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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.

NH Labor 2012 Election News 7/2/12: Romney Vacations, Nashua Police Union Endorses Lafrance for Attorney, and more

Letter: Roberts vs. O’Brien | Concord Monitor: “Already, New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien is displaying his two leading characteristics: He does not think, and he does not care. He is already stating that New Hampshire will not accept the Medicaid funds that will expand health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of New Hampshire residents. Almost all of this will be paid for by the federal government, so refusing to take it has one obvious result: The people who would have received good health care coverage will get none. In addition, when all those people need care and go to emergency rooms and hospitals, we all pay. O’Brien’s statement that we will not take the federal funds is fiscally idiotic. It also shows that he does not care.

Is this what you want? Think carefully, and reconsider whether you want to support O’Brien and his cohort. Instead, behave like the chief justice: think, and make the best decision, not one just on political lines, and show compassion for all those who do not have health care coverage.”


Letter: Obama is right | Concord Monitor: “President Obama understands that many Americans are still hurting, and he knows they are looking for real solutions.

Investing in our teachers, firefighters and police officers and standing by our small businesses, manufacturers and veterans will make a difference now and in the long term for our economy.

We cannot go back to the policies that destroyed our economy and hurt the middle class – huge tax breaks for the wealthy and fewer rules for Wall Street.”


LaFrance Announces Run for County Attorney – Nashua, NH Patch: “Longtime county prosecutor Patricia LaFrance, a Democrat, has announced her candidacy for Hillsborough County Attorney. She will challenge incumbent Dennis Hogan, a Republican.

LaFrance announced July 1 that her campaign has received two important endorsements – from the Nashua Police Patrolman’s Association and the Nashua Police Supervisor’s Union. These two unions are comprised of over 145 sworn patrol officers, detectives and supervisors.

In their endorsement, the Nashua Police Supervisor’s Union stated, “Our members … have worked closely with Attorney LaFrance over the past eight years as she prosecuted cases as an Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney …She is respected for her integrity, prosecutorial experience and leadership skills. Patti has become known as a fighter who is dedicated to protecting victim’s rights. We have complete confidence she is the best choice for this important office.””


Re-elect president, invest in America, – NashuaTelegraph.com: “He has done well meeting his responsibility to shareholders and has been rewarded for it. This is the world of capitalism; there is no other priority but profit.
Remember, though, if you are not a corporate shareholder, you are the expendable labor supporting profit. Massachusetts knows what this means.
Is this the Republican Party’s view of America? Their shareholders are contributors from corporations, banking and financial firms, not the American people. Business cares not where it makes a profit; jobs are “off-shored” or wages fall.
Since the mid-1970s, this continues to cost us. We paid for the North American Free Trade Agreement, a bailout of Wall Street and much more with no benefit.
Why was the Keystone XL pipeline project not approved? “We, the people,” would end up paying again. I’ve checked.”


If you think he’s joking, think again – NashuaTelegraph.com: “It is expected that right after the November elections, Congress will move to greatly increase the national debt limit.
This will allow for taxpayer funding of the huge Wall Street bonuses. Clearly, the banks and investment houses will go bust if they have to continue to foot the bill.
The voter ID laws will be expanded to require that voters provide dental X-rays in order to verify their identity. This is because of the humongous voter fraud problem that is believed to stretch all across America.
Instead of fining anyone who doesn’t buy health insurance, the new laws will fine anyone who gets sick and is not covered by the same government health plan that is provided to Congress.”There is More…


Romney's Summer Cottage -- From the AP,

4th of July: Mitt Romney family vacations at their New Hampshire estate | Washington Times Communities: “It’s summer time and the livin’s easy, so what better time than the 4th of July week for Mitt Romney to gather his large family together for a week’s vacation at their Wolfeboro estate in New Hampshire?

The Romney $8 million, 13-acre estate features a six-bedroom house, a horse stable with guest apartments above it, a $630,000 boat house, tennis and volleyball courts, and a shoreline that extends 768 feet along Lake Winnipesaukee, making it the double the length of a football field.”

Labor 2012 NH Elections: Aaron Gill “I Support Unions, Because I Support The Middle Class”

Feel Free To Share This Picture

By Aaron Gill
Candidate for State Rep Hillsboro District 39
Deering, Goffstown, Weare 

I was a manager for Best Buy in Cambridge, Massachusetts for about a year around 2001. Every new manager received a week’s worth of manager training. The topics were about as expected, including various HR things, how to coach individual members, and effective hiring techniques. We even had trust falls, but only after reading, “Who Moved my Cheese?” But there was one topic that took a half-day to address: stopping Union activity. This wasn’t surprising; I had experience with large corporations attacking Unions.

I grew up in a Union household in Livermore Falls, Maine, a rural town in the center of the state. My mother belonged to the Maine Teachers Association, and the National Education Association, where she received quality retirement counseling and assistance during the retirement process. She is now retired and living in Florida. My father is now a town manager, but when I was younger, he was a Teamster in AFL-CIO Local #14, working as a ‘B-Scaler’ at an International Paper mill. During 1987, the Union went on strike trying to prevent the removal of overtime and holiday pay. I was eleven years old when I watched our town divide as replacement workers were eventually brought in, protected by armed state police under orders from Republican Governor John McKernan.

My younger brother and I nonetheless enjoyed a nice Christmas that year, with gifts made available from the Union at Murray Hall in Livermore Falls. I got a red saucer sled, which my brother and I happily shared. I would periodically join my father on the picket line, or attend rallies with then-candidate for President Jessie Jackson. The sense of community was ever present; that’s what I remember most. What about that, as a new manager, does Best Buy want to warn me about?

