Person must join union before being hired.

Illegal, per Taft-Hartley

Union Shop

Person must join union within probationary period (e.g., 30 days) after being hired.

Legal, per Taft-Hartley

Agency Shop

Person need not join union but must pay dues or an agency fee to the union.

Legal, per Taft-Hartley

Open Shop

Person need not join union or contribute to union as a condition of employment.

Illegal, unless the specific state has passed a Right to Work law.

The agency shop permits non-union employees but requires that they support the union either with dues or with an agency fee.  The theory is that the non-union employees benefit from the unions' collective bargaining.  In 1988, the Supreme Court, in a decision known as the Beck Rule, found this practice to be acceptable, but the fee charged could cover only direct union benefits.  The costs of union political activities are not to be included in agency fees.

How consistently is the Beck Rule applied?  Consider a few of the New Hampshire public-sector unions.  Nashua teachers charge 80% of the full dues (including state and national) for non-members.  Manchester firefighters pay an amount equal to the monthly dues.  Bedford firefighters pay 50%.  Berlin department heads pay 100%.  See Jennifer Horn's We the People Freedom Forum for backup.

Republican administrations have required workplace posting the Beck Rule explicitly, while Democratic administrations do just the opposite.  Transparency?

Many people object to the political activities of unions because of the thuggery often employed.  Consider the following New Hampshire cases:

  • Goons appearing at political events and acting in an intimidating manner are a prime example of thuggery. The NH blog GraniteGrok ran a piece on a Carol Shea-Porter town hall meeting (CSP was the Democratic Congressperson from the NH 1st District and was soundly defeated in 2010). At the 1:15 point on the first clip, notice the large young man wearing a purple tee shirt with SEIU markings standing during a question. This is an Alinsky tactic to intimidate the questioner.
  • Using the power of the union for political coercion is another illustration of thuggery. Littleton, NH, like many other towns, has monetary problems. They recently voted a severe budget cut that resulted in the layoff of a police officer. The State Employees Association (SEA), a state-level public employees union, led a boycott of several Littleton businesses that had supported the budget cuts.
  • James P. Hoffa, president of the Teamsters, wrote a strident anti-RTW op-ed for the Concord Monitor. Ironically, in his op-ed, he lambasted out-of-staters for inserting themselves into New Hampshire politics. This is the same James P. Hoffa who used the language of thuggery to call TEA Partiers "son-of-a-bitches" during a recent speech introducing President Obama to a campaign rally. More irony? Obama condoned, or at least did not object to, the characterization.

To go from my home in southern New Hampshire to the nearest Right-to-Work state would require a 500-mile drive through six other non-Right-to-Work states.  Wouldn't it be great if New Hampshire became a Right-to-Work state, and jobs and businesses flourished?  A conservative enclave in a liberal morass.

Overriding Governor Lynch's veto does not appear likely, but Lynch is not going to run in 2012.  According to this Daily Kos poll, no other Democrat comes within 20 points of him in popularity.

The enthusiasm is still there to sustain the Republican resurgence through the 2012 elections.  With large majorities in both houses of the legislature and probably the governorship, RTW can be passed and signed into law.  Once more, "Live Free or Die" will include the freedom to work.

Mike Johnson is a concerned citizen, a small-government conservative, and a live-free-or-die resident of New Hampshire.  E-mail mnosnhoj@comcast.net.

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