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NH Lawmakers Stand Up for Workers, Their Unions and the Middle Class

by Clyde Weiss  |  January 06, 2012

A bipartisan coalition of 128 New Hampshire House lawmakers stood up this week to a right-wing effort to destroy worker solidarity by undermining their unions.

Their courageous act came during a vote to pass a new version of a right-to-work bill that Gov. John Lynch vetoed in May. The vetoed measure would have barred all unions within the state from collecting “fair share” payments from non-members. Such payments ensure that everyone who benefits from a union contract shares in the cost of obtaining it.

So-called right-to-work laws are designed to weaken unions by forcing them to represent all eligible employees, whether or not they pay dues. As a result, unions use their time and members’ dues money providing union benefits to free riders who won’t pay their fair share.

After the House supported Lynch’s veto in a vote this fall, the anti-union politicians re-packaged the right-to-work proposal. Their next version, which applies only to members of the State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984), passed the House this week. The state Senate is likely to take up the measure in March.

AFSCME Council 93 Exec. Dir. Anthony Caso, also an AFSCME International vice president, praised the House lawmakers who voted against the revised bill.

“They realize that workers – regardless of which union they belong to – have fundamental rights. This right-to-work measure is a ploy to destroy those rights by weakening their unions’ ability to collect fair share fees, and to use those fees to help everyone through collective bargaining. We will defeat it as we did before.”

Such laws exist in 22 states, mostly in the South and West. Efforts are under way to expand them throughout the country, and Indiana is the next target. At the national level, Republican Presidential front-runner Mitt Romney said that if he is elected, and right-to-work legislation reached his desk, “I’d sign it.”

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which crafts model legislation written with the help of hundreds of member corporations, is behind the New Hampshire right-to-work bill (HB 474). 

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