Labor activists and allies endured a morning of speeches by GOP Presidential candidates and an afternoon of procedural votes, then left the New Hampshire State House with the Governor’s veto of the Right-to-Work-for-Less bill still intact. They’ll be back again whenever the House re-convenes.
Over-riding the veto has been a top priority of Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien for months, but despite a 3:1 Republican majority, he knows he doesn’t have the votes he needs to over-ride the Governor’s veto of HB 474. In addition to a solid bloc of Democrats, there are still enough pro-labor Republicans to keep the anti-union bill from becoming law.
HB 474 would make it illegal for employers and unions to adopt a union security clause in their collective bargaining agreements, thereby preventing unions from collecting “agency fees” from non-members. The point of this perennial legislation is to weaken unions by making it possible for workers to be “free riders,” i.e. to get the benefits of a union contract without paying a dime.
Today’s show was a bit different from the rehearsals to date. Following last night’s Republican debate in Hanover, five of the candidates – Gary Johnson, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Michelle Bachman – were invited by the Speaker to address the House. Since members knew the Speaker could spring the the veto over-ride vote on them if they left the House chamber, the pro-labor members dutifully stayed in their seats throughout. For that sacrifice I thank them.
Members of the International Association of Fire Fighters showed up in larger than usual numbers today, making it clear the labor movement is ready for the fight that will go beyond this year’s battle over Right-to-Work-for-Less.
Also present were faith-based activists making it clear that their religious values place them squarely on the side of worker justice.
It’s hard to feel like victorious without a vote, but each time Speaker O’Brien decides not to put the measure up for a vote is an indication we are winning.