We were taught to watch for worker gatherings and listen for chatter about pay or conditions. We were taught that we couldn’t tell employees they shouldn’t or couldn’t form a Union, and we certainly couldn’t try to stop them, but we were given talking points to casually insert in conversations in an effort to dissuade anyone thinking it might be a good idea. Of course, any activity was to be immediately reported. This portion of training continued over four hours. That’s a lot of time and effort on training new managers to ensure workers never decided to join together and collectively bargain. Welcome to corporate America.

Eventually, I left Best Buy and began a different career path in small business lending. Along the way, I earned several degrees in accounting, business and finance. It is with all of this background that I formed my opinions on Unions.

It’s quite simple; we all have the natural right to collectively bargain for better terms. The ALEC-inspired, so called ‘Right-to-Work’ legislation is aimed at weakening this right and improving the bargaining position of the employer. I fail to see why this would be a benefit for most of us. Furthermore, states with Right-to-Work have lower wages for all workers. Businesses do not specifically seek out RTW states when deciding where to locate.

Unions helped end child labor, they brought us weekends, the 8-hour workday and the 40-hour work week, and they fought for and won the Family and Medical Leave Act. They created overtime, OSHA, and worker’s compensation. Have a retirement account or health insurance? Thank the unions.

In an era where corporate executives commonly earn around 300 times what a line-level employee earns, nobody can argue with a straight face that unions are to blame for increased income inequality.

I support unions, because I support the middle class.

I am a candidate for the NH House of Representatives in Hillsborough County, District 39 covering Deering, Goffstown & Weare. If elected, I will support the rights of unions to exist, and the rights of workers to collectively bargain. My Republican opponent, current state representative and Free State Project member Mark Warden voted in favor of Right-to-Work. I would not have.

I need your support to return common sense to the voters of our district. Please vote Aaron Gill for State Rep in Deering, Goffstown & Weare this November, share my message with your friends and neighbors, and donate funds for mailings if you can. Learn more at NHGill.com

 

NHLN Note: Be sure to LIKE Aaron’s Facebook page and start your own conversation.

NH Labor News 7/2/12: Labor Still Fights, CWA Elections, Private Sector Is Doing Fine, and more

Another View — Matthew Yglesias: Labor fights for its life | New Hampshire OPINION02: “THE FAILED EFFORT by Democrats to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker prompted much speculation about the tenuous future of American unions. But the real future of American labor is being determined right now not in a high-profile electoral fight but in an obscure legal battle in Texas. Everyone on both sides of the fight recognizes that either unions will win the right to represent more private-sector workers or else will wither and die.

This is why the Communications Workers of America’s effort to organize about 10,000 passenger service agents at American Airlines is so important. Labor relations in the airline industry are governed by the Railway Labor Act rather than the generic labor-law framework that covers most of the economy. Under longstanding RLA rules, if 35 percent of workers in an unrepresented “craft or class” signed a card indicating a desire for union membership, that triggered an election.

For starters, American Airlines was already in financial trouble and, indeed, filed for bankruptcy last November in hopes of wriggling out of obligations to its existing unionized workers. The bankruptcy process itself, however, has generated considerable pressure from some creditors — and also from American’s unions — for the airline to agree to a merger with US Airways. From a management perspective, this would be an unappealing outcome: With American bankrupt, it would amount to a US Airways takeover and lead to job losses among American executives.”


Firefighters test skills in friendly contest at muster: ” No one seemed to mind the leaking fire hoses at the York Beach Fire Department Annual Parade and Muster on Sunday.

With temperatures near 90 and sunny skies, the wet hose competition was a welcome chance to cool down for firefighters taking part in the muster.

“We try to make it fun,” said Mike Brown, a volunteer with the York Village Fire Department on the other side of town.

Fire department musters were a common weekend activity in the past, but only a few departments carry on the tradition today, said York Beach fire Capt. Mark Gay, who has been with the department for 40 years and has organized the muster for 30 of them.”


LaFrance Announces Run for County Attorney – Nashua, NH Patch: “Longtime county prosecutor Patricia LaFrance, a Democrat, has announced her candidacy for Hillsborough County Attorney. She will challenge incumbent Dennis Hogan, a Republican.

LaFrance announced July 1 that her campaign has received two important endorsements – from the Nashua Police Patrolman’s Association and the Nashua Police Supervisor’s Union. These two unions are comprised of over 145 sworn patrol officers, detectives and supervisors.

In their endorsement, the Nashua Police Supervisor’s Union stated, “Our members … have worked closely with Attorney LaFrance over the past eight years as she prosecuted cases as an Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney …She is respected for her integrity, prosecutorial experience and leadership skills. Patti has become known as a fighter who is dedicated to protecting victim’s rights. We have complete confidence she is the best choice for this important office.””


Letter: Obama is right | Concord Monitor: “President Obama understands that many Americans are still hurting, and he knows they are looking for real solutions.

Investing in our teachers, firefighters and police officers and standing by our small businesses, manufacturers and veterans will make a difference now and in the long term for our economy.

We cannot go back to the policies that destroyed our economy and hurt the middle class – huge tax breaks for the wealthy and fewer rules for Wall Street.”


