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About Matt Murray

Matt Murray is the creator and an author on the NH Labor News. He is a union member and advocate for labor and progressive politics. He also works with other unions and members to help spread our message. Follow him on Twitter @NHLabor_News

Republicans Are Not The Only One Who Want To Protect Their Freedoms

Screen shot CSPAN

Former NH Speaker Bill O’Brien is taking his extreme agenda on the road to South Carolina this week. Speaking at the South Carolina Freedom Summit, O’Brien openly mocked his own party and their choice for a Presidential nominee.

VIDEO

The fun began as O’Brien told the crowd that he is the “Republican Leader” in the NH House of Representatives. I am sure that the Republican leadership in the NH House would beg to differ. (For those who may not know, O’Brien and his fellow “TEA Party Patriots” formed their own Republican caucus and named O’Brien as their leader.)

O’Brien was there to push for a Conservative candidate (unnamed in this event, but locally reported that O’Brien is supporting Sen. Ted Cruz) who will hold true to their Conservative principles. As O’Brien laid it out: limited government, free markets, “stopping the governments war on religion,” unalienable right of self protection, “the rights of children born and unborn,” and personal sovereignty.

“Over the years I have heard the establishment party and the liberal media tell us who we should be voting for,” said O’Brien. “The establishment and the liberal media telling us to nominate a moderate so he can win and ends up with that moderate loosing because he cannot draw any significant distinction between himself and the liberal parties candidate.”
Obviously O’Brien was not happy with Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee for President.

O’Brien went on to say, “We win when we directly and unapologetically present our philosophy of liberty unimpeded by big government and founded on individual sovereignty, and we loose when we nominate RINOs (Republicans in name only).”

First of all I think it should be known that Republicans are not the only ones who want “personal sovereignty.”

Democrats are also pushing for more “personal sovereignty“ and less government involvement in their personal lives.

We want the government, and the Republican Party, to keep their laws out of a women’s uterus. A woman should be able to choose if she wants to terminate her pregnancy for the reasons her and her doctor have discussed.  Republicans across the country have been hard at work to strip women of their reproductive rights and force them to have unnecessary medical procedures and in some extreme cases be forced to listen to lies about abortions and the effects of having an abortion.

The freedom to choose has been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States since Roe v Wade over forty years ago. Yet every year, Republican led legislatures, like New Hampshire push some type of fetal personhood law to take away a women’s freedom to choose. They pass laws that force health clinics to close, and force women to drive for hundreds of miles to have a safe and legal medical procedure.

What about the freedom to marry? Shouldn’t people have the personal freedom to marry whoever they choose? The Supreme Court will soon issue a ruling as to whether it is constitutional or not that a state can pass laws discriminating gay and lesbian couples from getting married.

What about “Freedom of Religion.” O’Brien says there is a “war on religion,” and to some extent he is right. There is a war by the religious evangelical right to force their religious beliefs on the rest of the country.

What about those who do not believe in any religion, should they be forced to abide by the religious beliefs of the evangelical right wingers?

What about those who already have a strong foundation in their own faith, like Muslim, Jewish, and Wiccan? Do they not have the same person freedoms guaranteed to them by the Constitution to practice whatever religion they choose?

There is a separation between Church and State for a reason, yet these same O’Brien led Republicans are trying to force their religion on us through the government. Way to uphold our Constitution.

They hypocrisy is astounding. Screaming personal freedom yet actively stripping away the freedoms and rights of millions of Americans. The Republican Party is tearing itself apart — which is fine by me – because the radical right wing of the party is attacking the more reasonable and moderate Republicans.

It is fun to watch the O’Brien bad-mouth his own party for nominating moderates. If the “moderate” Republican candidate like Romney was still too extreme for main-stream Americans, then what real chance does a fringe candidate like Sen. Ted Cruz, or Dr. Ben Carson really have in general election?

Get the popcorn, because this show is only beginning!

How Ironic, President Obama Pushes For The TPP at NIKE Headquarters

1naftaThe heated debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership just got a little hotter and a little weirder.

Yesterday President Obama went to NIKE headquarters in Oregon to push for the “Fast Track” authority to finalized the TPP.

Politico summarized his speech in their article, President Obama on trade deal: ‘Let’s just do it’, and posted this video.

President Obama pushing for his flagship trade agreement at the headquarters of one of the largest abusers of cheap foreign labor is more than ironic.  Rachel Maddow said, “It’s like going to approve the Keystone pipeline at the site of an oil spill.”

