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Latest News - April 2011

April 12, 2011
Senators: nonunion members shouldn't have to pay
By: Norma Love

CONCORD, N.H.—A bill that would end the practice of requiring non-union members to pay a share of collective bargaining costs in New Hampshire won the support of a key Senate committee Tuesday.

The four Republicans on the Commerce Committee out-voted the lone Democrat to recommend that the Senate pass a House bill Democratic Gov. John Lynch has already said he will veto. Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers and could override a veto if they stick together.

The committee stripped out a provision added by the House that removed the obligation of public sector unions to bargain on behalf of nonunion members. Senate committee members said the provision attempted to answer complaints by unions they are required to negotiate for everyone, including those who don't pay dues, but could have caused other problems by creating confusion over who negotiates for nonunion employees.

Federal law requires unions to bargain for all workers, but allows states to make an exception for public sector unions, committee members said.

State Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Henniker, said he believes strongly workers should have the right to choose whether to join a union. He said unions should have the same choice.

"How do we force people to represent people who aren't paying? That's wrong," said Sanborn, who voted to recommend the bill anyway.

Senate Commerce Chairman Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, said it will be up to unions to get workers to join and pay dues based on their track record at the bargaining table.

The fair share payments are made instead of union dues to help cover the costs of negotiations and administering contracts. Federal law requires unions to negotiate benefits for all workers, union and nonunion alike. Contract negotiations determine whether an agreement contains a fair share requirement. No one can be required to join a union.

The bill would bar employers and unions from agreeing to include a fair share clause in a contract.

After the vote, Felicia Augevich of Communications Workers of America said the bill infringes on the rights of employers as well as unions. She said it is unfair to bar them from negotiating a particular clause.

Diana Lacey, president of the State Employees' Association which represents most state workers, said she was disappointed in the vote. She said fair share payments support more than collective bargaining. For example, she said fair share payments to SEA pay for a health care benefits advocate for state workers.

Lynch had objected because he believes the bill would undercut the collective bargaining process in the state.

Labor Commissioner George Copadis also opposes the bill.

© Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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