I am writing in response to those who oppose the proposed right to work legislation. While I respect those who oppose, they are flat out wrong on this issue.
The truth is, passing right-to-work legislation would be good for New Mexico’s workers and our economy. But unfortunately, some politicians are trying to turn this into a partisan battle even though a majority of Americans support it.
It’s not hard to see why.
At the heart of this issue is the freedom of choice. In New Mexico, our workers can be forced to join a union or financially contribute to one as a condition of employment. That’s not fair to the hardworking people of this state.
We need a solution. Passing a right-to-work law would protect our workers and allow them to choose whether they join a union. This would not do away with unions; it simply gives our workers a choice. We should never force anyone to join an organization of any kind. Not only will this help our workers, but also our economy. It is a fact that right-to-work legislation creates jobs.
Nearly all of our neighboring states have right-to-work protections in place. If we want to level the playing field, we need to pass right to work so that we can be competitive with states like Texas, Utah and Arizona – states that are growing. Twenty-four states currently are right to work and that number is growing all the time.
The facts show that employment grows much faster in right-to-work states. For example, from 1990 to 2011, right-to-work states showed a much greater gain in total employment — 42.6 percent versus 18.8 percent. Few, if any businesses, have been or are moving to non-right to work states.
One study even shows that if New Mexico had become a right-to-work state in 1980, employment and personal income would have been about 21 percent higher in 2011. The same study found that if New Mexico would have become a right-to-work state in 2013, 42,300 more people would be working by the year 2020. Those are real jobs for our hardworking families. We are convinced that not being a right to work state makes it difficult to attract diverse businesses and add to our economic base.
And while we can’t turn back the clock, we can still do what’s best for the future.
The public is on our side with this issue. A Gallup national survey found that 71 percent of Americans agree workers should be protected from mandatory union membership. Both Democrats and Republicans support right to work – including 65 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Independents.
In fact, right-to-work legislation had bipartisan support when it passed its first House Committee. We expect more Democrats will support the legislation when it reaches the House floor. They will come around on this issue because they will see that this is about freedom and choice. They know it makes sense for hardworking people to decide for themselves whether they join or financially contribute to one.
If we can make New Mexico a right-to-work state, we can build a better future. Workers will get a choice, and our state will see economic progress.