House Bill 474, which passed the Senate 16-8, would end the ability of unions to collect mandatory or so-called "agency" fees from non-union members. It would also make it illegal for companies to deduct those payments, which cover costs unions say they incur representing non-union employees.
The bill passed the NH House, but passed with not enough votes to override a veto. The House has to accept changes to the bill made by the Senate. If they do not, the bill goes to a committee of conference, to work out the details, before heading to the governor's desk. Governor Lynch has promised to veto the bill.
New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie said after the vote, "Quite simply, our state's working people were sold out today by the state Senate." Other opponents characterized the bill as a "race to the economic bottom," pushed by the National Right to Work Committee in Virginia and big corporations. Right-to-work states draw lower paying jobs and see lower average incomes, they argued.
This bill has been defeated 9 times in NH since 1992 - and most of those defeats occurred during years when the Republicans had the majority.
Three Republicans -- Sen. Sharon Carson of Londonderry, Sen. John Gallus of Berlin and Sen. David Boutin of Hooksett -- voted against the bill Wednesday, with the Senate's five Democrats.
Last week I wrote about Senator Carson being threatened as a result of her stance on this issue.
Now it comes down to whether or not there will be a veto-proof majority, which means that all 400 members of the NH House will be lobbied fiercely, by constituents and special interest groups, and so will the senators. We can only hope some minds will be changed during the next part of this battle. If this bill becomes law, NH will be the only right to work state in the northeast. This is not a distinction that will enhance our state image.
cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org