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NH Unions Oppose Renewed Push For 'Right-to-Work' Bill

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Tuesday, February 2, 2021   

CONCORD, N.H. -- Union leaders in New Hampshire are opposing some GOP state lawmakers' hopes to pass so-called "right-to-work" legislation for private-sector unions this session, Senate Bill 61.

The last 40 years have brought multiple attempts to ban collective-bargaining agreements that require workers to join the union and pay dues, even though the unions continue to represent them in negotiations.

Proponents of right-to-work say it promotes worker choice.

Rick Gelinas, a natural-gas utility employee and member of United Steelworkers 12012 for more than 30 years, said it's about undermining organized labor.

"This is about making it harder for unions to obtain the resources they need to negotiate good, fair wages and benefits for workers," Gelinas contended.

Some proponents also claim the bill would attract new manufacturing companies to the state. But studies by the Economic Policy Institute have found similar laws in other states have little to no positive impact on job growth.

Research shows that right-to-work laws tend to lower wages and weaken workplace protections over time, because they reduce the bargaining power of unions by making it more difficult to financially sustain themselves.

Gelinas emphasized all of New Hampshire's workers benefit from union negotiations.

"This will hurt all workers, not just union people, because it will serve to depress wages," Gelinas argued.

Although similar bills have been defeated multiple times in New Hampshire, Republicans now control the governor's office, the state Senate and the state House.

And it's the first time right-to-work has been introduced in the Granite State since the landmark 2017 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which banned requiring membership in public-sector unions.


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