New Hampshire lawmakers to vote on making union dues optional

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By Scott Malone

<span class="articleLocation”>Lawmakers in New Hampshire’s
Republican-controlled legislature are set to vote Thursday on a
bill to make the state the 29th in the country where paying dues
was optional for employees in union-represented jobs.

Unlike in Missouri and Kentucky where similar “right to
work” measures sailed through Republican legislatures this year,
the bill is no sure bet in the fractious 400-seat state House of
Representatives, according to supporters and opponents.

The measure passed the state senate by one vote last month.
Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, has said he will sign it if
it passes, which would make New Hampshire the first state in the
northeast to pass such a law.

Labor unions say the laws undercut them by allowing people
to avoid paying dues while still gaining the benefits and pay
negotiated by the union. Supporters say they give workers a
choice of whether to pay when they take jobs in union shops.

“It is critical that we provide for ourselves every
available tool to both strengthen our workforce and attract new,
thriving business opportunities. ‘Right to work’ legislation
helps to realize those goals,” said Sununu, whose father, John
Sununu, served as New Hampshire governor and later in the George
H.W. Bush White House.

The state chapter of the AFL-CIO labor union has called on
members to rally outside the capitol in Concord on Thursday
morning ahead of the vote.

“This legislation is an attack on working families by
out-of-state special interests seeking to lower wages for
everyone and undermine worker protections,” said Glenn Brackett,
president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

Both sides were still lobbying lawmakers on Wednesday.

“This is going to be a razor-thin vote,” said David Juvet,
senior vice president at the New Hampshire Business and Industry
Association, which views the measure as necessary to lure
businesses into the state. “More than a majority of the states
are ‘right-to-work’ states, so this isn’t some untried, untested
phenomenon.”

Union membership in New Hampshire is slightly lower than the
national average, with organized labor representing 9.4 percent
of working people in the state compared with 10.7 percent
nationwide, according to federal government data.

“Nationwide this is a hallmark Republican issue, but here it
New Hampshire it’s not so much of a litmus test,” said Neil
Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of
Politics. “It could go either way.”



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