What New Mexicans are saying about the legislature

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What are New Mexicans saying about the legislature?  We’re reading newspapers statewide to see.  Here are a few examples.


“Right-to-Work” Kills Education

Gallup Independent, Feb. 2, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 4.28.40 PMIf you’ve followed the debate about so-called “right-to-work” laws possibly passing the New Mexico legislature this year, you’ve probably heard the statistics about how workers are paid less and unemployment is consistently higher in states with these laws. In fact, six of the ten states with the highest unemployment rates already have “right-to-work” laws and average workers make about $5,000 less in those states.

But what you may not have heard in these debates is how these anti-worker laws negatively affect education in states that have them; something New Mexico certainly does not need. While public safety employees would be hard hit if a “right-to-work” law were passed – for example, it would be harder for nurses to negotiate safe staffing levels and limit the ability of firefighters and police officers to negotiate for things like faster response times and lifesaving emergency equipment – students and educators would suffer as well….not to mention other education employees.

“Right to work” laws make it harder for workers to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and resources (like emergency equipment for first responders, safe staffing ratios for hospitals, or smaller class sizes for teachers). With such low teacher pay and such large class sizes in New Mexico, these laws should not even be brought up by our lawmakers. By limiting collective bargaining rights these laws–and the corporate special interests behind them–hurt the everyday heroes we count on, like emergency responders, nurses, and teachers. Our communities will suffer.

Did you know that 19 of the 20 states that spend the least on education per student are states that have passed “right to work” laws? Our lawmakers should be investing in our kids and our teachers instead of figuring out ways to better line the pockets of the corporate CEOs behind these laws.

Brian J. Bernard
Gallup, NM

This opinion piece originally appeared in the Gallup Independent on February 2, 2016