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Right-to-Work Bill Ignites Emotions

Supporters, opponents argue their case at NH Statehouse hearing today.

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 ?

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 .

"Let us get back to the job of creating a robust economy for our citizenry and our state," she said.

Robert Thompson February 10, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Don Duston, "unions are one of the factors that have brought this country to its knees", I guess vacations, healthcare, 40 hour work week, worker safety, and child labor laws was not important work unions did? Thess bills that restrict collective bargining, workers rights and the like are the right wingers attempt at destroying the fabric that makes NH a special place to live. Every RTW state in the country has higher unemployment, lower wages, and is just a way to put more money in the pockets of those corporations receiving corporate welfare.
Steve Trofatter February 10, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Let's cut to the truth. After sitting at the hearing for 5 hours yesterday and talking to Republican legislators prior to the session, it was obvious to me that the majority of republicans are firmly entrenched and will vote along party lines. On the surface they wanted me to believe that it's all about freedom of choice to opt out of a union. Truth is, people already have that choice in NH. They stated that RTW will bring more businesses to NH. Data however shows that being a RTW state is roughly 14th on the list of priorities a new business looks at to locate in NH. Are these legislators uninformed or naive? Maybe? Calculated? Absolutey! This is a nation wide movement by the American Legislative Executive Counsel known as ALEC which has infiltrated NH and is picking off states one by one around the country with their anti worker agenda. As the pastor so elequantly stated yesterday when she spoke in opposition to SB1677, if passed, this bill hurt middle class families and " it is a race to the bottom." That's the truth.
Don Duston February 10, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Come on Robert, child labor, 40 hour work week and vacations were all turn of the century union accomplishments, way before the unions started infiltrating the political arena. Back in those days, I would agree they were useful. Unfortunately, nowadays they manipulate politicians and their motives are all based on greed. Of course they want worker safety and healthcare because sick or injured workers are less likely to pay those dues. Today most employers union or non-union offer healthcare, vacations and are concerned about safety. This is not union driven, it is driven by society. Am not saying there is no corporate greed out there because there is but Unions are just as greedy and they have forced many industries such as steel and textiles to pack up and move overseas. I would be pro-union if they truly cared about the worker but they don't, it is simply about reaching into the workers pockets for their money in exchange for empty promises. We already have our government doing that to us, why add another layer?
Mike Burney February 11, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Maybe you people arguing have some idea's for our family. I have worked for some of the largest health care manufactures in the world and in the past seven years I have had two major companies eliminate my divisions. I lost my home, car, and I am told I am too over qualified for so many jobs. My boys are doing ok and we live with friends, but I am " what you read about" and honestly, I don't know where I am going to get food or gas money for this week. I hear that the unemployment numbers are a joke and that we are probably in the range of 15 To 18% of our population out of work. I look for work, but it seems like people on both side of this argument truly don't care about families like ours. My dad worked for the state and built most of the road, my grandfather built most of the power lines and my family was part of the pinkham notch family that built this state and today its hard to see why the state doesn't step it up and help families like ours, suffering from so much hurt while seeing members of the house or politicians are dong to put more money in their pockets, truly not caring.. Truly not caring. All we want is an opportunity to work, but you people play games as the speaker and others do every day. It's sad. Really sad........Maybe someone that has experienced bad times should get more involved with helping run this state, as more people and middle class would listen as today you all are making a joke out of your positions. Step leaders. NO MORE EXCUSES.
Debra W February 12, 2012 at 01:40 PM
New Hampshire’s GOP legislature has become a laughing stock. They have come up with all kinds of absurd bills, including a proposal making public school curriculum optional, another to prevent police from protecting domestic abuse victims, and even the measure mandating that new laws be based on the Magna Carta. And now they have proposed doing away with the law that requires employers to give their workers time off for lunch.

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