The following is a written version of the testimony SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Rich Gulla delivered Tuesday to the Senate Commerce Committee on SB 11, a so-called right to work bill.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the Commerce Committee.
For the record, I am Rich Gulla, President of the State Employees Association and also resident of Hillsborough. I am here in opposition to SB 11. On behalf of the 10,000 members of the SEA, I urge you to vote this bill Inexpedient to Legislate quickly so this legislature can focus on important bills which actually help New Hampshire citizens.
Senate Bill 11 is a tired and recycled bill pushed by out-of-state interests, which has been defeated year after year. New Hampshire has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation because our previous legislatures made wise decisions that strengthen our economy and working families. At a time when we should be bringing people together to help solve the devastating opioid crisis – which is ripping families apart and is one of the first bills in the 2017 session – we are hearing instead a controversial bills that deeply divides workers against this legislature.
Speaking on the specifics of SB 11, this bill is the same language we have seen year after year. The arguments against it are the same.
The bill is written solely to take away the rights of private businesses to negotiate work provisions with their employees. In other words, this legislation would regulate a private corporation from running their business in a manner which they believe is in the best interest of their business. In fact, this bill as written, would on page 3 starting on line 3, charge an employer with a misdemeanor, with a fine and possible jail term, for the new regulation.
New Hampshire and this legislature have tended to create less regulation on businesses. By supporting SB 11, you will be forcing new regulations without clear and quantifiable proof that the legislation has real benefits to New Hampshire businesses and workers. There are reams of studies showing that SB 11 type language does not help the economy and actually has the opposite effect of lowering wages for workers, producing higher unemployment in states that have these laws.
With low unemployment and one of the higher state per capita wages, SB 11 should not be pushed forward for political gain, like it has been recently in Kentucky and Missouri because they are under Republican control. I would like to believe that New Hampshire is different and this legislature does not act out of partisanship – but in the best interest of the citizens of this great state.
In my experience, having worked in law enforcement and in retail sales, if something seems too good to believe, it probably should not be believed. The sponsors of SB 11 want you to believe a few myths:
- That New Hampshire’s economic growth is being hampered without the new business regulation, because they refuse to consider moving into New Hampshire.
- That upon passage of SB11, businesses will be flocking to New Hampshire, although no one is naming any of those businesses, when or how many jobs they represent, or what wages they will be offering. It doesn’t take an MBA to see our state is still severely impacted by crushing electric rates and a lack of extended high speed broadband in many areas. Looking at the over 800 LSR’s this session, I see a number of bills similar to SB 11 but none to address our high energy costs or expanding broadband to more towns in the state.
- That workers will have free choice with their employers and will not be forced to join a union. That sounds great, but current law already does that. No matter how many times it has been said, here we are again listening to the same old rhetoric and misleading statements. No one is ever forced to join a union. Ever! No worker can ever be forced to join a union yesterday, today or tomorrow.
So why are we still having to debate this bill? I guess that’s a rhetorical question. As long as there is the Virginia-based National Right to Work Committee and partisan politics, there will be this legislation aimed at hurting workers and putting burdensome regulations on businesses.
I ask you to see beyond the misinformation behind this bill and vote against SB 11.