About NH Labor

The New Hampshire Labor News is a group of NH Workers who believe that we need to protect ourselves against the attacks on workers. We are proud union members who are working to preserve the middle class. The NHLN talks mostly about news and politics from NH. We also talk about national issues that effect working men and women here in the Granite State.

Governor Hassan on Medicaid Expansion: “I look forward to signing this bill into law as quickly as possible”

Summer interns Aislinn (NHCA) and Chris (NARAL) stood up for Medicaid expansion at the State House on June 6th.

Summer interns Aislinn (NHCA) and Chris (NARAL) stood up for Medicaid expansion at the State House on June 6th.CONCORD – Following House passage today of SB 413, a bipartisan agreement to accept federal funds in order to expand access to health coverage, Governor Maggie Hassan released the following statement:

“Today’s House vote in favor of our bipartisan health care expansion plan will improve the health and financial well-being of more than 50,000 hard-working people who deserve the security of health insurance.

“By expanding access to health insurance, we will help reduce uncompensated care and cost-shifting on New Hampshire businesses, encourage cost-saving primary and preventive care, and provide substance abuse and mental health treatment to thousands while injecting $2.5 billion in federal funds into our state’s economy.

“This bipartisan plan is a uniquely New Hampshire solution and it exemplifies New Hampshire’s tradition of collective problem-solving, demonstrating what is possible when we remain focused on solutions and reach across the aisle to achieve progress for our people. I thank Speaker Norelli, Representatives Rosenwald and Sherman, and the House of Representatives for passing this important piece of legislation, as well as Senate President Morse and Senator Larsen for their leadership in the Senate to reach this compromise.

“I look forward to signing this bill into law as quickly as possible and to working with members of both parties throughout the implementation process in order to maximize the benefits of health care expansion for our people and economy.”

NH House Approves Bill to Extend Health Insurance to More than 50,000 Granite Staters

NH Senate Medicaid Vote 6-6-13 Inzane Times

NH Senate Medicaid Vote 6-6-13 Inzane TimesCONCORD, NH – In a show of bipartisan support, the House of Representatives today approved SB 413 by a vote of 202 to 132, enabling New Hampshire to accept federal funds to provide affordable health insurance to more than 50,000 low-income Granite Staters.

“Today is a great day for thousands of New Hampshire residents who will now, for the very first time, have access to affordable health care,” said Deb Fournier, policy analyst for the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute.

“Members of the House and Senate should be commended for their steadfast dedication and commitment to reaching a solution that works for everyone,” said Fournier. “By enabling the state to accept these federal funds, Legislators have made a fiscally responsible decision that will save millions in state budget costs and pave the way for millions of federal dollars to enter the state economy and benefit communities across the state.”

SB 413 is a bipartisan compromise which utilizes federal Medicaid funds to support a program of privately-delivered health insurance for low-income individuals. The compromise is the result of months of discussion and debate regarding how best to design a program that solves a critical health policy issue for New Hampshire.

SB 413 creates a three-stage Health Protection Program to extend affordable health insurance to low-income Granite Staters: the Health Insurance Premium Program, the Bridge to Marketplace Premium Assistance Program, and the Marketplace Premium Assistance Program. Federal funding will cover 100 percent of the costs associated with the Health Protection Program, which will be repealed at the end of 2016 unless future legislatures vote to extend it.

For more information, see the NHFPI Health Protection Program fact sheet.

 

Tonight: Rep. Kuster Hears from NH Seniors

Rep Annie Kuster in US House

 Congresswoman Annie Kuster to Host ‘Telephone Town Hall’ to Hear from New Hampshire Seniors

 On the call, Congresswoman Kuster will discuss her work to protect Social Security and Medicare

Rep Annie Kuster in US HouseWASHINGTON, D.C. – Tonight, March 25th, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) will host a live telephone town hall to hear directly from New Hampshire seniors about the importance of protecting Social Security and Medicare. Seniors from throughout the district will participate in the call, and will also discuss other issues that are important to seniors in the Granite State.

During the call, Congresswoman Kuster will take questions from her constituents, and will discuss her own legislative efforts to protect the programs that New Hampshire seniors rely on like Social Security and Medicare.  Among other topics, the Congresswoman will discuss her opposition to using chained CPI to calculate Social Security, a move which could significantly reduce benefits for our seniors; how closing the Medicare Part D Donut hole has saved New Hampshire seniors thousands of dollars in prescription drug costs; and her ideas to create additional savings for our seniors by allowing the government to negotiate for cheaper prescription drugs for Medicare recipients.

