Worker-Freedom Ordinance Proposed in Sandoval County, New Mexico

Published August 24, 2017

Two Sandoval County, New Mexico commissioners are proposing a county ordinance to prohibit some businesses from requiring union membership as a condition of employment.

Commissioner Jay Block (District 2) told Budget & Tax News he and Dave Heil (District 4) planned to unveil the ordinance on September 21.

If approved, it would make Sandoval County, in northwestern New Mexico, the state’s first right-to-work county.

To date, 28 states and the territory of Guam have enacted worker-freedom laws. New Mexico is one of 22 states without such laws.

Limited Economy

Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, says New Mexico’s economy is running out of gas, money, and ideas.

“For its entire history, the state has relied on two primary economic engines: the oil and gas industry and the federal government,” Gessing said. “It is now widely understood that we can no longer rely on these economic drivers. Low oil and gas prices are taking a toll, and there is not enough money from Washington to support a healthy state economy.

 “The local right-to-work ordinance is about jobs,” Gessing said. “It is about economic development and putting the local governments on the map for jobs and economic activity.”

‘We Need to Compete’

Block says right-to-work is right for Sandoval County and all of New Mexico.

“New Mexico is one of the nation’s poorest states,” Block said. “We have the highest unemployment rate in the country, the lowest wages in the Southwest, and cannot compete with our neighboring right-to-work states.

“A local right-to-work ordinance will make us competitive and allow us to grow and diversify our economy,” Block said. “It’s a competitive world out there, and we need to compete. Unfortunately, we have not been competing in New Mexico for more than 80 years. Local governments are under the boot of Santa Fe, and they haven’t done anything to help us, so we are going to go on our own and do it.”

Cites Neighbors’ Successes

Making Sandoval County a right-to-work area will promote residents’ prosperity, Block says.

“A local right-to-work ordinance will attract businesses, put our people to work, and expand our middle class,” Block said. “We know this is true because our neighboring right-to-work states have higher wages, lower unemployment, and expanded union membership. These states are doing significantly better than New Mexico.”