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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.

Campaign Workers Form Union, Announce First Bargaining Agreement With Randy Bryce’s Campaign

Hundreds of campaign workers form union,
demanding a living wage, basic protections

Meg Reilly, Vice President of the Campaign Workers Guild (in white shirt) with newly organized campaign workers from Randy Bryce’s campaign.

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, campaign workers across the country publicly launched a new, independent union and announced their first-ever bargaining agreement with candidate Randy Bryce’s campaign in Wisconsin’s 1st district. The Campaign Workers Guild (CWG) is a national union representing non-management workers on electoral and issue-based campaigns.

CWG’s mission is to ensure that campaign workers have reasonable work hours, fair wages, workplace rights, and basic labor protections. This announcement comes just months before the 2018 midterm elections, while many progressive candidates are just recruiting their campaign staff.

Although many progressive candidates advocate for pro-union policies, they fail to practice what they preach. Campaign workers frequently work close to 80 hours a week, get paid far less than fifteen dollars an hour, and face workplace hazards like sexual harassment. Despite the enormous sums of money spent on elections—a combined $6.5 billion during the 2016 cycle—the workers entrusted with running candidates’ campaign are too often underpaid, overworked, and undervalued. CWG believes that it is time for candidates and elected officials to support the working people who put them in office.

CWG is calling for a party-wide collective bargaining agreement covering campaign workers on all local, state, and federal Democratic campaigns as well as progressive ballot measures. In the meantime, they are organizing campaign by campaign.

In CWG’s first organizing victory, CWG members working for congressional candidate Randy Bryce secured a union contract guaranteeing fair working conditions. Bryce is an ironworker challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district.

CWG is ready to work with more campaigns and urges campaign workers to visit their website (campaignworkersguild.org) to learn more.

Statement from Laura Reimers, President of the Campaign Workers Guild:

“We will build stronger campaigns and a stronger movement when we treat campaign workers with respect. It is time for candidates to practice what they preach.”

Statement from Meg Reilly, Vice President of the Campaign Workers Guild:

“We refuse to allow candidates across the country to continue to identify themselves as pro-union or pro-worker when they fail to guarantee the same labor rights they claim to support.”

Statement from Nate Rifkin, Randy Bryce for Congress Union Steward:

“Unions fight for worker rights and dignity. They help facilitate more equal relationships between labor and management. Every worker deserves the right to join a union, and that includes campaign staffers. The workers on our now unionized campaign are proud to work for Randy Bryce, a person, and candidate, who practices what he preaches.”

Students To Hold ‘UNH Solidarity Rally for Lecturers’ After University Lays off 18 Lecturers

In a very quiet announcement, the administrators at the University of New Hampshire sent a letter to 18 lecturers informing them that their contracts would not be renewed for next year.

On January 19th, the Union Leader reported on the story.

“The contracts of 18 lecturers in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire were not renewed, and one affected man says he’s heartbroken after receiving the news in the mail over winter break.

English lecturer Nathan Webster, of Stratham, a veteran who served during Operation Desert Storm and then worked as a photojournalist in Iraq, teaches first-year writing and introduction to creative nonfiction, he said.
“I’m the only war veteran in the English Department, and the letter I got (just a letter, no call, no personal contact at all) was dismissive and blunt and the reasons given are contradictory and unclear,” Webster said via email Friday.
“The letter claimed a severe budget shortfall but a new announcement said it was to enhance program strength by ensuring the highest degree in the field,” he wrote.
A copy of the letter Webster received this week from Dean Heidi Bostic said his employment ends May 18.

“The reason for this non-renewal is that the College of Liberal Arts is currently confronted with a substantial deficit,” Bostic wrote. “With future programmatic needs forecast in mind, we have been forced to make some painful reductions and strategic realignments in teaching faculty.””

Within a week of the non-renewals being sent out, the UNH Lectures Branch of the American Association on University Professors (AAUP) sent a letter to Dean Bostic requesting details on why the lecturers were not renewed.