This Morning: The “Give America a Raise” Bus Tour Comes to Nashua

Give America a Raise

Give America a RaiseWashington DC – Americans agree: No one who works should live in poverty. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening to workers around the country who are earning the current minimum wage. While the federal minimum wage has stayed the same since 2009, the price of food, gas, utilities, and basic necessities has, with inflation, made it nearly impossible to live anywhere in America on $7.25 an hour or $15,000 a year.

 It’s long past time for Congress to give America a raise. And to help drive the point home, Americans United for Change has hit the road with the 11-State “Give America a Raise” Bus Tour supporting President Obama’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.  The tour will end outside the U.S. Capitol on April 3.

Next stop: in front of the Nashua Public Library TODAY, Tuesday, March 25 at 9:30 AM, with Rev. Gail Kinney of South Danbury Christian Church and US Department of Labor official Laura Fortman.

It’s been more than five years since minimum wage workers have gotten a raise – workers that include child care providers, janitors, and nursing assistants and who are 35 years old on average. It was hard enough to live on $15,000 a year in 2009, and it’s near impossible in 2014.

All that stands in the way of stronger economy – built from the middle out – are Tea Party Republicans in Congress who only seem to care about voting for minimum tax responsibility for huge corporations that outsource jobs.

Raising the minimum wage would provide a needed boost not just for the millions of struggling low-wage American workers that can barely survive on $7.25, but for the U.S. economy as a whole.  It will create jobs because it puts more money in the pockets of workers who will quickly inject it back into the economy. Millions of people with more money to spend on goods and services means businesses will need to hire more workers to meet the demand.  Decades’ worth of research done after previous minimum wage increases shows nothing but net economic benefits as a result, which is why so many successful business leaders and over 600 economists are calling on Congress to raise it again now.

No one who works a full-time job should have to live in poverty.

According to MIT, the living wage in Nashua is $21,422 a year be able to afford housing, medical care, transportation and food. If full-time New Hampshire workers made $10.10 an hour, they would earn $21,008 a year.

#RaiseTheWage

Shaheen for New Hampshire Releases New Radio Ad: “The People’s Pledge”

money-in-politics

Scott Brown Boasts About the People’s Pledge He Now Refuses to Sign

money-in-politicsConcord, NH — Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign has released a new radio ad highlighting Scott Brown’s hypocrisy and calling on him to sign the People’s Pledge to stop third party advertising in the New Hampshire senate race. The ad uses audio of Brown boasting about the same exact People’s Pledge he created in Massachusetts, but is now refusing to sign in New Hampshire.

The new 60-second radio spot introduces New Hampshire to a Scott Brown 2012 radio ad with Brown boasting about the People’s Pledge he and Elizabeth Warren signed that year.

“Scott Brown said he proposed and signed the People’s Pledge because Massachusetts deserved better.  But apparently, New Hampshire doesn’t deserve better in Brown’s mind because now Scott Brown is refusing to sign the exact same pledge,” said Harrell Kirstein, communications director for the Shaheen campaign.  ”Big Oil and Wall Street special interests want to buy him a senate seat, and he’s eager to get their money.”

“Jeanne Shaheen signed the People’s Pledge and asked Scott Brown to do the same because she believes the people of New Hampshire deserve an election where they can hear the candidates directly and decide who will best represent their interests, not a flood of attack ads from Big Oil and Wall Street,” added Kirstein.

Listen to the new radio ad here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrG898nnw7s&feature=youtu.be

