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New Hampshire Anti-Union Bill Could Pass Over Governor’s Veto

The anti-union agenda ushered in by Tea Party Republicans shifted from the Midwest to the Northeast this week, as New Hampshire passed a bill that would go much further than Wisconsin, Ohio or other states. It would make New Hampshire the 23rd right-to-work-for-less state in the country, essentially banning union activity and collective bargaining in the private sector.

The latest battle front over limitations on unions has opened in New Hampshire, where a law is expected to be adopted that would prohibit unions from collecting mandatory fees and disallow collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union […]

“I thought it was simply a freedom-of-choice issue,” said State Senator Raymond White, a Republican who supported the bill. “At the end of the day it’s simply a bill about does a person have to pay union dues?”

At the end of the day, it’s most certainly not that simple. First of all, collective bargaining agreements do not require employees to join a labor union. CBAs can require workers to pay fees to unions to represent them, but the worker does not have to join the union. The goal here is to cripple unions even if the overwhelming majority of workers at a particular workplace want to join one. When given the choice upon entering a job to have or not have dues taken out of your paycheck, the average worker is likely to opt for the latter. Especially when the union is obligated to advocate on your behalf either way, which would be the effect of the law. This creates a massive free-rider problem, because it allows workers to get the benefits of collective bargaining without having to contribute to the apparatus that secures it. This is unsustainable, and it leads to collapse. That’s how it’s worked in every state where it’s been instituted.

This bill has already passed the New Hampshire House in a different form. The Governor is a Democrat, John Lynch, and he has vowed to veto the bill. However, it passed the Senate 16-8, just enough for an override. And it passed the House in large numbers as well.

New Hampshire isn’t a heavy union state, with only 11% of residents belonging to a union. So this is more about the union influence in politics than their influence in the workplace, it seems.

The local AFL-CIO and other labor groups have planned protests across the state, as the battle shifts to beating the veto override vote. The head of the AFL-CIO in New Hampshire called it a “street fight.”

Stay tuned.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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