Granite State workers need more support, not less

Granite State workers need more support, not less

When I read the Jan. 15 column from Greg Moore, two well-known cliches came to mind – "consider the source" and "follow the money."

Both apply because the hype around the American Legislative Exchange Council bill (known as "Right to Work" by Republicans and "Right to Work for Less" by Democrats) being introduced in state after state is what Orwell called double-speak – its focus is on anything-but worker rights.

Part of the difficulty in sorting out what happens in government is the fact that lobbyists like Mr. Moore’s group, Americans for Prosperity, pose as if they are working for a stronger New Hampshire. If this bill was truly of benefit to Granite Staters, why is AFP assailing all states?

While the language in the article used words like "freedom" and "equality" to assign positive values to Senate Bill 11, those trying to earn a living gain nothing from its passage. In fact, the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute found wages to be 3.2 percent lower in states where bills like the proposed measure become law. Who gains those lost wages?

If you ask any union worker (teachers, police, skilled tradesmen and state/town employees) whether their benefits are under siege in New Hampshire, you’ll get a universal response. We are losing community-based professionals to other states because of depressed wages and an increased pressure on pensions and healthcare subsidies.

New Hampshire will continue to lose young workers & families in a race to the bottom encouraged by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council and Americans for Prosperity. ALEC writes laws and AFP lobbies for changes that benefit their sponsors. Both groups are paid for by many of the same large corporate beneficiaries. Their aim is to pass laws that distract voters in feverish debates, while increasing their profit-margin.

Mr. Moore argues that passing this law will advantage New Hampshire as the only state in the Northeast with cheap labor. But the reason no other Northeast state has passed this law is that they’ve figured out this bill compounds the plight of workers, an issue government has already failed to sufficiently address.

So as the media blitz in support of this anti-worker bill ramps up, "consider the source" when you read the arguments for and against. Greg Moore is the director of American’s for Prosperity NH – a group whose sole purpose is to increase its benefactors profits.

As a citizen speaking out against Senate Bill 11, my view is decidedly pro-worker. I was raised by working-class parents who were able to retire with dignity because they lived in a time that respected workers; and unions were a part of creating that respect. I believe we can be pro-business without being anti-worker. In fact, I reject Republican rhetoric that insists we must choose one over the other – good policy is not a zero-sum game.

This is where "follow the money" comes in. ALEC and AFP cost millions to run and they have one purpose: to find new and better ways to siphon profits by cutting costs on the backs of workers. The way the profit pie gets sliced has everything to do with whether workers can organize; and if they no longer support their unions, unions will soon lose the weight to support them.

The plan is really simple – to get more of the pie, you eliminate the pieces going to others. The biggest change is how boldly and systemically business has stepped into our government with groups like ALEC and AFP to ensure their piece of the pie grows. The three legged stool of democracy (citizens, government and business) is wobbling on two legs now. To restore balance, we have to ensure that the American worker does not lose their security on our watch.

When voters demanded change in the last election, they did so out of frustration with a government that serves lobbyists before citizens. This bill is the epitome of that system.

I hope you will contact your New Hampshire state senators and representatives to let them know that you do not support Senate Bill 11 because it weakens the position of Granite State workers and that weakens us all.

Kat McGhee is a writer, issues advocate and former candidate for the New Hampshire House.