(An LTE)Private sector profits are better than fine – NashuaTelegraph.com: “Yes, indeed, the private sector is doing fine: the top 500 corporations received a combined profit of $824 billion in 2011.
They held in cash $1.8 trillion – that’s right, $1.8 trillion – up from $1.6 trillion in 2011.
The reason they aren’t reinvesting in America by creating jobs and hiring – to quote the political and business talking heads – is they are “nervous because the economy is too weak.”
All I can say is shame on them.”

NH Labor 2012 Elections News 7/1/12: Bass Distorts Truth, O’Keefe Back In NH, Medicare Changes, and more

PolitiFact New Hampshire | Charlie Bass goes on the attack and distorts opponent’s statement on debt limit: “Our ruling:

Bass said that Kuster said the debate over America’s debt limit is not an important issue of the day.

But a review of Kuster’s full remarks show that’s not what she said . As part of a longer comment about how Congress is dysfunctional, she complains that lawmakers are “bickering over the debt limits and they’re off on arguing about things that aren’t even the issues of the day.”

Her comments indicate she is unhappy with “bickering” over the debt, but she doesn’t go so far as to say the debt is not an important issue. We rate Bass’ claim False.”


James O’Keefe Returns to NH – Merrimack, NH Patch: “Republican gubernatorial candidates Ovide Lamontagne and Kevin Smith both signed the Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire pledge last week, committing to lower taxes and spending and reducing the size of government.

“We are very pleased with the initial response to our 2012 anti-tax pledge,” said Corey R. Lewandowski, state director of Americans for Prosperity-NH. “The pledge lets voters know where candidates stand on important economic issues. We hope that every candidate seeking office in New Hampshire this year will consider signing it.”

The pledge was authored by Tom Thomson, honorary chairman of Americans for Prosperity-NH, and commits candidates to cutting taxes, spending and the size of government as well as supporting Right to Work laws and upholding the New Hampshire and U.S. constitutions.”


Ruling gives NH options on Medicaid – NashuaTelegraph.com: “Democratic candidate Maggie Hassan, of Exeter, took the Lynch position of not committing to either side.
“There has long been a bipartisan interest in New Hampshire in helping ensure that working families can afford health insurance because it is right for families and because businesses are paying higher insurance premiums because of the shifting of the costs of the uninsured,” Hassan said.
“As governor, I will work with businesses and the legislature to determine how best to use the federal funds available to increase access to health insurance for all of our citizens and to help lower the growth in insurance premium costs for our small businesses.”
Democratic candidate Jackie Cilley, of Barrington, said that while she would continue to review the details, she expects she would move forward with expanding Medicaid.
“As governor, I’m confident that I’ll be able to work with the Legislature and our representatives in D.C. to make sure that all the ACA reforms, including Medicaid expansion, serve the citizens of New Hampshire,” Cilley said in a statement.”

NHLN NOTE: Both NH GOV GOP Candidates are against any form of medicare expansion. Ovide is also quoted as saying, “Opposing Obamacare is a top priority”.


Healthcare vote offers ‘opportunities’ for both parties in Nov. – NashuaTelegraph.com: “Ad attacks ‘tax’
The fiscally-conservative Americans for Prosperity group gets this week’s Rapid Response Award.
Less than 30 hours after the Supreme Court ruled in support of the Affordable Care Act, AFP bought ad time in New Hampshire and nine other swing states attacking the president on the law’s “new tax.”
AFP State Director Corey Lewandowski maintained the group has a $9 million budget for the ad.
“President Obama’s health care law is irresponsible and unaffordable. It is bad policy for our country, and if the Supreme Court will not rule it unconstitutional, then it is up to Congress to fully repeal the legislation,” Lewandowski said in a statement.
Before nightfall on Thursday, the liberal New Hampshire Citizens for Action had hosted its first post-decision rally at Veterans Park in Manchester.
Let the games begin.”


NHLN commentator and Defending NH Public Education creator, Bill Dunan is also running for Executive Council. He sent in this letter to the Seacoast Online about the changes to Medicare.

High-impact health care decisions | SeacoastOnline.com: “Laboring out of sight of most of us, New Hampshire’s Executive Council has worked hand-in-glove with the Legislature to create a health insurance market that will be complex and confusing for New Hampshire citizens. And, now, as a result of last week’s Supreme Court decision, the Council is in a position to do even more damage.

The five-member Executive Council plays a critical role in governing New Hampshire. It makes hundreds of decisions every month because the Council’s approval is required on all gubernatorial appointments and executive department contracts.

The Executive Council started down the wrong road on health insurance soon after it took office in 2011. The new tea party majority refused to accept federal funding to establish New Hampshire’s own Affordable Insurance Exchange. Then the Legislature followed through in HB 1297 by prohibiting the establishment of a New Hampshire insurance exchange.”


Nashua Dems Plan Candidate Forum – Nashua, NH Patch: “The Nashua Democratic City Committee will host a Candidate Forum on Monday, July 16 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with New Hampshire’s Democratic Primary Candidates Jackie Cilley, Maggie Hassan and Bill Kennedy. The forum will take place in the City Hall Auditorium, 229 Main Street, Nashua.

The purpose of the event is to give Democrats and Undeclared voters a chance to view each candidate side-by-side so voters can better draw comparisons between the candidates, said City Democrats Chairman, David Tencza. The details of the forum will be released as they become available. Organizers do anticipate audience participation during a portion of the event and urge voters to come with questions for the candidates.”