Politico reported: “Nike pledged earlier Friday that it would create 10,000 jobs over the next decade if the trade deal passes, a small part of the global company’s more than 1 million contract factory workers, most of which are based in Asian countries.”

Yea, 10,000 jobs but how many new jobs will Nike create in foreign factories thanks to the TPP?

The major issue with the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not that we do not want to have fair trade with these countries, it is that we as American workers want to know that the TPP will level the playing field not encourage more offshoring of US jobs.

stop-fast-track-rally-press-conference-fast-track-1Another major sticking point in this agreement is the lack of transparency.  The entire agreement is being negotiated in secret.  The White House is assuring us that this agreement will help American workers and force better wages and labor conditions overseas.

We need our elected leaders to stand up and be the representatives we elected them to be.  I recommend you call at tell them how you feel about the TPP and the Fast Track legislation at 1-855-712-8441.

I reached out to my Senator’s office through the press connections I have made.  I asked if Senator Shaheen supports the Fast Track legislation and the TPP as a whole?

“Senator Shaheen plans to carefully review the final Trade Promotion Authority legislation as it makes its way through the committee process in the coming months,” said Senator Shaheen’s Deputy Press Secretary, Nick Brown.

I asked the same of Congresswoman Annie Kuster’s office.  Her press secretary Rosie Hilmer responded with some more a more promising response. “

“Congresswoman Kuster has raised concerns with draft legislation to grant the President trade promotion authority, also known as fast-track authority, and there are ongoing efforts to change and improve this legislation.”

“Congresswoman Kuster supports fair trade policies that protect U.S. jobs and reflect American values.  She believes Congress must play a leading role in setting our nation’s trade agenda, and she has raised concerns with the flawed process that has been used to pass earlier trade agreements.  She continues to have concerns about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership could affect Granite State workers and, as Congress debates these issues, she will continue to advocate for Granite State priorities and will judge any trade legislation by its impact on New Hampshire.”

We need to keep pressuring all of our elected leaders and make your voices heard.  We want good paying American jobs, not more false promises of mythical jobs that come from these trade agreements.

CALL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND YOUR SENATORS AT 1-855-712-8441.

For more information on the TPP and Fast Track go to StopTheTPP.org and watch this short video from Robert Reich

Senator Bernie Sanders Rallies The Crowd At The NH AFL-CIO Convention (VIDEO)

Senator Sanders North Conway NH

Here it is the video you have all been waiting for, Senator Bernie Sanders just after announcing he official campaign for President addresses the delegates and friends of the NH AFL-CIO 2015 Convention in North Conway, New Hampshire.

If you already know who Senator Bernie Sanders is, then watch this video and you will fall in love with him all over again.

If you do not know who Senator Bernie Sanders is, then watch this video and see what his vision is for America.

  • A vision where healthcare is a right and everyone has quality healthcare provided to them
  • A vision where our children get a good high quality education and can get a college education without being saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.
  • A vsion where a single mother does not need to get food stamps to feed her son even though she already works full time.  Where workers are paid a living wage of $15 an hour minimum.
  • A vision where the government listens to the scientific community and starts to reverse the effects of global warming and leaving our planet better for our children and grandchildren
  • A vision where corporations pay their fair share in taxes and are no longer allowed to hide their profits in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes.
  • A vision where a secretary does not have to pay a higher rate in her taxes than the CEO of the corporation she works for.
  • A vision where American workers are put first and corporate profits are put second.  Where Americans are buying American made goods.  Where American corporations are investing in the future of America by building new manufacturing facilities here in the USA.

Senator Sanders also spoke at length about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the disastrous effects that NAFTA and previous trade agreements have had on American workers.

The speech is a little over 30 minutes long, but I promise you will hardly notice once Bernie starts rolling!

(Video Link: https://youtu.be/BNejWoktsOs)

Democrats In Washington Push For $12 Minimum Wage By 2020 and Receive Praise From Labor

12 by 2020 (Patty Murray)

Bill introduction by Sen. Patty Murray. Image from Sen Patty Murray on Twitter.

(WASHINGTON, DC) –  “We are introducing this bill because we believe hard work should pay off,” said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) as she introduced a bold new plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour by the year 2020. “Let’s help more families make ends meet, expand economic opportunity, and grow our economy from the middle out.”  A matching House bill was introduced by Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.).

