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AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin: Taking Action Against Right To Work

January 13, 2017

On Tuesday, January 10, hundreds packed Reps Hall in the State House for the Senate Commerce Committee public hearing on SB 11, the proposed “right to work” legislation. From 1 pm into the evening, a long line of witnesses, including Senators, Representatives, labor leaders, and working people (union and non-union) spoke against so-called “right to work” legislation. They pointed out that it would bring no new economic investment to NH, would inject the State into the negotiations process, and was simply an attempt to financially cripple labor unions and thereby weaken their ability to better the working conditions and the lives of those they represent. And then, at the end of the day, without taking any time to consider evidence presented, the Committee voted 3-2, along strict party lines, to send SB 11 onto the Senate, with a recommendation of “ought to pass.”

The full Senate is expected to vote on SB 11 (“right to work”) next week, in its session on Thursday, January 19. So what have we learned?

First, all the talk by Republican leaders regarding bipartisanship and cooperation “across the aisle” was just that, talk. It is clear that their strategy is to try to “fast track” and ram SB 11 through the NH Legislature as quickly as possible. Logic and reason and careful consideration of the issue are not part of the plan, because these would only slow down their anti-union and anti-working families agenda.

Second, we also see that many NH legislators are quite willing to do the bidding of out-of-state lobbying groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, the National Right to Work Committee, and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). All three draw significant funding from corporate sources, and in the case of ALEC, they are the actual authors of much of SB 11. The sponsors of SB 11 don’t even do their own work; rather, they copied large swathes of ALEC’s model or suggested “right to work” legislation and pasted it directly into SB 11. So what we now have is anti-union and anti-working families legislation written by corporate interest groups being foisted upon New Hampshire with little to no reasoned consideration or careful examination. This is the “selling” of New Hampshire. Perhaps this is what Gov. Sununu meant in his inauguration speech when he announced “New Hampshire is open for business.”

Two other major anti-labor bills also came forward this week. One, HB 520, is simply another version of ‘right-to-work,’ introduced in the NH House to be taken up in case the Senate version, SB 11, fails. The other bill is HB 438, which would bar all public employers from agreeing to payroll deduction of union dues, thereby making it much more difficult for unions to collect dues from members. This latter bill was part of Governor Scott Walker’s assault on public-sector labor unions in Wisconsin and has proven highly successful. There are no arguments here about freedom or rights—this is a straightforward effort to effectively destroy public sector unions, your unions. If anyone had doubts as to the intentions of our opponents, those doubts should now be erased. Their goal is clear—destruction of organized labor in New Hampshire.

What is there to do? Email your Senator or even better, call your Senator. Tell them who you are, that you are a union member, you oppose “right to work” and you want your senator to do so as well.

Who is your Senator? Go here to find out: Find Your Senator.

Need their email address or a phone number (office or home)? Go here and click on your Senator’s photo or use the email or office phone number listed on this page: Senator Contact Information

You need not be fancy or incredibly articulate—just a short message of who you are, what town you live in, and you want her/him to oppose right-to-work. And do it in the next few days, before they vote on January 19!

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

NH AFL-CIO President Brackett’s Statement On SB11 Hearing, “Right to Work (For Less)”

Statement From New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett
On First Legislative Hearing For SB11-FN, So-Called “Right to Work” Bill

Concord – New Hampshire AFL-CIO President, Glenn Brackett, released the following statement after the conclusion of the first hearing of the legislative session on a so-called “Right to Work” bill (SB11-FN): 

“I am grateful to all of our brothers and sisters who traveled from towns and cities across the Granite State to stand in Solidarity with us as we voiced our opposition to SB11, another so-called ‘Right to Work’ bill that is now before the New Hampshire State Senate. I was disappointed that after listening to four hours of impassioned testimony, from over one hundred speakers, that three members of the committee immediately voted to pass SB11 without further discussion or research. I would like to thank Senator Donna Soucy, and Senator Bette Lasky for voting against this deceptive legislation and standing up for New Hampshire working families. We will need your support in the fight ahead. 

Every two years, corporate special interest come to New Hampshire to try and pass ‘right to work for less’ legislation that would make life harder for New Hampshire working families. And every two years, concerned citizens, activists, union members and community leaders come together to fight for working families. In New Hampshire, bi-partisan support has defeated efforts to pass so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation for decades because these laws only weaken workers’ freedom to bargain for respect, fair pay and safety on the job. Fraudulently-labeled ‘Right to Work’ is theft by deception legislation, and it remains wrong for New Hampshire. 