SCRIPT BACKUP
ANNCR: Scott Brown’s changed more than his address. Listen.BROWN: Hello. This is Scott Brown. You’ve probably heard about the SuperPacs that have been created to influence elections, usually with negative ads. So I did something about it in my own race. I proposed and signed a pledge to stop third-party groups from coming into our state…ANNCR: That was Scott Brown running for Senate in Massachusetts. BROWN IN 2012 MASSACHUSETTS CAMPAIGN AD: “This is Scott Brown. You’ve probably heard about the SuperPacs that have been created to influence elections, usually with negative ads. So I did something about it…. I proposed and signed a pledge to stop third party groups from coming into our state.” [YouTube, scottbrownma, 3/9/12]
ANNCR: Just a few weeks ago in New York, he was still boasting about his People’s Pledge.But now Scott Brown’s in New Hampshire and refusing to sign the exact same People’s Pledge. BROWN: “We didn’t need another 30 to 40 million dollars coming in to distort our record and positions on things, so but what we came up with was the people’s pledge. Very unique, way to try to address these things. […] And it worked.” [Scott Brown Appearance, Cornell University, 2/6/14]
ANNCR: Not long ago, Scott Brown said he was “really disgusted” with SuperPac ads. BROWN: “But I and she were really disgusted and deeply concerned about the groups that would come in and distort our records and positions on things. Those third party super PAC’s in particular.  So we came up with a very unique way to handle that.  We signed an agreement.  It’s historic.” [Scott Brown Appearance, Amherst College, 2/18/13]
ANNCR: Now Scott Brown won’t sign his own pledge to stop them. Maybe it’s because Big Oil and Wall Street want to buy him a Senate Seat. Brown Refused To Sign The Same People’s Pledge That He Signed In 2012. “Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is trying to avoid a repeat of the last time he ran for Senate and lost against now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). This time around, he won’t agree to pledge to reduce spending by outside groups in the Senate race like he and Warren did in 2012.” [TPM, Livewire, 3/17/14]

  • HEADLINE: Scott Brown Won’t Take High Ground This Time, Will Accept Outside Cash [TPM, Livewire, 3/17/14]

 

ANNCR: Jeanne Shaheen signed. Tell Scott Brown to sign.It was the right thing to do in Massachusetts and it’s the right thing to do here. New Hampshire deserves a clean election too.

NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTERS DESERVE THE SAME RESPECT BROWN SHOWED HIS FELLOW BAY STATERS IN 2012

Shaheen Called On Brown To Sign Same People’s Pledge He Sign In MA To Keep Millions In Third-Party TV Ads Off The Airwaves. “Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is calling on newly announced Republican challenger Scott Brown to sign the same pact in New Hampshire that helped prevent outside groups from pouring millions of dollars into his last Massachusetts Senate election. In a letter sent Saturday, less than 24 hours after the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts entered the race, Shaheen said she ‘very much admired the People’s Pledge’ that Brown signed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2012. Brown lost his Senate seat to Warren.” [Associated Press, 3/15/14]

Brown Said He Proposed People’s Pledge Because The People Of Massachusetts “Deserve Better” Than Third-Party Groups Getting Involved In Massachusetts’ Election. In a January 2012 appearance on CNN, when asked why Brown proposed the People’s Pledge, Brown said: “Because third parties have a history of coming into states and getting involved in politics and it’s not good for the process, it’s not good for the people of MA, and they deserve better. [CNN, 1/25/12]

Brown Said He Believed Strongly In People’s Pledge And Provided A “Reprieve From Negative Ads That He Didn’t Believe Massachusetts Voters Deserved. “Mr. Brown, who informally met with constituents at the Kenmore Diner before visiting with the editorial board of the Telegram & Gazette, said he strongly believes in the pact, adding that the agreement provides a much-needed ‘reprieve’ from some of the cut-throat political attack advertisements that have cropped up this election year.  He said Massachusetts voters don’t deserve such ads and added that he and Ms. Warren, a Harvard University law professor, are competent candidates capable of articulating their viewpoints and positions without plugs from partisan groups”.  [Worcester Telegram and Gazette, 1/26/12]

 

3-23-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Retirement, False Claims against Public Employees, and More

AFT NH Legislative Update

AFT NH Legislative UpdateWe are now entering the final week prior to “crossover” on Thursday, March 27.  The House will be in session Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday while the Senate will be in session on Thursday. Each will have to finish up on all their own bills by Thursday, after which they begin taking up those bills sent from the other chamber.

AFT-NH thanks the representatives that stood with us by voting to defeat:

  • HB 1101-FN, relative to the recovery of overpayments by the retirement system and establishing a committee to study the policies and procedures of the retirement system for benefits wrongfully paid.
  • HB 1493-FN-L, relative to members of the retirement system working after retirement, and relative to membership of political subdivision officials appointed for fixed terms.

We would have liked HB 435-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils to have been defeated as well but the House referred this bill to interim study.

HB 1122, (New Title) relative to the filing with a registry of deeds of a fraudulent document purporting to create a lien or claim against real property was tabled (which AFT-NH supported),  because HB 1565-FN, establishing the crime of filing false lien or encumbrance against a public servant will be voted on this week with a recommendation from the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee of ‘Ought to Pass As Amended’.

