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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.

Documented Or Undocumented, Immigrants Are Human Beings And Deserve Care And Respect

Protestors at an anti-Trump rally (FLIKR CC Alisdare Hickson)

by Carol Backus and Eva Castillo Turgeon

Last Sunday’s editorial headline about police practices when encountering undocumented immigrants is deeply offensive to people of faith and good will across the Granite State. While we agree with the editor’s assertion, “State and local police should not be stopping people based on skin color or foreign accent,” we are troubled by language elsewhere in the editorial that dehumanizes immigrants.

Human beings are not fish or game to be caught and released. We are not domestic animals to be penned in barns. Actions, not people, can be illegal. To label immigrants as illegal is an attempt to dehumanize them. When people are dehumanized, they are easily targeted as undeserving of respect and basic human rights. Labeling people negatively may be unintentional, but it is nonetheless harmful.

People who are unable to produce citizenship papers are human beings and deserve the same care and respect as members of the Union Leader editorial board and staff or the authors of this op-ed.

A person may be in New Hampshire without documents for a variety of reasons: they may have overstayed a tourist visa; they may have jumped off a merchant ship; they may have crossed a border without stopping at a check point; they may be a victim of human trafficking; their abusive spouse may have taken their documents; they may have an expired student visa; or for any number of other reasons. Unless we know a person’s story, we don’t know why they are here without documents. When we know their story, we can decide whether they have committed an illegal act, and if so, whether it was justified.

The process for sorting out these situations must be humane. A humane attitude on the part of police and the larger community will lead to resolution of policies affecting the millions of people who live in the U.S. without documents. We at the Granite State Organizing Project, a New Hampshire faith-based community organization, laud the efforts of state and local police departments to clarify their roles regarding immigrants.

As a matter of public safety, it is crucial for everyone in our communities to feel safe reporting a crime, calling for help on the roadside, escaping from an abusive spouse, or cooperating with the police on community projects. As so many of our immigrant neighbors come from mixed status families (e.g. a parent without documents, children who are citizens, etc.) it is very important for everyone to know that casual contact with local police will not result in the catastrophic family separations we have been reading about in the news.

Decisions of local police departments not to act as enforcement agents on immigration issues that do not involve serious misdemeanors or felonies seems to us reasonable and a wise use of resources. We hope that the state police will also develop wise and humane policies.

Wise policies will also recognize that immigration has always strengthened our country. Wise policies will be good for our state’s economy as we seek to find workers that our employers tell us are needed to fill job vacancies.

Except for a handful of Native Americans, we are all descendants of immigrants. First came the European colonists who were undocumented from the perspective of the people already living here. After its establishment as a colony of Great Britain and later as a state, New Hampshire benefitted from waves of immigration as French-speaking, Irish, Italian, Greek and other immigrants came to live here. Each wave experienced its share of conflict as those longer settled resented the newcomers. With time New Hampshire gained the gift of diversity that resulted from this immigration.

Now we find ourselves with undocumented people living in our midst. Many of them have been here for years and even decades, living as quietly as they can, trying to keep their families together. Our challenge is not how to deport them, but how to offer a path for their legal integration into the social, economic, and civic fabric of our state. If we undertake this, New Hampshire and its citizens will not be diminished, but will grow stronger.

 

Carol is President of the Executive Committee of the Granite State Organizing Project and Eva is First Vice President.

Trump ‘Rolls Back’ Mandatory Birth Control Coverage

In their continued assault on women’s reproductive rights, the Trump administration just announced a new “roll back” of employer mandated coverage for birth control.

“The new regulations, effective immediately, would exempt all employers and insurers from covering or paying for coverage of contraceptives if they object “based on its sincerely held religious beliefs,” or have other “moral convictions” against covering such care,” wrote the Atlantic Magazine. “Employers were required to cover at least one of all of the 18 FDA-approved methods of birth control with no cost-sharing for the patient.”

The Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision saved women an estimated $1.4 billion on birth control pills in its first year alone. Thanks to this benefit, more than 62 million women now have access to birth control without copayments.

