The Republican-controlled New Hampshire House of Representatives failed to overturn the Democratic governor's veto of an anti-union bill on Wednesday. The failed vote is a victory for labor forces who fought a year-long battle against GOP state legislators who sought to make New Hampshire a "right to work" state.
Even though Republicans held a two-thirds veto-proof majority in the House of Representatives, House Speaker William O'Brien (R) could not get the requisite 252 votes needed to override Gov. John Lynch's (D) veto. The final vote sustaining the governor's veto was 240-139.
According to the Associated Press, after the vote, "[c]heers erupted from the gallery from union workers who attended session after session to urge the bill's defeat since Lynch vetoed the so-called right-to-work bill in May. Both sides had rallied before the vote, with supporters wearing lime green T-shirts emblazoned with the word 'Yes!!!' and opponents wearing red T-shirts with 'RTW' and a line through it to represent their opposition to right-to-work laws."
The bill, known as HB 474, would have barred unions from collecting dues from non-members.
State Republicans claimed that the bill was a matter of personal freedom.
"Let those who wish to associate with unions to freely do so, but let's also show compassion for those who choose not to associate with unions," said state Rep. Gary Daniels (R). "Let them be free to choose an alternative action without being required to pay to keep their jobs."
In a press release, Mark Mackenzie, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, praised the state representatives who voted against the veto override.
"Their vote is a clear signal to all of our elected leaders, in New Hampshire and elsewhere, that attacking the rights of everyday Americans isn't the key to economic prosperity," he said.
On Wednesday, presidential hopeful Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) spoke to the New Hampshire legislature, praising the legislation and urging an override of the veto.
"If you pass into law a right- to-work law, you may join my home state and take over the title of the state that's creating more jobs in American than any place in this country," Perry said to a standing ovation. "Unions have their proper role in America but you shouldn't be forced to join one to feed your family. It should be your choice."
Correction: This article incorrectly stated Lynch was a Republican. It has been change to reflect that he is a Democrat. We regret the error.