Senate sends gov. bill striking down local ‘right-to-work’ measures

New Mexico is not what is known as a “right-to-work” state, and the Legislature drove home that point Sunday night. The Senate voted 23-19 to approve House Bill 85, which permits employers and labor organizations in New Mexico to enter into agreements requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment. Now the […]

Senate sends gov. bill striking down local ‘right-to-work’ measures

New Mexico is not what is known as a “right-to-work” state, and the Legislature drove home that point Sunday night.

The Senate voted 23-19 to approve House Bill 85, which permits employers and labor organizations in New Mexico to enter into agreements requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment.

Now the measure goes to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who’s well aware that 10 of the state’s 33 counties have adopted so-called right-to-work laws that say employees cannot be compelled to pay fees to a labor union that represents them on the job.

The Senate struck back by approving the bill that strikes down these local measures.

In some ways, the bill is as symbolic as the the city and county ordinances it seeks to void, merely reaffirming New Mexico’s labor laws.

But Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, said the Legislature’s role in approving the bill tells city and county governments they do not have the power to authorize right-to-work laws any more than they could cut the tax rate for corporations. The power in both cases rests with the state government, Cervantes said.

More important, Cervantes said, the Legislature is helping cities and counties avoid being being sued because they have created laws that exceed the scope of their authority.

Still, the debate on the Senate floor opened some fissures between Democrats and between urban and rural lawmakers.

All 16 Republicans and three Democrats backed the efforts of a political organization called Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that has pressed for the local laws in select parts of the state.

Sen. Greg Baca, R-Belen, said House Bill 85 tells those communities that their views don’t matter and would amount to Santa Fe wielding a heavy hand over the rest of the state.

Republicans and industry groups have usually backed such ordinances, arguing that loosening laws on labor unions would help draw business to the state.

Moreover, Republicans argued these laws would only be fair, as they would give workers a broader choice on whether to align with a union.

Even some Democrats suggested the Legislature should leave debates about union fees to local governments.

“We need to let those governments do their job,” said Sen. Clemente Sanchez of Grants, one of the Democrats who voted against the bill.

The others were Sens. John Arthur Smith of Deming and Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces.

And Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, said early in debate over the bill that he had not heard a principled explanation of why the Legislature should override the will of local governments.

Cervantes had a fast reply. He said the 10 counties that approved right-to-work laws will squander taxpayers’ money on the lawsuits they have invited. He pointed to an attorney general’s opinion and a federal court decision as evidence that the local governments cannot win in court.

Candelaria was persuaded. He voted for the bill.

Other Democrats said so-called right-to-work laws are not about boosting economies but undercutting workers’ wages.

Sen. Bill Tallman, D-Albuquerque, argued the state’s lagging economy has to do with many problems other than labor laws, from crime to poverty.

It’s a myth that right-to-work laws make a state’s economy better, Tallman said.

“I wish it were that simple,” he said, adding that the laws weaken unions and depress wages.

Today, about 8 percent of New Mexico workers are represented by labor unions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s on the low end when compared to other states but higher than New Mexico’s immediate neighbors, except for Colorado, where 12 percent of workers are represented by unions.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

The proposed strategic water supply had a rocky road this legislative session that ultimately resulted in it not making it through even one chamber.…
Bill to end detention of immigrants in New Mexico fails soon after new report on poor conditions

Bill to end detention of immigrants in New Mexico fails soon after new report on poor conditions

A bill to prohibit immigration detention in New Mexico failed a few weeks after an organization issued a report regarding the conditions for a…
Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

House Speaker Javier Martinez said that the Paid Family and Medical Leave will return to next year’s legislative session. SB 3, sponsored by state…
Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

The proposed strategic water supply had a rocky road this legislative session that ultimately resulted in it not making it through even one chamber.…
Hearing examiner recommends that PRC reject controversial LNG storage facility

Hearing examiner recommends that PRC reject controversial LNG storage facility

New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Hearing Examiner Anthony Medeiros recommended that the commissioners deny New Mexico Gas Company’s request to build, own and operate…
SCOTUS hears interstate air pollution case

SCOTUS hears interstate air pollution case

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday regarding a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule known as the good neighbor plan. The good neighbor plan…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee discussed a potential constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the governor’s executive powers. The committee approved…
Supreme Court censures attorney over conduct in anti-COVID policy suits

Supreme Court censures attorney over conduct in anti-COVID policy suits

The New Mexico State Supreme Court censured a New Mexico attorney because of her “misconduct” in two unsuccessful cases pushing back on COVID-19 regulations…
Guv outlines some health priorities on state spending

Guv outlines some health priorities on state spending

During her state of the state address on Tuesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told legislators that one of her legislative priorities is a request…
Referendum on Edgewood’s anti-abortion ordinance moves forward

Referendum on Edgewood’s anti-abortion ordinance moves forward

The town of Edgewood is moving forward with its ballot referendum on its anti-abortion ordinance at a cost of more than $35,000. The town…
2023 Top Stories #1: Anti-abortion efforts go local

2023 Top Stories #1: Anti-abortion efforts go local

Note: Every year, we count down the top ten stories of the year, as voted on by NM Political Report staffers. Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral…
NM Supreme Court to decide if local anti-abortion ordinances are legal

NM Supreme Court to decide if local anti-abortion ordinances are legal

The New Mexico Supreme Court will decide whether anti-abortion ordinances passed by local governments in eastern New Mexico over the last 13 months can…
AGs want FDA guidance on heavy metals for the baby food industry

AGs want FDA guidance on heavy metals for the baby food industry

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez and a coalition of 19 other attorneys general called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue…
Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

Supporters of Paid Family and Medical Leave say it will return

House Speaker Javier Martinez said that the Paid Family and Medical Leave will return to next year’s legislative session. SB 3, sponsored by state…
Paid Family Medical Leave bill dies in the final days of the session for a second year in a row

Paid Family Medical Leave bill dies in the final days of the session for a second year in a row

A bill that would have provided paid leave for several weeks died on the House floor when 11 Democrats sided with Republicans to vote…

Bill to require disclosure of use of AI in campaign materials goes to governor

The Senate approved a bill aiming to require the disclosure of the use of artificial intelligence or other changes made by computers to campaign…
House amends, passes bill banning firearms near polling places

House amends, passes bill banning firearms near polling places

The House narrowly approved a bill that would ban firearms near polling places. The House voted 35-34 to pass the bill following an extensive…
Manny Gonzales doesn’t qualify for Senate GOP primary ballot

Manny Gonzales doesn’t qualify for Senate GOP primary ballot

Nella Domenici is the lone Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, after Manny Gonzales III failed to qualify for the ballot. Gonzales did not file…
Stansbury talks infrastructure issues at roundtable

Stansbury talks infrastructure issues at roundtable

Democratic U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury discussed infrastructure issues and grants that could help fix those issues during a roundtable discussion at Rio Rancho City…
Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

Questions remain about governor’s strategic water supply proposal

The proposed strategic water supply had a rocky road this legislative session that ultimately resulted in it not making it through even one chamber.…
Hearing examiner recommends that PRC reject controversial LNG storage facility

Hearing examiner recommends that PRC reject controversial LNG storage facility

New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Hearing Examiner Anthony Medeiros recommended that the commissioners deny New Mexico Gas Company’s request to build, own and operate…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report