Governor: Right to work ‘common sense’

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Gov. Susana Martinez poses with young readers Myla Garcia, Leilani Nieto, Tessie Trujillo, Emiliana Lopez and Evangeline Hernandez before speaking to the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce Thursday. (Courtesy GACC)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gov. Susana Martinez said she will push for so-called “right-to-work” legislation during the upcoming legislative session, calling a change to the state’s labor laws “common sense” and long overdue.

The comments, made before about 500 business leaders and legislators at a Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce luncheon, were Martinez’s strongest to date on the subject of right-to-work legislation.

Currently, 24 states have right-to-work laws, which generally bar requirements that employees pay union fees as a condition of employment. Such fees are only mandated in workplaces covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

“It is fundamentally wrong to require membership (in a union) in order to get a job … or take money from the paychecks of our workers by force,” Martinez said.

The Republican governor, who began her second term in office last week, did not make right to work a major part of her first term legislative agenda.

But debate on the subject — long stifled by a Democrat-controlled Legislature — has reignited since Republicans seized control of the New Mexico House in the November elections.

Democrats still control the Senate, and some top-ranking Democratic senators have said they will fight the right-to-work push.

Labor union leaders also oppose the legislation, which they claim leads to lower worker pay and is aimed at weakening unions.

However, the governor said right to work is one of several hurdles New Mexico faces in attempting to become more economically competitive with neighboring states.

Check back later for more updates.

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