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About NH Labor News

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.

ICYMI: New Hampshire Rallies to Protect the Affordable Care Act Draw Overflow Crowds

Concord, N.H. – Yesterday, overflow crowds came together for rallies in Manchester and Keene to protest efforts in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act and New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan without a replacement.

Also this weekend, the Union Leader highlighted the story of Gail O’Brien, a teacher from Keene , whose life was saved by the Affordable Care Act. The article also featured staff from Riverbend Community Mental Health in Concord who emphasized that repealing the Affordable Care Act would harm efforts to provide mental health care, and that repealing “the ACA will not cost cut; it will cost shift.”

See below for highlights of coverage:

WMUR:

Democrats across the country organized a day of action on Sunday, holding rallies in support of the Affordable Care Act.

The New Hampshire rallies took place in Keene and Manchester, where overflow crowds gathered to show support for the ACA and expanding health care coverage.

… Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both D-NH, are holding a roundtable discussion Tuesday on the ACA’s impact on New Hampshire.

Union Leader

The Affordable Care Act now targeted for repeal by President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress made Gail O’Brien of Keene an overnight internet sensation.

The federal health care law delivered the gift of insurance to this private school teacher suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma who would have died without it.

The internet stardom came with a YouTube video of President Barack Obama calling her after she become one of the first in the nation to be rescued by this law that brought an end to insurers refusing to cover someone who was sick due to a pre-existing condition.

“When that was signed, that just changed my life because it meant I would go and get the treatments that I need and I would be OK,” O’Brien told Obama.

“If it’s not for you, I wouldn’t be here.”

… Today, O’Brien says she’s “back to square one” with Trump vowing to strike the law from the books and replace it with a GOP, market-driven alternative.

“It’s scary right now for me as well as for millions of other people,” O’Brien said Saturday during a phone interview. “It will be back into the same boat for all of us.”

… At Riverbend Community Mental Health in Concord, professionals worry any alternative to the health care law could undo progress such as the 50,000 that got coverage in New Hampshire under Medicaid expansion and 7,000 that got substance abuse services with their insurance for the first time.

“It would be easy to underestimate how vitally important it is for parents to get access for their children to quality mental health care,” said Chief Operating Officer Bret Longgood. 

“The repeal of the ACA will not cost cut; it will cost shift. It just ain’t going away.”

Off the streets

Sara Brown of Riverbend said the law allowed many without means to come out of the shadows.

“We had a 29-year-old female addicted to methamphetamine for two and a half years, finally hit bottom hard enough that she sought help,” Brown said, adding it led to the woman to getting a 28-day residential treatment in Effingham along with follow-up.

“It didn’t cost her a dime and if she didn’t have that insurance, she would still be on the streets in my opinion.”

… Through her illness, Gail O’Brien kept working, only calling in sick on the days she got chemotherapy treatments. Now a Title 1 teacher, O’Brien has never been told she’s in remission.

She’s already preparing for the brave new world of health care that stares her in the face. “It’s been seven years now and I have been fine and at my last appointment at the end of December I said instead of six months I could go for a year before my next screening,” O’Brien said.

But O’Brien hasn’t given up fighting either and she’ll be at one of the two, pro-Obamacare rallies Sunday holding her handmade sign.

“It will read, ‘Take away the GOP’s health care and see how they feel.'” O’Brien said.

(This post was compiled by the NHDP) 

Celebration of Doris Granny D Haddock’s Birth 107 Years Ago

Dublin, NH: Open Democracy/New Hampshire Rebellion and PACE: Promoting Active Civic Engagement announce that on January 24, 2017 they will hold a celebration of Doris Granny D Haddock’s birthday 107 years ago. Granny D gained fame and admiration by walking across the United States in her 90th year in support of  campaign finance reform. Subsequently she travelled the country to help countless citizens to register to vote. For her activism she received many awards in New Hampshire and elsewhere.

“In the present turbulent times it helps to take a deep breath and remind ourselves of an intrepid citizen like Doris Haddock, who was willing to use her ‘power of one’ in the fight for the health of our democracy”, said Regina Bringolf, co-chair of Open Democracy.

