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Ruger: expansion plan depends on government $$ (not RTW restrictions)

Written by Matt Murray and Liz Iacobucci

Credit: Creative Commons/aflcio

Credit: Creative Commons/aflcio


Anyone who didn’t know better might actually believe the “spin” in Saturday’s Union Leader’s op-ed from Americans For Prosperity, the Koch-founded “dark money” group.  (Read more about AFP here.)

Did you happen to read AFP’s claims about Sturm Ruger’s expected new facility in North Carolina?  Those hypotheticals about whether or not Ruger’s siting decision was motivated by North Carolina’s Right To Work (for less) law?

Anyone who didn’t check the facts might actually believe it. 

First thing to be clear on:  Sturm Ruger hasn’t actually made a final decision to open the North Carolina plant.  Here’s the actual, latest word:

The deal still hinges on final approval of an unknown amount of state and local incentives.

Want to know what those “incentives” probably include?  North Carolina state law gives huge tax breaks to corporations who locate there.  “The State perpetuates its practice of meddling with the State’s economy to the detriment of free market principles and the robustness that brings.”  Some of those state-level incentives include:

  • a $12,500 tax credit for each job that is created;
  • a 30% tax credit for investing in real property; and
  • an additional 7% tax credit for investing in business property (such as manufacturing equipment and plant furnishings).

Add them up, and you get somewhere between $8.5 million and $17.25 million in state money (depending on whether you use Ruger’s estimate of new 500 jobs or AFP’s estimate of 1,200 jobs).

And that’s just the state-level incentives.  But wait, there’s more!  In North Carolina, “Rockingham County and the local municipalities review each new business location individually in order to offer a generous location assistance package.”

So, who knows how much Ruger might get paid to open a facility in North Carolina?  In last week’s conference call with industry analysts, the corporation did not disclose the total amount – just that “the deal hinges on final approval”.  (Not a single mention about Right to Work, by the way.)

And Ruger couldn’t expand their operations here, anyway – because there aren’t any buildings around that are big enough.  “At the moment, Claremont does not have an available building of 250,000 square feet, said Nancy Merrill, the city’s economic development coordinator. “We have a couple of buildings of about half that, like the Lowe’s building, which is about 130,000 square feet.”  (Back in May, Ruger’s CEO Michael Fifer told shareholders that “the company is looking for an existing 250,000-square-foot building, and Fifer said he hopes Texas Gov. Rick Perry will give it to him.”)

Again, that’s not in any way related to North Carolina’s Right to Work law.  If you happen to be checking facts, rather than swallowing AFP’s spinning lure.

What sort of jobs are we talking about, anyway?  Let’s look at the Ruger jobs that are already here in New Hampshire.  There are a bunch of jobs available, mostly paying between $10.00/hr and $13.50/hr.  (Maybe AFP Honorary Chairman Tom Thomson can pass the word along to all the Upper Valley people his op-ed says “would love to have an opportunity to have a high-skill, high-paying job that a manufacturer like Sturm, Ruger would” provide.  Thomson could tell them: Ruger has job openings: right here, right now.)

Ruger’s jobs simply don’t pay enough to keep a family afloat here in New Hampshire.   To pay for a two-bedroom apartment, and keep housing costs below 30% of their income, workers in New Hampshire need to be paid $20.47/hour. That’s a lot less than what they’re offering.

In North Carolina, housing costs are a lot cheaper.  In North Carolina, workers need to be paid only $14.17/hour in order to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

But yes, that’s still more than what Ruger is offering, if you’re checking facts about those jobs that AFP describes as “high paying”.

Ruger can’t fill the jobs that it already has, here in New Hampshire.  So why did Saturday’s Union Leader op-ed try to make this situation all about Right to Work?

Straight from Ruger’s Annual Report:

“As of February 1, 2013, the Company employed approximately 1,460 full-time employees of which approximately 38% had at least ten years of service with the Company.  The Company uses temporary employees to supplement its workforce.   As of February 1, 2013, there were approximately 580 temporary employees.  None of the Company’s employees are subject to a collective bargaining agreement.”

Did you do the math?  More than one-quarter of their workforce is made up of temporary employees.

