Thursday night saw a lengthy County Commission meeting in Sandoval County over whether to move forward on the proposed “right to work” ordinance. Rio Grande Foundation and some folks from Americans For Prosperity New Mexico were in the room by 3:45 for a meeting that began at 6pm. The discussion of “right to work” concluded at 11pm with the “right to work” ordinance moving on to the next stage (being posted) by a 4-1 vote of the Commission.
Here are some initial thoughts on the meeting and its fallout.
1) Burly Cain and Americans for Prosperity did a great job getting supporters out to the meeting. There were more supporters than there were union folks by a 60-40 or even 70-30 split. Business groups including the New Mexico Business Coalition showed up in support as well.
2) One of the reasons the meeting took so long was the large number of environmental radicals in the room to oppose the oil and gas ordinance being considered. There were more than a dozen commenters on this topic in the general comment period and they are clearly organized. NMOGA and other supporters of oil and gas better get their ducks in a row.
3) The sheriff and some at the Sandoval District Attorney’s office attempted to throw sand in the gears of the “right to work” issue by pleading “lack of expertise” on enforcing the law. They claimed to have “no position,” but it was clear their shenanigans were meant to torpedo it or at least slow its movement. Commissioner Don Chapman seemed to be swayed by these silly arguments, but ultimately voted in support of “right to work.”
The fact is that the DA’s office doesn’t understand the issue and couldn’t point to a single case of a business firing an employee for not paying union dues (the ultimate enforcement is against the employer) in any of the 28 states or myriad counties that have “right to work” on the books.
The other legal “issue” involves what the unions might do legally to stop the law. While we believe that the costs will be covered by 3rd-party organizations or the County’s insurance (it will be difficult for the unions to gain legal standing) the worst-case scenario is that the County repeals the bill if legal action becomes imminent and unaffordable. This is being considered in Santa Fe right now on its campaign rules.