After NH Journal exposed legal questions raised by a $25,000 union-tied campaign contribution to Maggie Hassan, additional information is coming to light about the major role organized labor is playing in the New Hampshire gubernatorial race.
When some New Hampshire state employees arrived at their office last week, they were greeted at their desks by a sensationalized flyer touting Democrat gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan and attacking her Republican opponent, Ovide Lamontagne.
The flier was apparently produced and distributed by the State Employee’s Association (SEA) and the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
The one-page document touts Hassan’s support for a public employee pension system that both Republicans and Democrats agree is unsustainable, and derides Lamontagne’s support for a right-to-work law, which would make joining a union optional rather than required for New Hampshire workers. The most recent polling, conducted in the spring, has over 70 percent of Granite Staters supporting right-to-work legislation.
Political communications of this nature are technically legal due to provisions in the SEA contract negotiated under former Governor Jeanne Shaheen and upheld by Governor Lynch. However, sources familiar with labor laws say that union representatives and union members are not supposed to take time out of work hours or use office equipment such as printers or copiers to distribute materials like these fliers.
Additionally, some state employees – even some who are supporting Hassan – feel that the frequency and negativity of the solicitations this election cycle have gone beyond the pale of what is appropriate and are being used to intimidate workers who do not agree with the unions’ politics.
A state employee, who requested anonymity to avoid retaliation from the union, told NH Journal that in addition to the flyers, state employees – including those who opted out of becoming full union members – constantly receive politically-charged emails at their professional email addresses and solicitations to attend rallies or protests during work hours.
These reports raise the question as to whether this sort of influence wasn’t exactly what Hassan was railing against when she told the Nashua Telegraph, “You can come into New Hampshire. You can purchase an election. You can drown out the voices of all others in a campaign. You can hide your identity from public scrutiny.”