If the legislature is seriously interested in creating jobs and bringing business to New Hampshire, they should focus on lowering the cost of energy, and investing in education and infrastructure. New Hampshire deserves real solutions to real problems, and not partisan politics. The legislature was elected to advocate for the best interests of all New Hampshire working families, and that is why they must protect our rights and stop any form of so-called ‘Right to Work.’” 

AFT-NH President Ley’s Testimony Against SB11, “Right to Work”

Testimony of Douglas Ley In Opposition to Senate Bill 11

I am president of AFT-NH, representing 4000 teachers, para-educators, school support staff, town and municipal employees, police officers and first responders. As such, I have been asked to present letters from a number of our local presidents regarding this proposed legislation and ask that you read these with care and consideration. I have letters from the Presidents of the Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers, Hudson Federation of Teachers, Newfound Teachers’ Union and Timberlane Teachers’ Association.

My own testimony shall be brief, to the point, and is rooted in my long-standing public opposition to so-called ‘right to work’ legislation as well as my membership in a private sector union local with agency fee. Within that local at Franklin Pierce University, over 90% of bargaining unit employees are full members of the union. One full-time employee and a small number of part-time employees opt for the lower agency fee or a third option provided within our contract, ‘charitable contribution.’

Our ‘agency fee’ is really a ‘recovery cost payment,’ which helps defray the cost of negotiation and the enforcement of our contract. We have a good relationship with our employer, but nevertheless, there are constant questions of contract interpretation as well as various personnel issues which arise each year, all of which require investments of time and resources to resolve, whether it be through local activity, working with our state federation, or even calling upon the resources of our national offices. Like us, our employer also incurs costs to negotiate and enforce our collective bargaining agreement. They recover their costs by incorporating them into the operating expenses of the University, charged against students and others using the University. All we ask is the continued ability to act in similar but more limited fashion, to have employees who benefit from the collective bargaining agreement contribute to defraying the costs of negotiation and implementation.

I have worked at FPU for 26 years, and during that entire span there has been an “agency fee” option. In keeping with Federal and NH statutes, no one is required to join the union, but all must contribute in some form as mandated by our collective bargaining agreement. In twenty-six years, I know of no individual who declined employment due to this requirement, and as stated earlier, virtually every eligible employee has joined the union. Management agreed to this provision many, many years ago and has never brought forward a proposal in negotiation to eliminate agency fee. Similarly, in my experience working for AFT-NH, I can state that approximately half of our locals have agency fee, and no employer has ever proposed eliminating it. It is a provision freely agreed to by the two signatory parties to a contract, and the contract is then duly ratified via democratic process by employees in the bargaining unit and the governing body of the public employer after approval by the legislative body. Therefore, it is an excellent illustration of local flexibility and local control, long-standing NH traditions. To pass this legislation will only further inject the State into what is a localized and in many cases, private relationship and process, setting the stage for possible further restrictions upon employers and the bargaining agents of employees.

In sum, “right to work” interferes with the freedom to negotiate and engage in collective bargaining and resolves a problem which does not exist. Statute already prohibits requiring union membership as a condition of employment, and every potential employee already has the right to decide to accept a job, with all the conditions and requirements laid out by the employer, which in this case, could include support for maintaining the mutually-agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement. I respectfully ask that this Committee honor that freedom and local control, by rejecting so-called “right to work” legislation.

Timberlane Teachers Association: “Right To Work” Is Disrespectful To Workers

January 8, 2017

 

Re: Written Testimony In Opposition to Senate Bill 11 

Dear Honorable Chairman Innis and Members of the Committee, 

Due to work obligations, I am unable to attend the hearing on Senate Bill 11. However, I would like my letter entered into the record.

I am a fourteen year teaching veteran at Timberlane Regional High School. I have proudly served my teachers’ union as a building representative, Vice President, and, currently, as President of the Timberlane Teachers Association, AFT #4796. I am proud to say that this union of professionals has worked tirelessly to improve working conditions and quality of life for our members. Our union is also an open shop: we do not charge an agency fee. This means that the hard work that our paying members provide benefit all professional employees in the Timberlane Regional School District. It is only because of the selfless efforts of the Timberlane Teachers Association that we have been able to provide a contract that respects the professionalism and work of our teachers as they prepare the next generation of civil servants, entrepreneurs, and leaders. The value of this important work is reflected in the contract that they work under. So-called “Right-to-Work” legislation, like SB 11, severely undermine the respect shown to these professionals and the work they are charged with doing.

