State Rep. William Smith drew a few audience boos when he said of his legislation, "This is not an anti-union bill – it's a pro-union member bill."
And you thought the right-to-work debate was so last year?
Smith, a New Castle Republican and co-sponsor of the bill, said it would attract business to the state while giving union members "influence over their union bosses."
Dave Lang, president of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire, took umbrage with the "union bosses" remarks at the public hearing Thursday in Representatives Hall. He said he was serving to represent the interests expressed by his association's members.
"This is not the way New Hampshire very proudly legislates," Lang said. "We don't go to the well and say, 'we tried it and it failed, well, let's try it again.' There's no clamor to do this."
Supporters included Ovide Lamontagne and Kevin Smith, two Republicans running for governor. Smith said it was not "a magic bullet," but he said New Hampshire becoming a right-to-work state would help recruit companies. Lamontagne, in his testimony to the committee, said it would not take away collective bargaining rights.
"I believe this is about employee rights," he said.
The bill text can be read here: House Bill 1677, "relative to choice as to whether to join a union and eliminating the duty of a public employee labor organization to represent employees who elect not to join or to pay dues or fees to the employee organization."
Its sponsors are Smith, Rep. D.J. Bettencourt, the House Republican Leader from Salem, and Sen. Jim Forsythe, R-Strafford.
Rep. Mary Gorman, D-Nashua, urged the committee – the House Labor Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee – to recommend the bill be killed because it had already been deliberated, vetted and defeated last year.
"Let us get back to the job of creating a robust economy for our citizenry and our state," she said.