The celebration on January 24 will be held at 12 noon at the Dublin Community Center, 1123 Main Street in Dublin, NH.  The public is cordially invited. There will be a potluck luncheon (please bring a small dish to share) and remembrances of Granny D’s walks and others, organized by the NH Rebellion, that her friends and supporters have undertaken in her memory. RSVP requested to Doreen@opendemocracy.me, or call 603-715-8197.

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life, Work and Legacy

Washington, DC — Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues the following statement in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

“At a time when the middle class is shrinking and economic upward mobility is becoming increasingly difficult for working families to achieve, we must turn to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, work and teachings for hope and inspiration.

“Dr. King understood the incredible power working people have when they come together, and recognized that access to strong union representation can transform our country into a place where prosperity is always within reach and dignity, safety and respect on the job can be achieved. Yet, nearly 50 years after Dr. King met with Memphis sanitation strikers, working people are still fighting an uphill battle against well-funded political forces whose agenda is focused on silencing workers’ voices and eroding their rights.

“As we pause to commemorate and reflect upon Dr. King’s achievements, we must not forget that his unwavering pursuit of justice endures today. That pursuit rests with those of us who, through our advocacy, demand a fairer economy that lifts up everyone.

“Dr. King taught us a great deal about what it means to engage in the political process and be heard by the people we elect. He also taught us and believed that by empowering more working people to form and join unions, we could ‘transform misery and despair into hope and progress.’

“Those teachings are not only relevant today — they provide the fuel for our advocacy on behalf of frontline transportation workers.”

NH House Dems Sponsor Legislation To Provide Funding For Full Day Kindergarten And Repeal Voucher Bill

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, the House Education Committee held public hearings on HB 155, relative to funding for kindergarten programs, and HB 129, repealing the education tax credit.

Representative Mary Stuart Gile, a former Chair and Ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee released the following statements subsequent to the public hearings on HB 155 and HB 129. Representative Gile, who holds her Doctorate in Education from Vanderbilt University and her Master’s in Education from UNH, began her teaching career as a kindergarten teacher at the Whitefield School in Jefferson, NH. She is a renowned expert in the area of child development and, among other accomplishments, established the Child Development Center and Laboratory School at NHTI.

“The skills attained by children during their early, impressionable years of life are critical to their development throughout adolescence and into adulthood.  Overwhelming research shows the value of kindergarten programs to social and academic development,” said Representative Gile.  “It was not until 2009 that New Hampshire caught-up to the rest of the nation by offering public kindergarten in every school district. However we remain one of the few states that do not provide funding for full-day kindergarten programs.  Our failure to reimburse cities and towns for full-day kindergarten acts as a deterrent to communities that wish to enact these critical programs.”  

HB 129 would repeal the education voucher tax credit law which was first passed in 2012 over the veto of Gov. John Lynch.  That law was subsequently ruled unconstitutional in 2013 by NH Superior Court Judge John Lewis because it violated NH’s separation of church and state (NH Constitution Part II, Article 83). On appeal, the NH Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit due to lack of standing by the plaintiff and did not rule on the constitutionality of the education voucher law. 

“With the difficulties that we have securing needed funding for our public schools, it makes no sense to siphon money away from the tax base that provides that funding.  Further, the New Hampshire Constitution expressly prohibits the financing of religious schools that the education voucher tax credit authorizes,” said Representative Gile.  “Repealing this unconstitutional voucher law will return some sorely needed funds to our public education system.” 

Investing in NH’s Future Conference Examines Key Areas Essential to Sustaining a Strong Workforce

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute’s fourth annual budget and policy conference, “Investing in New Hampshire’s Future: Strategies to Maintain a Strong Workforce and a Vibrant Economy,” was held Friday, January 13 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, NH. More than 175 Granite State leaders gathered for the event, which featured a broad range of speakers addressing issues that impact New Hampshire’s ability to sustain and expand its workforce in the coming years.

“There is shared recognition that New Hampshire must take steps to boost its workforce to sustain a vibrant economy in the years ahead,” said John Shea, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “It will take collaborative public-private partnerships, innovative solutions, and long-term vision to address this challenge and to build a strong foundation for the future.”