NH Labor News 7/1/12: Why Collective Bargaining is Important, Voter ID, ACA, and More


A Must Read Article: Why Collective Bargaining Rights Are Important: “So let’s start with the basics. The definition of collective bargaining is when a group of employees negotiate as a unit with their employer over pay, benefits and working conditions. The principle stems from the idea that as a group, employees have more strength or bargaining power if they collaborate than they do if they try to negotiate with their employer individually. Because of its basis in collaboration, collective bargaining is inherently a democratic process since a majority of employees select the subjects they bargain over and vote on whether they agree to a contract.

As for what can be negotiated, aside from compensation, a collective bargaining agreement with an employer can ensure a fair performance rating system; whistleblower protection; job flexibility; proper training and/or mentoring; career advancement opportunities; maintenance of quality control; and the overall ability to hold the employer accountable.”


Prisons eyed for varied locales | New Hampshire NEWS03: “A developer has identified potential prison sites in Lancaster, Northumberland and Hinsdale, according to a Lancaster official.

Another company says it wants to build a new prison next to the existing men’s state prison in Concord, retaining and renovating some existing spaces.

And since the state requested proposals last fall, two other firms have also submitted ideas for a men’s prison, with the same four vendors providing plans for a combined men’s and women’s prison, according to William McGonagle, assistant commissioner for the state Department of Corrections. No one submitted plans for a women’s-only prison.”


James O’Keefe Returns to NH – Merrimack, NH Patch: “Will he make it? Or will he have to cancel at the last minute again?

Nobody knows for sure, but “legendary” James O’Keefe is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers’ annual picnic on July 7, at noon, at the Hillsborough American Legion post. This year’s theme is voter fraud, and who better to speak on that topic than O’Keefe?

The conservative activist was scheduled to attend a Rye Republican Town Committee gala on May 6, but wound up appearing remotely via Skype instead for fear that he would be handed a grand jury subpoena if he stepped foot in New Hampshire.

O’Keefe, 27, has drawn both praise and criticism for his investigation into voter fraud during the New Hampshire primary.”


N.H. Republicans finagle voter ID bill | SeacoastOnline.com: “”Rep. David Pierce, D-Etna, also brought the issue of the affidavit requirement to the floor of the House during its debate Wednesday.

“It’s not unreasonable to require a voter to have ID; what’s unreasonable is to ask someone without identification to furnish one,” said Pierce, who noted that the bill requires the moderator to vouch that the individual signing the affidavit is either known to him or can prove that he is who he says he is. “If that’s the case, why does he need an ID?” Pierce asked.

Remember: There is little evidence to suggest voter fraud is or has ever been a problem in New Hampshire — the infamous Project Veritas stunt during January’s presidential primary notwithstanding,” Telegraph editors wrote, “so there is no need to rush into law any bill that has the potential to turn away voters.”

It is clear, however, that SB 289/HB 1354 does impact the ability of some folks to vote — particularly students who are domiciled for four years in New Hampshire and want to exercise their voting rights here, but may not feel the need to get a state driver’s license.”


Garry Rayno’s State House Dome: Photo ID still has federal hurdle | New Hampshire NEWS0604: “STATE REVENUES: Revenues for June — the last month in the 2012 fiscal year — are about $10 million below plan.

A big tourist weekend could make a significant swing in the numbers, but early indications are the lottery and most of the sin taxes are down significantly for the month.

Lottery revenues have been down all year, with a brief respite when the Mega Millions jackpot was setting records. For June, lottery revenue is expected to be down more than $6 million.

Beer, liquor, cigarettes and charity gaming and racing are all below projections for June.

Business taxes, as they have for much of the year, are doing better than anticipated and have cushioned what could have been a more significant shortfall.”


Despite state law, insurance exchange on way to N.H. | SeacoastOnline.com: “It is too late for New Hampshire to set up a state-based health insurance exchange when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented Jan. 1, 2014.

But despite a recently passed Republican-backed law that prohibits state officials from setting up a state-based exchange — an important aspect of the ACA — an exchange will be set up by federal officials, who said Friday the state can still request grant funding and create a state-based exchange in the coming years.”

“We were disappointed with (HB 1297) because it made no sense to give up local control,” said Lisa Kaplan Howe, the policy director of N.H. Voices for Health, a nonprofit organization that advocates for greater access to affordable health care. “We believe the exchange will look the same, and it’s likely that consumers and small business owners won’t know the difference. The process is going forward. In the end, the vote on HB 1297 was symbolic.”


Ovide Will Not Be Working For The Middle Class

As you are all aware the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is Constitutional.  This means that states will have to work with the Federal Government to ensure that everyone has access to affordable health care.   The ACA has already helped millions of middle and lower class Americans receive health care they would not have been able to afford before.  It has also allowed parents to cover their children until they are 26 years old.  This allows children to be fully covered even after they graduate from college and try to find work that even offers health care options.  The ACA has also helped millions of Americans who have been denied health care due to pre-existing conditions.

These are only a few of the benefits that the Affordable Care Act has accomplished.  Now we need to start building the ACA at the state level.  We need a Governor and a Legislature to work with health care providers and Medicare/Medicade  to allow those people in New Hampshire access to this program.

It has already become clear that the Affordable Care Act will be a huge talking point for both sides during this election.  The Democrats are praising the ACA for finally having a program to give health care to all.  While the Republicans are already fighting against it.  NH Governor candidate Ovide Lamontagne released a statement that makes it clear where he stands on the ACA.