“The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women. This is an unacceptable attack on basic health care that the vast majority of women rely on,” said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. “With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, after the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision took effect, fewer than 4 percent of American women had to pay out of pocket for oral birth control. That number was more than 20 percent before the law’s passage. Specifically in New Hampshire, 58% of women get their healthcare from their employer.

“Birth control is not controversial — it’s health care the vast majority of women will use in the course of their lifetime. Two million women rely on Planned Parenthood health centers each year for birth control. Nine out of ten women of reproductive age will use birth control in their lifetime.  This administration is carrying out a full-scale attack on birth control— eliminating insurance coverage for birth control, eliminating programs that help women with low incomes access birth control, and moving to prohibit health care providers from even giving women information about birth control or abortion. We cannot allow President Trump to roll back the progress women have made over the past century,” added Richards.

“This administration’s obsession with rolling back women’s reproductive rights and access to care is dangerous and reflects a shallow understanding of women’s health,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “This order will undoubtedly increase unwanted pregnancies and abortions, at a time when both are at an all-time low. I will continue to fight for women’s access to coverage for preventative services, including birth control, and will oppose any effort that infringes on, or compromises, their reproductive freedom. I urge the President to consult health experts and reverse this ill-considered policy shift, and work with Democrats to improve access to healthcare, which includes reproductive health services. ”

Senator Shaheen is a dedicated advocate for women’s reproductive rights. Senator Shaheen has been fighting for years to increase coverage of women’s preventative care in the annual defense authorization bill, and just last month, added an amendment to an appropriations bill that would boost funding for international family planning and reproductive health programs, and repeal the Global Gag Rule.

“Protecting women’s rights to make their own reproductive health decisions is critical to ensuring that women can fully participate in our economy, and also in our democracy,” Senator Maggie Hassan said. “Rolling back full coverage, with no out of pocket costs, for birth control is a direct attack on women’s access to health care and on their right to make their own health care decisions. Nine out of ten women of reproductive age will use contraception at some point in their lives.  Since this benefit went into effect, women nationwide have saved over $1.4 billion on birth control, and this move by the Trump Administration would put a financial burden on hundreds of thousands of women. It is unacceptable that the Trump Administration has repeatedly worked to undermine women’s access to critical health services, and I will continue fighting back against these attacks, including working to ensure that all women have the essential preventative health services they need at no out-of-pocket cost.”

Earlier this year, Senator Hassan helped introduce the Save Women’s Preventative Care Act to ensure that coverage for preventative health care services, such as breast cancer screenings, birth control, and domestic violence screenings, can’t be revised or rolled back by the Trump Administration.

“I am outraged by the Trump Administration’s most sweeping attack yet on women’s access to health care,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “The vast majority of American women get their health insurance through an employer, and this rule will endanger their access to contraceptives, which are used by many women to treat medical conditions as well as to prevent unwanted pregnancy. We must defeat this rule and make it clear to President Trump that women and men reject this interference in access to birth control.”

“Birth control is an important medication for millions of women and efforts by the Trump Administration to limit access to contraceptives are appalling,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “The rule announced today would allow employers to deny coverage for contraceptives,  making them unaffordable for many women in New Hampshire and across the country. I will fight this misguided move by President Trump to deny access to what is truly basic health care.”

Trump Administration Continues to Erode Federal LGBTQ Protections  

CONCORD, N.H. —The Department of Justice (DOJ) today released new guidance that gives federal agencies, employees, and government contractors unprecedented leeway in discriminating against LGBTQ people. The guidance represents a radical departure and sweeping reinterpretation that far exceeds the original modest intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was passed to protect people from being discriminated against on the basis of their religion.

The guidance comes just one day after the administration also announced its intention to no longer interpret Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as protecting transgender people from workplace discrimination.

Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire, released the following statement regarding the discriminatory ban:

“Protections for LGBTQ Americans are facing increasing threats at the federal level. The recent actions out of the Department of Justice in Washington are particularly dangerous for transgender Granite Staters, because we don’t have any explicit laws on the books to protect us from discrimination. Transgender people can – and too often, do – face discrimination in their workplace, in access to housing, and in public spaces.

