Teamsters lead lobbying that buries right to work in New Hampshire

CONCORD, N.H.—Led by Teamsters Local 633 members, unionists from around New Hampshire successfully lobbied the state House to bury so-called right to work legislation, at least for this year.

Despite a 226-174 House GOP majority, the measure – which a House committee previously defeated – lost when it didn’t get an absolute majority in the 400-member House in the roll call on passage on Feb. 16. That vote was 200-177. RTW needed 201 votes.

But then the lawmakers went even farther: They voted 193-184 to indefinitely postpone any RTW legislation. A state senate committee had passed RTW just days before on a party line vote, but the second House vote killed that measure, too.

The defeat prevents New Hampshire from becoming the 29th state with a right to work law, which would ban unions from collecting any money from either their members or from so-called “agency feepayers” through contract provisions.

The intent of the radical right wing and corporate interests who push RTW in various states – and in the U.S. Congress – is to strip unions of money and thus kill worker opposition to the corporate-right wing agenda.

The most-succinct description of RTW came from retired state worker Bob Joseph: “This is not right-to-work; this is right-to-freeload,” he told lawmakers. “Employees can have the benefits and wages discussed and arranged and negotiated for nothing. That’s not right.”

Teamsters Local 633 led the legions of workers who filled the halls of the state capitol in Concord both for hearings on RTW and for the final votes. They were not the only foes. Even RTW’s original New Hampshire sponsor, former State Sen. Mark Hounsell, opposed it.

“This law will hurt middle class families and do nothing to spur economic growth in our state,” said Local 633 President Dennis Caza. “Given the challenges resulting from stagnating wages and rising income inequality, why make it easier for companies to drive down pay even when corporate profits rise?…Right to work is bad for New Hampshire and has no place here.”

Local 633 Secretary-Treasurer Jeffrey Padellaro said RTW would make it harder to attract workers. That’s because the Granite State has 20,000 job vacancies and the nation’s lowest jobless rate. RTW drives down wages, Padellaro said, making it tougher for firms – already hurting for lack of workers — to fill those positions. RTW “has a poor track record of success in other states where similar legislation has passed,” he added.

Union leaders hailed the House votes. “Today a bi-partisan majority confirmed ‘right to work’ is still wrong for New Hampshire, and this vote should be the final nail in the coffin,” said state AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett. “Across the Granite State, working people stood together against this corporate-backed legislation that would cripple our ability to speak up on job. We thank the legislators who let workers’ voices rise above special interests’.”

Source: PAI