IBEW 1837 Members Play Important Role in Defeating NH "Right to Work" Bill

February 20, 2017 - Members and retirees from IBEW 1837 joined with their union Brothers and Sisters throughout the Granite State and helped defeat a so-called “Right to Work” bill in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, 200 – 177. By doing so, the state’s Labor Movement overcame tremendous odds in thwarting a top policy priority of new Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who had GOP majorities in both bodies of the state legislature.

So-called “Right to Work” was narrowly approved by the Senate, 12 – 11, although its passage there was never really in doubt. 

Everyone knew it would be a tougher sell in the House.  Even though Republicans control that legislative chamber by a 226 – 173 margin, some of them are Union members or supporters of collective bargaining rights who recognize the true purpose of these union-busting bills. In the end, a total of 32 Republicans joined Democrats in the House and voted against “Right to Work.”

Hundreds of union members packed Representatives Hall at the State House in Concord for a public hearing on the bill before the House Labor Committee. Dozens of union members and allies from faith and community groups testified in opposition to it while only a handful of people testified in favor of “Right to Work.” Two IBEW 1837 members from Eversource testified in opposition: Rebecca Johnson, a Control Room Operator from Schiller Station, and Pat Moran, a Troubleshooter from the Hooksett AWC.

“To work beside someone who is enjoying the benefits I am paying for is not right and you know it,” Sister Johnson said, referring to “free riders” who are protected by the contract but choose to pay nothing in “Right to Work” states. “The bottom line is this bill is really not about paying dues so much as it is about splintering workers to their own corners and to take away hard fought benefits.”

[RTW House Hearing]

Hundreds of union members packed

Representatives Hall for hearing about

so-called "Right to Work" bills.

Brother Moran echoed her sentiments when he said “I don’t understand why you would vote to effectively require union members like me who are more than willing to pay our dues, to subsidize representation and benefits for Company employees who choose to pay nothing. It’s just not fair.”

Other IBEW 1837 members throughout the state called, emailed or met personally with their State Representatives to let them know that many of their constituents opposed this union-busting bill. Those personal contacts were key to convincing undecided legislators to stand with workers and their unions by voting “No” on the deceptively-named “Right to Work.”

“I want to thank the NH AFL-CIO and everyone who worked the phone banks and canvassed, contacting their fellow Brothers and Sisters, as well as everyone who called their legislators and stood strong against this attack on our rights,” IBEW 1837 Assistant Business Manager Tom Ryan said. “I also wish to thank the legislators who recognized the so-called “Right to Work” legislation for what it is and stood beside us and voted to reject the bill. This effort makes me proud to be a Union member.”

Union members and allies are being encouraged to thank all the Republican and Democratic State Representatives who opposed so-called “Right to Work” by writing them a short postcard or note of thanks. Contact information for State Representatives can be found by clicking here.

“A bi-partisan majority confirmed that ‘Right to Work’ is still wrong for New Hampshire, and this vote should be the final nail in the coffin” said Glenn Brackett, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. “Across the Granite State, working people stood together against this corporate-backed legislation that would cripple our ability to speak up on job. We thank the legislators who let workers’ voices rise above special interests.”