Ovide’s Statement on Supreme Court Obamacare Decision: “Today’s Supreme Court ruling is truly a disappointment and represents an infringement on the freedoms and liberty of every citizen in New Hampshire, and throughout our country. The Court ruling opens the door for continued Federal intrusion into the lives of every American, further erodes the Tenth Amendment protections of the 50 states, and confirms what we already knew – that this law results in a massive tax hike on the middle class. Since I announced my candidacy for Governor, I have made clear that opposing Obamacare is a top priority, and that if elected, I will take all steps necessary to oppose its implementation. A mandatory one size fits all national approach to health care will not work, and certainly does nothing to address the ever increasing costs of health care, which is a pressing concern for New Hampshire families and businesses alike.

As Governor, I would join with like-minded governors across the country in continuing to fight by any means necessary Federal overreach into this important sector of our economy. I will work to strengthen recently enacted state laws designed to exempt New Hampshire residents from many of the law’s mandates. At the same time, I will use my experience in the health care field to bring together the state’s health care, business, and community leaders with the goal of enacting market based solutions that will preserve individual choice and control health care costs.”

“Opposing Obamacare” will be his top priority!  We do not need a Governor who will fight against the Federal mandates, we need to have a Governor who will push to expand the program. After the verdict on ACA was announced President Obama said:

“If you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable. “

The ACA is not trying to take away your health care options or reduce your coverage.  If you are lucky enough to already have health insurance that is great.  You will only benefit from the ACA.  Ovide on the other hand wants to take that all away to allow the wealthy corporations to determine how much your costs will be and who is covered.  We would not have needed the ACA is insurance companies were already covering everyone and provide health care to the millions of Americans who could not afford it.

Who is Ovide really trying to help, the middle class or the wealthy corporations?

Together We Can Push Back Against School Vouchers (Bill Duncan)

An Update from Bill Duncan
Defending New Hampshire Public Education

The Legislature overrode Governor Lynch’s veto of the SB 372 version of the voucher bill on Wednesday.  This is a very bad bill aimed at dismantling public education in New Hampshire, but when you look back the the legislative session, you have to say the damage could have been worse.  Although several elements of education funding were cut, we avoided the worst damage, including an education funding amendment.  But then there’s the voucher bill.

Everywhere I go, everyone’s talking about it as a body blow to public education.  It could have been worse.  The bill started off last

Fall providing for $20 million in scholarships to 7,000 children regardless of income and ended up authorizing a little over $3 million in vouchers going to just over 1,000 low and moderate income kids.

But it still has no accountability and the program could grow quickly to the point where it would cause significant damage to public education state-wide.  So here’s what I plan to do:

Support the court challenge

The New Hampshire ACLU is committed to challenging the constitutionality of vouchers in New Hampshire on the basis that public money cannot go into religious education.  The timing and other details are not available yet but I would anticipate that there will be ways in which we will be able to support the important work of the ACLU.  Stay tuned.

Connect with the executive departments implementing the voucher program

The first students will receive vouchers in August of 2013 and leave public schools for private schools that September.  That’s when their schools will lose their state aid as well.  In the mean time, the Department of Education and the Department of Revenue Administration both play important roles setting up the program.

I would like to put together a little team of people – call it the Voucher Monitoring Team – who would help do this.  It will not be a big time investment but we will establish a relationship with the agency staff who will play a role in implementing the program.  It’s fun, really.  These are smart and committed people who are enjoyable to work with.

Our first priority will be to connect with the DRA staff who will write the regulations implementing the program if it survives court challenge. It will be important to ensure that sufficient information about the program is available to the public so that the program can be held accountable for both its financial integrity and its educational results.

Let me know if you would like to help on this.

Make the voucher plan an issue in the November election

The whole anti-public education agenda will be a heavy burden for Republican incumbents to explain (no Democrats voted these bills) if we make sure people know about it.  There are many other issues – right to work, women’s health, guns – but people really seem to take offense at the damage the Legislature tried to do to public education.

If my experience so far is any indication, the voucher plan will be an especially good clear issue to raise in the campaign this year as a symbol of the whole anti-public education agenda.  People understand it.  They know what they think about it.  And they sound willing to punish legislators who voted for it.

So I will continue to provide material about the voucher program and urge Defenders to write letters to the editor, ask questions in forums and in every other way make an issue of the voucher plan in the context of the whole anti-public education agenda.

If we do a good job at this, we could help elect a Legislature that, regardless of the exact party make-up, will be much more sensitive to the importance of supporting public education.

NH Labor News 6/30/12: Election Coverage, NH Immigration Problem, Keep Students Here, and more

Political Humor

NH doesn’t have immigration issue – NashuaTelegraph.com: “O’Brien told the New Hampshire Union Leader that New Hampshire especially needs such a law because it’s a border state, as is Arizona. He said the high-court decision gives the state “a road map” to Arizona-type legislation here.
Yes, the Granite State shares a 58-mile boundary with Canada, but at no time in memory has there been any proof that the border is porous and that New Hampshire is consequently burdened with illegal immigrant populations.”


David Shribman: Romney, Obama both confident of winning NH » Opinion » SalemNews.com, Salem, MA: “CHOCORUA, N.H. — And you thought the presidential politics story in New Hampshire ended six months ago.

That was only the frontispiece, an evocative landscape like the famous one — silvery lake, soaring mountain, still one of the most stunning roadside attractions in this state — that the artist Thomas Cole painted here in 1827. It turns out there will be far more to the Granite State political story than even Mitt Romney, winner of the Republican primary in January, could have contemplated.