Legislation, like SB 11, does not improve quality of life for employees and their families. It does not show the respect or value we, as a society, should be presenting these professionals with. Instead, it inserts the government into the private negotiations between the employee representatives and their employer. It is, at its heart, big government. It undermines trust that is built by years of cooperation and negotiation between employee unions and employers and results in poor-quality contracts for employees, if any contract at all.

So-called “Right-to-Work” legislation also hurts families and local economies. As we have seen made abundantly clear in states that have shortsightedly enacted such legislation, like Wisconsin, RtW laws result in lower pay for employees, fewer benefits, and a lower quality of life for citizens. When employee purchasing power is reduced or hampered by such conditions, it ultimately feeds into the local economy, resulting in depressed local markets and, eventually, a labor shortage, as RtW laws have never resulted in an influx of business to a state and as workers seek better conditions in states that respect and value them.

Finally, legislation like SB-11 are unnecessary in states like New Hampshire. Since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and state-level legislation, no employee is forced to join a union in New Hampshire. Membership is voluntary, already. Thus, the only reason for legislation like SB-11 is to undermine the good work of unions and erode away the hard fought improvements in quality of life achieved only because of the work of unions in America.

I ask that you vote Inexpedient to Legislate on Senate Bill 11 so we can move forward with a positive agenda for NH. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Ryan Neal Richman
President, Timberlane Teachers Association, AFT 4796

AFSC-NH’s Testimony Against SB 11, “Right To Work”

Statement on SB 11, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union

January 10, 2017 

I am Arnie Alpert, Co-Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Hampshire Program. I am also a member of UNITE-HERE Local 66L and the UNITE-HERE New England Joint Board. I am pleased to be able to appear before you today both as a union member and as a representative of my employer to urge your rejection of the so-called “right to work” bill.

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that turns 100 years old this year. Throughout almost our entire history, going back to 1922 when we provided humanitarian assistance to unemployed coal miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, we have assisted working people who have sought to better their lives and working conditions. In 1936, a year after President Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act, the AFSC Social-Industrial Section drafted a statement “on the attitude that the AFSC should take towards organized labor.” The statement noted, in part:

Collective bargaining by groups of workers with employers is therefore desirable in order that workers may meet management on something like equal terms when they bargain for rates of pay, conditions of work, and security of employment.

Since then, from the textile mills of North Carolina to the orange groves of Florida to the grape fields of California, to the maquiladora factories along the Mexican border, and in countless kitchens and construction sites, the AFSC has stood with people who have sought employment, living wages, and dignity on the job.

The ability of working people to attain a decent standard of living is threatened in our country and in our state. According to the NH Housing Finance Authority, the statewide median rent of a two-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire was $1206 in 2016. That means it takes an income of more than $48,000 a year to afford a typical apartment. That’s more than three times what a worker makes at the current minimum wage.

If the purpose of SB 11 was to provide jobs at decent wages so that working people could afford decent housing, we would be enthusiastic about it. But what is called “right to work” is not about ensuring that all people have the right to a decent job. To the contrary, it is about undermining the ability of working people to organize among themselves and bargain collectively with their employers.

By making it more difficult for workers to organize, “right to work” would force down the wage levels of all working people in New Hampshire. The ability to afford health care would be threatened. The ability to pay taxes to support schools would be diminished. The state’s housing crisis would intensify. More people would seek public assistance.

Over the years, in this country and around the world, the American Friends Service Committee has observed that strong unions help their members better their wages and working conditions, but also can be powerful advocates for human rights and a better standard of living for everyone.

If you are interested in reducing poverty and giving more people access to decent jobs, you should recommend this bill inexpedient to legislate.

Hudson Federation Of Teachers President’s Testimony Opposing SB 11 “Right To Work”

Honorable Daniel Innis, Chairman
Senate Commerce Committee
107 North Main Street
Concord NH 03301 

Re: Written Testimony In Opposition to Senate Bill 11

Dear Honorable Chairman Innis and Members of the Committee,

Due to work obligations, I am unable to attend the hearing on Senate Bill 11. However, I would like my letter entered into the record.

I have been an educator in New Hampshire for over fifteen years. Today’s educators face many challenges, as the expectations placed on teachers have increased to issues beyond the classroom over the past decade. We no longer just need to be concerned with curriculum and assessment; we now need to often act as surrogate parents. Without the protection of a union, teachers could be exposed to unrealistic expectations as districts struggle to solve cultural problems through the classroom.

