Opinion: NH workers deserve the protection of Right to Work


Published: 09-04-2023 6:00 AM

Mark Mix is president of the National Right to Work Committee and National Right to Work Foundation.

As you shop for back-to-school supplies for your kids or food for the Labor Day cookout, consider this: The clerks, shelf stockers, truck drivers, and factory workers who make that possible can all be legally forced to pay money to a union or else be fired. You see, New Hampshire is currently one of the 23 forced-unionism states in America.

Why? Since New Hampshire doesn’t have a Right to Work law to guarantee union membership and financial support is strictly voluntary for workers, a union boss can legally have a worker fired for not paying union dues or fees.

If you think that sounds wrong and unjust, you’re hardly alone. Poll after poll reveals that over 80% of Americans agree that it’s wrong to subject workers to this kind of union compulsion.

Even union members, who have seen unions close up, similarly believe union affiliation and financial support should be voluntary, with about 80% agreeing that workers “should never be forced or coerced to join or pay dues as a condition of employment.”

Fortunately, all public employees have enjoyed First Amendment protection against being compelled to make union payments since the 2018 landmark U.S. Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME decision, argued by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys. However, private sector workforces in forced-unionism states like New Hampshire can still be forced to give money to union officials to keep their jobs.

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Currently, 27 states in America have Right to Work laws in effect. These states have passed and implemented laws to repeal Big Labor’s special power to force workers to pay union bosses fees as a condition of employment. Workers in these states experience workplace freedom.

The lack of forced unionism against workers gives Right to Work states an economic advantage as well. Workers in forced-unionism states are fleeing to pursue opportunities not afforded in their home states.

A National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) report, drawing on data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that the number of individuals employed from 2012 to 2022 grew nearly twice as fast in Right to Work states than in forced-unionism states: 15.7% in Right to Work states versus only 8.6% in states that allow workers to be fired for not paying union bosses.

The NILRR analysis also found that, after adjusting for the cost of living, the mean after-tax household income in Right to Work states was roughly $4,300 higher than households in forced-unionism states in 2019, the most recent year for which household income data is available.

For another example of the job-creating power of Right to Work states, take a look at how they have fared since COVID devastated the economy. As of June, total employment in states without Right to Work laws still hasn’t recovered to pre-COVID February 2020 levels. Meanwhile, Right to Work states have added over 3 million jobs since before COVID hit.

Right to Work laws simply codify one commonsense principle: Every worker should have the choice to join a labor union, but no worker should be forced to pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.

Right to Work laws do not outlaw labor unions, nor do they prevent any worker from joining a labor union if they voluntarily choose. A worker in a Right to Work state can give as much money as they choose to a union in dues, but such payments can’t be extracted just because of a “pay up or be fired” threat.

On Labor Day, take a moment to reflect on the benefits that Right to Work brings to workers across the nation, and the difference it could make for New Hampshire. Right to Work could mean more individual freedom and economic opportunity for you and your family. It’s working in Right to Work states across the country.

Help make New Hampshire a Right to Work state. Demand your elected officials embrace the economic opportunity and worker freedom that Right to Work would bring.