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Feb
2015
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New Mexico GOP Advances “Right-to-Work” Through Committee In Order to Hurt 46,000 People

GOP Rep. Dennis Roch

GOP Rep. Dennis Roch


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The New Mexico House Business and Employment Committee has voted 8-5 in favor of “Right-to-Work” legislation introduced by Republican Rep. Dennis Roch.  The bill, HB 75, would “prohibit union membership as a condition of employment.”  Known as the “Employee Preference Act,” the bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.  New Mexico would be the 25th “Right-to-Work” state.

“Right-to-Work” has twice made it to the governor’s desk in New Mexico (in 1979 and 1981), where it was vetoed by Democratic Governor Bruce King. Currently, Democrats control the state senate and Republicans control the house and governorship.  It is the first time that Republicans have had control of the house in over 60 years.  

The senate has vowed to fight any attempt to pass “Right-to-Work.”  Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez called the law “hurtful,” adding, “It’s anti-worker, anti-family – that’s what it is.  I don’t believe it’s going to get through the Senate.”

The House Business and Employment Committee heard five hours of public testimony prior to voting.  Among those speaking in favor of “Right-to-Work” were Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, who was previously employed as the head of a roofing company.  Sanchez said that the bill could help counter the recent population loss in the region.  When asked about the effect “Right-to-Work” would have on unions in New Mexico, Sanchez unleashed the right-wing misinformation gatling gun, proclaiming that, “It (Right-to-Work) will strengthen unions by making them more accountable to their members.”

The Associated General Contractors (AGC) are publicly supporting HB 75, while unions in the state opposite it in full force.  Teamsters Local 492 Executive Board Recording Secretary Trey White wrote in an op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal:

Ask yourself, would these same anti-labor lawmakers ever pass a similar law called “Right-to-Live,” where someone would have the “right to live” here, drive on America’s roads, send their kids to America’s schools, work an American job, and collect a Social Security check when they retire, but not have to “join America” or ever pay taxes? Of course not, but that is essentially what these lawmakers expect from unions: to support a person who is reaping all the benefits of the union (the country) without paying the dues (the taxes) that built it, keep it running and allow a worker to retire with a pension (Social Security check) that is just not available to most modern-day nonunion workers.

Of New Mexico’s nearly 751,000 workers, only 46,000 belong to a public or private sector union.  The state’s 2014 union density rate of 6.2% was well below the national average of 11.1%.  

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