Senate Democrats unite in opposing governor-backed ‘right-to-work’ bills

State Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, speaks along with other Senate Democratic leaders about legislation aimed at creating jobs and the party’s economic development agenda during a news conference Wednesday at the state Capitol. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

Senate Democrats, including some who occasionally drift into Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s camp, presented a unified front Wednesday in vowing to stop “right-to-work” legislation, dooming one of the governor’s top legislative priorities.

Collectively, they sent an unequivocal message that legislation making it illegal to require employees to pay union fees as a condition of employment will die in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority. The proposal, which the Republican-controlled House is expected to pass soon, will likely meet its end in its first Senate committee hearing.

The House had been expected to vote on House Bill 75, the right-to-work bill, on Wednesday. But the vote was delayed. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, confirmed there are disagreements among some Republicans about a proposed minimum-wage increase that was attached to the bill. Roch himself said at a committee hearing last week that he wanted to keep the minimum-wage boost off his bill.