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Battle for Worker Rights Arrives in New Hampshire

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Workers are facing a difficult time in several states across the country, thanks to election promises made by lawmakers who are now in office. But none seem as out-of-sorts as New Hampshire.

With a Republican-led Legislature and a new GOP governor, the state is moving ahead with considering so-called right-to-work legislation that would curb union rights there. The first hearing was held last week, and more are expected to follow. If enacted, New Hampshire would become the first RTW state in New England.

The good news is that despite the state government being under one-party rule, it is not certain lawmakers will ultimately support RTW. While Gov. Chris Sununu has pledged to sign such a measure if it reaches his desk, it is unclear whether such a bill has the support needed in the House to pass.

Of course, there are a multitude of reasons not to back the measure. The 62,000 New Hampshire union members will likely see their power at the bargaining table and wages reduced under such a scenario. And non-union members will become free riders on the system, getting all the benefits of a union contract while contributing nothing to it.

As Teamsters Local 633’s Richard Laughton said during the public hearing last week, “They’re not paying for those services; their fellow employees have to pay for that service for them. And that’s not correct.”

Union members, however, won’t be the only ones hurt if RTW becomes a reality in the “Live Free or Die” state. Those living in RTW states have a higher poverty rate than those in ones that support collective bargaining. In fact, nine of the 10 highest poverty states are RTW. That, in part, is attributable to lower salaries and benefits. Those with no rights at work make almost $1,500 a year less. They are also less likely to receive employer-based health insurance or pensions as well.

Residents of Kentucky are likely to find this out soon, given the enactment of the legislation there. And unfortunately, so might workers in Missouri. These efforts need to be called out for what they are -- a corporate-fueled attack on everyday people who are just trying to earn a living to support their families.

New Hampshire, don’t be fooled by the RTW ruse!

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