“We must be mindful that this need to boost the workforce exists across our economy and at all levels of the income spectrum,” added Shea. “We need to help ensure that residents of all ages have access to education and training that will prepare them for the job market as well as to health care, housing, transportation and child care that is affordable and accessible, enabling them to access employment opportunities.”

In his keynote address, Jeff Fuhrer, Executive Vice President and Senior Policy Advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, reviewed key economic trends from 2016 and outlined specific indicators that raise cause for concern.

“The economic challenges in New Hampshire mirror some national challenges,” added Fuhrer. “While overall statistics are good for the state, there are pockets of chronic poverty, unemployment, and substance misuse, which make it more difficult for area residents to achieve economic stability.”

The importance of a healthy and well educated workforce was emphasized throughout the day. Addressing the audience at the opening of the event, Amanda Grappone Osmer, Fourth Generation Steward of the Grappone Automotive Group, outlined how commitment to the health and well-being of employees has enabled the company to both attract and retain quality employees.

Access to health care for individuals and their family members is essential to ensuring economic stability for employees, and contributes to increased productivity in the workplace. The first session, moderated by Jo Porter, Director of the University of New Hampshire Institute of Health Policy and Practice, outlined the current landscape of the health insurance market in New Hampshire. Lori Shibinette, Deputy Commissioner, NH Department of Health and Human Services, provided an update on the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which currently covers 51,000 Granite Staters, including many part-time and seasonal workers with no other access to health care.

Providing perspective as a primary care physician, Dr. Vasuki Nagaraj, Medical Director for Lamprey Health Care – Nashua, outlined how access to health coverage has enabled his patients to address medical needs and remain part of the workforce. The importance of mental health and substance use disorder coverage was addressed by Suellen Griffin, President/CEO, West Central Behavioral Health – Lebanon, who noted the connection these benefits have to both supporting a healthy workforce and addressing the state’s current opioid crisis.

New Hampshire’s own W.S. Badger Company, a family owned business based in Gilsum, offers an array of health and wellness-related benefits that have helped the company to attract and sustain its workforce. Deirdre Fitzgerald, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, W.S. Badger Company, outlined the company’s various offerings, which include paid and extended family leave and subsidized childcare, among other programs.

The second session focused on education through the workforce pipeline, which begins with early childhood and continues through primary and secondary education to higher education and workforce training. Moderated by Katie Merrow, Vice President for Community Impact for the NH Charitable Foundation, the session featured a discussion of successful programs currently underway to help residents of all ages develop the skills they need for the modern job market. Panelists included Marjorie Droppa, Project Director of Impact Monadnock; Natasha Kolehmainen, Curriculum Director for the Pelham School District; Beth Doiron, Director of College Access and Dept. of Education Programs and Initiatives for the Community College System of NH; and Mike Baymiller, Vice President of Human Resources for Hypertherm, based in Hanover.

The final session examined housing, transportation, and child care, three areas of common concern in communities across the state. Moderated by Yvonne Goldsberry, President of the Endowment for Health, the session also included discussion of what makes a community an attractive place to live and work as well as efforts underway to make the state more welcoming to new immigrants, who are vital the future of the state’s workforce. Panelists included Ben Frost, Director of Legal and Public Affairs for NH Housing; Marti Stone Ilg, Executive Director, Lakes Region Child Care Services Inc.; Nathan Miller, Principal Transportation Planner, Southern NH Planning Commission; and Tracy Hatch, President/CEO, Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

Event sponsors and partners included: New Futures, Reaching Higher NH, Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, Full Circle Consulting, the Campaign for a Family Friendly-Economy, and the New Hampshire Business Review.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

Planned Parenthood Of NH Pushes Back On Washington’s Attack On Women’s Health

Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund Launches #IStandwithPP Statewide Grassroots Campaign to Protect Women’s Health in Granite State

Activists Gird for Negative Impact on 12,000 Granite Staters, State’s Five Planned Parenthood Health Centers If Extreme Politicians in Washington Act to Restrict Women’s Health 

From Planned Parenthoot FLIKR

CONCORD, NH— Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund has joined the #IStandWithPlannedParenthood national grassroots campaign that includes 300 events in 47 states across the country.  Just last week, Speaker Ryan’s pledged to defund Planned Parenthood health services – a measure that would leave thousands of Granite Staters without care. The measure would prohibit the health care provider from receiving reimbursement for services, like cancer screenings and birth control, provided to patients insured by federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare. In effect, this blocks patients from accessing reproductive health care. Federal insurance programs do not cover abortion.

