Once again the Union Leader’s editorial board is peddling misinformation about unions and “right to work” (for less) legislation (“Protesting information: Picket sign o’ the times”).
Let’s clear up a few things.
1) Just whose “rights” is Americans for Prosperity supposedly “protecting”?
AFP spins this as a “worker freedom” bill. But if AFP was really interested in protecting workers, they would be lobbying for workplace safety and better enforcement of wage and hour laws.
So, who would benefit from this bill? Because so-called “RTW” isn’t good for businesses, either.
Many companies have a good relationship with their unions. Employers rely on unions to find qualified workers. Employers and unions run training programs together. They run health and retirement benefit funds together. They have joint workplace safety committees and labor-management committees. And some of those employers have decided it is in their best interests to include “fair share” provisions in their union contracts.
Think about it. There is nothing – anywhere – that requires New Hampshire employers to include fair share provisions in their union contracts. Not in the private sector, and not in the public sector. There are school districts across the state that don’t have fair share provisions because the School Committee would not agree to it.
So if fair share is in the contract, it’s because the employer decided that was the right thing to do.
But Bill O’Brien and AFP and the National Right to Work Committee want to take that decision away from employers. Why? Let’s follow the money.
- Americans for Prosperity was reportedly started with seed money from David Koch.
- National Right to Work? Yes, they’re also closely linked with the Koch Brothers.
Bill O’Brien? His short-lived congressional campaign received substantial contributions from the both the NRWC and donors linked to AFP.
It’s clear – to me, at least – that this isn’t about “protecting” anyone’s rights. This is about imposing the personal ideology of a few rich men on the entire state of New Hampshire.
What the Koch brothers, NRTWC and AFP do not understand is that just because they are anti-union, that doesn’t mean everyone else is. Many companies like working with their unions. And they ought to have the right to do that – and to decide for themselves how to do that.
2) “Right to work” and job creation.
The myth that RTW somehow “creates jobs” has been pushed, and pushed, and pushed – but that doesn’t make it true. Back when Bill O’Brien was Speaker of the NH House, he kept telling people he had a list of businesses that “would move to New Hampshire” if we passed his legislation. Of course, this list never materialized.
Instead, we heard from the Commissioner of Economic Development that RTW had never – not once – come up in his discussions with businesses considering locating in New Hampshire.
We heard from the Commissioner of Labor that none – not even one – of the 2,000+ business leaders he had met with had ever said that RTW should be adopted in New Hampshire.
So just why is Bill O’Brien so intent on imposing RTW on the Granite State?
3) “Right to work” is not a magic pill that leads to future wealth.
The Union Leader’s editorial discusses an AFP “research” study that uses Indiana as an example. What it doesn’t mention? Here’s how the Kokomo Tribune describes the state post-RTW: “Indiana’s per capita income plummeted from 30th in the U.S. to 40th overall and lowest in the Midwest. In fact, wages in Miami County, Ball State researchers found, remain at a level the average American hasn’t seen since the 1970s.”
One more time: why would this be “good” for New Hampshire?
4) No one was protesting “information”.
AFP’s “economic study” was nothing more than a publicity stunt. The folks outside AFP’s presentation weren’t protesting “information” – they were trying to provide it. The protesters were opposing AFP, Bill O’Brien, and all of the other right wing extremists who want to try pushing this legislation down the throats of Granite Staters once again.
This legislation comes up every single year, and it has for decades. (Read “I was wrong on right-to-work” by former Sen. Mark Hounsell, who sponsored the bill back in the 1980s.)
Bill O’Brien and his friends at AFP are using this to gin up their base and to fundraise – and the Union Leader is just helping them do that.
Even when O’Brien was Speaker, he could not force a right to work (for less) law through. Isn’t it time to quit letting the extreme right-wing define the political agenda, and let the Legislature (and the media) focus on more important things?