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Feb 13, 2017 10:53 PM

Sununu tells NH1 News 'we're working with the House members' on right to work vote

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – When it comes to Thursday’s showdown in the state House of Representatives over the much argued about right to work bill, Gov. Chris Sununu tells NH1 News he and his top advisers have “talked to folks on various sides of the issue.”

The measure, which would prohibit public and private sector unions from charging non-member employees fees for negotiating on their behalf, passed the state Senate last month by a 12-11 vote. Last week the House Labor Committee voted 14-7 to recommend against passage, with a number of the panel’s Republicans joining the Democrats in opposing the measure.

Even though the GOP holds the majority in the state House of Representatives, Thursday’s vote by the full chamber is expected to be close.

“I think it’s going to be an interesting vote and I quite frankly think we have the votes to have it go down,” a GOP lawmaker on the Labor Committee who’s opposed to the bill told NH1 News. The representative asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely.

Asked if Sununu, the first GOP governor in a dozen years, and his team have been reaching out to Republicans on the fence regarding the bill, the representative said “sure. Absolutely.”

“I think the governor is making every effort to get this right to work legislation passed,” the representative added.

A state representative supporting the measure, who also requested anonymity, told NH1 News that “the governor and his aides have been very involved in reaching out to lawmakers on the fence.”

Sununu: The vote is ‘going to be close’

In an interview late last week with NH1 News, Sununu said he isn’t trying to twist arms.

“For good ideas, you never need to twist arms,” the governor said.

Sununu declared numerous times during last year’s gubernatorial campaign that he would sign a right to work bill if it reached his desk, saying it would help court new businesses and new jobs to the Granite State.

And in his inaugural address on January 5, the governor declared “we’re going to give employees once and for all the flexibility they deserve in the work force by passing right to work and let’s tell these companies New Hampshire is open for business.

Speaking with NH1 News last week, Sununu said “is the vote going to be close. Sure it is. We know that. And we’ve talked to folks on various sides of the issue, making sure we understand the pros and cons of where we’re going to go.”

“We’re working with the House members,” the governor added, “and just saying ‘what do we need to do to get it done’.”

Currently, non-union employees at unionized businesses can be required to pay a fee to cover the cost of union negotiations that benefit both union and non-union employees. The bill, officially known as SB11, would eliminate the requirement that non-union employees pay the fee.

Over the past decade similar bills failed to pass in both chambers. In 2011, a right to work bill did make it to the Corner Office, but was vetoed by Democratic Gov. John Lynch. Sununu’s predecessor, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, also opposed the measure.

Opponents of the legislation argue that it’s designed to weaken unions, will lower wages, and won’t help stimulate new business or new jobs. Twenty-eight states across the nation currently have right to work laws, but none in New England.

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