As public employees just wanting to do our jobs we should not have to worry that someone unhappy with us could go the county’s Register of Deeds and file a million dollar false claim against your property. Unless you go to the Register of Deeds in your county and fill out paperwork to be notified of such actions, you would never know this lien existed until you wanted to sell your home. It could take up to a year to clear this up and could be very costly.

THIS WEEK THE HOUSE WILL BE VOTING ON THE FOLLOWING BILLS:

CONSENT CALENDAR

The Finance committee recommended ‘Inexpedient To Legislate’ on HB 1105-FN-L, relative to aid to school districts for costs of special education. AFT-NH asks that this recommendation be overturned and a motion of Ought To Pass be brought forward. AFT-NH supports this bill because it lifts the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully funds it. With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million to communities. Catastrophic aid is a state fund that helps local district with exorbitant special education costs for our severely disabled children.

The Finance recommended ‘Ought to Pass’ on HB 1494-FN,relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees. AFT-NH supports this recommendation. We were originally opposed to this bill as it was a policy overreach by the NHRS, but Rep. Goley’s amended version ensures this is just a housekeeping bill that establishes a procedure for the determination of the costs of purchase of service credits, clarifies the ability to earn service credit while on a salary continuance plan, changes the date for the approval of the comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), adds a penalty for employers who fail to timely remit data on compensation paid to retired members, and repeals obsolete provisions.

PART I OF THE CALENDAR

AFT-NH is in support of the Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee’s recommendation of ‘Inexpedient To Legislate’  on HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee collective bargaining. There have been many committees/commissions that have studied this issue and too often, it only seems to open the door for destructive legislation.  Rather than risk opening a Pandora’s Box with a study commission, let’s prepare specific legislation to remedy some of the problems already identified in previous study committees.

COMMON CORE AND THE SMARTER BALANCE STATE ASSESSMENT

There are several bills that will be voted on that are related to the Common Core and the Smarter Balance state assessment. I think it bears repeating where AFT-NH stands:

AFT-NH knows that a Recent AFT Poll found that 75 Percent of teachers support the Common Core standards, but it also found that they have not had enough time to understand them, put them into practice or discuss them with colleagues.

If these standards are to work we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice.
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class,
  • Provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • Ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • Communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students, AND
  • Develop best practices and strategies alone with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments, AND
  • Make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • Assessments need to be aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • Professional development and training in the Standards need to be offered, AND
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

We also know that:

States and districts must work with teachers to develop a high quality curriculum and professional development programming, provide teachers with the time needed to try out new methods of teaching to the standards in their classrooms, commit financial resources to ensure success, and engage parents and the community.

When assessing students, we need to make sure these tests inform teaching, not impede teaching and learning. All children deserve a rich, meaningful public education that prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and challenges that await them as they become contributing members of a democratic society.  Growing our nation’s future citizens and workers is a serious undertaking that calls for a thoughtful focus on teaching and learning. Since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, the growing fixation on high-stakes testing has undermined that focus, putting at grave risk our students’ learning and their ability to meet the demands of the 21st-century economy and fulfill their personal goals.

We believe in assessments that support teaching and learning, and that are aligned with curriculum rather than narrow it.  Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn. Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve, not sanctions that undermine them.  Development and implementation of such tests must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.  Because each district is at different stages in their teacher/staff development and student curriculum changes that meet Common Core Standards and the assessment of their students, the Department of Education should waive the Smarter Balance testing deadline for at least another two years.

Further, we believe that assessments designed to support teaching and learning must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing. We know that collaboration with educators is necessary to ensure that high-quality instruction and content are given their proper emphasis.

PART II OF THE CALENDAR

The Finance committee recommended ‘Inexpedient To Legislate’ on HB 1114: which establishes a minimum state expenditure for school building aid of $50,000,000 per fiscal year. AFT-NH is in support of this bill and would like the committee recommendation to be overturned and a recommendation of Ought To Pass be brought forward. It puts a floor to building aid not a cap. For the past six years many district have not been able to afford to complete upgrades, repairs or build new building because of the cost. Keep in mind 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

Thank you!
In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit www.aft-nh.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and click “Like Us”
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS WEEK OF MONDAY, MARCH 24

TUESDAY, MARCH 25
10:00 a.m. House in Session

Senate COMMERCE, Room 101, LOB
1:15 p.m. HB 1404, relative to payroll cards.
1:35 p.m. HB 1405, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions.
1:55 p.m. HB 1407, relative to privacy in the workplace.
2:15 p.m. HB 1188, relative to paycheck equity.

