Today the NH House Labor Committee is hearing testimony on HB 402, Right To Work legislation. Many people are at the State House testifying for this bill. Linda Horan, a labor activist for many years, sent us her testimony.
Statement in Opposition to HB402
February 17, 2015
Good afternoon. My name is Linda Horan. I live in Alstead. I’m a retired telephone company worker and a proud member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2320.
During my 32 years as a phone worker, I had health insurance, good wages, a pension, and job security. These weren’t given to me by the company. These were things that I worked with other union members to win. And once we won them, we protected them. We didn’t do this by begging the company as individuals. We did this by working together to accomplish as a group what we couldn’t achieve as individuals. That’s the basic principle of unionism. HB402 attacks that principle.
Today, members of IBEW Local 2320, have been on strike for 124 days. This is a strike about our future and the future of telecommunications in New Hampshire. It’s a strike to defend hard won gains that have created a decent standard of living and job security. FairPoint is demanding the right to contract out every job. If that happens, all that we have worked together to gain could be gone just like that.
Again, phone workers won a decent standard of living and job security by standing together to accomplish together what we could not achieve as individuals. HB402 mocks these accomplishments and seeks to tear them down.
HB402 says that it is okay for someone to see all that we accomplished, decide they want to enjoy those benefits, but refuse to contribute to the costs of improving and maintaining them. That’s an insult. And it’s a threat to our well-being.
HB402 is nothing more than a unionbusting proposal dressed up in false claims about economic benefits and personal liberty.
Claims about personal liberty are a sham. Proponents are not bothered by other job requirements. They do not complain when employers insist on educational requirements completely unrelated to a job. They do not object when non-union retailers tell new hires that clerks are expected to wear red shirts and black pants, so go out and buy them if you want the job. We don’t hear a peep from Right-to-Work advocates about the at-will status of workers without union protections – workers who can be fired without just cause. But let an employer negotiate a fair-share contract clause proposed by its workers and somehow personal liberty is under attack.
Many of you are familiar with the children’s story book about The Little Red Hen, who couldn’t get any help from the other barnyard animals when she decided to bake some bread. But those other animals wanted to share the bread once she had done all the work. The moral of the story is don’t expect to reap without sowing. That’s an important lesson that I taught my kids. HB402 turns the moral of the story upside down. It says the little red hen violated the personal liberty of the pig, the cat, and other animals who wanted to freeload off her.
In conclusion, Local 2320 has a fair share clause in our contract. There are a handful of non-members who pay a fair share fee, which is less than full dues. I wish they were members, but at least they pay their share of the costs of bargaining and enforcing the contract that provides the benefits we enjoy. That’s because the law allows us to make a democratic decision to negotiate a fair-share agreement as part of our contract. HB402 would take away that right. That’s wrong. We don’t need the State looking over our shoulder and telling us what to bargain.
I urge you to vote HB402 Inexpedient to Legislate. Also, please accept this as testimony against HB658, which I urge you to vote Inexpedient to Legislate for the same reasons.