According to Economic Policy Institute analysis, “37.7 million workers would benefit from this increase, including 21.1 million women. 37 percent of African American workers and 40 percent of Hispanic workers would receive wage increases. 90 percent of workers who would be affected by the Raise the Wage Act are 20 years old or older, 27.6 percent have children, and half have total family incomes of less than $40,000 a year. 47 percent of workers who would be affected by the Raise the Wage Act have at least some college experience. Over the last 40 years, the federal minimum wage has lost more than 30 percent of its buying power; if it had kept pace with the increased cost of living, the minimum wage would currently be $10.80 per hour.”

After the bill was introduced, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement:

“Today’s introduction of new minimum wage legislation represents significant progress in the powerful, collective movement to raise wages. It’s inspiring to see the momentum generated by working people across the country influence some of the largest corporations and the most powerful political forces.

Raising wages for working people is the defining issue of our time and workers are capturing and expanding it. While we strongly encourage Congress to support this effort, we must remember that a minimum wage increase alone will not remedy decades of failed policies that have only benefitted those at the very top. The true measure of progress must include opposing Fast Track and bad trade deals and a dedication to expanding the rights of workers to collectively bargain.”

In response to the new legislation, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, released the following statement:

“The Raise the Wage Act would boost our economy and strengthen our families. This bill would raise wages for more than 37 million people: 1 in 4 workers, 1 in 3 wage-earning women and more than 1 in 3 working people of color. Higher wages will help ensure that no one who works full time lives in poverty, and help working people provide a better life for their children and their families.

“This bill shows that working men and women, standing up and speaking out, are being heard. They’re taking their case to the streets and to the ballot box for an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.

“Low wages are the crisis of our time. To solve this crisis, our country needs a minimum wage that families can live on, and workers must be free to join together in a union and fight for the higher pay they deserve. I applaud Senator Murray  and Congressman Scott  for their leadership.”

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)  is an original cosponsor of the Raise the Wage Act, would increase wages for nearly thirty eight million Americans. The legislation would be particularly beneficial to New Hampshire, which does not have a state minimum wage law and instead relies on the current federal minimum wage.

“No one who is working full time should live in poverty,” Shaheen said. “Hard working people and families in New Hampshire and across the country are long overdue for a raise. Nationally, nearly two-thirds of minimum wage earners are women, and in New Hampshire seventy percent of minimum wage earners are women. I hope my colleagues in the Senate will join me in supporting the Raise the Wage Act so that we can help lift families out of poverty and improve our economy.”

Of course NH’s other Senator, Kelly Ayotte has opposed an increase in the minimum wage in the past.

“Kelly Ayotte has consistently voted against a minimum wage increase that would help working families make ends meet,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary (see references at the bottom)


. “Men and women who are willing to work hard for a living deserve a livable wage that doesn’t leave them and their families struggling, and Kelly Ayotte is going to have a hard time defending her callous votes against a minimum wage increase.”

Raising the federal minimum wage to $12.00 would result in an average annual raise of $2,800 for more than 147,000 Granite Staters. The Raise the Wage Act would put more than $411 million into New Hampshire worker’s pockets, improving financial security for families and boosting the economy.

The Raise the Wage Act would also index the minimum wage to the national median wage starting in 2021. It would also eliminate the tipped minimum wage by gradually raising the cash wage over ten years from the current $2.13 per hour to match to the new regular minimum wage of $12 per hour.

Almost everyone agrees that something needs to be done and that we must raise the minimum wage. The question is, is $12 by 2020 enough of a raise?

“We are encouraged to see that our elected leaders are beginning to hear our calls for change and discussing wages and inequality in our country,” said Sacramento Walmart worker Shannon Henderson. “While $12 by 2020 would be a good first step, it still falls short of what working Americans need to raise our families. At just $10 an hour with no guarantee of full-time hours, I’m struggling today to care for my two young children. I simply can’t wait until 2020 for a decent wage. That’s why we’ll keep standing up for $15 an hour and access to full-time consistent schedules at Walmart.”


2014: Ayotte Voted Against Bill To Increase The Federal Minimum Wage To $10.10. [Vote 117, 4/30/14]

  • Increasing The Federal Minimum Wage To $10.10 Would Have Meant A Raise For More Than 100k Workers In New Hampshire. Increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 would mean a raise for 113,000 New Hampshire workers. [Economic Policy Institute, 12/19/13]

2015: Ayotte Voted Against An Increase In The Minimum Wage. [Vote 93, 3/26/15]

Love Is Love: Supreme Court Hears Case That Could End Laws Banning Marriage Equality, GOP Continues To Oppose Equality

Image by Purple Sherbet Photography FLICKR

Image by Purple Sherbet Photography FLICKR

Like many of you, I have a close family member who is gay, my cousin Mark. I remember talking to him on the phone when we were both in college and he told me he was gay. Mark being gay has never been an issue to me or to most of my family.

