So-Called "Right to Work" Bills Tabled in New Hampshire and Maine

April 11, 2012 - The NH Senate voted today to table repeat so-called "Right to Work" legislation, acknowledging the legislation would fail but leaving the door open for anti-worker/anti-union House Speaker William O’Brien.

Following the vote, New Hampshire workers, labor leaders and community allies expressed hope that the Senate would take a similar approach to additional anti-worker bills from the House and move on to more important issues.

“The Senate took a step in the right direction today in voting to indefinitely table HB 1677. Their vote follows confirms what we hear each and every day: people are tired of right to work for less dominating the discussion in Concord,” said NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie. “Yet New Hampshire’s working families still face threats in our Legislature. We hope that the Senate follows through on its promises to focus on jobs and rejects any other proposals to curtail the rights of Granite Staters.”

“Today we saw our senators demonstrate leadership by putting aside Speaker O’Brien’s never ending war against working families,” said Diana Lacey,  President of the State Employees Association. “Unlike their 2011 vote, all of the senators know now that this bill has no chance of becoming law and it is good to see them signal to the House that the focus needs to be on job creation.”

Most workers and community members believe that House Speaker O’Brien’s extremist ideas are to blame for the continued attack on workers, public infrastructure and essential services. Rhonda Wesolowski, president of NEA-NH, called for the Senate to reject that agenda and instead take the lead on job creation initiatives. “We now look forward to the Senate enhancing the opportunity for better jobs through renewed support of public education and educators.”

Meanwhile, the Maine House of Representatives "tabled unassigned" LD 309 last night, a public-sector only "Right to Work" bill. Workers from both the private and public sector have been vocal in their opposition to the bill.

While the union-busting legislation is not technically dead, some of the focus has shifted to LR 2787, a proposed workers' compensation bill that would limit benefits for severely injured workers, and LD 1725, an unemployment insurance bill that would hurt workers who are laid off through no fault of their own. The Maine House and Senate are expected to vote on these two bills before the session ends later this week.

Members of IBEW Local 1837 have played an active role in pushing back against anti-worker legislation in both New Hampshire and Maine. They've contacted their elected representatives by phone and email while also maintaining a regular presence during Labor Lobby Days at the State Houses in Concord and Augusta.