These days, Romney, who served as governor in the neighboring state of Massachusetts and has a lakeside vacation house in Wolfeboro, a pleasant 40-minute drive from here, is running hard in New Hampshire again. So is Barack Obama, who took the state four Novembers ago.”


Tea Party Sees Ruling As New Rallying Cry | New Hampshire Public Radio: “Some of the earliest and most vocal opponents of President Obama’s health care law were members of the Tea Party. In fact, health care quickly became the issue fueling the rise of the movement.

Anger over the Affordable Care Act drove the Tea Party and Republicans to big gains in the 2010 elections, but since then the movement has seen its prominence and influence wane.

Now, Tea Party activists say the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law will reignite that original passion in time for this fall’s election.”


Grants aim to keep NH students in work force | New Hampshire NEWS02: “The new Stay Work Play Challenge Grant incentive program helps address this directly by showcasing New Hampshire employers who agree to contribute $8,000 to pay down college loans of newly hired graduates over the first four years of employment.

“The most essential business challenge is attracting and retaining the best talent,” said Gray Chynoweth, chief operating office at Dyn. “Typically New Hampshire businesses are put at a disadvantage because of the generally lower wages as opposed to metropolitan areas and the large amount of debt New Hampshire students tend to come out of school with. This program helps New Hampshire businesses compete for talent. Companies that don’t take advantage of this are missing a real opportunity.””


Republican Led House Refuses to Take Up Call Center Bill | Communications Workers of America: “Ron Collins, CWA’s Chief of Staff, said, “The House of Representatives faced a stark choice — side with American consumers’ security while revitalizing the job prospects of thousands of American workers or side with corporate America that is all too content to ship jobs overseas at any cost. It’s not surprising that today’s result broke along party lines and that most House Republicans sided with corporations like Bank of America, T-Mobile USA and Wells Fargo ahead of the best interests of the American public.”

The final vote was 238-178 against consideration of the bill. Joining the bill’s supporters was Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) Democrats who opposed the bill are Jason Altmire, Pa.; Dan Boren, Okla.; Jim Matheson, Utah; Kurt Schrader, Ore.; and Heath Shuler, N.C.

Seven Republicans and eight Democrats did not vote, including: Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Tim Holden (D-Pa.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), Jesse Jackson Jr., (D-Ill.), Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), and C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.).

“Now we have a recorded vote on this critical issue, and we know who chose to stand with U.S. workers over corporations that offshore our jobs. Our members will take this into account in the fall elections,” said Shane Larson, CWA Legislative Director.”

NH Labor 2012 Elections News 6/28/12: Bain In The North Country, Obamacare V. Romney, Setting Guinta Straight, and more

 

 

From AFL-CIO

Supreme Court gives state a choice | Concord Monitor: “Within minutes, Republicans, from Mitt Romney and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on down to New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne and House Speaker Bill O’Brien, announced their intent to repeal the law.

Health care will now vie with the economy as the top issue in the 2012 elections. Unless Romney becomes president, Republicans retain control of the House and win at least 60 seats in the Senate, any repeal effort will fail. It will also fail if more Americans come to understand that their lives will be more secure and their health care ultimately better and cheaper thanks to the reforms.”


N.H. Democrats applaud health-care ruling, GOP bemoans it » New Hampshire » EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA: “Predictably, the reactions in New Hampshire were split along party lines.

The two GOP gubernatorial candidates may both have been disappointed, but Ovide Lamontagne trended more to the right in his response.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is truly a disappointment and represents an infringement on the freedoms and liberty of every citizen in New Hampshire, and throughout our country,” he said. “The court ruling opens the door for continued federal intrusion into the lives of every American …””


New Hampshire Labor News | NH GOV: Jackie Cilley Comments on the US Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act: ““Today’s Supreme Court decision puts behind us the hysterical claims of the far-right and allows us to get to work making sure that the Affordable Care Act works for everyone in New Hampshire,” said Jackie Cilley. “As governor, I’m confident that I’ll be able to work with the legislature and our representatives in DC to make sure that all the ACA reforms, including Medicaid expansion, serve the citizens of New Hampshire.””


TheDartmouth.com: New Hampshire will remain key election state: “While the national political scene is buzzing about yesterday’s Supreme Court decision on the individual mandate in U.S. President Barack Obama’s health care law, New Hampshire itself is no stranger to a flurry of political activity. The historically contentious swing state continues to be a leading battleground for the upcoming presidential election, according to political analyses and major publications.
“New Hampshire is an important state every year with a lot of national attention,” Scott Tranchemontagne, spokesperson for Rep. Charlie Bass ’74, R-N.H., said. “It’s interesting because within the state, voters can be very easily split between Independents, Republicans and Democrats.””


Politico: GOP Poised to Win Races for Governor in NC, Washington, NH: “Republicans are in great shape to win November’s gubernatorial races in North Carolina, Washington, and New Hampshire, according to a Politico election analysis. The news service looks at the seven closest races in the country – Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia, and Montana in addition to the three above. “In six of the seven races, the Democrats are on defense,” Politico states. That includes all but West Virginia. Here’s how Politico sees North Carolina, Washington, and New Hampshire

The Republican front-runner Ovide Lamontagne is proving to be a fundraising juggernaut, besting not just his primary opponent Kevin Smith, but also the combined total of Democratic candidates Maggie Hassan and Jackie Cilley. The 55-year-old Lamontagne is making an issue of the 34-year-old Smith’s age. Lamontagne leads in polls for both the primary and general elections.”


