Albuquerque Business First had an interesting quote from Sherman McCorkle earlier this week. Back in January, the chairman and CEO of the Sandia Science & Technology Park Development Corporation observed that “for many legislators, more than half of their campaign funding comes from unions. So they’re not going to vote for right-to-work unless each of us … talks to their legislator and reaffirms that something like a third of Fortune 500 companies in America will not even look at New Mexico unless it’s right-to-work.”
McCorkle’s statement was gutsy, but it’s accurate only to a point. Campaign cash is nowhere near the determining factor that Common Cause and its allies claim. (Ask Jeb Bush.) In New Mexico and elsewhere, unions use their forced dues in far more politically effective ways, including newsletters, lawn signs, phone banks, precinct work, voter-registration drives, and get-out-the vote efforts.
That kind of electoral muscle contributes heavily to unsustainable spending and higher taxes. For example, in a 2014 analysis, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research found that of “the nine states with the most debt relative to personal income, eight (Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Ohio and Oregon) lack Right to Work laws. Mississippi is the only Right to Work state among the nine most indebted. In stark contrast, of the 11 states with the lowest percentage debt-to-income burdens, 10 (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia) have Right to Work laws on the books.”
So while a RTW law is a key tool to attract businesses, investors, and entrepreneurs, it’s also a means to de-fund a coercive political apparatus that hurts New Mexico’s competitiveness through relentless advocacy for bigger government.