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Sandoval County sued over right-to-work law

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Federation of Labor on Friday filed a lawsuit targeting a controversial “right-to-work” ordinance passed last month by the Sandoval County Commission.

Jon Hendry, the federation’s president, had previously said his organization would sue the county as a result of its decision.

The ordinance prevents employees from being required to join a union or paying union fees. Supporters say right-to-work legislation helps businesses; opponents say it undermines unions and worker rights.

“The county’s effort to over-regulate business and take away the freedom of businesses to negotiate contracts will impair crucial business opportunities in Sandoval County’s private sector,” a federation spokesman wrote in a statement.

The ordinance had been called “illegal” in a letter by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas that was released before the vote last month.

The lawsuit contends several unions would be harmed by the ordinance, including local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

“Examples highlighted . . . . include the plight of an average Smith’s butcher: Some Smith’s butchers regularly work in Smith’s stores in Bernalillo County and Sandoval County,” according to the statement. “The county’s ordinance would make the Smith’s butcher’s employment contract illegal some days and legal other days of the work week.”

The statement said the litigation would be “costly and likely embarrassing for the county.”