Huntsman: NH should protect personal liberty with a right-to-work law

Published Aug 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm (Updated Aug 12, 2011)

ONE OF THE nice things about running for President is the opportunity to spend a great deal of time in New Hampshire, where your license plates serve as a constant reminder of the foundation of our democracy and the inalienable rights with which we are all bestowed, and which government exists to protect.

Certainly, one of the rights government ought to protect is the right of every person to work and make a living without being forced to join a union — a position grounded in individual freedoms.

That is why I was discouraged to hear that Gov. John Lynch had vetoed House Bill 474, the right-to-work law that the Legislature passed earlier this year.
Right-to-work legislation shouldn’t generate controversy. The law would protect a worker’s basic right to freedom of association by preventing individuals from being forced to give part of their paycheck to a union for the privilege of going to work. In this country, no one should be forced to join or finance a private political organization against his or her will; that is the basic truth that the union bosses are attempting to cloud in this debate.

There are also compelling economic arguments for rightto- work legislation. A University of Minnesota study compared counties in states with rightto- work laws with neighboring counties in states lacking worker protection; the former’s manufacturing job creation rate was 26 points higher than the latter’s.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that from 1999 to 2009, states without rightto- work protections lost 1.8 million jobs. During the same decade, right-to-work states added 1.5 million jobs.

New Hampshire has the opportunity to become the only state in New England with a right-to-work law, which would equip your workers and businesses with a major competitive advantage over your neighbors.

I witnessed firsthand the fruits of that advantage in Utah, which is one of 22 states with a right-to-work law. Our state was first in the nation for job growth, largely because of policies — like right to work — that create an environment for small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive.

The benefits of right-to-work legislation are so evident that President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board has begun to intervene in the affairs of private businesses in order to protect its union allies. The NLRB is attempting to block Boeing from opening a second 787 Dreamliner manufacturing plant in right-to-work South Carolina, in an effort to force Boeing to confine aircraft production to a union state, Washington.

While the NLRB’s actions are a startling abuse of government power, they are also a strong testament to the competitive advantage that right-to-work laws bring.

My campaign recently met with Speaker William O’Brien to see how we can help him and other advocates for individual liberty revive right-to-work legislation to benefit New Hampshire workers and jobs. I look forward to fighting alongside him and other Granite Staters in the coming year.

Our nation’s high unemployment rate and anemic recovery are proof of the failure of policies that distort the free market and inhibit economic freedom. We must correct our course by creating an environment that empowers entrepreneurs, fosters innovation and sparks a new Industrial Revolution, and there is no better place to start than New Hampshire.

Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah, is running for the Republican nomination for President.

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