And Ruger isn’t even a union company – so why on earth would they care what restrictions state law places on companies’ negotiations with unions?

Think about it for a minute.  In reality, that’s what a Right to Work law is: a government restriction on how a company can do business.  Would Ruger really base its siting decision on the fact that North Carolina prohibits the corporation from doing something that New Hampshire allows?

No, this siting decision – which still hasn’t been finalized – is all about money.

Maybe Gov. Perry didn’t give them a building.  But North Carolina is going to give them $12,500 per job they create – plus an undisclosed amount of other incentives.

So maybe, at one level, this is a good example of the Right to Work dynamic.  Right to Work states tend to bid against each other for the honor of acquiring lower-paying, non-unionized jobs that often don’t have health insurance or pension benefits.  (Back in the 1990s, the Federal Reserve Bank advised that Congress should prohibit these kinds of bidding wars.)

Is this really the future that we want for New Hampshire?  Do we really want New Hampshire to follow North Carolina’s lead?  To be paying corporations $12,500+ per job, even for jobs that won’t support a family?

Why does the Union Leader think this is a good idea?

UL Editorial on voucher repeal: Public schools: vs. public education (@ANHPE)

From ANHPE Blog
We agree with nothing in this Union Leader editorial, but it’s useful to see the Union Leader state its case for private school vouchers. Here is the editorial, with our commentary:

One of the reasons New Hampshire has to continue debating school choice year after year is that self-proclaimed supporters of public education do not support public education. They support public schools.

There is your warning that this opinion piece is going to torture the language in order to assert that unaccountable, sectarian, private schools are “public education.”

Last year the Legislature passed a law to give businesses a tax credit for a portion of the money they donate to new educational scholarship programs. The scholarships must be offered to families with incomes lower than 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Students use the money to help pay for tuition at private schools.

The sponsors of last year’s bill have proposed a speed-up in the program’s growth and the removal the 300% income limit this year, just a taste of their original intentions for the program and what would have happened if the same folks were still in charge of the Legislature.

Democrats opposed the tax credit last year and are pushing to abolish it this year. House Education Committee Chairman Mary Stuart Gile told this newspaper last week, “My primary concern about education in New Hampshire is to support public education, and this program would divert business profits taxes and business enterprise taxes that go to the general fund and used to support public education.”

Nothing in that statement is true.

Actually, Rep. Gile’s statement is a concise, precise description of what is happening.

The scholarships do not divert money from public education. They are public education. Through them, the public partially funds a child’s education at a state-approved private school. To claim that the scholarships hurt public education, Gile and other opponents pretend that the money does not finance a state-approved education.

“State-approved?” While the state wants to ensure that there are no fires or child-molesters at New Hampshire private schools, that’s as far as it goes. You could be in the private school business over night – and many will be if the voucher bill stays in place. Many secular New Hampshire private schools are already in place teaching that dinosaurs and people roamed the earth together just a few thousand years ago. Voucher schools are unaccountable to New Hampshire tax payers for the curricula they teach.

Nor do the scholarships drain funding from government schools. The scholarships are capped by law at an average of $2,500 per pupil. The tax credit covers most, but not all, of that cost.

The tax credit pays for 93.5% of a business’s scholarship contribution. In essence, the business is spending the state’s money.

The average per-pupil expenditure at New Hampshire public schools was $13,413 last year, with slightly more than 35 percent, or $4,700, covered by the state.

The state general and education trust funds pay about 20% of the cost of education in New Hampshire.

The difference between the tax credit and what the state otherwise would pay for that student’s education remains with the state and can be used to enhance the funding of government schools.

“Government schools?” Is that something like a “reeducation camp?” The paper is way over its head in the weeds in its description of the financial impact of the voucher plan on public education. Suffice it to say, it just doesn’t work the way it is described here. Public education is the big loser when the State of New Hampshire gets into the business of offering vouchers to entice families to leave our public education system.

That is not defunding the public schools. It is buying a good education at a state-accredited school at a fraction of the cost of providing it through a government school. Opposition to this beneficial arrangement is driven by legislators whose loyalty is to government schools and their employees, not to parents, students or taxpayers.