Dear Dean Bostic,

The recently announced cuts of Lecturer faculty were dramatic and unanticipated.  Many of us across the University have questions about this decision, and we write to you now to ask you to provide more information to the community about these cuts.

In particular, we request the Deans’ office address:

  • The College financial situation.  We call on you to provide specific details about the COLA finances.  Detailed financial reports for the college would allow for the transparency needed to understand the context of recent cuts to the teaching faculty.
  • An articulated plan for how the more than 100 sections of courses taught by the non-renewed faculty members will be covered.  We request you address the following questions: Will COLA be reducing the number of classes?  Will upper-level classes be eliminated? Will faculty teaching those upper-level classes be moved into lower-level courses?  Is the intention to renegotiate faculty workloads or to hire more faculty?  Cuts to teaching faculty compromise programs, as well as students’ experiences and opportunities; therefore, your plan here is a matter of concern for all community stakeholders.
  • The otherwise unannounced and unexplained new requirement for Lecturer Faculty to possess the terminal degree of a PhD. Your January 19 email stated that the affected faculty “were not renewed as the result of a desire to enhance program strength by ensuring that faculty members have the highest terminal degree in their field.”  We request explanation for why this criterion is cited now, when it has never been a factor of the hiring, review or renewal of these faculty. As you are aware, many of these faculty members were repeatedly reappointed on the basis of their teaching experience and performance in the classroom. In addition, these lecturers have been reviewed by your office as meeting or exceeding your expectations annually. Further, seven of the affected faculty had been promoted to the ranks of Senior or Principal Lecturer, and their degrees did not play a role in these promotion decisions.  How does your own recent assessment and promotion of these teachers connect with the notion that they are suddenly unqualified? We request explanation for the logic and soundness of this new criterion.
    These are among the many questions raised by the recent cuts of Lecturer Faculty.  We call on you to provide answers.

Sincerely,

UNHLU-AAUP Executive Committee


Now the students are rallying behind the educators.  

The student groups, Humans of UNH and UNH Young Democratic Socialists of America, are teaming up to hold a rally on Friday Feb 16th,  in support of reinstating these educators.

The University of New Hampshire has just made significant cuts to lecturer positions in several departments in the College of Liberal Arts. Cuts to lecturer positions will directly affect the quality of education at the University as well as the course options available to students. Students at UNH should expect to have access to a wide-range of courses that will prepare them to succeed in an increasingly global economy.

Long-serving and committed lecturers in French, Spanish, Arabic, ESL, English, History, and Political Science have been informed that their contracts will not be renewed.

Stand in solidarity with affected lecturers and UNH employees. Come and listen to the testimonies of students and alumni directly affected by the recent lecturer cuts.

Join them if you can.

UNH Solidarity Rally for Lecturers

Friday, 16 February 2018 11:00 am

@ Murkland Hall

Creator: Humans of UNH

NLRB Issues Complaint Against General Dynamics Information Technology For Federal Labor Law Violations

Complaint follows a call for investigation into ‘systemic’ wage theft by GDIT; workers could be owed more than $100 million.

The National Labor Relations Board Region 5 has issued a complaint against General Dynamics Information Technology Inc., for violating federal labor law at its Alexandria, Va., facility last year.

The roughly 80 GDIT employees worked on a contract to provide call center services for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., and in 2016 began to organize for representation by the Communications Workers of America. These workers take customer calls and provide information to people whose pensions have been taken over by the PBGC, often due to an employer’s bankruptcy filing.

“I’m happy that GDIT is finally being taken to task for breaking the law,” said Sabrina Batta-Hopson, who works at the call center. “I hope this labor board complaint will prevent the company from spreading more misinformation to other workers. I also hope that the DOL complaint helps me and my coworkers get the pay that we deserve for the hard work we’ve done for GDIT.”

GDIT management threatened employees that if they voted for CWA representation, they would lose benefits and the company would lose the contract. Management also falsely told employees that they could not get a raise “without an act of Congress.”

