New Hampshire is still a place where faculty, labor unions, and working people live free.
Last month, two unionized AAUP chapters in New Hampshire worked with other unions, organizations, and community members to defeat a “right-to-work” bill that the governor had promised to sign. Together, we protected the right of faculty and other working people across the state to negotiate collectively.
It was an invigorating fight, making us proud to be members of the AAUP and aligned with all the other organizations that made this a priority.
So-called right-to-work legislation is designed to weaken unions, undercutting our ability to bargain together for better wages, benefits, and working conditions--which, in the case of faculty, include issues such as academic freedom protections and shared governance rights.
As we faced the prospect of right-to-work in our state, the University of New Hampshire chapters of the AAUP formed a One Faculty committee to fight the legislation. We reached out to faculty across the state, conducted teach-ins, and sent members to open committee hearings and full votes by the legislature. We worked with other unions and community members to ensure that all legislators heard our message loud and clear: working people must be protected and this legislation must be defeated.
We created an “Honor Roll” of Republican legislators who resisted the strong-arm efforts of our new governor and stood up against the legislation. Then we asked members and supporters to call or write to thank both them and the determined Democrats who defied a snowstorm to be in their seats the date of the vote. And it paid off--the bill was defeated in the New Hampshire State House by a bipartisan coalition of legislators, 200 to 177.
Right-to-work isn’t the only legislative threat facing faculty across the country. In Iowa and North Carolina, legislators have introduced bills that would impose an ideological litmus test for new faculty hires. Legislation in Missouri and Iowa seeks to end tenure. All such laws, if enacted, would constrain faculty rights and limit academic freedom.
We must continue to work together united to protect the rights and freedoms of faculty across the country.
I am so heartened by this victory and the incredible solidarity I have seen amongst faculty here.
Sarah Hirsch, President
UNH Lecturers United-AAUP