By Andrew Hemingway, chairman, Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire
When I heard a loud, angry group of firefighters interrupting the business of the Legislature by shouting in unison from the State House gallery, “We protect your families!,” I wondered as a citizen whether to take that as a threat.
I wonder whether it was lost on those firefighters that they were hired and they agreed to protect all families in their districts, regardless of whether that person supports or opposes the Right to Work legislation, regardless of whether someone supports or opposes their regular salary and benefit increases and regardless of whether someone says “thank you” or something quite the contrary for their services.
I also wonder if there are any firefighters out there who wish they could disassociate themselves from the union that supports such raucous behavior with their money, particularly since they must pay their union dues in New Hampshire whether they like it or not. I wonder if any of these firefighters would use the Right to Work legislation to get the job they love without being held hostage by the control and involuntary fees of a third party?
I’ve spoken with teachers who wish they could opt-out of their union, which forces them to pay money toward efforts to keep their pay level with that of their less capable colleagues. Good teachers and their students are harmed by such union rules that prop up poorly performing instructors, but good teachers and students are not allowed to do anything about it. They get to pay for the privilege to be held back.
The private sector unions are not immune from such scrutiny. The autoworkers, for instance, ran General Motors into the ground with their unsustainable demands, which could have cost everyone at the company their jobs, even those who didn’t want to join the union and were happy with a more reasonable arrangement with their employer. Were GM in a Right to Work state, the company could have hired non-union employees willing and able to work for an agreed upon wage and benefit package, and the bailout never would have been necessary.
The bottom line is this: Right to Work legislation allows people to work for the company of their choice according to terms they are willing to accept without being forced by a private, third-party entity to pay for unwanted protection and to follow unsustainable or counterproductive rules.
Not everyone thinks that the unions are do-gooders with everyone’s interest in mind. And even if these folks who chose not to join a union are wrong, they still have the right in a free society to associate or to not associate with whatever organization they choose without interference. Since New Hampshire is not yet a Right to Work state, Granite Staters are being denied that right.
Opponents to the pending Right to Work legislation have said that the law would bring lower wages and poor job conditions, but a quick look at the facts show that these are scare tactics not much different than the one firefighters were using when they were shouting from the State House gallery.
In fact, the truth is that Republicans who do not vote for Right to Work legislation will be at great risk of violating their promise to voters to stimulate jobs and promote economic opportunity. The Right to Work law would unquestionably attract jobs to New Hampshire, which would undeniably lead to economic growth and opportunity. It does everywhere else.
It took just six months for the State of Oklahoma to move from 40th in job creation to first in the nation after the Sooner State passed Right to Work. That’s just one example. In general, the 22 right-to-work states are more prosperous than union-shop states; they have higher gross state product growth (55 percent verses 41 percent), higher personal income growth (53 percent verses 41 percent) and higher population growth (12 percent verses 6 percent).
With the stats and logic on the side of Right to Work, it’s now up to the Republican Party to come together and prove to voters they can fulfill their promises to create jobs and stimulate the economy. This legislation will truly be the test for the party.