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NH Labor News 6/20/12: Lynch Pushes For Nashua Rail, Saving MHT School Jobs, Redistricting, ALEC in Your Town, and More

Lynch renews push for commuter rail service in Nashua speech – NashuaTelegraph.com: “NASHUA – Gov. John Lynch made a renewed push Tuesday for bringing commuter rail service to and from Boston and warned about the impact of state aid cuts to higher education.

In a State of the State speech to the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, Lynch said state officials are trying to decide which area group should manage a $1.6 million grant to study feasibility of commuter rail.
“It’s not a decision to do it; it’s a decision to study it and that’s why I was really upset at the Executive Council for turning it down,” Lynch said.”

VIDEO Exit Interview: 5 Questions for Governor Lynch – Nashua, NH Patch: “One thing he did say was that he’d like to see his next governor be someone who can work through bi-partisan issues, something he addressed during his speech. In fact, Lynch called for a return to civility in Concord during his remarks – not in the Senate, he qualified his remarks, but in the House specifically, where civility “has been greatly lacking.”

That was the only line of his speech which garnered applause from the crowd.
“As I travel around New Hampshire, people tell me that they want us to work together; they want us to put partisan politics to one side and focus on solving problems and creating opportunities for them. Unfortunately, when you have a lack of civility and a lack of trust, that doesn’t happen, so I hope we return to that,” Lynch said.”

Which Manchester school jobs will be saved? | New Hampshire NEWS06: “MANCHESTER — Now that aldermen have appropriated $152 million to the Manchester School District, the school board has the task of deciding how it will be spent.

The Board of School Committee is scheduled to discuss the district’s fiscal year 2013 budget tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Earlier this year, the board voted to lay off 161 employees and leave open all vacancies. Board members said Tuesday they will look to Superintendent Thomas Brennan for recommendations as to which positions should be maintained. Committee member John Avard said last week he has a list of priorities he will bring to the meeting, but wants to hear from Brennan.
“It’s easy for us to say we want this restored and that restored, but we need to get the final numbers,” Avard said.”

Supreme Court upholds House redistricting plan – NashuaTelegraph.com: “CONCORD – The state’s highest court Tuesday unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the state law redistricting all 400 seats in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
The Supreme Court rejected the arguments of five lawsuits that maintained the plan ignored a 2006 amendment to the state constitution meant to ensure that town and city wards with a certain population threshold would get their own legislators.”

Many American Workers Are Underemployed and Underpaid – NYTimes.com: “These are anxious days for American workers. Many, like Ms. Woods, are underemployed. Others find pay that is simply not keeping up with their expenses: adjusted for inflation, the median hourly wage was lower in 2011 than it was a decade earlier, according to data from a forthcoming book by the Economic Policy Institute, “The State of Working America, 12th Edition.” Good benefits are harder to come by, and people are staying longer in jobs that they want to leave, afraid that they will not be able to find something better. Only 2.1 million people quit their jobs in March, down from the 2.9 million people who quit in December 2007, the first month of the recession.”

NYT: When ALEC Takes Over Your Town: “The two Woonsocket legislators quickly decided to apply Rahm Emanuel’s famous maxim about never letting a crisis go to waste. The fact that their town had a big budget deficit meant that if they played their cards right, they could do a lot more than just fix the schools’ problem. They could actually shrink the town government!

And how does one go about doing that? By refusing to go along with tax increases and forcing the city to the edge of bankruptcy, thus raising the possibility of bringing in a receiver. “You never move faster than when you have a piano hanging over your head,” Brien told me. “The receiver is that piano.”

He went on to say that the municipal unions – police, firefighters, teachers – “have been given pensions and benefits the city can no longer afford” but have no incentive to renegotiate. But a receiver, with the wave of a magic wand, can instantly cut their pensions, and there isn’t a thing they can do about it. When I asked Brien how bad the pension problem was in Woonsocket, he told me he didn’t know. “I’m a state legislator,” he said. “I don’t get into that level of municipal finance.””

MASS NEWS :City Council favors union-backed contractors rule – Worcester Telegram & Gazette – telegram.com: “WORCESTER —  The City Council voted 9-1 tonight to advertise a new Responsible Employer Ordinance that would require contractors on municipal projects to maintain union-style apprenticeship programs. 

The move came after almost two hours of testimony from ordinance and union supporters who argued the measure would open up jobs and opportunities to local residents on local public construction projects.”

I wanted to share some great news from our neighbors to the south. SEIU 888 Signs First Contract!  Hopkinton paraprofessionals win year and half long effort to form union and improve conditions

Hopkinton, MA – School paraprofessionals declared victory on Thursday, June 14 in their 19 month effort to form a union and improve working conditions after an overwhelming majority of the workers voted to ratify their first union contract.

The union agreement with School District management will improve paid time off by increasing holidays from five to eleven per year and allowing workers more sick time if needed. The contract ensures workers a voice on-the-job and increases their job security with an enforceable grievance and arbitration procedure. Paraprofessional will also receive regular scheduled wage increases.

School Paraprofessionals provide opportunity for students to have individualized instruction in the classroom. There are about 80 employees in the Hopkinton Paraprofessional Chapter.

“We are really excited to finally have our first contract and get the recognition for all the hard work we do,” said Ken Marin, a twelve year employee of the school district. “Now we are on our way to get the respect we deserve.”

“This will benefit all the paraprofessionals and our students going forward,” said Linda Smith, a Hopkinton paraprofessional who helped negotiate the union contract with a team of six co-workers. “And it puts us on an equal footing with the rest of district. A lot of what we were looking for was respect. Our new contract is a good start”

Employees decided to form their union in October of 2010 and won certification for collective bargaining on May 31, 2011. Bargaining began second week of June 2011.

“SEIU Local 888 unites over 500 paraprofessional educators in Massachusetts for the good jobs and quality education our communities need,” said local president Mark DelloRusso. “In today’s challenging environment for public service workers, gaining strength through unity is the key to maintaining standards and advancing in your career.”

SEIU Local 888 unites more than 8,500 public service, higher education and not-for-profit workers in Massachusetts.



About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News
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