Here the editorial ups the ante from “approved” to “accredited.” Just to be clear, the State of New Hampshire does not accredit the academic instruction provided by private schools that set up in the state. Many are very good. Some are famous. But they are not accredited by the State.

And the primary beneficiary of voucher programs is the small religious schools, often with just a few teachers and students, many of which teach a creationist curriculum that no New Hampshire tax payer should be required to support.

The Union Leader has strayed onto some pretty thin ice trying to defend private school vouchers in New Hampshire. In the end, the editorial demonstrates how hard it is to justify state support of private schools unaccountable to the taxpayers. A voucher plan does not extend the public education system to include private schools. It dismantles our public education system and leaves us with….nothing.

The NH Union Leader Is Wrong, We Need Teachers Not Volunteers In Our Classrooms

CREDIT: Dreamstime

Once again the ultra-conservative editors at the NH Union Leader have completely missed the mark.  Today they published an editorial on the idea to use “volunteers” to oversee virtual classrooms.

This ridiculous idea came from Mayor Gatas as a way to expand charter schools and reduce the cost of education in Manchester.

“Mayor Ted Gatsas is posing by advocating that virtual learning classrooms in Manchester’s public schools be headed by volunteers, not teachers.”

Here is the plan as laid out by the NH Union Leader:

“The mayor wants to expand learning opportunities in the public schools by providing “virtual classrooms.” Students could either take a course through the state’s Virtual Learning Academy Charter School”

This is a bad idea and I will explain why.  Have you ever watched a YouTube video on how to change a sink drain?  It seemed very easy as you watched the pre-recorded video, right?  Then what happened? You got started, and something did not go the same way as it did when you watched the video.  After playing with it for a short time you end up calling the plumber and paying someone to not only fix the original problem, but fix your mess too.

Now imagine if instead of a sink drain, you are teaching children mathematics, or english?  We can all agree that every child learns differently and at different paces.  When that child has a problem and needs a real live person to answer it, who do you want helping you child?  Do you want a mom or dad from the parents association, or do you want a professional teacher?  Do you want someone who has been trained to teach children of all levels and abilities this specific material or some parent who has a kid in the class?

The NH Union Leader says that the Manchester Education Association has “Concerns” over this idea. Of course they have “concerns” over this, it is much more politically correct than telling you boss (the mayor) that this is the dumbest idea you have every heard in your entire life.

I completely reject the editors comment that, “the MEA is really concerned about union membership and compensation”.  No the MEA is not concerned about membership, they are concerned about the quality of education being provided to the students in Manchester.  After all they are dedicated professionals who have devoted their lives to helping teach children.

The Union Leader likes to complain that our education system in New Hampshire is failing our children and we need things like Students First or Charter Schools to fix them.  It is ideas like these and ‘virtual classrooms without teachers’ that would completely destroy public education in NH.  You want a better education system in Manchester then start by finding a better ways to fund it. Put more teachers in classrooms and fewer students in a class.  Give them the tools they need to teach every child, not just the really smart or rich ones.

Every child deserves a quality education. 

Someone Tell The NH Union Leader: “STOP WITH ALL THE LIES”

Once again the NH Union Leader completely mis-represents the truth around Right To Work (for less) laws.  In this mornings UL editorial ‘No right to work: Hassan’s big labor talking points‘, the editor is taking swings at Maggie Hassan for opposing Right To Work (for less) in NH.

(Maggie Hassan said) “I don’t think the government should interfere with contracts between employees and businesses. So I oppose right to work.”


If that is true, then Hassan must also oppose minimum wage laws, child labor laws, workplace safety laws, health insurance mandates, and every other law that would “interfere with contracts between employees and businesses.”

I want to make one thing perfectly clear, you cannot compare Right To Work laws and minimum wage, OSHA, and child labor laws.  Right To Work (for less) restricts collective bargaining by making it illegal to negotiate agency fee’s as part of a collective bargaining agreement.  Let me say that again, NEGOTIATE.   Agency fees is mutually agreed upon article in the contract between the union and the business.  If they business does not want this as part of the contract, they do not have to agree to it.  There are many businesses and public entities who do not require agency fees as part of their contract.