“The good news is, we can do something about this. Our state representatives and senators can and must take up legislation that would ensure transgender people are protected from discrimination in all its insidious forms. Action at the state level is more urgent now than it’s ever been before.”

Freedom New Hampshire is a nonpartisan coalition working to educate people about what it means to be transgender, the unique hardships that transgender people face and to grow support for fair and equal treatment of transgender Granite Staters under the law.

Granite Staters Speak Out Against Cuts To Medicare And Medicaid

Granite Staters Call for No Cuts to Medicaid and Medicare to Pay for Tax Breaks for the Rich and Corporations at Manchester, NH Community Forum

National Day of Action Calls on Congress to Protect Health Care for Millions in the Budget and Reject Massive Tax Breaks for Wealthiest Americans

Manchester, NH – After Congress spent weeks once again attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, over thirty Granite Staters attended a community forum co-organized by Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP) and Rights & Democracy (RAD) on Wednesday, October 4 to educate the public on the Congressional  budget proposal. New Hampshire seniors, working people, Representative Robert Backus, and voices from the front lines of healthcare including doctors gathered to discuss what’s at stake under budget plans. These Granite Staters joined hundreds of others across the country at similar events for this national day of action led by Health Care for America Now (HCAN). On this day of action, grassroots groups across the country mobilized against the latest effort to strip health care from millions of Americans while at the same time advancing a tax cut proposal that benefits primarily the richest 1% of households.

The event highlighted the devastating impacts of the House  Budget Resolution, which cuts $1.5 trillion from health care, especially Medicaid while giving tax breaks to the rich and corporations. The resolution includes the adoption of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) repeal proposal that the House passed in May that could take healthcare away from over 23 million people and make permanent cuts to Medicaid for seniors, people with disabilities, children, and veterans.  House Speaker Paul Ryan plans a vote on the House budget proposal this week.

“We’ve seen time and again that Congress will stop at nothing to strip millions of Americans of vital care, and now they are using the budget process to make the same kind of devastating cuts to health care that were so unpopular in the last few repeal bills,” said Viola Katusiime, an Organizer for GSOP. “Americans across the country rose up to beat back repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and we will remain vigilant as Congress tries to gut essential health care programs to pay for tax breaks for the 1 percent.”

The proposed budget cuts would fundamentally transform Medicaid for the worse, ending its guarantee of coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities including 171,500 New Hampshire Medicaid recipients. These cuts would also be a devastating blow to New Hampshire’s state budget and cripple its ability to face public health emergencies like the opioid crisis, which is ravaging communities across the Granite State (since under the administration plans it will be up to each state alone to manage health care emergencies without additional support from the federal government).

Medicare serves over 55 million people ages 65 and over and people with permanent disabilities, including 266,210 people in New Hampshire. But the Medicare cuts of $487 billion over 10 years and efforts to privatize Medicare through vouchers in the budget resolution would devastate this program and leave seniors and people with permanent disabilities without an affordable option for care.

At the same time, the federal budget proposal includes trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the rich and corporations. Under the administration’s proposed tax plan, wealthy households’ income tax rate will be reduced by almost 5 percent, and the corporate tax rate will drop by 15 percent, among a variety of other tax breaks. These tax cuts in total will cost $1.5 trillion – the same amount as the health care cuts in the House budget resolution, including significant Medicaid cuts and $500 billion in new cuts to Medicare, a vital program for seniors.

While Senator Jeanne Shaheen regrettably could not attend the event she voiced her solidarity with the Granite Staters in attendance in a letter she sent to them:

“I share your commitment to supporting the individuals who rely on the quality, consistent access to health care services that Medicare and Medicaid offer. We must continue to invest in them and resist reckless attempts to cut these programs by prioritizing tax cuts for the wealthy. Please be assured that, in reviewing any new tax proposals, I will be looking to see how the plan will impact middle-class families and small businesses across the state of New Hampshire.”