As a part of these efforts, Senators Shaheen and Hassan made their first joint New Hampshire appearance on Monday morning at a Planned Parenthood health center in Exeter, where they spoke with local patients and volunteers signaling their unwavering efforts to protect health care access for the 12,000 Granite Staters who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for their care, and the 2.5 million women, men, and  young people across the country.

“Planned Parenthood’s patients are anxious about how they will get affordable reproductive and sexual health care if extreme politicians in Washington block access to birth control and preventive care at our health centers,” said Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “New Hampshire has among the lowest teen pregnancy and STI rates in the country and taking away access to birth control, cancer screenings, and reproductive health care will have dangerous consequences for the health of our citizens and for the well-being of our communities. We are grateful that our federal delegation knows how essential the services Planned Parenthood provides is and will fight to ensure women’s health care access is protected.” 

“The fundamental right of women to access health care is integral to the economic security and vitality of our families and communities, and Planned Parenthood provides critical primary and preventative health care services to thousands of New Hampshire women, including preventative care, birth control and cancer screenings,” Senator Hassan said. “It is outrageous that Speaker Ryan and Republicans in Washington would try to take away access to basic health services for women in New Hampshire and across the country, and I will continue fighting against any proposals that defund Planned Parenthood and undermine Granite Staters’ access to quality, affordable health care at providers they trust.” 

“Thousands of women in the Granite State rely on Planned Parenthood for vital preventative and primary health care services like breast cancer exams, diabetes screenings, and birth control services,” Senator Shaheen said. “Defunding Planned Parenthood would leave these women without access to critical preemptive care that they need in order to live healthy lives, care for their families, and lead in the workforce. This effort is another politically-motivated attack on women in New Hampshire and across the country, and I will not stand for it. Republican leadership in Congress does not have a mandate to take away women’s healthcare.” 

Image by Sarah Mirk (FLIKR CC)

 

Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund has many grassroots events planned in January to highlight the support for Planned Parenthood in the state and nationally.

Later this week, PPNHAF will kick off an ‘I Stand With Planned Parenthood’ statewide lawn sign drop. As of today, more than 200 Granite Staters have signed up to stand in solidarity with the state’s largest women’s health provider by placing a sign outside their homes. All weekend PPNHAF will be dropping signs off to supporters around the Seacoast area. 

On January 21st, PPNHAF will cohost a ‘NH Women’s Day of Action & Unity’ in Concord, NH. The ‘NH Women’s Day of Action & Unity’ will include a morning rally and afternoon advocate trainings. Hundreds of New Hampshire residents have RSVP’d to attend and are eager to voice their support for women’s health, equity, and justice in an era of uncertainty for Planned Parenthood and abortion access.

PPNHAF also plans to host three open mic “story slams” in coffee shops in Manchester, Portsmouth and Keene where women, men, and families can share the important role Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care access has played in their lives. The events will take place on January 26th and 27th at Book & Bar in Portsmouth on Thursday January 26th from 7-9pm, Brewbakers in Keene on Friday January 27th from 6-8pm and Studio 550 in Manchester on Friday January 27th from 7-9pm.

In the past two months, hundreds of people have signed up to volunteer in New Hampshire, mobilizing supporters to fight back against this effort to restrict access to health care. The events coincide with the launch of a new website, istandwithpp.org, directing supporters to take action by sending letters to their members of Congress, volunteering for Planned Parenthood, sharing their story, finding an event, or calling their senator. Since yesterday, 168,000 people signed a petition asking Congress to stand with Planned Parenthood against the attacks. 

The American people overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood. Sixteen separate nationwide polls and nine polls in key swing states show strong favorability for Planned

Parenthood and strong opposition to efforts in Congress to block patients from accessing high-quality, often lifesaving care at Planned Parenthood. Additionally, a recent Politico-Harvard poll showed overwhelming support for Planned Parenthood, including from nearly half of self-identified Trump supporters.

“Right To Work” And “Concealed Carry” Are The First Two Items In NH GOP Agenda

Republicans push a purely ideological, partisan, and divisive agenda today in the NH Senate.

