State government officials are in a quandary over the decision of whether or not to adopt Right-to-Work legislation. For a decade, lawmakers remained at odds over the bill. Governor Chris Sununu believes Right-to-Work “gives employees once and for all the flexibility they deserve in the workplace.” He hopes the legislation would attract new companies to the state and improve employment options.
The state Senate passed Right-to-Work with a 12 to 11 vote on January 19. State representatives have yet to vote. Senator Sharon Carson was one of the lawmakers in favor of the bill. The House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee scheduled a public hearing on February 8 to discuss the SB11 matter. If the law passes in the house, New Hampshire would be the only northeastern state to prohibit contracts by unions to collect dues from employees who do not wish to be part of a union. Organizations also could not obtain agency fees to finance collective bargaining.
When representatives arrived for a House session last week, Right-to-Work protestors were there to make their concerns known.
What is Right-to-Work?
If the Right-to-Work legislation passes, employers and unions could not make it mandatory for employees to join a union or pay dues in order to work. The bill also means non-union employees cannot be denied employment or require them to pay a fee to work. Many union workers prefer a choice between union and non-union work and are against mandatory wage garnishment of union dues.
As it stands, approximately half of the states in the country have Right-to-Work legislation in place. Proponents of the law claim LB11 leads to stronger economic and domestic product growth by decreasing unemployment rates and encouraging interstate migration. However, opponents argue Right-to-Work inhibits wage increase, weakens collective bargaining and allows employers to terminate workers without a justifiable reason. Right-to-Work Problems
Occupy Theory reports when states cooperate with unions, employers must negotiate the rights and wages of employees. Unions also improve various work-related conditions, which include employee safety. The states having Right-to-Work legislation interfere with a union’s ability to protect workers or improve working conditions. The law then enables employers to cut costs by allowing the poor condition to exist and pay lower wages. Unions lose the power to mediate these factors. The end result potentially endangers workers, as work-related fatalities rise secondary to unsafe conditions.
Critics of Right to Work laws argue that some statistics indicate that employees in the states not having Right-to-Work laws earn up to $5,500 more annually. The higher wages benefit both workers and their employers. Employees enjoy a better quality of living, which heightens the quality of work they are willing to provide. By feeling financially secure, employees also naturally have a higher degree of commitment to their jobs and remain loyal to employers. Overall, the work environment is more stable. This narrative is often pushed as justification for public sector unions and manufacturing jobs unions.
However, in the face of having Right-to-Work laws, companies have the option of hiring non-union workers and having a better direct employer – employee relationship. This enables them to reward employees based on merit and not cap them to the standard of the lowest performing worker.
Terminating a union represented employee is difficult and sometimes impossible. While unions may provide a locked wage agreement with employers, it often encourages complacency of employees who have little incentive to do a better job. If an employee knows how hard it is to fire them, they generally are less productive. Right-to-Work laws limits union’s power over the employer and their ability to hire and terminate under-performing employees. This is one of the biggest benefits for all employees, getting rewarded for individual work.
If the bill passes, New Hampshire employers have the right to terminate employees for trivial reasons, which might include personality conflicts or when an employee commits a minor infraction. As such, employees are still protected by state and federal anti-discrimination laws. While some may argue that having empowered unions ensures the presence of agreements, which require companies to adopt a protocol for correcting infractions before termination is possible, employers see this as a hindrance for terminating employees who have a record of poor performance.