Secondly child labor laws and minimum wage laws are NOT negotiated parts of a contract.  They are laws set forth by the United States Government to ensure the safety of the workers and to ensure a baseline of pay for all workers.  These are Federal Laws and cannot be violated.  These items have no bearing on an employe-employer contract.

The second fraudulent argument is a derivative of the first. It is that right-to-work denies choices to employees by somehow infringing on, as Hassan put it, their right to “negotiate with their employers.” Again, that is precisely the opposite of the truth.

In case I did not make it clear enough the first time,  agency fees are a negotiated article in the contract between the employer and the union.  By removing the ability to negotiated agency fees you are interfering with the collective bargaining process and infringing on the right of the employees.

While I am not surprised that the Union Leader who has pushed Right To Work very heavily over the last two years would be attacking Maggie Hassan.  The truth is that Right To Work (for less) laws are specifically written to weaken the bargaining power of unions, the laws ultimately effects all workers in the state.   Right To Work laws have been proven to lower wages, reduce benefits, and increase costs to all employees.

The NH Union Leader is pushing the same GOP agenda that wants push New Hampshire back fifty years.  This continual attack on the working middle class must end.  In this Governor election the only one who will put an end to these attacks is Maggie Hassan.

Now, go to the Union Leaders Website (http://www.unionleader.com/article/20120920/OPINION01/709209890)  and tell the editor to stop spreading his lies about Right To Work (for Less).

  • Tell him that you are a middle class worker here in New Hampshire and you oppose Right To Work.
  • Tell him you reject Ovide’s and the NH House Leadership’s extremist views for New Hampshire.
  • Tell him that to help make a stronger economy in New Hampshire we need to strengthen our collective bargaining process not weaken it.

Manchester’s teachers are not the problem

President, Manchester Education Association

Twice in the last few months the Union Leader has seen fit to print the average salary of Manchester teachers, and in the same breath compare our pay to the pay of other groups in the state, most notably Bedford. In what seems to be an increasingly common practice, key omissions and misrepresentations play a large part in the paper’s piece.

In February of this year, the Board of School Committee was given a breakdown of the number of employees in the district. The number of teachers at that time totaled 1,256. Based on a breakdown by step and degree provided by the district at the same time, the average teacher salary worked out to $56,283. This is a difference of $1,066 to the number used by the Union Leader, which used older state data.

Missing from the June 7 editorial is a primary reason why the average salary may be higher than in other districts. Over the last five years, the teaching pool in the district has been reduced by 89 positions. That means 89 people who left the profession, in most cases at the top step, were not replaced. This artificially inflates the pool’s average salary because had those 89 people been replaced, the new teachers would have come in on lower steps, and brought the average down well over $1,000.

If you’re going to compare our district to Bedford’s, present all of the facts. While the starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree in Manchester is $33,904, the starting salary for the same position in Bedford is $36,151, more than $2,200 higher. In fact, the starting salary in Bedford is higher than someone on our second step. A Manchester teacher with 14 years of service and a master’s degree actually will earn $65,383 this year. The $70,744 figure used in the editorial was for teachers with a doctorate, and should have read $70,244. (Editor’s note: We regret the error).While a teacher in Bedford with 14 years of service and a master’s degree will earn $61,624, he or she also has the opportunity to continue receiving step increases up through the 18th year of service, topping out at $68,966 this year. In Manchester, when you hit your 14th year of service you do not move up the scale any longer and are making $3,583 less than the Bedford top step.

But beyond dollars and cents should be some good old-fashioned common sense. Working in Manchester public schools is not the same as working in the public schools in any other municipality in the state. Anyone who thinks that we can compare our district side by side with any other is mistaken. It cannot be done without an examination of the intangibles. Teachers in all districts today wear far more hats than they did even five years ago. We are teachers, but we are also social workers, advisors, truant officers, translators, assimilators and, often, surrogate parents.

Over the last five years, Manchester has had the lowest attendance rate of any public school district four times. The one year we weren’t last, we were second to last. We have fallen at least 2.1 percent below the state average in all of those years. Over the same time period, Bedford’s attendance rate has been from 1 to 1.9 percent higher than the state’s average.