Today, the Senate held public hearings on SB 11, the so-called “Right to Work for Less” legislation, and SB 12, which repeals NH’s concealed carry permitting law.  

A few hundred people gathered in Representatives Hall to share their opposition to the so-called “right to work” legislation.  Over 120 people spoke in opposition to SB 11 and testimony lasted for over five hours.  After the testimony ended, the committee quickly voted SB 11 as “ought to pass” along party lines (3-2).  

Labor unions spoke out against the quick vote “ought to pass” by the Senate committee.  Glenn Brackett, President of the NH AFL-CIO released the following statement:

“I am grateful to all of our brothers and sisters who traveled from towns and cities across the Granite State to stand in Solidarity with us as we voiced our opposition to SB11, another so-called ‘Right to Work’ bill that is now before the New Hampshire State Senate. I was disappointed that after listening to four hours of impassioned testimony, from over one hundred speakers, that three members of the committee immediately voted to pass SB11 without further discussion or research. I would like to thank Senator Donna Soucy, and Senator Bette Lasky for voting against this deceptive legislation and standing up for New Hampshire working families. We will need your support in the fight ahead.

Every two years, corporate special interest come to New Hampshire to try and pass ‘right to work for less’ legislation that would make life harder for New Hampshire working families. And every two years, concerned citizens, activists, union members and community leaders come together to fight for working families. In New Hampshire, bi-partisan support has defeated efforts to pass so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation for decades because these laws only weaken workers’ freedom to bargain for respect, fair pay and safety on the job. Fraudulently-labeled ‘Right to Work’ is theft by deception legislation, and it remains wrong for New Hampshire. 

If the legislature is seriously interested in creating jobs and bringing business to New Hampshire, they should focus on lowering the cost of energy, and investing in education and infrastructure. New Hampshire deserves real solutions to real problems, and not partisan politics. The legislature was elected to advocate for the best interests of all New Hampshire working families, and that is why they must protect our rights and stop any form of so-called ‘Right to Work.’”

Rich Gulla, President of the State Employees’ Association (SEIU Local 1984) released the following:

“I am disappointed the Commerce Committee decided on a 3-2 vote to send SB 11 to the full Senate ‘Ought to Pass’, despite the compelling testimony offered today in opposition of so-called Right to Work legislation. SB 11 is a tired, recycled bill that has been defeated time after time in New Hampshire with significant bi-partisan support. Yet, extreme conservative out of state special interest groups are pushing it once again.

NH legislatures, regardless of political party, have struck this type of legislation down repeatedly because they understand that Right to Work is Wrong for New Hampshire families and businesses.

It is wrong for NH families because studies show states with similar legislation have lower wages, less economic opportunity, and higher unemployment rates.

It is wrong for NH businesses because it is an overreach of government into private business affairs. In fact, the bill calls for fines and even jail time if businesses do not fully comply.

I urge our Senators to see beyond the misinformation and say no, again, to this recycled bill. It’s time to address issues that actually help NH families and businesses, such as resolving the opioid crisis, extending broadband services to all of NH, and addressing our skyrocketing energy costs.”

The NH Senate is expected to vote on SB 11 in January 19th. 

Democrats and advocacy groups were outraged over the purely ideological, partisan, and divisive agenda the Republicans are pushing.  

The first official vote of the new session was to repeal a 94 year old law requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon, bill that was vetoed by Governor Hassan last year and is opposed by the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police.  

“SB 12 is another attempt by the gun lobby to allow anyone in New Hampshire to legally carry a hidden, loaded handgun. Requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon has worked well for New Hampshire for more than 90 years,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “These licenses are very easy and quick to obtain and do not place an unreasonable burden on law abiding citizens. SB 12 is a radical piece of legislation that will jeopardize public safety. The common sense law we have in place now allows local police departments to deny a license when there is reason to believe a person is a danger to themselves or others. For example, if an individual in a community is a known domestic abuser but has yet to be indicted, or has a hot temper and a habit of getting into bar fights, New Hampshire thankfully provides our local police departments with the ability to reject their concealed carry application. With this vote, New Hampshire is opening the door to allow dangerous individuals with a track record of violence to legally carry hidden, loaded weapons.”