To learn more about how Granite Staters are fighting this unjust and immoral budget, please contact Viola Katusiime with Granite State Organizing Project at violakat@granitestateorganizing.org or Kathy Staub with Rights & Democracy at kathy@radnh.org.

BREAKING NEWS: Carol Shea-Porter Not To Seek Reelection In 2018

Shea-Porter Statement on not seeking reelection in 2018

Rochester, NH— Today, Carol Shea-Porter released the following statement on her decision to not seek reelection:

“To the Good People of New Hampshire, the Greatest State in America,

Thank you so much for electing me to Congress for four terms. You gave me the great honor of representing our state and being the first woman ever to be elected to federal office from New Hampshire, and the first Democrat to represent New Hampshire’s First District in 22 years, and I have worked each day with only one thought—to serve our state and our nation. But the time has come in my life to pause and decide on a different path, so I am announcing my intention to leave the House of Representatives in January 2019, when my present term ends.

This has been a very difficult decision, given how much I have enjoyed serving [the people of New Hampshire] in the House and the fact that the 2018 election is shaping up to be like 2006, when I was first elected, an important time when Congress changed political leadership and was able to move America forward. While I certainly would enjoy being part of that, I felt the tug of family at our reunion on Independence Day, and I have continued to feel it. My family has said repeatedly that they would support any decision I made, and I am grateful to them for that and for all of their love and support through the years.

I have been blessed with an amazing staff who love New Hampshire’s people as much as I do, and with a very large contingent of wonderful committed supporters who share a vision of an America with government that believes in honest and open elections, creates opportunity for all, supports local business and grows the economy while it cares for its young, its old, and its most vulnerable citizens, and believes in good stewardship of our Earth and its resources. I first won in 2006 without a single paid staffer because of their hard work. I also thank Republican and Independent voters for their confidence, and I have listened to their concerns as well. Coming from a Republican family, I know that we need to hear each other, even if we don’t always agree on policy.

I have great faith in our ability to overcome challenges and to come together again, and I will continue to speak out. As Granny D, New Hampshire’s champion for campaign finance reform, said, ‘democracy is not something we have, it’s something we do.’ And as I always add, it will go away if we don’t “do” democracy by engaging on the issues and voting. I am greatly encouraged by the heightened civic engagement I am seeing.

I look forward to seeing the House change political leadership again and produce legislation that helps all Americans move forward, with both parties working together, and I will do my part to make that happen. I will also continue to advocate in Congress for the people of New Hampshire until January 2019. Thank you again for the great privilege of representing you.”


A personal note from Matt Murray, creator of the NH Labor News.

I have known Representative Shea-Porter for over ten years now.  She was the first Congressional Representative I met in person.  I have personally worked on her campaign in the past and have supported her all the way.  Carol is truly on of the smartest and most progressive leaders in the House and has spent more than half of time in Washington fighting the uphill battle against the Republican domination.  Carol’s outspoken advocacy for working people will be missed, but I would like to wish her the best in the future.


NHDP Chair Ray Buckley:

“Thank you Carol-Shea Porter for your four terms of service to New Hampshire and our country. You have served the Granite State with great distinction. Your unflinching devotion to the ‘99% of the rest of us’ for over a decade has been a clear call for reform & progress. New Hampshire is proud and honored to have you represent us in Washington and your presence will be dearly missed after 2018. Your leadership has undoubtedly inspired so many to stand up and fight for what they believe in. As the first New Hampshire woman elected to federal office, you are trailblazer and a role model for us all. While we are saddened by your departure, we know your leadership will have paved the way for another great New Hampshire leader to follow in your footsteps.”

Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

“Throughout her career, Carol has been a stalwart defender and champion of New Hampshire,” said Shaheen. “New Hampshire’s first district has been well served by her tireless devotion to the middle class and the most vulnerable in our society. As the first woman to be elected to New Hampshire’s federal delegation, she’s a trail blazer in her own right, who has been a fearless advocate for women’s equality. I look forward to working with her through the remainder of her term, and to seeing what the future brings.”