A hearing is scheduled for May 22, 2018.

“These federally contracted workers are entitled to the protections of our labor laws. GDIT not only abuses workers’ rights, but is also the focus of serious complaints about wage theft and other abuses, and may owe its employees over $100 million in back wages” said Alex van Schaick, an attorney at CWA.“

The NLRB action follows a series of complaints filed by CWA with the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, calling for an investigation into the systemic and serious wage violations being committed at GDIT call centers.

GDIT currently employs about 10,000 workers at 11 call centers under its contract with CMS. These jobs are covered by the Service Contract Act (SCA), a federal law that sets prevailing wage standards for federally contracted service work. But CWA has uncovered an extensive pattern of misclassification of workers under the SCA to avoid paying workers the wages they deserve.

CWA estimates that tens of thousands of current and former GDIT employees at CMS call centers stand to recover more than $100 million in back wages since the contract with CMS was signed in 2013. Such a sum would be the largest SCA recovery in history.

NH House Passes Paid Family Leave (Again) And Pushes Bill To A 3rd Committee

Yesterday the NH House pass HB 628, by a vote of 186 – 164, to establish a family and medical leave program in New Hampshire. House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following:

“I am extremely proud of the House of Representatives this morning, particularly the House Democrats who have been working for years to bring a viable, sustainable, paid family and medical leave program to New Hampshire.  Over 80% of our constituents support family leave because they understand how beneficial it will be to our state’s economy. Every single House Democrat stood up for Granite Staters today by voting against the recommendation from Republican leadership that this bill be defeated.”

“New Hampshire businesses need educated, young workers to grow our state’s economy.  This bill establishes exactly the kind of program that will encourage those skilled workers to raise their families in our state.  Years and years of study, negotiation, and collaboration led us to this point, and House Democrats will continue to speak for the people in prioritizing this important program as it continues along the legislative process.”

The bill now moves to the House Finance Committee.

Rather than being sent to the Senate, it has now been sent to a rather unprecedented 3rd House Committee for further review. Senator Dan Feltes, a co-sponsor of House Bill 628, issued the following statement after today’s vote:

“This strong bipartisan endorsement of Family Medical Leave Insurance once again shows how essential this is to attracting and retaining a high quality workforce, to caring for our senior population, and to combating the opioid epidemic,” said Senator Feltes.

23 Senators Blast DOL Sec Acosta For Concealing Evidence About Stealing Tips From Workers

Shaheen, Hassan Blast Labor Department for Hiding Evidence Showing Tip Proposal Would Steal Billions from Workers

Last week, news reports revealed the Department of Labor concealed the deeply damaging impacts of its proposed change to the tip rules 

Senators: “This is a stark example of how far the Trump Administration is willing to go to appease business interests at the expense of working families”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined with a group of 23 Senate Democrats to send a letter to Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, criticizing the Department of Labor’s decision to hide evidence showing its proposed change to the tip rules would result in employers stealing potentially billions of dollars from their workers.

“We write to express our deep concern regarding reports that the Department of Labor (DOL) concealed evidence from the public showing that DOL’s proposed tip rule would result in employees losing billions of dollars in tips,” wrote the senators. “DOL is forcing through a regulation that would take money out of the pockets of low-wage workers and, even worse, it covered up the potentially catastrophic impacts from workers and advocates. This is a stark example of how far the Trump Administration is willing to go to appease business interests at the expense of working families.”

In December 2017, the Trump Administration proposed rescinding Obama Administration rules that ban employers from taking workers’ tips, potentially allowing employers to keep these tips. The DOL reportedly withheld an official economic analysis from the public record that indicated that the Trump Administration’s plan would drastically cut American workers’ wages.

