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Laura Hainey (AFT-NH): Right To Work Weakens Collective Bargaining And Hurts All Workers

 

I am here today to ask that you defeat HB 402-FN: establishing the Franklin Partin right-to-work act.

aft sqaureAFT-NH represents 4,000 employees in NH, mostly public employees who work in your cities, towns and school districts. The members of AFT-NH are teachers, Para educators, secretaries, librarians, cafeteria staff, and custodial staff. Some of us are police officers who work to ensure safe and orderly communities. Our members work in higher education preparing new generations of citizens and leaders. And our members provide vital public services in towns all over New Hampshire. In short, AFT New Hampshire members ensure the safety and well-being of our fellow citizens and help build stronger communities throughout our state.

Keep in mind, a union cannot unilaterally require nonmembers to pay their fair share. The employer and the union must negotiate and agree that workers are required to pay their fair share for representation.

Right now, either private or public employers and employees can freely negotiate to make sure everyone who benefits from a union contract pays their fair share of the costs of obtaining and protecting those benefits. But a “Right To Work” (RTW) law would allow the government to interfere unfairly in the freedoms of private and public employers and restrict the right to negotiate with their employees. Employers should be free to negotiate contracts without government intrusion.

Despite its misleading name, this type of law does not guarantee anyone a job and it does not protect against unfair firing. It only weakens collective bargaining rights and limits workers’ freedom to demand respect, fair pay and safety on the job. It tilts the balance even more toward big corporations and further rigs the system at the expense of middle-class families.

We all know there is no evidence to suggest that passing a RTW bill will improve our economy or create jobs for NH’s working families. As a matter of fact, I know you’ve heard that RTW legislation creates more jobs, presumably because a state becomes more attractive to employers when unions are not present or are weakened. The research does not support this point of view.

The so called RTW proposal hurts everyone. By many measures, the quality of life is worse in states with so-called RTW laws. Wages are lower, poverty and lack of insurance are higher, education is weaker—even infant mortality and the likelihood of being killed on the job are higher.

Lower Wages and Incomes

  • The average worker in states with RTW laws makes $1,540 a year less when all other factors are removed than workers in other states.1
  • Median household income in states with these laws is $6,437 less than in other states ($46,402 vs. $52,839).2
  • In states with RTW laws, 26.7 percent of jobs are in low-wage occupations, compared with 19.5 percent of jobs in other states.3

Less Job-Based Health Insurance Coverage

  • People in states with RTW laws are more likely to be uninsured (16.8 percent, compared with 13.1 percent overall; among children, it’s 10.8 percent vs. 7.5 percent).4
  • They’re less likely to have job-based health insurance than people in other states (56.2 percent, compared with 60.1 percent).5
  • Only 50.7 percent of employers in states with these laws offer insurance coverage to their employees, compared with 55.2 percent in other states. That difference is even more significant among small employers (with fewer than 50 workers)—only 34.4 percent of them offer workers health insurance, compared with 41.7 percent of small employers in other states.6

Higher Poverty and Infant Mortality Rates

  • Poverty rates are higher in states with RTW laws (15.3 percent overall and 21.5 percent for children), compared with poverty rates of 13.1 percent overall and 18.1 percent for children in states without these laws.7
  • The infant mortality rate is 15 percent higher in states with these laws.8
  • Less Investment in Education
  • States with RTW laws spend $3,392 less per pupil on elementary and secondary education than other states, and students are less likely to be performing at their appropriate grade level in math and reading.9

Higher Rates of Death on the Job

  • The rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in states with these laws, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.10

In closing, industries locate in a state for many reasons, but RTW laws are not among them. Factors like workforce productivity, availability of skilled workers, transportation, closeness to markets and materials, quality of life and proximity to research universities are the keys to economic growth. We need to create good jobs throughout the state, but an RTW law will not persuade companies to move here.

Please recommend ITL on HB 402-FN: establishing the Franklin Partin right-to-work act.

In Solidarity,

Laura Hainey

AFT-NH President

 

1 Economic Policy Institute, http://www.epi.org/publication/right-to-work-michigan-economy/.

2 U.S. Census Bureau, Table H-8. Median Household Income by State, www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/2010/H08_2010.xls.

3 CFED, Asset and Opportunity Scorecard, http://scorecard.assetsandopportunity.org/2012/measure/low-wage-jobs.

4 Kaiser Family Foundation, www.statehealthfacts.org.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Census Bureau, POV46: Poverty Status by State: 2010, related children under 18, www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032011/pov/new46_100125_04.htm;

Table 19. Percent of Persons in Poverty, by State: 2008, 2009 and 2010, www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/historical/hstpov19.xls.

8 Kaiser Family Foundation, www.statehealthfacts.org.

9 National Education Association, Rankings & Estimates–Rankings of the States 2011 and Estimates of School Statistics 2012, December 2011, www.nea.org/assets/docs/NEA_Rankings_And_Estimates_FINAL_20120209.pdf ;

CFED, Asset & Opportunity Scorecard, http://scorecard.assetsandopportunity.org/2012/measure/math-proficiency-8th-grade , and http://scorecard.assetsandopportunity.org/2012/measure/reading-proficiency-8th-grade .

10 AFL-CIO, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, April 2012, www.aflcio.org/Issues/Job-Safety/Death-on-the-Job-Report .

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About NH Labor News

The New Hampshire Labor News is a group of NH Workers who believe that we need to protect ourselves against the attacks on workers. We are proud union members who are working to preserve the middle class. The NHLN talks mostly about news and politics from NH. We also talk about national issues that effect working men and women here in the Granite State.
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