Senator Maggie Hassan: 

“Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has been a fierce advocate for the people of the first congressional district, and it has been an honor to serve alongside her. New Hampshire is a stronger state because of her tireless work to expand economic opportunity for Granite Staters, and her leadership will be sorely missed. I look forward to continuing to work with Congresswoman Shea-Porter for the remainder of the 115th Congress and beyond to deliver results for our great state.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster:

“Carol Shea-Porter has been an incredible advocate for the people of her district and all of New Hampshire in her four terms in office. The first woman elected to Congress from New Hampshire, she has been a trailblazer for women in politics and has served as a strong voice for hardworking Granite State families. I have always – and will continue to – value her counsel and friendship in the House of Representatives. I know that she will remain a force in New Hampshire as she fights to improve the lives of all Granite Staters.”

Hassan And Senate Democrats Push “Bump Stock Ban,” However This Cannot Be The End Of The Conversation

By WASR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“Thoughts and prayers from politicians are not going to stop the next shooting,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “What we need to do is focus on preventative measures. We know that reasonable, common sense gun laws and regulations work. Closing the automatic weapons loophole is a small but critical step in preventing another mass shooting tragedy.”

Earlier this week, Senator Maggie Hassan helped introduce the Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act, a bill to close a loophole that allows semi-automatic weapons to be easily modified to fire at the rate of automatic weapons, which have been illegal for more than 30 years.

“As we continue to mourn the victims of the horrific attack in Las Vegas and their loved ones, we must finally act to address the gun violence that plagues our nation,” Senator Hassan said. “While automatic weapons have been illegal for decades, some firearm accessories allow shooters to fire at similar rates to that of automatic guns, and we know that the shooter in Las Vegas possessed such accessories. There is no reason to have weapons that can fire at such high rates other than to inflict massive harm, and we should take the common-sense step of closing the loopholes that allow dangerous individuals to mimic the effect of deadly, fully automatic weapons.”

Under the National Firearms Act, the sale, manufacture and transfer of automatic weapons are illegal. However, bump stocks, slide fire devices and other similar accessories can be attached to semi-automatic weapons, allowing them to reach fully-automatic rates of fire.

Semi-automatic rifles typically have a rate of fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute. A bump stock, or other similar devise increases the semi-automatic rifles rate of fire between 400 and 800 rounds per minute.

This bill would ban the sale, transfer, importation, manufacture or possession of bump stocks, trigger cranks and similar accessories that accelerate a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire. The bill also makes clear that its intent is to target only those accessories that increase a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire.

I applaud Senator Hassan for signing on to this important legislation. At the same time, I believe we should be doing more than prohibiting “bump stocks.”

This legislation to ban bump stocks is a good place to start the discussion but it cannot end there.

Congress should be pushing for a ban on “assault” style rifles, that were make to inflict massive damage on the battlefield and have no practical use for civilians. Congress should be pushing for background checks on all gun sales, closing the “gun show” loopholes that allow people to sidestep the current background check laws. Congress should be pushing for the registration and licensing of all guns. Congress should be pushing for mandatory safety and technical testing prior to approving a license for a gun.

We regulate everything from our drinking water to the cars we drive yet when it comes to guns it is “laissez faire.” We are quick to make changes when a man attempts to take a bomb onto an airplane in the sole of his shoe.  Yet after 60 people died and hundreds more are injured, no real changes are being suggested.

What will it take before all of the members in Congress take against against the gun lobby and do what is right for the health and safety of the American people?  How many more innocent people have to die before they take meaningful action to stop the gun violence epidemic that has grown over the last decade?

What Do We Know About The New NAFTA Proposal???

The Trump administration’s renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has just completed its third round of negotiations.

So what do we know about the newly proposed agreement? Pretty much nothing.

The negotiations are still being conducted in secret.  Like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the agreement is being negotiated by corporations without the input from labor.

Bits and pieces of the agreement have leaked out, like the Canadian proposal to strengthen workers rights to organize, but when it comes to the major portions of the agreement, mum is the word.

We need to ensure that the new NAFTA agreement: protects workers rights to organize, ensures fair pay for workers around the world, protects climate and environmental protections, eliminates the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that allows corporations to circumvent a countries ability to create laws, and stops the incentive program that encourages corporations to offshore American jobs.