In addition to Senators Shaheen and Hassan, the letter was signed by Senators Murray (D-WA), Schumer (D-NY), Feinstein (D-CA), Wyden (D-OR), Durbin (D-IL), Reed (D-RI), Sanders (I-VT), Cardin (D-MD), Brown (D-OH), Merkley (D-OR), Gillibrand (D-NY), Blumenthal (D-CT), Baldwin (D-WI), Murphy (D-CT), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), Warren (D-MA), Markey (D-MA), Booker (D-NJ), Van Hollen (D-MD), Duckworth (D-IL) and Smith (D-MN).

A PDF of the letter can be found HERE and included below.

02062018 - Acosta - Tip Rule Analysis Concealed Letter

Congress Passes 2 Year Budget Agreement, NH Delegation Responds

After a brief shutdown, the U.S. House and Senate passed a two year spending bill that will keep the government open till January of 2020.  The bill came in with tons of bipartisan support but was held up by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).  Ultimately the bill passed and the government was reopened again.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) this morning released the following statement after very reluctantly voting ‘yes’ on the bipartisan, long-term budget agreement:

“House Republicans’ long and damaging budget process has revealed a sad truth – Washington Republicans do not know how to govern. By voting no on House Republicans’ wholly inadequate short-term funding bills, Democrats were ultimately successful in addressing the critical middle class American priorities that Congressional Republicans for months used as pawns to forward their partisan agenda.

“These budgeting decisions are made even more difficult now that Congressional Republicans increased the debt by at least $1.5 trillion to give tax breaks to the richest. This compromise agreement does not include everything it should. For example, although the bill contained desperately needed funding to combat the deadly opioid epidemic that is devastating New Hampshire communities, more funding is needed. But this bill does provide critical funding for veterans, for children and seniors, for disaster relief, for infrastructure, and for college affordability, among other priorities.

“This bill did not address the plight of the Dreamers, young people who came to this country as children. Donald Trump manufactured a crisis by deciding to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. They are our neighbors, classmates, friends, and family. They are veterans and servicemembers. They are college students and scientists conducting cutting-edge research. And now they are afraid because this administration is threatening to deport them.

“This Republican Congress must do what is right. We must allow these young people to stay. Twice in the last month, two different bipartisan groups of Senators brought compromise legislation to the President. And each time, he rejected it, despite prior pledges that Dreamers would have ‘nothing to worry about.’ Speaker Ryan has said he won’t put a bill on the floor without the President’s approval. This is the people’s house, not Donald Trump’s, and we have one simple request: do the right thing and allow the American people a vote. It sickens me that House leadership is denying Members of Congress from both parties a vote on the floor because they know it will pass. I will keep demanding action to protect these innocent people.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement after voting in favor of a bipartisan budget agreement early this morning:

“It’s encouraging that Republicans and Democrats have put aside partisan differences to pass a budget that will benefit middle class families and advance priorities important to the Granite State. As the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, I’ve called for funding to address the opioid epidemic and I’m pleased this budget provides billions in critical resources for those on the frontlines of this crisis. It also provides support for our veterans and military members, our dairy farmers, children’s health insurance,  community health centers, and disaster relief funding. I’m hopeful that we can continue this bipartisan momentum and come together behind comprehensive immigration reform that will provide protections for young Dreamers brought to the United States as children.”

Shaheen Applauds Senate Passage of Budget Agreement that Includes Commitment of Additional Funding for Opioid Response Efforts

“This commitment to provide additional funding for opioid response efforts is a significant down payment,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “For too long, the federal response to the opioid epidemic has been nickeled and dimed. While the promise of additional funding in this agreement doesn’t match the severity of the opioid crisis, it is an important step forward. This agreement is the product of good faith bipartisan negotiations and should serve as a model for how we can continue to make progress on this and many other important issues. I’m very pleased that this provides a path forward for long-term government funding and relief from sequestration. Budget certainty is essential to our military readiness, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the Pease Air National Guard Base, as this agreement allows for much better long-term planning. It also finally provides additional investments in veterans care, community health centers, infrastructure and college affordability programs.”

