A Culture of Deceit

Last month Governor John Lynch issued a statement explaining his veto of HB 474 to make New Hampshire a right-to-work state. His explanation included:

In the last seven years of recruiting businesses to move to New Hampshire, not one business leader has ever even asked me if New Hampshire had a right-to-work law, let alone suggested it was a factor in the company’s location decision. No New Hampshire business leaders have ever told me that the lack of a so-called right-to-work law prevented them from expanding or hiring new workers here in New Hampshire. And no New Hampshire workers have ever told me they couldn’t get a job because New Hampshire doesn’t have a so-called right-to-work law.

One reason the governor has never heard a business suggest that right-to-work laws were a factor in a location decision is because no business would risk voicing such an opinion. Suggesting that right-to-work is a factor in a business’ decision-making could be considered an unfair labor practice by the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB). The NLRB most recently made their position clear by filing a complaint against Boeing for referencing right-to-work protections as a factor in their decision to open a factory in South Carolina. It has been alleged that Boeing said they could not afford work stoppages every three years.

There have been many arguments for why Boeing is not at fault. Most notably Boeing’s union contract allows them to locate new work at the company’s discretion. Despite this Boeing entered into voluntary negotiations with the union. The union could not make the concessions that Boeing needed in order to stay in Washington. The NLRB complaint sights Boeing’s reasons for moving as “coercive to employees and its actions were motivated by a desire to retaliate for past strikes and chill future strike activity.” Boeing has expressly denied these claims, supported by the fact that they tried to negotiate with their union. This litigation attacks a business decision that is expressly permitted in the union contract, is based on one informal comment to the press, and comes a year after the incident.

These frivolous and predatory legal actions will have a chilling effect on corporate transparency. Employees in general would rather their boss tell them the true reasons for making business decisions. Allowing the employee to understand the business’ options and reasoning can let a worker better understand his or her own options. The fear of persecution will foster a culture of deceit and a skewed perception of what happens in corporate board rooms.

If President Obama’s NLRB would allow company executives to tell the truth (without fear of litigation), Gov. Lynch may hear businesses change their tune.