Celeste Drake, Trade Policy Specialist for the AFL-CIO just posted this video, explaining what we have learned from the third round of negotiations.

 

Senator Shaheen Presses Trump Appointee, Governor Brownbeck, On New Hampshire Deportations

Shaheen Presses Religious Freedom Ambassador Nominee on Trump Administration’s Efforts to Deport Indonesians Who Fled Religious Persecution

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pressed Governor Sam Brownback on the Trump administration’s deportation of individuals who came to the United States fleeing religious persecution during his confirmation hearing to serve as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. During her questioning, Shaheen addressed the Trump administration’s planned deportation of members of New Hampshire’s Indonesian community, asking Brownback how the United States could be a model for treating people of all faiths fairly, yet send members of the New Hampshire Indonesian community back to the country they fled to face certain persecution. Brownback responded by saying that he believes that “we should accept people fleeing religious persecution.”

In 2012, Senator Shaheen’s office helped negotiate an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to allow Indonesian immigrants to remain in New Hampshire and obtain work permits in exchange for a commitment to regularly check-in with ICE. This agreement was recently reversed by ICE under the Trump administration, and these individuals were ordered to begin making preparations for deportation. Senator Shaheen has called senior officials in the Trump administration on behalf of the Indonesian community, including the Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan and Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell.

300 Union Members Head To Puerto Rico To Assist In Recovery Efforts

United ALPA Pilots Prior tl Flight to Puerto Rico
Image from ALPA

Unions and United Airlines Come Together to Fly More than 300 First Responders and Skilled Volunteers to Puerto Rico

35,000 pounds of relief supplies also delivered on flight
Evacuees to fill seats on return flight to Newark, New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 4, 2017 – Today, the AFL-CIO, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and United Airlines teamed up to fly more than 300 first responders and skilled volunteers—including nurses, doctors, electricians, engineers, carpenters and truck drivers—to Puerto Rico to help with relief and rebuilding efforts.

The flight was one way to respond to the urgent need to get highly skilled workers to Puerto Rico to help people seeking medical and humanitarian assistance as well as to help with the rebuilding effort. While in Puerto Rico, workers will coordinate with the Puerto Rico Federation of Labor and the city of San Juan on various efforts, including helping clear road blockages, care for hospital patients, deliver emergency supplies, and restore power and communications.

United Airlines volunteered a 777-300, one of the largest and newest aircraft in its fleet, to airlift this humanitarian relief team to San Juan. In addition to the hundreds of highly skilled workers assembled by the AFL-CIO, the flight was operated by ALPA- and AFA-CWA-represented United Airlines pilots and flight attendants volunteering their time. IAM-represented United ramp employees also will support the flight on the ground in Newark and San Juan.

The flight departed Newark Liberty International Airport at 11 a.m. ET and will arrive at San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport at approximately 2:45 p.m. ET. The flight also is transporting more than 35,000 pounds of such emergency relief supplies as food, water and essential equipment. The airline has operated more than a dozen flights to and from Puerto Rico, carrying nearly 740,000 pounds of relief-related cargo and more than 1,300 evacuees.

The United aircraft is returning to Newark this evening with evacuees from Puerto Rico. These passengers are being provided complimentary seats as part of United’s ongoing humanitarian relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

“The working families of Puerto Rico are our brothers and sisters. And this incredible partnership will bring skilled workers to the front lines to deliver supplies, care for victims and rebuild Puerto Rico,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Our movement is at its best when we work together during times of great need. But we are even better when we find common ground and partner with business and industry on solutions to lift up our communities. This endeavor is entirely about working people helping working people in every way possible. In times of great tragedy, our country comes together, and we are committed to doing our part to assist the people of Puerto Rico.”

“When our union sisters and brothers see a need in our national or international community, we don’t ask if we should act, we ask how,” said AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson. “Today is the result of our collective strength, compassion and commitment to action. I am proud United responded to the call to carry a union of relief workers among America’s working families to care for our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico. We are united in lifting up our fellow Americans. It is an honor to serve on the volunteer crew of Flight Attendants and Pilots transporting skilled relief workers and returning to New York with hundreds needing safe passage out of Puerto Rico.”


“Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico need help and this is a race against time,” said Captain Todd Insler, Chairman, ALPA United Airlines. “The ALPA pilots of United Airlines are honored to fly these skilled workers and medical professionals to San Juan today, and will continue to support the humanitarian efforts going forward. We applaud these brave volunteers who are dedicating their time, selflessly leaving their homes and families, and answering the call to help. The strength of the unions represented on this flight comes from workers joining together to help one another. Likewise, the strength of this joint relief effort comes from all of us—labor, management and government—standing together to help our fellow citizens in their time of need.”

“This flight carries not only much-needed supplies and skilled union labor, but also the love and support of more than 33,000 IAM members at United who will continue helping the people of Puerto Rico recover,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja.

While in Puerto Rico, OPEIU nurse members Kris Teed, RN , Elizabeth Moreno, RN, and Kyra Keusch, RN, will coordinate with the Puerto Rico AFL-CIO and the City of San Juan on various efforts.

“When our communities call out for help, we can come together and solve the biggest challenges by summoning the best of ourselves. We’ve answered this call many times over the past couple months, and Puerto Rico is no exception,” said Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines. “This flight embodies how working Americans, union leaders and business can unite with a shared sense of purpose to make a life-changing difference at this critical moment. We are deeply grateful to all of the first responders, highly skilled professionals and United employees who are going above and beyond to come to the aid of Puerto Rico.”

 

Unions throughout America have continued to offer supplies and other volunteer efforts in addition to today’s flight. Members on today’s flight are represented by 20 unions from 17 states.

More Must Be Done To Help Americans In Puerto Rico

Leaders with the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, are calling on President Trump and Congress to expedite the pace of recovery efforts to the 3.5 million American citizens in hurricane-battered Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In an open letter to President Trump and members of Congress, AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. and Fifth District National Vice President Everett Kelley said residents on the islands “desperately need our help.”

“Failing to treat this disaster with the same sense of urgency you displayed when Hurricanes Harvey and Irma battered the mainland just weeks earlier is indefensible,” the letter states.

Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall, most residents still lack essentials like running water, food, and electricity.

“Our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are being treated like second-class citizens,” President Cox said. “There’s no excuse for it taking this long to get aid and relief to people who desperately need our help. While President Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico is a welcome show of support, residents need immediate action, not just rhetoric. Congress and the White House need to step up the recovery efforts at once.”

AFGE represents more than 5,000 federal employees who work in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They have been working around the clock to continue serving the public, even as they face their own personal tragedies and losses.

“Thousands of federal workers who call these islands home are looking to their government for help, and the silence is deafening,” said NVP Kelley, whose district includes both islands. “They’re working under extraordinarily difficult circumstances to deliver care and assistance to our citizens in need. Help cannot come fast enough.”

Tomorrow, labor unions and United Airlines will be sending hundreds of skilled volunteers to assist in Puerto Rico.

In a joint letter, Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan called on President Trump to step up disaster recovery efforts on the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra after the islands were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Citing in their letter the remoteness of the islands and reports that residents have been “without running water, power, gasoline or communications for more than a week,” the senators wrote to President Trump to request that sufficient aid and relief personnel be sent to the islands as soon as possible.

“The residents of Vieques and Culebra are U.S. citizens, and no fellow citizen should be left clamoring for help,'” the senators wrote.  “They need help now, and we urge that you provide them with sufficient aid and assistance without further delay.”

The Senators also expressed concern about the superfund site on Vieques and the potential health risks posed by the heavy metals and toxic chemicals left on the island after decades of military exercises by the U.S. Navy.  “We share the concern of residents that the hazardous waste may further contaminate the island and water supplies, and ultimately threaten the health of local residents,” the senators wrote.  “Additionally, the superfund site contains unexploded bombs and live ammunition that could be washed into the sea, posing long-term health and safety risks.”

The full text of the Senators’ letter can be found here.

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