By Sahid Fawaz
Conservatives aren’t giving up when their “right to work” bills fail at the state level. They’re taking it to the counties.
Case in point: New Mexico.
“Right-to-work proponents, after failed attempts at the state Legislature, are now turning their attention to Sandoval County.
County Commissioners Jay Block and David Heil are sponsoring the proposal, which, if approved, would make Sandoval County the first county in New Mexico to have a right-to-work law.
Under right-to-work legislation, employees in unionized workplaces cannot be forced to join a union or pay union dues, while receiving the same benefits as union members who do contribute.
A similar move is planned in Bernalillo County. Commissioner Wayne Johnson said he will also propose right-to-work legislation, although he doesn’t have a draft yet and doesn’t have a timetable for introducing it.
Block and Heil say the legislation would help Sandoval County lure more businesses to the area and improve the local economy. Block said they based the measure on a similar ordinance approved by Hardin County, Ky.
Block, pointing to Sandoval County’s unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, said the measure is needed in an area that has seen the loss of thousands of jobs at the Rio Rancho Intel plant.
However, Jon Hendry, with the New Mexico Federation of Labor, says less union representation would mean lower-paying jobs.
His union promises to take the county to court if the commission approves the measure barring unions from imposing mandatory fees on workers.
The proposed ordinance is set to be introduced Thursday, Block said. It exempts public employee unions and existing private-sector union contracts.
An initial draft was discussed earlier this month at a raucous commission meeting that drew a capacity crowd.
Through the years, right to work has been a hotly contested issue in the state Legislature. Just this year, a Republican-backed effort to make New Mexico the nation’s 29th state with a right-to-work law failed.
A similar measure won House approval in 2015 but stalled in the Senate.
Pushing right-to-work legislation in Sandoval County is the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a Virginia-based group that is promoting similar legislation around the country.
The national group was founded by and has received funding from billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.“
For the rest of the story, check out the full piece here.