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NH Lawmakers Take Testimony on Hot-Button "Right to Work" Bill

The hearing room was packed as the Senate Commerce Committee heard testimony on the so-called Right to Work Bill. (New Hampshire AFL-CIO)
The hearing room was packed as the Senate Commerce Committee heard testimony on the so-called Right to Work Bill. (New Hampshire AFL-CIO)
January 11, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. – It is expected to be one of the hot-button issues this legislative session. State lawmakers began hearing testimony on Tuesday, on the so-called Right to Work bill.

The measure would prohibit collective-bargaining agreements that require workers to join or contribute to a labor union in exchange for the union negotiating wages and benefits on their behalf.

Supporters of the idea say it gives workers more freedom, but New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett says the real goal is to limit the power of unions.

"What we tried to get across to the committee is that Right to Work is theft of services from dues-paying union members; and it's theft of services from unions, the organizations themselves," he said.

Bracket was among those who testified Tuesday before the Senate Commerce Committee.

While supporters of the bill put the emphasis on giving employees a choice about whether to join a union, the union says the end result if the measure is approved is less collective bargaining, which means lower wages for Granite State workers and their families.

Governor Chris Sununu says he's convinced the bill could help boost business in New Hampshire. Brackett warned lawmakers that won't happen, because the measure doesn't do anything to promote a more vibrant workforce with good wages and benefits.

"The argument doesn't hold water," he said. "Look, our kids leave, they don't come back. Unless we have a viable, youthful workforce, we're not attractive to other businesses."

The group Granite State Progress has called on Sununu and House Republican Majority Leader Dick Hinch to name at least five businesses that will move to New Hampshire if so-called "Right to Work" passes. Sununu has yet to respond, but has pledged to sign the measure if it gets to his desk.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH