IN A JULY 22 column on this page, the heads of the New Hampshire and North Carolina AFL-CIO chapters tried to make the case against bringing a right-to-work law to the Granite State. However, these two union bosses instead made the rationale for worker freedom broadly obvious.
Let’s review the vote in New Hampshire in 2011 when both the House and the Senate voted overwhelmingly (by 60 percent) to pass the right-to-work law. Why didn’t it become law? Gov. John Lynch owed his close 2010 election over Republican John Stephen to his union supporters, and it was time for payback. The governor gladly vetoed the right-to-work bill for his union friends. The argument from the governor and the union bosses was clear: Right-to-work would not bring more jobs to the state.
This year, Sturm, Ruger chose not to expand its facilities here in New Hampshire. Instead the company chose a right-to-work state, North Carolina, to grow its business. This will bring 1,200 good, new jobs to the Tar Heel state. A company spokesman made the point that our lack of a right-to-work law was an important factor in the decision.
One company alone does not warrant a major policy shift, so let’s look at a bigger-picture comparison of North Carolina and the Granite State.
Over the past decade, North Carolina’s workforce grew by 3.9 percent, while New Hampshire’s grew by 2.4 percent, meaning that our Southern neighbor added more than 133,000 more jobs than our state did. During that same time, North Carolina’s real GDP grew by 21.2 percent, while New Hampshire expanded by 13.3 percent. Between 2001-11, North Carolina’s inflation-adjusted personal income increased by 17.6 percent, while New Hampshire’s growth was only 9 percent.
This difference is not isolated to these two states. Right-to-work states saw their workforces grow by 13.7 percent over that past decade, while non-right-to-work states saw an anemic 0.2 percent growth. Real GDP in right-to-work states increased by 21.6 percent, while non-right-to-work states had only 13.1 percent economic growth. Personal incomes grew by more than double the rate in states with worker freedom than in state with forced unionization.
Faced with such insurmountable and incontrovertible facts, these two labor leaders have given up the charade of suggesting that right-to-work doesn’t create jobs. Instead, they now attack the company that voted with its feet to move to a right-to-work state and suggest that the jobs in states with worker freedom simply aren’t good enough for New Hampshire.
I have a bit of advice to these so-called champions of the working people. Why don’t you tell the 40,000 unemployed friends and neighbors across the state of New Hampshire that jobs in a right-to-work state aren’t good enough for them? That number doesn’t even begin to count the many people who have been out of work for so long that they don’t even show up on the unemployment rolls any longer.
I know many here in the Upper Valley who would love to have an opportunity to have a high-skill, high-paying job that a manufacturer like Sturm, Ruger would have brought to the region. Telling people that these quality jobs aren’t good enough for them shows just how ought of touch these union bosses have become from everyday Americans who are struggling to get by.
New Hampshire has a number of extraordinary advantages that should make it a magnet for businesses like Sturm, Ruger. We have no income or sales tax, a quality workforce and a commitment to limited government that doesn’t overburden employers with regulations. While our neighboring states around us passed numerous tax increases this year, our New Hampshire budget — thanks in large part to the hard work of our Senate — held the line on spending and added no tax hikes.
The New Hampshire Advantage is alive and well and gives our state a majority advantage over our neighbors. By adding right-to-work to those assets, we would move our economy into an even greater position to be the long-term economic leader in the Northeast. The sooner we pass the right-to-work law in New Hampshire, the better off our citizens, our economy and our state will be.
Tom Thomson of Orford is the honorary chairman of Americans for Prosperity – New Hampshire.