The most recent data show that the student population in New Hampshire has a Limited English Proficiency population that makes up 1.15 percent of the total. This equates to 2,265 students. Almost 44 percent of the group — 989 students — goes to school in Manchester. Bedford’s student body has four of those students.

Beyond English proficiency, 26.57 percent of New Hampshire’s student population is eligible for free or reduced lunch this year. In Bedford, 5.11 percent of the population is eligible. In Manchester that number reaches 47.52 percent.

I don’t share these numbers and concepts to disparage any of our colleagues in Bedford or anywhere else. I share them to show a bigger picture — a picture that presents the complex challenges faced in our district and a picture that the Union Leader conveniently overlooks when trying to turn the public against its schools, against its teachers, and against its future.

Manchester and other districts are not the same, as demonstrated in a recent New Hampshire Department of Education review of four city schools this spring. Overall, the report states that teachers in Manchester clearly face challenges that their counterparts in other districts do not, yet they have fewer tools and less opportunity for coordination than their peers.

We aren’t the same population. We aren’t the same when it comes to the range of educational services we have to offer. We aren’t the same when it comes to the socioeconomic challenges our districts face. We aren’t the same when it comes to the number of positions we’ve lost in the last five years versus the number of students we’ve lost. We aren’t the same when it comes to salary opportunities. We aren’t the same, period.

And most importantly, we aren’t the problem.

Ben Dick is president of the Manchester Education Association.

NH IronWorkers Local 7 Agent Shawn Cleary Responds To NH Union Leaders Attacks On PLAs

On Saturday the NH Union Leader posted a horrible editorial about the Manchester Jobs Corps Center dropping the Project Labor Agreement restriction on the project.  This now allows companies to come in and bid for the project using below standard wages and other cost cutting measures.  This usually means lower safety standards and lower quality of work.  This is what the Union Leader had to say:

 Job Corps delay ended: Another blow to labor/Dem axis | New Hampshire OPINION01“Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor dropped its requirement that the new Job Corps Center in Manchester be governed by a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). That is a rule that essentially requires the use of union labor on a construction project. About 80 percent of contractors are not unionized. PLAs force contractors to submit to union rules and pay scales, thus removing a big competitive advantage non-union contractors have over unionized rivals. The department required the PLA back in 2009. Several contractors sued, and the project has been held up ever since. 

Ironically, President Obama’s Feb. 6, 2009, executive order commanding that PLAs be considered for all federal construction projects of $25 million or more stated that the purpose of using PLAs was “to promote the efficient administration and completion of federal construction projects.””

Below is a response from Shawn Cleary, Business Agent for the
New Hampshire Iron Workers Local 7.

Another Blow to Labor! Now there’s something worth celebrating. It’s about time we turn complete control over to the employer. Thank you for pointing out the competitive advantage non-union contractors enjoy over unionized rivals. It just goes to show that when workers stand together, it makes the world an unfair place. 

Just a few years ago it was made crystal clear at the Berlin Federal Prison. Union contractors brought so much unnecessary baggage to the table that they couldn’t possibly compete. No one will believe this, but in some cases, the wages the workers demanded could support entire families. In contrast, the non-union general contractor was able to search the country to find which states’ workers would come to NH for the lowest pay. 

Had there been a PLA on that project, I don’t imagine the LOCAL unions would have put out the call to Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Nebraska, Arizona, Kentucky, or Canada, like the non-union did. That’s just not how they work. Stupid unions, don’t they know the best way for a community to maximize their return on an investment in a project is to bring in as many out of state workers as possible, so they will spend their money at the local pizza shops and hotels? If the locals worked there, under union rules, while receiving good wages and benefits, what would that produce? A bunch of highfalutin construction workers, whose kids would grow up thinking labor had value. That’s what it would produce. Yup, anarchy! If that’s what you want, go work down in Massachusetts and don’t worry about having to work around a bunch of liberals. 
Thousands of UL readers are already down there working. I just hope they’re packing a lunch and keeping their mouths shut about how much more they can earn in a more union-friendly, I mean communist, state. If you’re a spectator of the ever-increasingly popular race to the bottom, than enjoy your place on the sidelines and make sure to have a cup of mud ready to throw in the workers’ faces as they run by. Remind them that the reason unions don’t work in NH has nothing to do with organizations like the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) trying to force them out, it is simply that people have decided that sticking together is nonsense.

