Mar. 30—CONCORD — A key House committee endorsed the Right-to-Work bill, setting up a final showdown before the full House of Representatives next week over legislation to keep workers in the private sector from having to pay union dues or fees to cover bargaining costs.
The 11-9 vote of the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services along partisan lines Tuesday was expected, given that House Republican leaders have made this issue (SB 61) a priority for the 2021 session.
Committee Chairman Will Infantine, R-Manchester, said he regretted so many opponents to the measure expressed "fear and anger" over its passage.
Infantine said he believes New Hampshire would attract new and expanded jobs by becoming the 28th state and the only one in the Northeast to adopt this policy.
"I honestly feel that passing this will be a benefit to jobs and the state of New Hampshire, both union and nonunion," Infantine said.
The U.S. Supreme Court's Janus decision in 2018 decided these so-called agency fees paid by nonunion members in government jobs were unconstitutional.
Rep. Brian Sullivan, D-Grantham, is a retired physical science teacher.
"Right-to-work is union-busting legislation, plain and simple and it's not right for New Hampshire. Let's not join the race to the bottom," Sullivan said.
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Rep. Leonard Turcotte, R-Barrington, said that as a union member of the Airline Pilots Association he should have the option to support its work or not.
"The fear grenade that all of a sudden members will start leaving just won't happen; that's because those union members feel they are getting an adequate value from their association," Turcotte said.
But Rep. Timothy Soucy, D-Concord, said he can't understand why GOP conservatives would support a policy that has government dictating what a private business owner can negotiate with employees.
"With other bills, we clearly stated that we didn't want government intrusion into privately held businesses, so why now?" Soucy asked rhetorically.
"The answer is simple; because there's a union."
Greg Moore, state director of the fiscally conservative Americans for Prosperity, said the bill is in keeping with the state's libertarian culture.
"Right-to-Work would guarantee that no worker would be penalized for not joining a union in order to keep their job; moreover, it would make New Hampshire a much more competitive state in attracting good, new jobs here," Moore said.
"This is a win-win for our economy and worker freedom."
Over the past 40 years, efforts to pass Right-to-Work have failed.
They came closest in 2012 when Republicans had a 3-1, super-majority in both branches of the Legislature; Gov. John Lynch vetoed the bill, and an override bid failed in the House.