Bain Capital casualty speaks locally against Romney: “GORHAM — An Indiana man who says his former employer fell victim to a Mitt Romney led Bain Capital toured the North Country on Wednesday on behalf of the Obama re-election campaign. Randy Johnson, a worker laid-off by Bain Capital from his job at American Pad and Paper (Ampad) in Marion, Indiana, in the mid-1990s, shared his personal take on Romney-economics in Littleton, Gorham, Conway, Laconia and Plymouth.

Meeting with a small crowd at the Gorham Public Library on June 27, Johnson explained why he believed it was important to tell his story. The small group of just under a dozen people listened as John son related his tale, outlining the corporate takeover, changes in leadership that included installing Bain directors on the Ampad board of directors while keeping the companies separate, and then the downsizing that followed. He said that even after the downsizing, when Ampad was making a profit, Bain — as a separate entity — charged so many fees to the company for services it was providing and mismanaged the assets in such a way as to accumulate substantial debt on behalf of Ampad. The company eventually went bankrupt and the people all lost their jobs. “It was a plan to bankrupt that company and make big profits,” Johnson asserted, alleging that while his coworkers found themselves unemployed, Romney as CEO had made $100 million for his investors on stock offering while running up $400 million in debt to bankrupt Ampad. “That’s the kind of investment Bain Capital did,” he said.”


The Real Winners – NYTimes.com: “In short, unless you belong to that tiny class of wealthy Americans who are insulated and isolated from the realities of most people’s lives, the winners from that Supreme Court decision are your friends, your relatives, the people you work with — and, very likely, you. For almost all of us stand to benefit from making America a kinder and more decent society.

But what about the cost? Put it this way: the budget office’s estimate of the cost over the next decade of Obamacare’s “coverage provisions” — basically, the subsidies needed to make insurance affordable for all — is about only a third of the cost of the tax cuts, overwhelmingly favoring the wealthy, that Mitt Romney is proposing over the same period. True, Mr. Romney says that he would offset that cost, but he has failed to provide any plausible explanation of how he’d do that. The Affordable Care Act, by contrast, is fully paid for, with an explicit combination of tax increases and spending cuts elsewhere.”


Polls: Tight races in North Carolina and New Hampshire; Michigan emerging as GOP target – The Washington Post: “President Obama and Mitt Romney are locked in tight races in three key states — Michigan, New Hampshire and North Carolina — according to new polling from NBC News and Marist College.

The three state-specific polls show Obama and Romney tied at 45 percent in New Hampshire, with Obama holding a small lead in the other two states. He leads 47 percent to 43 percent in Michigan and 46 percent to 44 percent in North Carolina.

The New Hampshire poll suggests Romney would gain nothing in the state if he selects the state’s junior senator, Kelly Ayotte, as his running mate. He trails 45 percent to 43 percent in a matchup that includes Ayotte and Vice President Joe Biden on their respective tickets.”


Facts expose Guinta on red-tape mantra – NashuaTelegraph.com: “n his recent e-newsletter, he claims that “onerous federal regulation” stifles economic growth and job creation “all too often.” To showcase his tale, he hosted a so-called “Red Tape Forum” in Manchester.
It’s a nice story. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps records that clearly reveal the culprit in layoff events and separations – business demand.
Regulation caused less than half of 1 percent of job losses (2008-10), while low business demand caused 34.1 percent (2008), 39.1 percent (2009) and 30.6 percent (2010), according to the bureau.
Sixty-one economists surveyed by the Wall St. Journal in July 2011 blamed weak hiring on lack of demand.”

AFT-NH RETIREMENT UPDATE—WHERE WE ARE!


AFT-NH
RETIREMENT UPDATE—WHERE WE ARE!

JUNE 29, 2012

Below is where we stand on the legislative attacks on your pension. Sixteen (16) bills were filed but only four (4) became law. There were sweeping changes proposed but we were able to come through this session with pushing back on the major changes proposed. This was in large part due to your consistent efforts in contacting your legislators.  Thank you for your great work this session!

However, we are still battling changes from last year’s session in the Courts with our partners on the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition and we will keep you informed as to any developments on the legal front.  The wheels of justice grind slowly.

Please keep in mind that all of these bills will come back if we are not vigilant and know where the candidates stand on protecting your pension.

Ask the following questions when speaking with candidates between now and November:

  • Do they support and would they vote to provide an annual COLA (cost of living adjustment) for retirees of the NH Retirement system?
  • Would they vote to retain the current structure of the NH Retirement System as a defined benefit program as opposed to a defined contribution (401-k type) plan?
  • Would they oppose any legislation that changes or reduce current benefits for public employees’ in the NH Retirement system?

Keep in mind that AFT-NH supports efforts to maintain a defined benefit pension provided by the New Hampshire Retirement System for retired public employees and to ensure the long-term viability of the plan for current and future public employees.  These benefits are essential tools for recruiting and retaining a skilled and qualified workforce—educators, police, fire fighters, and other essential public servants—to provide vital services in the citizens of New Hampshire.

We are committed to working with others and to return common sense to the current debate on restoring the financial footing of the retirement system.  The retirement system is not in crisis and a deliberative, factual and data driven approach must be used when exploring how to adequately fund and maintain the NHRS for retirees, current employees and future public servants.

HERE IS A SUMMARY OF THE RETIREMENT BILLS THAT BECAME LAW

SB230 -FN Title: relative to the calculation of average final compensation for certain retirement system members.

