Backers of Right to Work legislation in New Hampshire are praising Thursday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Janus v. AFSCME. In a 5-4 decision, the justices ruled that public sector unions cannot charge non-members for the costs of collective bargaining.
Supporters of the ruling say it is unfair to mandate collection of so-called “agency fees” from employees who may not agree with the union, and that the Janus decision is a victory for workers’ liberties.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision replaces this longstanding coercive status quo with individual freedom and reaffirms every public employee’s First Amendment rights,” says Greg Moore, New Hampshire state director for Americans For Prosperity, which has been a leading supporter of Right to Work legislation in New Hampshire.
The decision is seen as a loss for public sector unions in New Hampshire.
“I think it’s a blow to the middle class. And I think it’s a long-standing agenda to divide working people, and rig the economy in favor of moneyed interest groups,” says Rich Gulla, president of the State Employees Association, which represents roughly 10,000 of the state’s 47,000 public sector union members.
The state’s largest public union, the National Education Association, or NEA New Hampshire, expressed similar dissatisfaction with the court.
“The decision isn’t about what’s good for educators, or for our students,” says Megan Tuttle, the union’s president. “It’s really about corporate special interests…they want to make it harder for working people to come together.”
Some opponents of Right to Work legislation contend that all employees who are under a union-negotiated contract should have to contribute to the costs of collective bargaining, since they still receive the presumed benefits of higher wages.
New Hampshire Republicans have tried and failed to pass statewide Right to Work in recent years. In 2017, despite having majorities and the backing of Governor Chris Sununu, the House failed to pass a bill.
"As a supporter of Right to Work, I am pleased by the Court’s ruling,” says Sununu in a statement. “In the coming days, we will work to determine necessary next steps to ensure that New Hampshire statutes and policies are fully compliant with constitutional requirements."
(This is a developing story and may be updated.)