CONCORD, N.H. – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney today called on New Hampshire to become a right to work state, meaning non-union members cannot be forced to pay union fees.
The Republican-led New Hampshire Legislature passed right-to-work legislation during its last session, which would make New Hampshire the 23rd right-to-work state in the country. The bill was vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Lynch. Republicans have been struggling to muster the votes to override the veto.
Romney said over the last decade right-to-work states have added more jobs than non-right-to work states. “I believe right-to-work legislation makes sense,’’ Romney told around 30 members of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce. “Giving the individual worker the right to choose whether to be part of a union or pay union dues is something they ought to be able to do.’’ Under federal law, no one can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment, but workers can be required to pay fees to cover a union’s costs for representing them as part of a collective bargaining unit.
Romney told reporters, “If I were a voter, I’d encourage state representatives, state senators and the governor to do whatever is necessary to make New Hampshire a right-to-work state to create more jobs for the people of New Hampshire.’’
Republican House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt said, “Romney appreciates as we do that right-to-work is an important tool for job creation.’’
The New Hampshire AFL-CIO, a leading opponent of the right-to-work legislation in New Hampshire, put out a written statement in advance of Romney’s speech, sharply criticizing him for supporting the right-to-work push. “If Governor Romney had once in his tenure as governor of Massachusetts even suggested that his state become a right to work for less state, he may have a shred of credibility on this issue,’’ said Mark MacKenzie, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. “But to come into our state and pander to the extremist far right by joining them in attacking middle class working families here, when he never made it an issue in the state he governed is unconscionable, even for the foremost political chameleon in recent memory.’’