Right-to-work legislation has been and will continue to be a divisive subject during the 2015 Legislative Session. Gov. Susana Martinez has said that she supports it and the House majority has shown they are ready to push right-to-work bills through the committee process. There are a handful of bills in both the House and Senate that would ban employers from requiring their employees to pay union dues or negotiating fees.
Defenders of the legislation have said workers deserve the right to choose whether they pay unions or not. Business leaders in New Mexico have said many companies tend to expand into states that have right-to-work laws on the books. They argue that the state would be more attractive to out of state companies with stricter laws regarding unions.
Opponents of right-to-work laws say unions cannot support members without membership dues. Many people have also argued that the Taft-Hartley Act already makes it illegal to force employees to join a worker’s union. What’s not illegal in New Mexico is deducting money from an employee’s paycheck for pay negotiations and health care. That practice is known as Fair Share, and union supporters say it’s necessary to keep unions financially solvent and that unions provide a service to all workers.
New Mexico Political Report caught up with two people who have looked into right-to-work laws.
Paul Gessing is the president of the Rio Grande Foundation, a free-market think tank based in Albuquerque.
Dr. Gordon Lafer is a political economist and a professor at the University of Oregon.