Around here, workers negotiate one-on-one with contractors and do far better than they ever could if they spoke with one voice representing thousands. Solidarity, shmolidarity. If you miss this week’s race, don’t worry, they’ll be running next week and the week after too. You see, there is no finish line in a vicious circle. So celebrate another strike to decent wages, benefits, and self-sufficiency. While we’re at it, let’s launch a decibel threatening cheer for the ABC, the greatest union of construction company owners the country has ever seen, benefiting those who need it most, large construction company owners! Congratulations, on your latest victory against the “enemy,” the greedy parents and NH residents who envisioned their lot as union construction workers as a road to provide their families access to the finer things in life, like health care and retirement benefits.

New Right To Work Article from The NH Union Leader (Garry Rayno)

This was published in todays NH Union Leader.  It is a good article that talks about how problems became worse in Oklahoma after they passed Right To Work.  Jobs dried up and people became angry.  It also talks about how Right To Work is not a jobs creator at all. In fact after Right To Work in Oklahoma they lost 1,400 good middle class jobs.

NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie is quoted:

“People are tired of fighting over right-to-work.” 

“We should be talking about the condition of our secondary roads, our crumbling schools and bridges and expanding I-93, to finish that project,” he said. “We should be investing in New Hampshire and its infrastructure so we can be the kind of state we want to be and provide opportunities going forward. That’s what our focus should be.”

Pres. MacKenzie is right, the focas of the NH House should be on fixing the current problems in NH, not creating new ones.  Right To Work is not going to bring new jobs into New Hampshire.  I call on anyone to show tangible proof that any company will bring New Jobs to New Hampshire because they pass Right To Work.  Zandra Rice-Hawkins from Granite State Progress has already put out a public statement calling on Speaker O’Brien to produce any evidence to these claims.  Yet nothing has come out.  Could it be that a Politician lied to sway the other members in the NH House? You be the judge.

NH Union Leader 2/8/12

Right-to-work debate revives with new House legislation


New Hampshire Union Leader

CONCORD – The contentious battle over right-to-work legislation is about to start up again. House Bill 1677, which would prohibit collective bargaining agreements from requiring all workplace employees to pay union fees and would eliminate the requirement that unions represent all employees including non-union members.

The bill is very similar to HB 474, which passed the House and Senate but was vetoed by Gov. John Lynch last year. The House fell 12 votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority needed to override Lynch’s veto.

HB 1677 will have a public hearing Thursday at 1:30 p.m. before the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee.

House Speaker William O’Brien, a strong supporter of the bill, said Tuesday he is not backing off his efforts to bring jobs back to New Hampshire, and the right-to-work bill is a very important way to do that.

“After such a strong vote in the House – 63 percent who want it to become law,” O’Brien said, “we would be doing a disservice to all the people looking for work in New Hampshire if we didn’t continue the effort.”

Economists have told him approving right-to-work would be as much an boost to the state’s economy as having no income or sales tax, he said.

In a conference call organized by labor groups, two Oklahoma workers Tuesday called rightto- work insidious and hateful and said it caused them to lose their jobs to overseas workers.

Jesse Isbelle worked at the Bridgestone Tire plant in Oklahoma City when right-to-work was approved on a referendum vote in 2001. By 2006, the plant was closed, and the 1,400 jobs moved to Mexico.

He said his plant closed because right-to-work created a hostile work environment that affected productivity and profits.

“When somebody gets something for nothing, the people who provide that something for nothing resent it,” Isbelle said. “We went from a good working environment to an unacceptable environment. … Right-towork did that, not globalization. It’s such a negative and insidious thing it ruined productivity in the plant and we lost our jobs because of it.”

Kitti Asberry of Oklahoma City told a similar story about the General Motors truck plant she worked at for 27 years until it closed putting 2,700 people out of work.

“Right-to-work didn’t make Oklahoma more competitive – all the jobs moved overseas,” Asberry said. “It doesn’t do any good to compete with other states when the true competitors are China and Mexico.”

