Wed November 30, 2011
Labor groups and their supporters won a major victory today at the statehouse.
Several dozen Republicans joined House Democrats to sustain Governor Lynch’s veto of the Right-to-Work .
Going into the vote nobody was willing to predict how it would turn out.
It was too close to call.
Supporters of the bill that would ban unions from collecting negotiating fees from non-union employees needed a 2/3rds majority to overturn Lynch’s veto.
So after the 30 seconds lawmakers got to cast their votes, a hush came over the 379 state Representatives.
After 17 agonizing seconds, Speaker O’Brien announced the result.
“The House will be attentive to the state of the vote. 240 members having voted in the affirmative, 139 in the negative, the governor’s veto is sustained.”
This session House leaders have been working to reduce union clout in the workplace.
And the full Legislature passed several key measures over union opposition.
But for Speaker Bill O’Brien, Right-to-Work was the ten-point buck, the real game changer.
The bill that would deliver jobs and drive home just how business-friendly New Hampshire is.
O’Brien was disappointed after the vote.
“If there are some folks out there that are having trouble getting jobs and the unemployment rate doesn’t come down as fast as it could come down, they can blame Governor Lynch.”
Pointing the finger at the governor overlooks the 41 House Republicans who voted with Democrats to sustain Lynch’s veto.
Had O’Brien been able to flip just 7 more lawmakers, New Hampshire would have joined Florida, Texas and 20 others as a so-called ‘Right-to-Work state.’
House leaders spent months trying to get Republicans in line.
They even tried to sway lawmakers like Republican Susan Emerson- who’s had very public run-ins with O’Brien.
“Oh, my god. I was told I would be put back on Health and Human Service, the committee I was kicked off, if I changed my vote. I was told that I would be redistrict if I didn’t change my vote on Right-to-Work.”
Emerson shrugs, and says if more conservative Republicans go after her in the primary, so be it.
She knows this issue isn’t going away, and she’s bracing herself.
That’s the same message New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie gave union members on the statehouse steps immediately after the vote.
“I think we can say with some confidence at least we’ve won round 1 of this fight.”
Speaker O’Brien would certainly agree with MacKenzie as far as winning ‘round one.’
When asked about the vote, the Speaker promised the topic will return in the coming session.
And he added, it will be a defining issue in the race to replace Governor Lynch.