Unions help towns be competitive when they are seeking qualified applicants. Unions provide employees with fair wages and benefits, which can’t be changed through the whim of temporary board members. Unions allow employees to have a voice, without the fear of repercussions, which creates an environment where the best solutions can be sought to create the best outcomes for students.

As president of the Hudson Federation of Teachers, we have over 98% of our members choosing to join the union. They understand what being a union member provides for them. No member is forced to join, but our members appreciate having supplemental insurance, members who negotiate contracts for them, and members who will represent them should they request it. Unions make working situations better for everyone.

With all the challenges facing New Hampshire, such as the opioid crisis, it seems that there are other issues that requires the time and energy of our legislators rather than fix something that is not broken.

I ask that you vote Inexpedient to Legislate on Senate Bill 11 so we can move forward with a positive agenda for NH. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Lavoie

President, Hudson Federation of Teachers Local 2263

Republican, Teacher, and Union President, Opposes So-Called Right To Work In NH

Written Testimony From  Richard (Alex) Luhtjarv, President, Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers, Opposing SB 11

Dear Senator Avard,

I am writing to you as my State Senator and asking you to vote no on SB 11. I am a Republican, but also the President of a local teachers’ union. While many may feel that those two positions are contradictory, I do not. The reasons why I am both are very similar – I feel the Republican party AND labor unions protect the value of hard work. I was taught that the key to lifelong success was giving it 110% in school and at work.

As a teacher, I pass on those values. However, in my 17 years as an educator, I have been a witness to many situations where quality teachers have been subjected to unfair decisions in which the union was their only defender. There is value in that service to defend hard work.

I have also been a part of three different negotiating teams and each time, we worked together with the district to negotiate fiscally responsible contracts with fair pay and benefits while trying to mitigate the burden on taxpayers. There is value in that service to reward families of workers who have dedicated their careers to helping their students become productive members of the community.

Right to work bills are shortsighted. Our union currently has 100% participation among the teachers of our district. All of our teachers have benefited from the services provided by their local union. We use dues to help support that local work in advocacy of member interests and through collective bargaining. We also use dues to contribute to local charities and organizations, such as the food pantry and local youth athletic association.

Right to work would undermine our ability to continue to be a positive presence in our community. I hope that as a fellow Republican, you will read this letter, and 1. Consider voting against SB 11, but 2. Realize that the stereotypes that exist about unions in 2017 are just not accurate.
Thank you for your time and consideration,

Richard (Alex) Luhtjarv

President, Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers

Newfound Teachers Union President: “Right To Work” Will Not Improve The NH Economy

Newfound Teachers Union President’s Testimony Against
So-Called “Right To Work” Legislation

Honorable Daniel Innis, Chairman
Senate Commerce Committee
107 North Main Street
Concord NH 03301 

Re: Testimony In Opposition to Senate Bill 11

Dear Honorable Chairman Innis and Members of the Committee,

My name is Deirdre Conway. I am a second-grade teacher in the Newfound Area School District where I have taught for over 25 years. I am the president of our local teachers’ union, where we do not have agency fee, and believe local control is of utmost importance. I am a proud negotiator for all the teachers in Newfound and I also work for each and every one of them, member or not.

I am writing to urge you to vote against Senate Bill 11, the so-called “Right To Work” legislation.

I would ask you to determine the reasons you are in favor of it, and then consider these facts:

Granite State business experts agree that the “Right To Work” legislation does not address the factors employers say are most important. Under current laws (both state and local), no worker can be forced to join a union or pay union dues, so why do you feel the need for this legislation? “Right To Work” in other states has NOT increased jobs or improved their state’s economy.   Do you have reason to believe NH will be different? From what I have read, there is no compelling reason to believe so.

I would urge you to vote no on this and concentrate your efforts on issues that affect all of New Hampshire’s citizens and taxpayers.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Deirdre B. Conway

President, Newfound Teachers’ Union, AFT#6557

Nashua Teachers Union President’s Testimony Against SB 11 “Right To Work”

January 10, 2017

Honorable Daniel Innis, Chairman
Senate Commerce Committee
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301

Re: Written Testimony in Opposition to Senate Bill 11

Dear Honorable Chairman Innis and Members of the Committee,

First, I would like to thank Senator Innis and the Committee for this opportunity to speak this afternoon. My name is Adam Marcoux, and I reside in Nashua with my wife, 2 children, and one due in April. I am a lifelong resident of Nashua, a product of the Nashua School District, and a graduate of Keene State College. I care deeply about the future of our state and do not want to see legislation that will negatively impact working families in NH.

