Bill Also Raises Minimum Wage To $8
SANTA FE – The New Mexico House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday night that will raise the minimum wage to $8 per hour and give workers the right to choose whether they financially contribute to a union.
The legislation – which passed by a bipartisan vote of 37-30 and will now head to the Senate – is the result of hours of debate and a compromise that not only creates a right-to-work law, but also raises the minimum wage to the third highest in the region.
“A vast majority of New Mexicans agree that our workers should never have to financially contribute to a union as a condition of employment,” said Rep. Dennis Roch, the bill’s sponsor. “Tonight, we stood with New Mexico workers. It is my hope that the Senate will, too.”
In addition to giving workers the freedom to choose whether they financially contribute to a union, the legislation also makes New Mexico’s business climate more competitive. States with similar protections are doing better than states without them. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, right-to-work states saw a 43 percent gain in total employment between 1990 and 2011. States without the protection gained just about 19 percent.
One study found that had New Mexico become a right-to-work state in 1980, employment would have been around 21 percent higher in 2011.
Protecting workers from having to financially contribute to a union against their will has bipartisan support across the state. A recent Albuquerque Journal poll found that 60 percent of New Mexicans support a right-to-work law. In addition, a poll found that a majority of New Mexicans also support raising the minimum wage.
“We were elected to put politics aside and find common ground on important issues,” said Rep. Nate Gentry, who introduced the minimum wage compromise amendment. “Tonight, we brought home a win for New Mexico’s families.”