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It's a myth that union membership can be required for N.H. job

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

The New Hampshire Senate began its 2017 session by introducing a right-to-work bill, SB11-FN, one of newly inaugurated Gov. Chris Sununu's legislative priorities. Right-to-work is wrong for the Granite State.

The label of right-to-work sustains the myth that union membership is required to work in a business in which a union acts as the bargaining agent for employees. Under federal law, no one can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment or pay dues used for political purposes.

Proponents argue that right-to-work will lower labor costs and encourage businesses to move to New Hampshire. The non-partisan Economic Policy Institute has found that wages in right-to-work states are lower than in non-right-to-work ones and that workers in the former are less likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workplace deaths are higher in right-to-work states. Right-to-work may lower labor costs by depriving unions of the funds to be effective advocates for workers, union and non-union alike.

There is no evidence that right-to-work legislation attracts new businesses to a state.

The New Hampshire unemployment rate of 2.7 percent is the lowest in the U.S., leading, consequently, to a shortage of qualified applicants for many job openings. Right now the state needs more workers for its current businesses. New Hampshire's population growth for 2010-2015 was only 0.2 percent while the percentage of working adults has decreased. The Granite State is tied with Maine for the oldest median age in the U.S. of 42.8 years; the national median is 37.8 years.

While no other New England state has enacted right-to-work, all have higher minimum hourly wages ($9 -$11) than New Hampshire's $7.25 per hour. Our Legislature should be working on ways, including increasing the minimum wage, to attract young people to the state and keep them here — not on ineffective and wage-lowering right-to-work legislation.

Margaret Merritt

Center Sandwich