GOP leaders promise campaign fund for Right-to-Work supporters
CONCORD — In a last-minute effort to sway wavering House Republicans to vote in favor of Right-to-Work legislation, the chairman of the state Republican Party on Wednesday pledged to create a campaign fund to reelect representatives who support the bill.
While not saying the party would field primary opponents or finance opposition to Republicans who vote against Right-to-Work, state GOP Party Chair Jeanie Forrester made it clear that those members would be bucking the party platform.
She was surrounded by House Republican leadership and several supportive state representatives at the Legislative Office Building during a news conference designed to send a clear message to rank-and-file House members, who will vote on the bill today. (See related editorial)
With another snowstorm on the way, House Majority Leader Dick Hinch said the outcome of the vote depends entirely on how many of the 400 representatives make their way to the State House.
“We are within a very, very slim margin now; any rumors to the contrary are just rumors,” he said. “Attendance will be the ruler for the day.”
The bill, SB 11, has already passed the Senate and if it passes in the House today it will certainly be signed into law by Gov. Chris Sununu, who made Right-to-Work a campaign priority as part of his business-friendly policy package.
New Hampshire would become the only state in the Northeast with a Right-to-Work law, which prohibits unions from collecting any payments from non-members.
Current law allows unions to require “agency fees” from non-members to cover the cost of collective bargaining and representation in grievance procedures.
Forrester said Republican representatives were elected on a party platform that included Right-to-Work and the voters who elected them expect them to adhere to that platform.
Republicans have tried repeatedly to pass a Right-to-Work law for decades, only to have it fail in one chamber or be vetoed by a Democratic governor.
“This is the time for Republicans, now that we have a Republican in the corner office,” said Forrester. “Right- to-Work is in our party platform. Representatives need to support the governor on this issue and they need to support the GOP platform.”
Opponents of the bill characterize it as a union-busting measure that makes it more difficult to organize employees or to sustain unions where they exist.
Forrester suggested that Republicans should not be voting in a way that supports the position of organized labor.
“Compulsory union dues are used to defeat Republicans,” she said. “Big union bosses spent $5 million in the last campaign, almost all of it on Democrats.”
House Speaker Shawn Jasper, who has said he wants to avoid tearing his caucus apart over the issue, sounded a more conciliatory note
While speaking in support of the bill, he said it should not become a litmus test on party loyalty for Republican representatives.
“There certainly is a great deal of pressure, but I don’t think this is an issue that should define a good Republican versus a bad Republican,” he said. “It is certainly an important Republican agenda item. This has been around since 1979, and this is one of the best opportunities we have ever had to have this signed into law.”