This budget agreement includes a commitment of $6 billion to respond to the opioid epidemic over the next two years, with $3 billion being provided each year. Senator Shaheen and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) also received assurances that the opioid funding formula will be improved to prioritize states like New Hampshire with high mortality rates from overdoses. In recent weeks, Senators Shaheen and Hassan have been participating in bipartisan negotiations as part of the Common Sense Caucus, where they’ve been advocating for additional opioid funding and a change in the federal funding formula.

“This bipartisan budget agreement will provide $6 billion in additional federal funding to combat the devastating opioid crisis, and it will give long-term stability to our budget and our military in order to expand economic opportunity for middle class families, support innovative businesses, and keep our nation safe,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. I am grateful to all of the members of our bipartisan Common Sense Coalition who worked together to find common ground and pave the way for an agreement that invests in critical priorities, including significantly increasing funding for prevention, treatment, and recovery providers on the front lines of the opioid crisis.”

See below for some of the key priorities that this bipartisan budget agreement invests in for fiscal years 2018 and 2019:

  • Fully funds the Department of Defense, ensuring that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Pease Air National Guard Base have the funding they need to help keep us safe
  • $6 billion to combat the opioid crisis
  • $4 billion for VA medical facilities construction and improvements
  • More than $7 billion for Community Health Centers (CHCs)
  • 4 addition years of funding for CHIP, on top of the 6 years of CHIP in the previous continuing resolution
  • $20 billion for bolstering the nation’s infrastructure, including for rural broadband
  • $5.8 billion for making affordable child care more accessible to working families
  • $4 billion for college affordability programs
  • $2 billion for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

NH House Votes To Ban Conversion Therapy

NH House Dems pass conversion therapy ban, outlasting opposition from Republican Speaker & silence from Sununu

Concord, N.H. – Today, Democrats in the New Hampshire House led the effort to pass a ban on conversion therapy. The measure, HB 587, passed 179-171 with Democrats voting unanimously in support of the ban while 171 Republicans (90% of all Republicans voting on the bill) voted to continue the abusive practice. HB 587 now heads to the Senate for consideration. In two years of legislative consideration, Governor Sununu has yet to comment even once on the issue.

NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“Thanks to unanimous Democratic leadership, the House today rejected the abusive practice conversion therapy. This came in the face of opposition from Speaker Chandler and the New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut as well as complete silence from Governor Sununu. We are one step closer to ensuring that the state recognizes children for who they are rather than discouraging them from embracing their identity. We cannot continue to codify hate & intolerance. Equal protection under the law is critical to achieving full equality.”

Representative Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location) released the following statement after the House of Representatives voted  to pass HB 587:

“Conversion therapy is a harmful and damaging practice which attempts to shame young people into changing their sexual orientation or identity.  This legislation simply forbids licensed practitioners from practicing conversion therapy on minor children.”

“I very much appreciate that the House listened to advocates and reversed its previous narrow vote to defeat this legislation.  Passing HB 587 into law will protect countless children from the shame, rejection, and psychological abuse that conversion therapy brings.  The House’s support today gives me great confidence that the legislature understands the urgent need to stop this practice on minor New Hampshire children.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, praised the New Hampshire House of Representatives for passing HB 587. HRC partnered with local LGBTQ advocates, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Hampshire, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) to help pass the measure.

“We thank the state legislators who took a ​bold ​stand to protect LGBTQ youth from ​so-called ‘conversion therapy,​’​” said HRC Legislative Counsel Xavier Persad. “This ​abusive and ​inhumane practice has no basis in science and is ​uniformly rejected by every major mental health ​organization in the country. ​Children across the Granite State deserve to live their lives authentically​, and they deserve to know that they are not broken or ill because of who they are. We are calling on the Senate to swiftly pass this bill and send it to Governor Chris Sununu’s desk for his signature.”

