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Right to Work is the Right Move (Op-Ed)


Measure Empowers the Individual - and Unions

The right of a worker to form, join, participate in, or financially support a union is a fundamental right that should never be infringed upon. The same goes for a worker who decides to make a different choice. The right to exercise such a choice is the essence of economic freedom. Right-To-Work protects both rights.

No American should be forced to join a union just to keep a job, nor be required to pay dues to an organization they do not believe in. Right-To-Work will allow workers to freely decide whether to join a union.

The justifications or purposes for joining a union - wages, benefits, work schedules- is not exclusive to their domain. Now more than ever, individuals are better informed, highly educated, and able to make decisions about what is right for their economic future. At the same time, unions are more active than ever communicating their value to their membership.

Fearmongering that union membership will plummet speaks to the panic of union bosses that they have failed to convey the value and benefit they provide their members. Rather than looking at this as a sky is falling situation, union leaders instead should work to better communicate the value they believe they provide to their members every day.

In construction, most workers in New Hampshire are non-union: Construction unions represent less than 10% of the workforce here, among the lowest in the nation, and that number is unlikely to change with right-to-work.

Any justification for joining a union ought to be sufficient for advocates to recruit and retain their members. It should be enough for business agents to rest on their laurels, but the truth is they need to do better. To imply that all the hard-fought work done by unions is the sole reason why we should protect their compulsory support is disingenuous to the overall conversation. Unions exist and thrive in states where Right-To-Work exists. Passing Right-To-Work gives private sector workers the same rights as public sector when it comes to making a choice.

A Right-To-Work law guarantees workers can seek employment without fear they will be required to join or pay dues to a union if they are hired. Such laws are not about eliminating unions and do not outlaw the right to organize. Americans have shown overwhelming support for right-to-work measures and currently 27 states have adopted Right-To-Work laws.

Economic growth in Right-To-Work states often outpaces growth in states where workers are forced to join a union or pay a fee to organized labor as a condition of employment. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports private sector employment grew 5.2% faster between 2003 and 2013 in Right-To-Work states than in their non-right-to-work counterparts. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Commerce reports real gross domestic product growth in manufacturing increased 11.8% faster from 2002 to 2012 in right-to-work states than in non-right-to-work states. While some say these economic gains come at the expense of workers’ wages, Department of Commerce data show per-capita disposable personal income in 2013 (adjusted for cost of living) was higher in Right-To-Work states than the national average, as well as higher than non-right-to-work states.

As the debate over Right-To-Work continues in New Hampshire, Washington insiders seek to corrupt the union election process through measures like the H.R. 2474, a measure that if passed, would drastically strip employees and employers of their constitutionally protected rights and hand power over to politically powerful union bosses. These insiders would rather eliminate secret ballot elections and expose employees to threats, intimidation, and coercion by union officials than uphold and protect liberty and choice. Passing Right-To-Work in New Hampshire this year is the cure to their ill intentions.

While Washington, DC looks to expand the influence of union political bosses, New Hampshire is rightly looking to protect the ability of individuals to make informed, unbiased decisions. We are grateful to the state Senate for understanding these nuances and passing Right-To-Work, and urge the House and Governor to follow their lead.

Now is the time for New Hampshire to plant the flag of opportunity in New England to signal its commitment to the individual’s rights to liberty and choice. Now is the time to pass Right-to-Work.

Joshua Reap is the President & CEO of Associated Builders & Contractors, New Hampshire/Vermont Chapter. The association represents over 250 construction companies and industry related firms in the state.

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