Worker testimony, Democratic votes kill RTW bill in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. —Outspoken worker testimony and Democratic state legislators’ votes combined to kill so-called right-to-work legislation in New Mexico, at least for this year.

After an unusual Saturday session on Feb. 25 in the state House chamber in Santa Fe – moved there because of the huge crowd of workers that showed up – the House Labor and Economic Development Committee killed RTW by a 6-5 party-line vote.

That effectively ends RTW in New Mexico for this year, since the legislature meets for only 60 days.

It also makes the New Mexico House the second consecutive state legislative body to trash RTW, despite huge business and right-wing lobbying for it. New Hampshire’s House buried RTW for the year the week before.

Prior to the New Mexico and New Hampshire RTW defeats, heavily GOP legislatures in Kentucky and Missouri passed RTW laws and Republican governors signed them. New Mexico GOP Gov. Susana Martinez promised to sign the RTW bill if it reached her desk.

“Take a moment to remember why so-called ‘right to work’ is a total scam that makes the rich richer while exploiting and endangering working Americans,” New Mexico AFL-CIO President Jon Hendry said in asking workers to converge on the state capitol for the hearing.

Right-to-work laws, a favorite business and right wing cause for more than 60 years, have just one objective: To rob unions of money, and thus make it impossible for them to defend – or organize – workers.

The RTW laws do so by outlawing any language in collective bargaining agreements mandating the union can collect dues, or even fair share fees from workers who are in the union shop, but don’t want to join. Those levies, also called “agency fees,” let such workers pay discounted rates, covering only bargaining and contract administration.

The New Mexico RTW bill not only barred collection of agency fees but it “would also bar employers from exercising their right to hire only union-trained and certified workers,” Hendry said. “So-called ‘right to work’ laws are unfair, unnecessary and hurt the middle class.”

“HB 432 is a ‘right to work’ measure that would cripple the ability of labor organizations to negotiate on behalf of New Mexico’s workers,” Hendry stated.

As for all those workers who could use union services without paying for them under RTW, one unionist had a pointed reply. “If you don’t want to pay the freight, then you shouldn’t be able to take the ride,” said Robert Ferguson of Machinists Local 2515 in Alamogordo.

Source: PAI