ACLU-NH Policy Director Jeanne Hruska said, “The ACLU-NH commends the NH House of Representatives for rallying behind HB587 and supporting a state ban on conversion therapy. Today’s votes represented a resounding show of support for LGBT youth. Conversion therapy is harmful and ineffective, and has no place in New Hampshire.”

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, and Rhode Island all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, and Arizona.

According to a recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional if state officials fail to act.

Local Company To Build Portable Solar Power Units For Puerto Rico

North Andover, MA:  Local solar installer ReVision Energy is welcoming a group of volunteers this weekend to its 7,000 s.f. facility in N. Andover to build portable emergency power and water purification units for devastated communities in Puerto Rico. Each unit is comprised of a trailer with solar electric panels, battery storage, water purification, lights and charging ports for small electronics.

The “Power On Puerto Rico” relief project is being led by a partnership between the global disaster relief organization Amurtel and the nationwide solar co-op Amicus Solar (ReVision Energy is a founding member of Amicus). The goal is to provide storm-ravaged communities with access to power, clean drinking water and lighting.

“We are excited to finally put our shoulders to the task of building the portable emergency units, which we are calling ‘Solar Outreach Systems’ or SOS units,” said ReVision Energy co-founder Phil Coupe. The goal for this weekend is to completely outfit the first three trailers and get them on their way to Puerto Rico where Amurtel has staff on the ground that has identified the first communities that will receive the donated SOS units. The longer term goal is to build and deliver 100 units.

“More than 30% of Puerto Ricans are still without power and clean drinking water, so we know the need for these portable emergency units is still very high despite it being five months since Hurricane Maria caused immense damage to the island,” said Coupe.

Located close to the equator where there is a powerful solar resource, Puerto Rico is an ideal geography for harnessing solar energy, but with so few solar energy systems in place right now, not many businesses or homes are able to take advantage of this abundant renewable energy. Having to depend on what’s left of the island’s power grid means that many Puerto Rican communities could be without power for up to a year. The Solar Outreach Systems, which are portable community-based communication and emergency power hubs, will immediately assist on-the-ground relief efforts.

The SOS units will be deployed by the Aireko Foundation, an offshoot of Aireko Energy Solutions, which is a Puerto Rico-based member of Amicus.  These units will be loaned to the communities for the duration of their need and then be redeployed to other disaster areas as needs and events dictate.  “The aftermath of Hurricane Maria has been as difficult and often even harder than the path of the storm itself, especially for those communities in the interior of the island.  After more than a month, reestablishment of electric power for those communities is still unknown, and the quality of water is not the best – for those communities that are lucky enough to have this service, which are very few.  Sadly, those communities are far from returning to their normal lives,” said Hector Rivera Russe of Aireko Energy Solutions. “I’m deeply touched by how my Amicus partners, alongside Amurtel, have jumped without hesitation, to putting their time, resources and effort to give relief to my people in Puerto Rico.  I will always be thankful to them.”

The Puerto Rico-based solar company Aireko, an Amicus member, has already donated the shipping to get the finished trailers delivered to San Juan, PR and Aireko will help transport the SOS units to recipient communities identified by Amurtel.

NH’s U.S. Senators Push For FAMILY Act

Senators Shaheen, Hassan Cosponsor FAMILY Act to Guarantee Paid Family and Medical Leave to All Hard-Working Granite Staters and Americans

WASHINGTON – Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan announced today that they are cosponsoring the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act or FAMILY Act, to create a universal, gender-neutral paid family and medical leave program in order to help support caregivers in the workforce.

“Working Americans should never feel as though they need to compromise their health, or personal family decisions, out of fear of losing their job,” said Senator Shaheen. “Paid family and medical leave is critical to ensuring Granite Staters have the necessary support and peace of mind to prioritize their loved ones and take care of their families. This legislation is an investment in the American workforce and the stability of our economy, and I look forward to working on passing this legislation in the Senate.”