I remember visiting Mark and meeting his partner Austin for the first time in California in summer of 2006. They were so happy together, living in San Francisco, and just enjoying their life together.   After being together for over five years, they were officially married in Massachusetts in 2008.

In 2010, Mark and Austin were given the opportunity to adopt to amazing boys, saving them from a broken home and a life in the foster care system. Mark and Austin are great parents and have helped their two boys grow up in a loving and caring household.

This is what a marriage is, true love between two people. Their love has built a strong family bond with their adopted sons. Above all else, love is love.

There is no doubt that I am a strong and outspoken supporter of marriage equality and the LGBT community. Last year I wrote a piece about how the labor movement helped to propel the equality movement. Unions were the first to push for benefits that would apply to gay and lesbian couples, and have been pushing for equality ever since.

Of course I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that legally, marriage is a contract between two people that triggers hundreds of spousal benefits. Benefits like being allowed to be on your spouse’s insurance plan, making healthcare decisions for your spouse in an emergency or collecting retirement benefits after a spouse passes away.

These are just a few of the simple benefits that married couples never think about, but those who are prohibited from a legal marriage, because the state does not recognize their union, must continue to fight for.

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court heard the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that could put an end to laws prohibiting marriage for lesbian and gay couples. This case is being touted the case that would force all states to adopt and recognize marriage equality.

“In America, every citizen has an inalienable right to equal protection under the law, and no one should be discriminated against simply because of whom they love,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH-02). “Today, the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on four cases that will help determine whether same-sex couples will be treated fairly in the eyes of the law. It’s time to uphold our American ideals for every citizen, and repeal discriminatory policies that prohibit some of our fellow country-men and women from accessing one of their rights as citizens of this country – the right to marry. I urge the Supreme Court to rule on the side of justice and equality for all, so we can ensure that every American, regardless of their sexual orientation, has that same legal right in every state across the country.”

“Far too many same-sex couples have lost out on the benefits granted through legal marriage. But if we continue to discriminate and refuse the right to marry to all same-sex couples, no matter what state they reside in, we are doing something much worse. We are telling millions that their love is invalid. That is not what our nation is about,” stated Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA-41), one of only seven openly gay Members of Congress.

“By ruling in favor of marriage equality, the Justices would confirm what millions already know – that a person’s gender or sexual orientation does not matter when it comes to marriage. All that matters is what is in one’s heart. However, I encourage them to go one step further and do as Supreme Court Justices of years past have done in landmark cases, and return with a unanimous decision. Doing so would not only keep the court on the right side of history, but it would help it maintain its legitimacy in the eyes of the American people,” concluded Takano.

It will be a few months before we hear what the Supreme Court has to say about this case, but until then we can only look at what our elected leaders are saying about marriage equality.

New Hampshire was a leader in the fight for marriage equality. Our legislature was the first to pass an equal marriage law. The fight for marriage equality was not easy. Wining over the hearts and mind of a large section of the population take time and dedication.

Now marriage equality is supported by over seventy-five percent of Granite Staters. This overwhelming support for marriage equality could play a role in choosing the next President of the United States.

There are currently between 18-23 potential Republicans all gunning for the chance to be the next GOP Presidential nominee. Where do they stand on marriage equality?

Just take a look at some the GOP’s opinions on the subject:

  • Rand Paul – same-sex unions marriages “offends myself and a lot of people”
  • Jeb Bush – “I believe in traditional marriage”
  • Bobby Jindal – “I’m holding firm against gay marriage”
  • Marco Rubio – “I believe marriage is between one man and one woman”
  • Chris Christie – “I am not a fan of same-sex marriage”
  • Scott Walker – “Our state passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman. I voted for it.”

“As the Supreme Court hears arguments for marriage equality today, the New Hampshire Democratic Party is proud to stand with ALL New Hampshire families because love is love,” said Ray Buckley, Chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “Granite Staters overwhelmingly support marriage equality, but the Republican candidates for President continue to stand on the side of discrimination. Their disgraceful attempts to pull us backwards won’t be successful in New Hampshire – it’s time they dropped their campaign against progress.”

These hopefuls will be leading the Republican Party nationally for the next year-and-a-half until the 2016 elections. If any of these men win, they would undoubtedly do everything within their power to reverse gains made by the equality movement.

