Post mortem on Right to Work

As was predicted and is now being reported, legislation that would have made New Mexico a “right to work” state died on partisan lines last night in the Senate Public Affairs Committee. It was, but predictable result. There are a few things that need to be discussed about this issue and the 2016 legislative session in general:

  1. I was pleased to sit beside Sen. Mark Moores (the bill’s sponsor) and provide my testimony. Moores did a great job as well;
  2. Sen. Ortiz y Pino (and Sen. Candelaria for a time) ran the Committee smoothly and in a way that respected everyone’s time. Having each side pick five people is far superior to having unlimited public comment (as happened last year in the House);
  3. I listened to testimony from Allen Sanchez, the lobbyist for the Catholic Church, relating to the late-term abortion ban — which was killed in the same committee earlier in the afternoon — he was far more passionate in his opposition to the “right to work” bill than he was earlier on the abortion issue for which he seemed to apologize and equivocate at times;
  4. As usual, there was a great deal of misinformation presented by opponents of “right to work” that I’ll address below:
    1. It increases inequality/kills the middle class: please look at state-by-state Gini coefficient data and tell me where it “kills” the middle class. 7 of the least unequal/most equal states have “right to work” and the three most unequal states are not “right to work.” There’s not even correlation, much less causation.
    2. “Right to work” kills jobs (just look at Wisconsin!): Thankfully there are 24 “right to work” states besides Wisconsin — which has been “right to work” for less than a year. Overall, these “right to work” states consistently outperform non-“right to work” states on job creation.
    3. “Right to work” reduces wages, but when you factor in cost-of-living, “right to work” states have higher actual living standards.
    4. “Right to work” forces unions to represent those who choose not to pay dues or “fair share” payments. This is simply not true. Unions can and do form “members only” units which allow them to negotiate solely on behalf of those who pay dues. A detailed explanation of this — discussed from a hard-left “progressive” perspective — was published by the left-wing In These Times magazine.  This is no academic exercise. The article notes that United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 42 at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was organized as a members-only union.
  5. While Democrats are criticizing Gov. Martinez for focusing on criminal justice as opposed to economic issues, the fact is that the Democrats’ agenda is more of the same unaffordable big-government that has gotten us into 49th and 50th on most economic lists. We can do economic development in this state without “right to work,” but the Senate refuses to act on almost ANYTHING put forth to reform New Mexico’s economy.