New Hampshire’s motto is Live Free or Die, and the state has long been a beacon of individual liberty in the Northeast. Republicans who flipped control of the statehouse last November have a chance to make their state even more free this week by enacting right-to-work legislation.
Twenty-seven states boast right-to-work laws that give workers a choice of whether to belong to a union. Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and West Virginia have joined the club in the last decade. New Hampshire stands to become the first right-to-work state in New England, which would add to its competitive advantage of being the only state in the entire Northeast with no income tax.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, private employment grew 27% in right-to-work states between 2001 and 2016, compared to 15% in non-right-to-work states. Economic output likewise increased by 38% in right-to-work states versus those that compel unionization and dues payments. Personal incomes in right-to-work states also grew 39% versus 26%.
Not all of these differences are due to right-to-work laws, but businesses say they consider right to work when deciding where to expand. Right to work can also liberate workers and businesses from union work rules and increase productivity. Workers may get larger wage increases since they can negotiate their pay directly with employers.
The bill has passed the state Senate, and
GOP Gov. Chris Sununu
has indicated he will sign it if it gets through the state House, where Republicans hold a 212-186 majority. Republicans picked up 47 seats in the chamber last November, but our sources say that some members want to duck controversy and may abstain from the vote.
This would be a mistake. Unions are unlikely to return the favor, and going right to work would help protect New Hampshire businesses and workers from the coming pro-Big Labor assault by the Biden Labor Department and National Labor Relations Board. This isn’t a time for timidity.
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Appeared in the June 3, 2021, print edition.