She and Isbelle said rightto- work lowered benefits and wages in Oklahoma, reduced workplace safety and all the promised jobs and new companies never materialized.

But O’Brien took issue with that characterization, saying he has seen reports from economist Scott Moody that clearly shows people in Oklahoma are earning more money, there are better jobs and the economic health of Oklahoma took off precipitously after right-towork passed.

He noted Indiana just approved right-to-work, and he would support it if New Hampshire were the last state in New England to adopt instead of the first.

“It is the right thing to do, and the right time to do it” O’Brien said. “It would give us an advantage. We would grow our economy and attract manufacturers.”

New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie said people are tired of fighting over right-to-work.

“We should be talking about the condition of our secondary roads, our crumbling schools and bridges and expanding I-93, to finish that project,” he said. “We should be investing in New Hampshire and its infrastructure so we can be the kind of state we want to be and provide opportunities going forward. That’s what our focus should be.”

He referred to a study released by University of Oregon economist Gordon Lafer that shows that a right-to-work law would lower wages and benefits while doing nothing to create jobs in New Hampshire.

He said he hopes the report will convince lawmakers that right-to-work will harm New Hampshire.

At the time of this post the NH Union Leader has not posted the article online so there is no link to the article. If one becomes available,  the NHLNN will remove this article and replace it with the appropriate link to the NH Union Leader Website.

The Right To Work Editorial The NH Union Leader Would Not Publish!!!

Right To Work: No Spin, Just Facts

By Matt Murray

This is a letter to the editor that I submitted to the Union Leader the day after they published their terrible support editorial of Right To Work.  They claimed that Right To Work only was defeated because we (opponents of RTW) spun it.  I say “Justs the facts ma’m”

Right To Work: No Spin, Just Facts
To the Editor:
I am writing in reference to your recent editorial on Right To Work for Less titled “A Win For Spin: Right To Work Loses”.  This editorial consists of facts and statistics, all of which are true if you were looking at the propaganda of the Right To Work National Campaign.  Even then, your own statistics show that if you take the averages of both sides they are within one-half a percentage point of each other.
Now lets talk about New Hampshire versus Right To Work states.  No spin just facts.   
New Hampshire has always had a very strong economy and strong union background.  Traditionally we have a lower unemployment rate than most states.  In 1990 the unemployment in NH was 5.7% while the average was 5.3%.  Yes, New Hampshire was a little higher than the national average, however it was also one of the highest unemployment rates in the last 20 years. As we move forward New Hampshire continued to grow and employ more people.  By 1995 New Hampshire had an unemployment rate of 4.0%. The national average was again 5.3%.  Only five of the twenty one right to work states (IA, NE, ND, SD, UT) had a lower rate than NH. After a time of great economic expansion in the 1990s, our state had an unemployment rate of 2.7% in July of 2000.  New Hampshire was over a full point below the national average at that point.  That year, only one RTW state (VA) had a lower unemployment rate than us.  
Some people might say: that was before, we are talking about jobs now.  In 2001 we experienced a national tragedy. This also created instability in stock markets and the nation was slowly starting its downward trend into the economic recession we are currently in. The New Hampshire economy held strong with a 3.6% unemployment while national average began its upward climb to 4.8%. 
Again, New Hampshire beat out twenty of the twenty-two RTW states (ND, VA were lower).   
The real question is where does NH stand now?  In 2011 NH’s unemployment was 5.2%, a full 3% less than the national average of 8.2%.  And once again NH fared better than 20 of the 22 RTW States.
I am not an economist, I am a simple middle class worker who likes to do research before I decide what to vote for.  Here is something that no other state in the US can say;  New Hampshire is the only state that has a lower unemployment rate in 2011 than they had in 1990.  Right To Work will not help our economy.  We do not need help that will actually hurt our state.  Other states should strive to be more like New Hampshire and less like those Right to Work states that are faring poorly.  People should be learning from our economy and not using unemployment statistics as a way to try to break down local unions.