I have been employed by the Nashua School District since 2008 where I was a first and fifth grade teacher. Since August 2016, I have served as President of the Nashua Teachers’ Union. I am here to speak against Senate Bill 11, an act prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union – a so-called Right to Work Act. I have read the bill and it is hard to understand what would make this good public policy or that it is addressing any problem that exists in our state. I can attest that agency fee has not been an issue in Nashua and we have no problems as a result of having this provision.

As President of the Nashua Teachers’ Union, I was elected to provide a service to the teachers, para-educators, secretaries, and food service workers of the Nashua School District. I am required, by law, to negotiate, in good faith, a contract for more than 1500 employees of all 4 bargaining units. I am required, by law, to represent an employee in disciplinary proceedings. I am required, by law, to represent and file grievances on behalf of employees. Like any other business or service, I charge a fee for said services in the form of Union dues, or for non-members, Agency fees.

Under Senate Bill 11, non-members would no longer have to pay Agency fees, but still be afforded the benefits of the negotiated contract and the protection of progressive discipline. No one is forced to be a member of any Union in the State of New Hampshire. However, just like I am charged a service fee to use the Everett Turnpike in the form of tolls, or just as I am charged property taxes for City and State services, or just as I am expected to pay the parking meter on Main Street to park my car, so should the people who benefit from the time and energy my Executive Board, Board of Directors, Negotiating Teams, and I put into negotiating contracts, filing grievances, and defending their rights.

I would ask that the Senate Commerce Committee reject this legislation. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Respectfully Submitted,

Adam A. Marcoux
President, Nashua Teachers’ Union
American Federation of Teachers, Local 1044

Right To Work Is Still Wrong For New Hampshire Working Families

The working people of New Hampshire are once again under attack from the greedy corporate special interests that want to line their pockets by taking more money from the hard working Granite Staters.

The New Hampshire legislature is once again considering the so-called Right To Work law that has been proven to lower wages, increased healthcare costs, increase poverty rates and reduce workers access to a retirement plan.

The corporate special interests, who have been pushing this harmful and confusing legislation in New Hampshire for the last forty years, only care about one thing: how much more money can they take from you.

Research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that workers in Right to Work states, make on average $5,000 less per year. Lower wages means more profits in the hands of greedy CEOs and less money in the hands of hard working Granite Staters struggling to pay their bills.

The corporate lobbyists will tell you that ‘everyone should have the right to work,’ but the so-called Right to Work law has nothing to do with getting a job. Passing Right to Work will not magically make new companies appear out of thin air.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin echoed these claims as he forced a Right to Work law through the Wisconsin Legislature. He promised that by passing Right to Work, Wisconsin would create tens of thousands of new jobs.

However, after passing Right to Work in March of 2015, Wisconsin ended up loosing more than 10,000 jobs by the end of the year. This is vastly different than Wisconsin’s neighboring state of Minnesota whose pro-worker progressives agenda, created more than 12,000 jobs in the last quarter of 2015 and was ranked the “Top State for Business in 2015.”

The corporate lobbyists will try to tell you that Right to Work laws are about “freedom from greedy union bosses.”

Are they talking about those same “greedy unions” who helped usher in workplace safety regulations, vacation time, retirement benefits, and the weekend itself? If the corporations had their way, our manufacturing facilities would be filled with twelve year olds, working fourteen hours a day, six days a week for pennies a day.

These special interests will also try to tell you that by passing Right to Work it will give workers the freedom to choose if they want to join a union or not. What they neglect to tell you is that it is already illegal to force someone to join a union. What Right to Work does do is allow people to freeload off the union’s contracts.

The only freedom gained from pushing a Right to Work law in New Hampshire is the corporation’s freedom to pay workers less and take away your rights as workers.

Why are these corporate special interests so determined to pass this unnecessary legislation? New Hampshire already has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Conversely seven of the top ten states in unemployment are Right to Work states.

What exactly will we gain by passing this irrelevant legislation? It does nothing to help workers or struggling middle class families.

Right to Work laws are a thinly veiled affront on the hard working middle class by big business and corporate special interests. That’s why the National Right To Work Committee spends more than $11 million dollars a year lobbying to push this confusing, contentious legislation in state house’s all across the country.

Right to Work is bad for working people and wrong for New Hampshire.

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