“Despite the claims by Governor Sununu and Republicans in the legislature last week, it’s clear that Republicans are focusing on an agenda that’s out of touch with New Hampshire’s working families,” said Sen. Donna Soucy, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Commerce Committee. “I’m disappointed that instead of focusing on areas that expand opportunity for everyone, Republicans are making it harder for people to earn a living, harder for people to support a family, and interfering with the relationship of employers and their employees.”

“In states with ‘Right to Work for Less’ laws, workers on average have a lower standard of living, bring home less in their paychecks, and go without health care coverage more frequently,” added Sen. Soucy. “That’s why Democrats and Republicans have rejected ‘Right to Work for Less’ for decades in New Hampshire and I’m surprised that Governor Sununu and Senate Republicans have chosen to fast-track this divisive policy. ‘Right to Work for Less’ is wrong for New Hampshire—it will reduce wages for workers, put the government between employers and employees, and cause unnecessary harm to New Hampshire’s working families.” 

“The partisan agenda being rammed through the Senate this week are not the priorities of New Hampshire families,” said Sen. Bette Lasky, Vice Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I’m deeply concerned that Governor Sununu and Senate Republicans have chosen to push divisive priorities right out of the gate this year rather than focusing on areas we can work together to expand economic opportunity for all our citizens.”

NH AFL-CIO President Brackett’s Statement On SB11 Hearing, “Right to Work (For Less)”

Statement From New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett
On First Legislative Hearing For SB11-FN, So-Called “Right to Work” Bill

Concord – New Hampshire AFL-CIO President, Glenn Brackett, released the following statement after the conclusion of the first hearing of the legislative session on a so-called “Right to Work” bill (SB11-FN): 

“I am grateful to all of our brothers and sisters who traveled from towns and cities across the Granite State to stand in Solidarity with us as we voiced our opposition to SB11, another so-called ‘Right to Work’ bill that is now before the New Hampshire State Senate. I was disappointed that after listening to four hours of impassioned testimony, from over one hundred speakers, that three members of the committee immediately voted to pass SB11 without further discussion or research. I would like to thank Senator Donna Soucy, and Senator Bette Lasky for voting against this deceptive legislation and standing up for New Hampshire working families. We will need your support in the fight ahead. 

Every two years, corporate special interest come to New Hampshire to try and pass ‘right to work for less’ legislation that would make life harder for New Hampshire working families. And every two years, concerned citizens, activists, union members and community leaders come together to fight for working families. In New Hampshire, bi-partisan support has defeated efforts to pass so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation for decades because these laws only weaken workers’ freedom to bargain for respect, fair pay and safety on the job. Fraudulently-labeled ‘Right to Work’ is theft by deception legislation, and it remains wrong for New Hampshire. 

If the legislature is seriously interested in creating jobs and bringing business to New Hampshire, they should focus on lowering the cost of energy, and investing in education and infrastructure. New Hampshire deserves real solutions to real problems, and not partisan politics. The legislature was elected to advocate for the best interests of all New Hampshire working families, and that is why they must protect our rights and stop any form of so-called ‘Right to Work.’” 

AFT-NH President Ley’s Testimony Against SB11, “Right to Work”

Testimony of Douglas Ley In Opposition to Senate Bill 11

I am president of AFT-NH, representing 4000 teachers, para-educators, school support staff, town and municipal employees, police officers and first responders. As such, I have been asked to present letters from a number of our local presidents regarding this proposed legislation and ask that you read these with care and consideration. I have letters from the Presidents of the Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers, Hudson Federation of Teachers, Newfound Teachers’ Union and Timberlane Teachers’ Association.

My own testimony shall be brief, to the point, and is rooted in my long-standing public opposition to so-called ‘right to work’ legislation as well as my membership in a private sector union local with agency fee. Within that local at Franklin Pierce University, over 90% of bargaining unit employees are full members of the union. One full-time employee and a small number of part-time employees opt for the lower agency fee or a third option provided within our contract, ‘charitable contribution.’