 I have include a graph of the BLS.GOV chart used to make all of these statements. Right Click — Save As to download for closer viewing. RTW States are in Bold

State Rep Makes Anti-Labor Comments made on NH Union Leader Website

The Union Leader like most websites allow reader to make comments on their articles and editorials.  This is a revertible mine field.  The comments range from a simple “thats right” to a  long diatribe of mean and hateful comments about the author or the message. Some of these commenters are real readers who live in the area and are genuinely concerned about the topic. Some are what are commonly referred to as “blog trolls”.  These are people who are paid by an organization to “troll” the internet and post comments on blogs that are relevant to their organization.  In my reading of articles and blogs on Right To Work, I have come across this many times.  The same people saying the same thing over and over.

Recently the Union Leader published a Pro Right To Work editorial (I will have more on this another time).  In the comments of this post one really stuck out at me.  This is what it said:

“I’m all for the right for employees to associate or to dissociate, but employers don’t currently have that right. Employers CAN’T make a decision, they have no choice. RTW is simply the state stepping on the other end of the scale and balancing out the feds. I’ll vote against RTW if the federal government makes it legal for employers to choose to simply not deal with unions. I’m not holding my breath, because the labor movement will never stop holding that gun to the head of small, medium, and large businesses across the country.” – NH Union Leader Comments Section (bold added for emphasis)

 I am sure you can see why this was like a slap in the face to me.  This comment has a no holds barred attack on Unions.  I want to break this down a little and show you what the commenter was really saying. “I’m all for the right for employees to associate or to dissociate, but employers don’t currently have that right. Employers CAN’T make a decision, they have no choice. He starts off by stating that he does not care if we have Labor Unions or if people want to join them or not.  His point is that Employers should have the right to completely ignore a Labor Union if the Employer chooses to.  This is another way of saying “we can form a union but the Employer decides if they want to accept it”.  This goes against the entire process of forming Labor Unions.  For seventy plus years workers have had to first come together (most of the time in secret) to find out if they had enough workers to support electing a Labor Union to represent them.  The Wagner Act clearly states in SEC. 8: “It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer To refuse to bargain collectively with the representatives of his employees.” Prior to this law in 1935 employers would fire workers for attempting to organize or promote Labor Unions.  It also made it Federal Law that Employers must negotiate with the duly elected representatives of that Union. It also created the National Labor Relations Board to ensure the t laws were being followed by both Unions and Employers.  So what this commenter is suggesting is that we repeal a law that has been in effect for over 75 years and is the complete basis for forming and joining Labor Unions.

As if the opening part of this comment was not bad enough he continues by stating that; “the labor movement will never stop holding that gun to the head of small, medium, and large businesses across the country”.  That is a very bold statement and complete untrue.  I know that he is speaking in metaphors and there is no literal “gun”,  but the point he is trying to make is that Labor Unions are holding business hostage.  Think about that for a minute.  I will not go through the entire list of things that Labor Unions have done for workers here in the United States (if you want to see a small list that was posted on NH Labor News Network before click here).  All of these things that Labor Unions have fought and died for came from the collective bargaining process.  Does anyone really believe that mill owners wanted to give workers two days off per week, or pay a minimum wage?  No these things had to be fought for and negotiated into labor contracts.  Sometimes it took workers physically walking out on their jobs to get their message heard.  Otherwise owners would simply ignore their demands.  This is still the case today.  Workers go on strike, to get their message heard.  Employers meet with Unions and “negotiate”.  However this does not always mean they will meet in the middle.  Sometime the Union gets more of what they want, other times the employer gets more from the workers and the Union.  Nobody is being held hostage.  They must simply sit down and talk to each other to solve their differences.   By doing this they can accomplish great things.  Recently the State Employee Association of New Hampshire worked with the Governor to save the State $50 million dollars in renegotiating their contract.

I think the most appalling part of this comment is who wrote it, “NH State Rep. Keith Murphy (R-Bedford)”.  People are free to believe what they want and have the freedom to say it but this goes to far.  Our elected representatives should be held to a higher standard when making a statement on TV, Radio, or in the Comments section of the Union Leader.  There is a simple solution to all of this,  Get OUT VOTE.  If you do not like what Your State Rep is saying Vote them Out!  Then they will just be the angry guy who lives down the street.  Your State Reps are elected to speak for You in Concord.  Do not let them forget that.  Call them and tell them that.  If they still will not listen, Vote Them Out!

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