O’Brien and Co. Continue RTW Crusade

Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, testifies Wednesday in favor of HB 323-FN, the Franklin Partin Right-to-Work (for less) Act, which he co-sponsored.

Rep. William O’Brien continued his crusade to bring right-to-work (for less) to New Hampshire on Wednesday, testifying in favor of his bill before the House Labor Committee.

While the bill may have a new name – the Franklin Partin act, after an anti-union activist – the arguments and attacks are the same. Sponsors promised economic growth if the state adopted the legislation.

As an example, the unseated NH Speaker of the House pointed to the case of Caterpillar Inc.’s relocation to Indiana after that state adopted right-to-work (for less) legislation. But SEA President Diana Lacey tore up that example during her testimony, noting Caterpillar pays its Indiana workers poverty-level wages.

“The move had nothing to do with Indiana’s right-to-work bill,” Lacey said. “Those two things coincided in 2012, although this process started in 2009,” when Caterpillar opened a factory there to take advantage of the depressed economy.

Despite his own twisting of facts, O’Brien still charged that opposition to right-to-work (for less) is often emotional, “because that’s where you turn when you’re short on facts.” O’Brien was then followed by the bill co-sponsors, including an, at-times, rambling Rep. Al Baldasaro, whose testimony was heavy on emotion and light on facts.

In arguing that the bill would make the state more fertile for job creation, Baldasaro mentioned that his children had to leave the state to find jobs.

“They can’t come back home, because the jobs aren’t here,” Baldassaro said.

Rep. Sally Kelly then pointed out that the states Baldasaro’s children work in, Massachusetts and Maine, are not right-to-work (for less) states, either.

This, of course, isn’t the first time O’Brien has pursued right-to-work legislation in New Hampshire. The last time, in 2011, he repeatedly delayed a final vote in order to get enough support. Still, the bill, that former Gov. John Lynch vetoed fell short of the votes needed to override the veto.

Ray Buckley, the state Democratic Party leader, noted the consistent rejection of such legislation here in his testimony.

“The reality is, there has always been a consensus in state government that they should not interfere in the rights of management and labor to collectively bargain,” Buckley said. “There is absolutely no evidence this legislation will give any benefit to New Hampshire companies, its workers and its families.”

There were some lighter moments, a marked difference from the intense hearing on the bill that took place two years ago.

Former Rep. David Welch drew laughs when he noted that his eventual opposition to the bill came with consequences.

“I lost my election because of this issue,” Welch said, though he eventually realized “all the emails I got about the union thugs, it turns out the thugs are not in the unions.”

The biggest laughs, though, came when John Kalb, the director of New England Citizens for Right to Work, was asked if he could name any high-paying non-union shops.

Kalb’s completely straight-faced answer? “Goldman Sachs.”

The two hour and forty-five minute hearing ended without the committee making any recommendation on the bill.

The SEA is committed in its opposition to this bill. We recognize the many hours of hard work members put in to make sure the last right-to-work (for less) attempts failed. We do not wish to lose momentum or become complacent.  We will keep a watchful eye on this and any future bills related to this policy.

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