Senate HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB
9:00 a.m. HB 1132-FN, relative to school building security.

9:20 a.m. HB 1260-FN-L, relative to communication of the cost of services provided under the children in need of services (CHINS) program to parents.
9:40 a.m. HB 1113, requiring school districts to distribute a concussion and head injury information sheet to student-athletes and establishing a definition for head injury.
10:20 a.m. HB 1392-FN-L, removing the restriction on the number of pupils eligible to transfer to a chartered public school.
EXECUTIVE SESSION

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
9:15 a.m. HB 1137-FN, relative to annulment of certain obstruction of justice crimes and relative to the crime of escape.
9:30 a.m. HB 1533-FN, requiring a warrant to search information in a portable electronic device.
9:45 a.m. HB 1144, establishing a committee to study information included in arrest records and access to information on the disposition of criminal cases.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26
10:00 a.m. House in Session

Senate EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 100, SH
10:00 a.m. HB 1102, relative to membership of the police standards and training council.
10:20 a.m. HB 1222, prohibiting commercial use of the law enforcement and fallen firefighters memorials.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

THURSDAY, MARCH 27
10:00 a.m. House in Session

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 1
House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
11:30 a.m. SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and recommendation of the municipal budget committee to the governing body.

Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
10:30 a.m. HB 1435, requiring law enforcement officials to disclose specific information relating to a police checkpoint.
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2

House ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees.
11:00 a.m. SB 183-FN, (New Title) relative to identification of voters, processing absentee ballots, and voluntary political expenditure limitations.

House JUDICIARY, Room 208, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 262-FN, revising the form for “summons instead of arrest” and prohibiting attachments in small claims actions.

THURSDAY, APRIL 3

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
11:15 a.m. SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

House FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
1:30 p.m. Work session on SB 339-FN, relative to instituting a credit card affinity program in which fees received are directed to offset the retirement system’s unfunded liability.

THURSDAY, APRIL 10
House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 343, relative to the duties of the statewide education improvement and assessment program legislative oversight committee and repealing the school administrative unit legislative oversight committee.
11:00 a.m. SB 350, relative to the transfer of adequacy aid calculation data from the department of education to the department of revenue administration.
1:15 p.m. SB 348, establishing a commission to study sexual abuse prevention education in elementary and secondary schools.

One ‘Modest Proposal’? Or the other?

clover

cloverI couldn’t help it.  This year, on Saint Patrick’s Day, I didn’t feel much like partying.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Ireland’s Great Famine — and hearing echoes across the centuries, right here in the United States, as the working class endures Year Seven of their Great Recession (while the elite are taking home more money than ever).

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one thinking along those lines.  If you can take three minutes to read “Paul Ryan’s Irish Amnesia” you’ll see what I mean.

[In the 1840s] A great debate raged in London: Would it be wrong to feed the starving Irish with free food, thereby setting up a “culture of dependency”? Certainly England’s man in charge of easing the famine, Sir Charles Trevelyan, thought so. “Dependence on charity,” he declared, “is not to be made an agreeable mode of life.”

That Great Famine, of course, wasn’t the first time Ireland’s poor had been ravaged by economic conditions.

In 1729, Irish author Jonathan Swift (writing anonymously) tried to call attention to the plight of the poor — and the heartless attitudes of the rich — through his classic satire, “A Modest Proposal.”

The plight of the poor… versus the attitudes of the rich.  Some things don’t ever seem to change.

I found an interesting chart on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. It compares the amount of federal taxes paid by corporations (red line) with the amount of profit that corporations pay out to their stockholders as dividends (blue line).

And it looks like during all those decades when the American Middle Class was thriving, corporations were paying about the same amount in taxes to the federal government as they were paying in dividends to their stockholders.

  • Corporate taxes help the federal government fund the various infrastructures that businesses need to thrive, including transportation (highways, bridges, ports); the court system (contract enforcement); public safety and law enforcement.  These days, large employers like WalMart, McDonalds and the country’s biggest banks also depend on safety-net programs such as Medicaid and Food Stamps to supplement their workers’ low wages.
  • Dividends represent the payout of corporate revenues which were not spent on wages/benefits or invested in expansion (new factories, new equipment, new product development, new employees).  To the stockholders, they are “passive earnings” — similar to the bank interest most of us used to earn on money in our savings accounts — money that you get simply because you already have money.

