With the success of union-busting bills in Wisconsin and Ohio, Republicans in other states are taking the opportunity to attack unions.
New Hampshire is set to become the first right-to-work state in the Northeast if Republicans there can override a promised veto of Democratic Gov. John Lynch. In 2010, Republicans took control of the legislature by a wide margin.
Republican state senators in Missouri are trying to find a compromise that would allow their right-to-work bill to pass this this legislative session. Democrats have vowed to block the legislation but Republicans are hoping to cut off a filibuster.
After big Republican wins last fall, 18 states have proposed right-to-work measures this year.
“The political equation has changed in a lot of states,” Michael Eastman, executive director of labor policy for the anti-union U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told The Wall Street Journal. “Measures that may not have been possible two and four and six years ago now may be.”
Twenty-two states, mostly in the south and west, currently enforce right-to-work statues enabled by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. Under that law, closed union shops were made illegal and employees could not be forced to pay union dues.
The aim of new right-to-work legislation is to “weaken the labor movement in key states around the country,” according to Mark MacKenzie, president of the AFL-CIO’s state federation in New Hampshire. “If you look at the map, it has nothing to do with protecting workers rights but taking over key areas of the country” prior to the 2012 elections.
In South Carolina, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has been open about her dislike of unions.
“There’s no secret I don’t like the unions,” she told The Associated Press in January. “We are a right-to-work state. I will do everything I can to defend the fact we are a right-to-work state.”
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed suit earlier this month over a Boeing plan to to build their 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina instead of adding a second production line in Washington state where laws are more friendly to labor.
Union activist Rich Yeselson welcomed the NLRB’s decision. “I can’t think of anything this blatantly pro-unions in a long, long time,” he told Talking Points Memo.