Maggie Hassan Gets Rare IBEW 1837 Endorsement for NH Gov. in Final Weeks of Campaign

October 24, 2012 - The last two years have seen exhausting battles in Concord and Augusta against so-called “Right to Work” bills and other anti-worker initiatives. It is only because of the sustained, excellent work of labor activists and allies in both states that we were able to minimize the damage against working people and their unions.

With New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch’s decision not to seek another two-year term, November’s election looms especially large.  Republican candidate Ovide Lamontagne, has proudly proclaimed that he will be like Wisconsin’s “Scott Walker on steroids.” Since the Republican party may retain majorities in both the NH House and Senate, union activists hope to elect a pro-labor Governor who can veto these bad bills.

Democratic candidate Maggie Hassan has pledged to protect collective bargaining rights and has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and IBEW 1837.

“We cannot afford to have Lamontagne as our next Governor,” IBEW 1837 Vice President Bill Tarallo said. “If he wins, it’s just a matter of time before we have “Right to Work for Less” in New Hampshire. That will force our dues-paying members to pay to represent co-workers who don’t feel like paying their fair share. It will hurt the Local financially and make it harder to represent all our members. Maggie Hassan is on our side and deserves our support.”

A list of legislative endorsements prepared by the New Hampshire AFL-CIO and the Maine AFL-CIO may be found by logging in to the Members Only section of this website.

In Maine, another admirer of Scott Walker, Gov. Paul LePage, has two years left in his term. The emphasis for union activists in the Pine Tree State has been to support pro-labor candidates in hopes of gaining a majority in either the House or Senate. One of those candidates is IBEW 1837 member Aaron Gilman from Bangor Hydro, running for the Maine House. You can read more about Aaron if you click here.

Failure to gain majority status in at least one of the Maine legislative bodies is likely to embolden labor opponents and will lead to another two years of battling anti-worker bills. Gov. LePage has consistently said that making Maine a so-called “Right to Work” state is a top priority.  If Ovide Lamontagne becomes the next governor of New Hampshire, it will make that possibility loom even larger to LePage and his anti-union legislative allies.

President of the United States

Obviously, it is the presidential race that gets the most attention. While many of our members have been dissatisfied with various aspects of President Barack Obama’s first term, the choice is stark and clear. Mitt Romney  has consistently made anti-union comments and his presidency would be disastrous for the trade union movement.

Mitt Romney has clearly and emphatically stated that he doesn’t like “Union Bosses,” he will support and encourage so-called “Right to Work” laws, and would work to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act which requires paying the prevailing wage on public works projects. Beyond that, we can expect Romney to appoint a Labor Secretary and NLRB members hostile to organized labor, and to institute Draconian reporting requirements for Unions that will put a tremendous burden on IBEW 1837.

Barack Obama has disappointed us by continuing failed NAFTA-style trade policies and failing to push for wider labor law reform. But he has repealed many Bush-era rules that were designed merely to harass labor unions while promoting pro-union NLRB members and appointing Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary, the former head of America Rights at Work. While Obama failed to effectively promote the Employee Free Choice Act, he has moved to increase and protect the rights of workers during a union organizing campaign.

The next President will also be responsible for appointing an unknown number of justices to the United States Supreme Court. As we’ve seen with the Citizens United decision affecting political campaign spending, the Supreme Court either directly or indirectly impacts every facet of American life - including labor law. There is no question that a Romney presidency would move the Supreme Court in the wrong direction when it comes to determining the constitutionality of possible labor law reforms.

United States Senate and House of Representatives

The only Senate contest in Maine or New Hampshire this year is to replace the retiring Senator Olympia Snowe, a moderate Republican who frequently voted against Labor but was also willing to listen to our concerns. In fact, Snowe voted against NAFTA, CAFTA, and some of the other horrendous trade agreements that many in her party favored.

The major candidates are Republican Charlie Summers, Maine’s currently Secretary of State; Democratic State Senator Cynthia Dill; and the presumptive favorite, Independent former Governor Angus King. While Cynthia Dill is arguably the most pro-labor of the three candidates, most unions have been slow to endorse her because of her support for issues that many of their members oppose: a national park study in Northern Maine and stronger gun control measures. Charlie Summers has been endorsed and financially supported by the anti-union U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Angus King was not a friend of labor when he was Governor, opposing permanent replacement worker legislation, professional strikebreaker legislation and increases in the minimum wage. Although King refuses to openly state which party he would caucus with as a United States Senator, Democrats expect him to work with them and help the party retain their majority status.

In the United States House of Representatives, Republicans will hope to retain their majority status in part by retaining their two seats in New Hampshire and grabbing at least one seat in Maine.

In the New Hampshire race for Congress, Democrats Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster have been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and will go up against Republicans Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass, respectively. Polls indicate that both of these races are extremely competitive.

In Maine, Democrats Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud have the AFL-CIO endorsement. Both have been steadfast supporters of labor while Michaud is a former mill worker and card-carrying union member. Pingree is expected to cruise to victory against Republican Jon Courtney. Michaud is expected to have a somewhat tougher race against State Senate President Kevin Raye, but he also leads in most polls.