All the way up until Ronald Reagan signed “The Tax Reform Act of 1986″, it looks like those two amounts were pretty much equal: what corporations paid as taxes, and what they paid out as dividends.

So I’d like to make a “Modest Proposal” of my own: let’s go back to that tradition.

From the chart, it looks like that single change would add about $380 billion a year in federal revenues: enough to fund the Food Stamp program four times over (and still have billions to spend other things).

Restore corporate tax levels.

MY “Modest Proposal” isn’t intended as a satire. And it would be a lot easier to swallow than Jonathan Swift’s.

Just sayin’.

Arbitrator Orders State to Make Workers Whole

SEIU 1984 Logo

Justice for state employees – hundreds of workers will finally be compensated 

Concord, NH, March 18, 2014 – Yesterday, an independent arbitrator ruled in favor of more than 1,000 NH state employees in a key victory that reversed a unilateral change the state made to lower employee pay.  The decision directed the state to make the affected employees whole with back pay. The ruling corrects a violation of state law and the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the State and the Executive Branch workers represented by SEA/SEIU Local 1984.

The dispute began in August of 2012, when Matthew Newland, Manager of Employee Relations and a Governor John Lynch appointee, issued a memo to state human resource and payroll representatives rescinding a long standing practice related to shift differential payments that apply to more than 1,000 state workers.

State agencies with continuous operations face the challenge of recruiting and staffing employees to work beyond standard day shifts. An effective practice used by many employers to meet this challenge, including the State, is to adjust employees’ hourly pay. There are many state functions that require round the clock staffing, such as correctional law enforcement, emergency services, and providing direct care in health facilities, including New Hampshire Hospital and Veterans’ Homes.

After the state stalled for months a resolution that could come from less formal remedies, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 filed an Unfair Labor Practice petition with the Public Employees Labor Relations Board (PELRB), and then a subsequent ULP after the state further stalled progress.  Ultimately, the PELRB ordered the parties to go to arbitration and the state finally abided. After more than a year of wrangling, the arbitration took place in January of this year.

In yesterday’s decision, the arbitrator found the practice of paying shift differential was established through a state memo issued in 1989, and there was no evidence that the practice had been rescinded since. The practice had been in place and “occurred with such regularity and frequency that employees could reasonably expect the practice to continue on a regular or consistent basis.” Therefore, the practice could not be rescinded through a memo; the differential pay is subject to collective bargaining.

During the arbitration, the state asserted that ordering payment of the back shift differential pay would require a legislative appropriation and thus the arbitration decision would be advisory only. The arbitrator, however, addressed this in the decision saying that funds to cover shift differential came from the agency’s overtime budget. “When overtime accounts were deficient, the agencies reallocated funds to ensure that employees were paid their respective wages, including overtime pay and shift differentials….The agencies certainly have the discretion to reallocate resources and funds to comply with the make whole remedy in this Decision.”

“Making the affected employees whole was the desired outcome,” said Diana Lacey, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984.  “For affected workers paying rent, buying food and heating their home is more challenging now than ever.  These employees work hard providing critical services such as caring for veterans, the elderly and the mentally ill; watching over prisoners and responding to emergencies. It is only fair that they be compensated for their time,” she said.  “This situation began under the Lynch administration. Governor Hassan inherited it. We hope she will fully uphold the arbitrator’s decision and make sure the funds are available to truly make the workers whole.”

The application of the shift differential payments has not been consistent in the various facilities; as each facility has unique practices and needs.  Each facility had handled its own payroll processing and there were provisions in each process to accommodate the shift differential payments.

In 2012, the state rolled out an off the shelf software product to consolidate payroll and leave accrual processing.  During arbitration, Newland acknowledged that the new computerized payroll system was incapable of processing the various benefits and payments for all agencies in a consistent manner. It was far easier to simply end the practice of paying shift differential than to admit the costly software was not compatible with the state’s payroll needs.

In his decision, the arbitrator wrote that “the fact that determining the overtime rates is complicated does not justify the unilateral elimination of the payment of shift differentials to employees” and “moving to a new computerized payroll process does not authorize the state to have unilaterally eliminated a two decade long practice of paying shift differentials.