“No Granite Stater should be forced to choose between caring for a loved one and losing a paycheck, and our economy shouldn’t suffer from such a false choice,”Senator Hassan said. “By guaranteeing paid family and medical leave to all hard-working Granite Staters and Americans regardless of where they work, the FAMILY Act is a commonsense measure that will help strengthen families, businesses, and our economy. As we continue working to move this bill forward, I will keep fighting to ensure that all Granite Staters and Americans who work hard have the support they need to get ahead and stay ahead.”

The United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid leave program, and only 14 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave through their employer. Without a national paid family leave program, the U.S. economy loses almost $21 billion a year, women lose $324,000 in wages and retirement benefits over a lifetime, and men lose $284,000. A lack of a national paid leave program hurts businesses; studies show that businesses incur an additional 20 percent cost to recruit and retrain new workers replacing others who left because they did not have paid leave.

The FAMILY Act establishes a self-sustaining family insurance program for all workers, including the young and elderly, single and married, men and women, regardless of the size of their employer. The program would be modeled after successful state programs, with the funding providing up to 66 percent wage-replacement for 12 weeks in the event of a serious personal or family medical emergency.

Fulfill The Promise To Firefighters

Captain Pesula served the Hooksett community for eighteen and a half years as a faithful employee of Hooksett Fire Rescue. He never smoked, he didn’t drink, and was arguably the healthiest, most-fit member on our department. He took care of himself and his crew through exercise and cancer-prevention measures well-known around the country, including cleansing of his Personal Protective Equipment and immediate showers upon return from a fire call. However, these measures of a careful, model lifestyle were not enough to protect him from what led to his death in June of 2016.

In December of 2014, Captain Pesula suddenly began having unresolved kidney stones and infections. As these medical issues continued, he had imaging done and the results were devastating. The cancer, which originated in his colon, was Stage 4 and had spread to his liver, lungs and bladder. Due to this diagnosis, Captain Pesula was not cleared to return to work. He fought hard, doing everything he could in the hope that he could return someday to the job he loved so much. He was on short-term disability, which led to long-term disability. Faced with the inevitable, Captain Pesula was eventually forced to make the difficult decision to retire from the department. Unsure if he would be able to keep his insurance, Captain Pesula now had fears of whether or not he would be able to continue his cancer care and treatment.

As a result of his retirement, Captain Pesula went ten months on a reduced income and no medical subsidy to cover the astronomical treatment expenses. He did not at any point prior to this, wish to become a charity case, but knew when to swallow his pride and ask his coworkers for help. We – his coworkers, family, and friends – led fundraising efforts throughout the community during this trying time, including selling t-shirts, wristbands and holding special fundraising events. Much of these funds were used to cover his medical expenses to continue the care he was receiving in Boston.

All this time, firefighters and friends from around the community rallied together to help Captain Pesula and his family around the house in Penacook, doing yard work, shoveling his driveway, putting up Christmas lights and other tasks. We did whatever we could to help a man who spent his life and career helping others.

I promised Dan that if anything bad were to happen to him, I and the rest of Fire Department would watch over his wife and children, always be there for them and never let them forget about their father. Captain Pesula passed in June of 2016. To this day, our department remains close with the Pesula family.  We continue to help his family at their home and always make a point to attend his children’s sporting events.

Senate Bill 541 by Senator Innis fulfills a promise made to firefighters by the legislature in 1987, recognizing firefighters are at a higher risk of cancer diagnosis and death as a result of their job. This is not just a theory; this is a known fact, backed by years of study and research. New Hampshire was one of the first states to institute this presumption law, and since then over thirty other states have followed suit. Unfortunately this was an unfunded mandate. By passing this bill, families like the Pesula’s would be given the financial assistance they deserve for a work-related disease. In memory of our late Captain Dan Pesula of Hooksett Fire Rescue Department and countless other firefighters across New Hampshire who have been taken by cancer, I implore the New Hampshire Senate, House and Governor Chris Sununu to honor this promise made to those on the front lines.

 

Captain Joseph P Stalker

Hooksett, NH Fire Rescue Department

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