by George Strout, article and photos courtesy of NEA New Hampshire
An historic vote took place November 30 in Concord, NH. The New Hampshire House of Representatives failed to override Governor Lynch’s veto of the so called “Right to Work” bill. This legislation would have prevented local associations from collecting agency fees from non-union members who receive the full benefits of the union negotiated contract. NEA-NH’s position is that agency fee clauses are a local issue to be decided between the local, the school district and district voters, and that the state had no interest interfering in this process.
Earlier this year such an outcome seemed very unlikely in the Tea Party and Free State controlled House, but the tireless efforts of a coalition of educators, firefighters, state employees, retired public workers and labor partners secured the historic result. The vote was a bipartisan rebuke of the efforts of the New Hampshire House Speaker, Bill O’Brien and outside groups such as Americans for Prosperity to bring this kind of economically regressive legislation to the state. New Hampshire would have been the first Northeastern state to have RTW enacted if the veto had been overridden.
There was nothing ‘right’ at all about this bill for middle-class working families in New Hampshire. The phrase ‘right to work’ has been found to be so misleading that the Supreme Court of Idaho refused to permit the term as part of the title on ballot initiatives brought before the voters of that state. The main goal of the parties behind this misleading play on words is to lower wages, restrict the rights of workers and weaken the long standing principles of free collective bargaining in the United States – bargaining that continues to improve the wages, benefits and working conditions of union and non-union employees.
The members of NEA-NH and their coalition partners coordinated their education, outreach and messaging efforts. Record numbers of members became involved in the process to sustain the veto. The house Speaker scheduled extra sessions without mileage reimbursements for the Representatives in hopes of changing the vote calculus. During these special sessions he invited every Republican Presidential candidate to speak before the House, again in hopes of having Democratic members not attend. On November 30th, he rolled the dice and came up over a dozen votes short of overriding the veto to the cheers of a packed House gallery.
The Speaker has promised to make passing RTW a priority on his agenda next session. NEA-NH and their coalition partners are determined to build on this most recent success and are counting on the continued support of the House members of both parties, especially the Republican caucus members who resisted the tremendous pressure from their leadership to put party first and New Hampshire families last, to keep RTW and other harmful legislation from becoming law.
Visit NEA New Hampshire to find out more and learn how you can get involved in the fight against “Right to Work”.