The New Hampshire Retirement System states this bill includes a technical correction to the definition of average final compensation. The clarification relates to members who were hired on or after July 1, 2011 and members who were not vested prior to January 1, 2012. The System states as this bill only clarifies changes made in the 2011 session, there will be no fiscal impact.

This bill modifies RSA 100-A:1, XVIII(b) to reflect the intent of the 2011 Legislature regarding the calculation of Average Final Compensation (AFC) for members not vested prior to Jan. 1, 2012. The bill changes the “compensation over base pay” factor used in the AFC formula from a dollar average to a percentage average.

SB244 -FN Title: relative to the administration of the New Hampshire retirement system.

This bill amends various sections of RSA 100-A, including several technical corrections related to changes enacted in House Bill 2. These corrections are:

 

  • Clarifies the date from which NHRS must begin calculating a 7-year average of Extra or Special Duty Pay (ESDP) for Group II (Police and Fire) members vested prior to Jan. 1, 2012. This change excludes from the calculation any months prior to July 1, 2009, which is when ESDP began to be separately reported to NHRS.
  • Clarifies the number of years of creditable service Group II (Police and Fire) members in service prior to July 1, 2011, but not vested prior to Jan. 1, 2012, must have in order to qualify for the supplemental disability benefit available to eligible Accidental Disability retirees.
  • Changes the annual effective date of changes to the member interest rate from a fiscal year to a calendar year.
  • Clarifies the definition of “compensation over base pay” for members not vested prior to Jan. 1, 2012.
  • Clarifies that the maximum benefit limit for members hired before July 1, 2009, is 100% of Earnable Compensation and the maximum benefit limit for members hired after that date, and not vested by Jan. 1, 2012, is the lesser of 85% of AFC or $120,000 per year.
  • In addition the bill modifies the definition of “part-time” for NHRS retirees employed by NHRS-participating employers. The modification limits retirees to a maximum total of 32 hours per week, regardless of whether they work for one or more employers and regardless of whether some of the hours are in a Group I position and some of the hours are in a Group II position.
  • Lastly, the bill changes the date by which NHRS Trustees must approve the retirement system’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report from Dec.1 to Dec. 31 of each year.

HB1483 -FN Title: (New Title) repealing the retirement system special account and repealing the assessments for excess benefits paid by employers in the retirement system.

This bill repeals the NHRS Special Account and removes all references to the Special Account contained in RSA 100-A. The specific sections repealed are: RSA 100-A:53, II; RSA 100-A:53-e, II; RSA 100-A:16, II(h); and RSA 100-A:16, II(j). Due to previous legislation enacted in 2011, the Special Account balance would have been $0 as of July 1, 2012.

  • Keep in mind that AFT-NH opposed the repeal of the special account. Remember, this is where COLA’s have come from in the past.  With the repeal of this account, there will be no mechanism to grant COLA’s to our retirees. If this passes, then retirees will have to fight for COLA’s to come from the state general account. Since the Legislature already stole over $250 million from the Special Account, I cannot imagine they will put money in for COLA’s. This would certainly be a challenge for future legislatures.

This bill also repeals the employer “spiking” assessment (RSA 100-A:16, III-a). This assessment had been scheduled to take effect July 1, 2012.

  • AFT-NH supports this section of the bill. This would repeal the so called “spiking” formula. This is the formula that they have had seven years to fix and they have not been able to do so.
    • This was the issue if your pension went over 125% of base pay then the district or town would have to pick up the extra cost of the pension. In many places, this was an extra cost of over $200,000.

SB83 -FN Title: (New Title) enabling municipalities and school districts to create other post-employment benefits (OPEB) trusts.

  • This bill enables municipalities and school districts to create other post-employment benefits (OPEB) trusts provided that the actuarial liability for the benefit was created on or before January 1, 2012.
  • These funds shall be held in trust for the exclusive benefit of retirees and their beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the plans or programs providing other post-employment benefits.

THE FOLLOWING BILLS WERE DEFEATED

HB227 -FN Title: relative to the membership of the retirement system board of trustees.
INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE

HB265 -FN Title: redefining earnable compensation in the retirement system for new and non-vested members in service.
INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE

HB460 -FN Title: relative to the retirement age for group II members.
INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE

HB463 -FN Title: relative to the retirement system maximum initial benefit limitation.
INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE

HB465 -FN Title: relative to the number of years for calculating average final compensation for retirement system benefits.
INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE

HB654 -FN-L Title: relative to credit for retirement system employer contribution overpayments.
INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE

HB1306 -FN-L Title: (New Title) requiring a report on part-time employment of retired members of the retirement system.
INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE

HB1460 Title: (New Title) establishing a defined contribution retirement plan for public employees.
LAID ON TABLE

SB228 -FN-L Title: repealing the assessments for excess benefits paid by employers in the retirement system.
NONCONCURRED

SB229 -FN Title: (2nd New Title) establishing a commission to make recommendations on whether the New Hampshire retirement system should be replaced with a defined contribution plan for all new hires and to study the impact such change would have on the retirement system.
NOT SIGNED OFF–DEFEATED

SB246 -FN  Title: relative to the calculation of employer assessments for excess retirement system benefits.
INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE

SB249 -FN Title: requiring a request for proposals for the administration and management of the New Hampshire retirement system.
INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE

Keep in mind that it is very important that you stay informed, so please sign up for get active at www.aft-nh.org and visit us on Facebook at AFT-New Hampshire. By doing these two simple things, you know you will always receive the latest news!

Thank You!
In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

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