Our ‘agency fee’ is really a ‘recovery cost payment,’ which helps defray the cost of negotiation and the enforcement of our contract. We have a good relationship with our employer, but nevertheless, there are constant questions of contract interpretation as well as various personnel issues which arise each year, all of which require investments of time and resources to resolve, whether it be through local activity, working with our state federation, or even calling upon the resources of our national offices. Like us, our employer also incurs costs to negotiate and enforce our collective bargaining agreement. They recover their costs by incorporating them into the operating expenses of the University, charged against students and others using the University. All we ask is the continued ability to act in similar but more limited fashion, to have employees who benefit from the collective bargaining agreement contribute to defraying the costs of negotiation and implementation.

I have worked at FPU for 26 years, and during that entire span there has been an “agency fee” option. In keeping with Federal and NH statutes, no one is required to join the union, but all must contribute in some form as mandated by our collective bargaining agreement. In twenty-six years, I know of no individual who declined employment due to this requirement, and as stated earlier, virtually every eligible employee has joined the union. Management agreed to this provision many, many years ago and has never brought forward a proposal in negotiation to eliminate agency fee. Similarly, in my experience working for AFT-NH, I can state that approximately half of our locals have agency fee, and no employer has ever proposed eliminating it. It is a provision freely agreed to by the two signatory parties to a contract, and the contract is then duly ratified via democratic process by employees in the bargaining unit and the governing body of the public employer after approval by the legislative body. Therefore, it is an excellent illustration of local flexibility and local control, long-standing NH traditions. To pass this legislation will only further inject the State into what is a localized and in many cases, private relationship and process, setting the stage for possible further restrictions upon employers and the bargaining agents of employees.

In sum, “right to work” interferes with the freedom to negotiate and engage in collective bargaining and resolves a problem which does not exist. Statute already prohibits requiring union membership as a condition of employment, and every potential employee already has the right to decide to accept a job, with all the conditions and requirements laid out by the employer, which in this case, could include support for maintaining the mutually-agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement. I respectfully ask that this Committee honor that freedom and local control, by rejecting so-called “right to work” legislation.

AFSC-NH’s Testimony Against SB 11, “Right To Work”

Statement on SB 11, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union

January 10, 2017 

I am Arnie Alpert, Co-Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Hampshire Program. I am also a member of UNITE-HERE Local 66L and the UNITE-HERE New England Joint Board. I am pleased to be able to appear before you today both as a union member and as a representative of my employer to urge your rejection of the so-called “right to work” bill.

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that turns 100 years old this year. Throughout almost our entire history, going back to 1922 when we provided humanitarian assistance to unemployed coal miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, we have assisted working people who have sought to better their lives and working conditions. In 1936, a year after President Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act, the AFSC Social-Industrial Section drafted a statement “on the attitude that the AFSC should take towards organized labor.” The statement noted, in part:

Collective bargaining by groups of workers with employers is therefore desirable in order that workers may meet management on something like equal terms when they bargain for rates of pay, conditions of work, and security of employment.

Since then, from the textile mills of North Carolina to the orange groves of Florida to the grape fields of California, to the maquiladora factories along the Mexican border, and in countless kitchens and construction sites, the AFSC has stood with people who have sought employment, living wages, and dignity on the job.

The ability of working people to attain a decent standard of living is threatened in our country and in our state. According to the NH Housing Finance Authority, the statewide median rent of a two-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire was $1206 in 2016. That means it takes an income of more than $48,000 a year to afford a typical apartment. That’s more than three times what a worker makes at the current minimum wage.

If the purpose of SB 11 was to provide jobs at decent wages so that working people could afford decent housing, we would be enthusiastic about it. But what is called “right to work” is not about ensuring that all people have the right to a decent job. To the contrary, it is about undermining the ability of working people to organize among themselves and bargain collectively with their employers.

By making it more difficult for workers to organize, “right to work” would force down the wage levels of all working people in New Hampshire. The ability to afford health care would be threatened. The ability to pay taxes to support schools would be diminished. The state’s housing crisis would intensify. More people would seek public assistance.

Over the years, in this country and around the world, the American Friends Service Committee has observed that strong unions help their members better their wages and working conditions, but also can be powerful advocates for human rights and a better standard of living for everyone.

If you are interested in reducing poverty and giving more people access to decent jobs, you should recommend this bill inexpedient to legislate.

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