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George Copadis: Businesses are not asking for the right-to-work bill

George Copadis
NH Commissioner of Labor

May 23. 2011 6:21PM

Over the last 30 years, there have been numerous attempts to pass so-called right-to-work legislation in New Hampshire. In the past, each time this type of legislation had been introduced in the Legislature, it had been quickly defeated by both Republican and Democratic majorities.

This year is different. Both the House and Senate passed so-called right-to-work legislation for the first time in the state's history. Thankfully, Gov. John Lynch vetoed this legislation because state government should not be in the business of dictating to private companies what can or cannot be included in contracts with their employees.

Despite claims to the contrary, this legislation is neither pro-business nor pro-worker. It will do nothing to strengthen New Hampshire's economy, and in the opinions of many, including me, it would weaken it.

On Wednesday, the House will vote on whether to override the governor's veto. I urge House members to sustain the veto. I also urge the people of New Hampshire to make it clear to their representatives that this is simply not needed in New Hampshire. It may work in the deep South, but New Hampshire is not the deep South.

New Hampshire's economy is one of the strongest in the nation. Our unemployment rate is 45 percent below the national average. We have a high quality of life, fueled by the fact that we have one of the highest incomes per capita in the country. We are the most livable state and the safest state in the nation. And we all know what a great place this is to do business and to raise a family.

So-called right-to-work states - such as Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi - routinely have a much higher poverty rate, and much lower income per capita.

We are leading the way here in New Hampshire. Why would we want to reverse direction and follow the lead of those states?

New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald has stated he has met with thousands of businesses over the years, many looking to locate to New Hampshire and many more located right here in our state. Not once has the topic of right-to-work ever come up in all of his discussions with New Hampshire businesses and prospective businesses. Not once did a business tell him it would not move to New Hampshire because so-called right-to-work was not in effect. Not once did a New Hampshire business ever tell him it was leaving the state because right-to-work was not in effect.

I have been commissioner of labor for the last six years. I have met and worked with more than 2,000 business leaders in various capacities. Not once has a business leader in this state told me he or she believes right-to-work should be adopted in this state.

Right-to-work is wrong for business, wrong for workers and wrong for New Hampshire. I urge lawmakers to do what their predecessors - both Republican and Democrat - have done for years and reject right-to-work in New Hampshire.

George N. Copadis is commissioner of labor for the State of New Hampshire.


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