Senator Shaheen Says ‘Manufacturing Is Critical To New Hampshire Economy, and Jobs

Senator Shaheen At Globe Manufacturing
Senator Shaheen At Globe Manufacturing

Senator Shaheen At Globe Manufacturing

At Globe Manufacturing Shaheen discusses New Hampshire’s manufacturing sector

(Pittsfield, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) visited Globe Manufacturing this morning to tour its Pittsfield facility and discuss the importance of manufacturing to New Hampshire’s economy. Globe Manufacturing has been producing equipment for firefighters since 1901 and employs 300 people in New Hampshire.

“It’s great to visit Globe Manufacturing and see the state-of-the-art equipment they produce to keep our first responders and firefighters safe on the job,” Shaheen said. “New Hampshire’s manufacturing sector employs more than 10 percent of our workforce and keeping our manufacturing sector strong is so important for the economy and jobs here and around the country. Companies like Globe Manufacturing create and sustain good-paying jobs that drive economic growth and I will continue my work to promote the nation’s manufacturing industry so we can continue to create jobs here at home.”

Shaheen has been vocal about the need to encourage growth in manufacturing throughout the country. Last year, she joined a campaign to refocus Washington on job creation and economic growth with a focus on manufacturing. Shaheen has introduced several bipartisan pieces of legislation including the On-the-Job Training Act and Small Business Export Growth Act, which would help create jobs and grow the economy. Shaheen was also a leader in the creation of the new Manchester Job Corps, which will train young people in New Hampshire for careers in the advanced manufacturing, construction, health care, homeland security, hospitality and information technology industries.

NH State Senator Fuller-Clark Encourages Residents To File Their Taxes For Free

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Fuller Clark Urges Constituents to Prepare for Tax Day on April 15 and Use IRS Free File for Online Tax Assistance E-Filing or Extensions

Taxpayers Making $58,000 or Less Can Visit www.IRS.gov/freefile to Prepare and E-File Federal Tax Returns with Free Software & Step-by-Step Help

(Portsmouth,NH) – Senator Martha Fuller Clark today encouraged constituents to take advantage of free tax preparation services available through the Free File program. Every taxpayer with a 2013 Adjusted Gross Income of $58,000 or less may visit www.IRS.gov/freefile to prepare, complete and e-file their federal tax returns at no cost.

Free File is made possible through a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a coalition of industry-leading tax software companies. Since its inception in 2003, the program has offered 70 percent of taxpayers free access to leading commercial tax preparation software from Free File Alliance member companies. Free File has already saved taxpayers an estimated $1.2 billion in filing costs.

“Since Tax Day is quickly approaching, I encourage taxpayers making $58,000 or less to take advantage of the free tax services available from the IRS and Free File Alliance by visiting www.IRS.gov/freefile,” said Senator Martha Fuller Clark. “Anyone can use Free File to electronically file a tax return or, if necessary, submit an extension – giving themselves an extra six months to prepare and file a federal tax return.”

IRS Free File is available at www.IRS.gov/freefile, which provides a list of Free File Alliance member companies and their free tax software offerings. Users may either choose the company that fits their needs or utilize the “Help me Find Free File Software” tool. After selecting a company, users will be transferred to the company’s website to prepare, complete and electronically file their federal income tax returns. The service is also available in Spanish.

Free File also offers basic federal e-filing services with no income limitations. This basic e-filing service, called Free File Fillable Forms, allows taxpayers who are familiar with tax law and need no preparation assistance to complete and file their federal income tax electronically. It is also available at www.IRS.gov/freefile.

“Free File makes tax time simple, fast and free for 70 percent of Americans,” said Tim Hugo, executive director of the Free File Alliance. “Since 2003, the Free File Alliance has partnered with the IRS to give taxpayers access to leading online tax preparation software and critical step-by-step support. This year, we invite every taxpayer making $58,000 or less to join the 40 million Americans who have already saved time and money by using Free File.”

Free File Alliance member companies have continually worked with the IRS to strengthen the Free File program, and taxpayers have consistently reported that it is user-friendly and efficient. Responding to a 2009 IRS survey, 96 percent of users said they found Free File easy to use, while 98 percent said they would recommend the program to others.

 

About the Free File Alliance

The Free File Alliance, a coalition of 14 industry-leading tax software companies, has partnered with the IRS since 2003 to help low and middle-income Americans prepare, complete and e-file their federal tax returns online. The Free File Alliance is committed to giving 70 percent of Americans free access to the industry’s top online tax preparation software. About 40 million returns have been filed through Free File since its inception. For more information, visit www.freefilealliance.org.