By Rep. Gary Daniels
April 30, 2011

Most state legislators hear regularly from our constituents about their top concerns. While the national debt and international engagements certainly carry a great deal of interest nationally, and balancing the budget without raising taxes or fees garners a lot of attention at the state level, by far the top issue remains creating good, new jobs and getting our economy growing robustly again.

That’s why it is so critical for New Hampshire to pass a law to become the 23rd right-to-work state and the only one in the Northeast.

One of the major initiatives of this Legislature is creating and reestablishing pro-economic growth policies that are so critical for drawing businesses to the state and creating jobs, and then maintaining that environment so that businesses have the opportunity to succeed. Right-to-work is a major part of the puzzle.
What is right-to-work? In short, it guarantees that no employee will be forced to join, or not to join a union, or pay dues or fees to a union, to get or keep a job.

These days, finding steady employment is difficult for many people. However, it’s simply unacceptable that anyone should be forced to pay dues or fees to a union to get or keep a job. How far we have strayed from the words of Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American labor movement, when he said, “The workers of America adhere to voluntary institutions in preference to compulsory systems, which are held to be not only impractical, but a menace to their rights, welfare and theirliberty,” further noting that “no lasting gain has ever come from compulsion.”

Yet here we are, in 2011, listening to the voices of those whose rights, welfare and liberty have been diminished by the very compulsory systems Samuel Gompers opposed. In New Hampshire, where we like to think of ourselves as the freest state in the nation, it’s hard to imagine that we would allow our citizens to be forced to pay dues or fees to private organizations that they may not support, but sadly, that’s just what’s happening today.

I know of a teacher, who is not a union member, who had $800 deducted annually from her pay as the teachers union share. Imagine how much she would have paid if she had actually joined the union!
The idea that any employee could be forced to pay $800 per year to any organization that he or she did not want to join strikes against the very heart of the values we treasure in the Granite State. Nearly half the country has given protection to these workers, and it’s time for us to join with them to protect our residents and our liberty.

While this economic freedom is important, we cannot ignore the practical and critical component of job creation that right-to-work would bring to New Hampshire. Nationally, there are many companies that consider the presence of a right-to-work law among their highest priority determinants in their decision-making process when expanding or relocating. A number of these companies are in the manufacturing sector, where we have seen an ongoing decline in employment.

Furthermore, in passing this law, we would become a beacon in the Northeast as being the only state to offer employees this protection. Employers looking to expand or relocate in a right-to-work state would no longer be moving their business and jobs out of New Hampshire. This retention benefits the employer, their employees, and the New Hampshire economy.

Passing right-to-work will help restore the New Hampshire Advantage. We currently have the highest business tax rate in the nation, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. While the House budget did offer some modest business tax relief, we need to take a number of important steps like this to send a clear, unequivocal message that New Hampshire is open for business.

If we are serious about growing the economy and creating jobs, it is imperative that the Legislature pass right-to-work as soon as possible. How can anyone possibly vote against this and then look at his or her constituents and tell them they have done all that they can to reduce unemployment?
Right-to-work is a major piece of the pro-economic growth puzzle that will help to create jobs and strengthen our economy for years to come, and for that reason this measure should have the support of legislators, for the benefit of those they represent.

(Rep. Gary Daniels of Milford chairs the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee.)