Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Dennis Roch: Legislation protects NM workers

 

January 13, 2015

Rep. Dennis Roch

link Rep. Dennis Roch

When it comes to work and what we do for a living, America is a country of choices: We have the freedom to forge our own paths and follow our passions. We can choose who we want to be and where we want to work.

Yet, despite those freedoms, in New Mexico you can still be forced to pay union dues against your will. That’s correct. Even if you have no desire to join a union or contribute a portion of your paycheck to one, you can still be required to do so as a condition of employment.

That isn’t right. Hardworking New Mexicans should be able to choose whether or not they join a union or pay union dues. This year, we have an opportunity to protect our workers, and that’s what we plan to do.

Last week, I joined two colleagues, Reps. Candy Spence Ezzell and Andy Nunez, in pre-filing a bill that will give New Mexicans the freedom to choose whether they join a union or financially contribute to one.

Let me be very clear on this issue: Every worker should have the right to join a union or pay union dues if they so desire. But you should never have to join an organization or contribute to one against your will. This bill will ensure that our workers have the freedom to choose.

Not only will this legislation protect our workers, it will also make New Mexico’s economy more competitive with neighboring states.

It’s a fact that when states protect their workers, they do better economically. For example, the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that states that protected their workers with this law showed about a 43 percent gain in total employment from 1990 to 2011. But during that same time period, states without the protections grew only around 19 percent. That’s a stark difference — a difference we cannot afford.

In New Mexico, the differences can be even greater. One study by the Rio Grande Foundation found that had New Mexico become a right-to-work state in 1980, employment would have been about 21 percent higher in 2011. That would have been an additional 170,000 New Mexicans working.

The facts and data make it clear — we can’t let this opportunity pass us by.

This is an issue that people across the country agree on. Regardless of party affiliation, Americans overwhelmingly say they support protecting our workers from being forced to join a union or financially contribute to one. In fact, according to a Gallup poll from August, 71 percent of Americans support giving workers this choice. Specifically, the poll found that 65 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Independents support it, too.

At the end of the day, what matters is that hardworking New Mexicans get a choice. Workers should be able to decide for themselves whether they participate in a union. And it shouldn’t matter whether they work in the private sector or in government.

I call on my fellow lawmakers to put politics aside and make this issue a priority. Because when we protect our workers, we are putting New Mexico’s families first.

Dennis Roch, R-Logan, is a state representative whose counties include Curry, Quay and Roosevelt. Contact him at:

[email protected]

 

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