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AFT-NH Testimony in Opposition to Right to Work (SB 516)

AFT-NH Testimony on SB 516

From Debrah Howes, President AFT-NH

Thank you, Chair Gannon, and members of the Senate Commerce Committee

My name is Debrah Howes. I am president of the American Federation of Teachers – New Hampshire. I am here to speak on behalf of our 3700 members across the state. Our members include preK through 12 public school educators and support staff, university faculty as well as town employees. Our federation also includes university faculty at one private university.

I am here today in support of our own members in our private sector local and of my Union Brothers, Sisters, and Family of the Labor Movement and against SB 516.

Right-to-Work continues to be, and will always be, Wrong for New Hampshire! It is no surprise that once again out of state corporate interests are supporting Right-to-Work here in New Hampshire as they are always trying to limit the power workers have in any workplace. What is surprising is that any New Hampshire lawmakers support this! Simply put, Right-to-Work is government interference in the workplace by putting the state in the middle of the relationship between the private employer and the employees of a private business.

In polling and through their votes on election day, Granite Staters have routinely shown that they support the right of workers to choose to join together to form a union and bargain collectively to improve wages, hours and working conditions. If anything, that support has grown  stronger in recent years. We have defeated this bill 32 times in more than 40 years, yet why is it back again?

Passing Right-to-Work will only further insert the government into private negotiations between employers and their employees as represented by unions. SB 516 interferes in the freedom of employers and unions to negotiate and bargain collectively by limiting what they can discuss. It solves a problem that simply does not exist! No employee is forced to become a member of a union! If an employer and the employees bargain for a fair share fee to cover the cost of negotiations and representation that is a reasonable condition of employment that the employer can set, just as an employer can set a dress code. Any prospective employee would know the terms of employment before accepting a job, just like he or she knows about the dress code and working hours. The heavy hand of government is not needed!

New Hampshire has a strong tradition of rejecting this kind of interference in private employment arrangements. It doesn’t tell employers how to run their businesses. It doesn’t tell workers they must provide services for others free of charge. The Granite State has a long tradition of standing up for common sense and against this bad legislation. We expect the NH Senate to reject Right-to-Work once again.    

I urge you to find SB 516 Inexpedient to Legislate.


Debrah Howes

President, AFT-New Hampshire


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