Right to Work in New England

Once again, the Wall Street Journal makes an eloquent case in support of the Right to Work — this time imploring legislators in New Hampshire to override a veto to become the first Right to Work state in New England:

Twenty-two states have right-to-work laws, most of them in the faster-growing South and West. The big news is that New Hampshire is edging closer to becoming the 23rd, which would make it the first new right-to-work state since Oklahoma in 2001 and could lead to a regional revolution.

The state House and Senate in Concord have passed a right-to-work statute, but Governor John Lynch, a Democrat, vetoed the bill. On May 25 the legislature will attempt to override that veto, and House Speaker Bill O’Brien says he is “cautiously optimistic” that he can gain the two-thirds majority to do so.

This would be a landmark victory for the right-to-work movement. All other Northeastern states operate under forced-union rules, so the Granite State would gain a decisive competitive advantage over its neighbors in attracting investment and jobs. “Passing right to work on top of not having an income tax could make us the Hong Kong of the region,” Mr. O’Brien says. The precedent would put enormous pressure on Maine and Massachusetts to follow. We assume Vermont is hopeless and prefers to be a tourist and natural history museum.

Right-to-work laws don’t outlaw unions. They simply allow each individual worker to decide whether or not to join the union. In compulsory-union states, workers employed in unionized workplaces are required to have union dues withheld from their paychecks as a condition of employment, so there’s big money at stake here for unions.

The issue has taken on national prominence since the National Labor Relations Board announced it will try to block Boeing’s new airplane manufacturing plant in right-to-work South Carolina. Boeing decided to build its second plant for its 787 Dreamliner outside of Washington state, which imposes compulsory union rules and has been the scene of many work stoppages at Boeing.

The Boeing incident underscores that more businesses are migrating each year to states with right-to-work laws. It’s no accident that so many of the foreign auto plants in America that employ tens of thousands are located in right-to-work southern states like Alabama, South Carolina and Texas.

New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the consulting firm Haver Analytics show that private business creation was 46% higher in right-to-work states (497,000 new businesses) than in forced union states (340,000 new businesses) from 1993 to 2009. That’s a remarkable difference given that about 60% of American workers reside in non-right-to-work states.

This year five states have tried to adopt right-to-work laws, but it appears that unions have stopped them everywhere except in New Hampshire. It is a sad testament to Big Labor’s financial and political influence that not a single one of the more than 100 House and Senate Democrats in New Hampshire voted for right to work. These politicians would deny the right of 68,000 unionized workers to choose for themselves whether to stay in the union, no matter how much that hurts the working families they claim to speak for.