A new bill in the New Hampshire State House seeks to curtail any university efforts to properly educate employees and students about the impact that further unionization could have on the campus community.
New Hampshire House Bill 1315, introduced before the House last Thursday, explicitly prohibits schools in the New Hampshire state university system from spending any university funds on activities that may discourage university employees from joining or forming a union.
“No university funds shall be spent for the purpose of discouraging employees from exercising their rights of association by joining or forming a labor union or opposing the formation of union bargaining units under RSA 273-A,” the bill reads.
While the bill appears to be an effort to deter universities from engaging in marketing campaigns that could be perceived as anti-union, the phrase “university funds” is extremely broad and could be used to tamper speech on campus. For example, student organizations at the University of New Hampshire apply for and receive funds from the Student Activity Fee Office. Each year, full and part-time students fund these efforts through a mandatory student activity fee collected as part of tuition.
While the bill does not specifically mention student organizations, it still prohibits the spending of university funding on anti-union activity. If the UNH College Republicans wanted to host a speaker such as Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, this new law could hypothetically prevent them from using their student organization funding to host Mix because some individuals might perceive him as anti-union.
According to UNH spokeswoman Erika Mantz, the university is not opposed to union organizing but is concerned about the impact of the bill in preventing the university from seeking and paying for effective legal representation in union-related matters, as well as limiting university employees' views on information related to matters the union may be addressing.
“UNH does not oppose union organizing,” said Mantz. “Unions spend members’ dues on legal fees, and not permitting USNH to seek legal representation would put its institutions at a disadvantage and result in employees receiving one-sided information.”
John Patrick (@john_pat_rick) is a graduate of Canisius College and Georgia Southern University. He interned for Red Alert Politics during the summer of 2012 and has continued to contribute regularly.