State lawmakers voted down a right-to-work bill supported by New Hampshire’s Republican governor in a Republican majority state, delivering a stunning reprieve for unions at a time when other states are passing such bills over union opposition.
In a 200-to-177 vote on Feb. 16 in the state’s House of Representatives, New Hampshire narrowly missed becoming the 29th state to enact a right-to-work bill. In recent weeks Kentucky, West Virginia and Missouri have passed such laws, and Ohio is now considering one.
New Hampshire Republicans have tried to pass right-to-work legislation for years, and Gov. Chris Sununu (R) stated that he would sign the bill, presenting supporters with an incentive to push hard. But Joseph Donahue, business representative for carpenters Local 118, in Londonderry, said his members made hundreds of phone calls. They talked to state residents about how the bill would affect union members and about how union workers are better paid.
In New Hampshire and other states without right-to-work laws, employees of a union company may opt out of union membership but still must pay some dues. Unions argue that they are required by law to represent all workers, even those who have not signed up as members.
Following the vote, Sununu said he was “deeply disappointed” by the measure’s defeat, adding, “This legislation would have provided our state an economic advantage across the region by affording our workers greater choice, freedom and flexibility.”
House members missed a chance to “unleash the untapped potential of our economy,” Sununu noted. Donahue says the National Right to Work organizers will look for chances to reintroduce the measure in two years.