I for one am determined, not to let that happen.

The NH Labor News Needs Your Support

NH Labor News QuotedAnother year has passed and as we begin the First in the Nation primary the New Hampshire Labor News is hard at work combating the anti-worker messaging stream that the Republicans are pushing in house parties and town halls in every corner of our state.

Every day I sift through hundreds of emails, news articles, blog posts and Facebook updates to help keep you informed about what is going on in that place where labor and politics collide.

Much of what I have learned about how the Internet works and how to shape our message, I have learned at conventions like Netroots Nation. Netroots Nation is an annual convention that brings in progressives from across the country to discuss, strategize, and continually improve our message. It is also an opportunity to meet and build relationships with fellow progressives to help our message spread even farther.

This is why I need you help!

Netroots Nation is not a free event, and the hotel costs alone will be close to $1,000 dollars. This is why I am asking you to help me win a scholarship to attend Netroots Nation for free thanks to generous donations from organizations like the AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, CWA, and Democracy for America.

All you need to do is click this link and vote for me.

I want to thank all of those who have already taken the 30 seconds to vote for me, but we still have more work to do.

As I write this, I am currently in 9th place and only the top five will receive a full ride scholarship to Netroots Nation. The scholarship contest is a test of your social reach. How effective is your messaging and how engaging are your social media followers. With hundreds of dedicated email followers and thousands of social media followers, I would easily be in the top five if everyone took 30 seconds to vote.

This is why it is so important for you to vote in this contest!

I also want to say that, I adore all of the fans of the NH Labor News. Every day I post articles and messages and I watch as YOU push that information to the far reaches of the Internet. It is YOU that makes what I do worthwhile.

Just like the work you advocating for working families, all of the work I do for the NH Labor News is voluntary. Once a year, I ask for your help to send me to Netroots Nation and to help offset the cost of running the NH Labor News. 

Use this PayPal button to make a donation
to help keep the NH Labor News running .




Every donation helps, and I am grateful for all the donations I have received in the past.

This year all of my fundraising efforts are going to pay for a much needed new computer. I have been using the same white Macbook for the better part of a decade and it has finally come to the point where I need to get a new one.

Will YOU help me get a new computer by
making a donation to the NH Labor News?

Lastly, I would like to remind you that Advertising on the NH Labor News is always available. We can work out a price that works for you and your organization and is the right type of advertising for your company or campaign.

Click here to read more about how to advertise on the Labor News.

As always, keep spreading the message. Together we can fight back against the attacks on working families!

In Solidarity,

Matt

Creator and Editor of the NH Labor News

Susan Strong Teaches Us How To Move Our Message By Speaking American

Has this ever happened to you?

You are sitting at a bar and on the TV there is a commercial for a politician that catches your eye and the eyes of the people sitting next to you.  After the commercial ends, you say something (positive or negative) about the politician under your breathe and the person next to you heard it?

EEK! What is going to happen now? Are they going to agree with you, or oppose you?  Will this spark a friendly conversation or will this be the last time you ever walk into this bar?

Has that ever happened to you?  How did it go?

My guess is that it probably went better than you expected because as people sit down and talk they can find a lot more common ground than their elected politicians who are out to push a personal agenda.  It is because we can use common everyday words to find ways to relate to each other.  We talk simplistically and use personal metaphors like “playing by the rules” and “fairness” to make our points.

Now how can we harness this realistic way of speaking to each other to help persuade people to find common ground on legislation and policies that will help to shape America’s future?

Susan Strong recently answered that exact question in a speech she gave at Ted Talks.  Listen to the way she explains, in the video below, how we can incorporate minor changes to the words we use in our speeches and our writing to inspire people and move our message.

I read Susan’s book “Move Our Message” a few years ago and since then I have shared it with dozens of my friends and co-bloggers.  Those of us who do a lot of communicating, but were never really trained as communicators, found the book to be extremely helpful in creating blog posts that really connect with people.

I highly recommend that everyone listen to what Susan is saying here, and then go get her book.  It is relatively inexpensive and worth ten times the price.

These ideas will help you when you’re testifying in front a legislators, writing a speech for a political rally, if you are running for office, or just talking to that person next to you at the bar, and even how to talk to your crazy uncle who only watches Fox News speaks like Rush Limbaugh.

Find common ground by speaking American.


From the Ted Talks YouTube description 

Susan Strong – A maetro of words teaches courses on message founded The Metaphor Project and shares voices her idea on How Speaking American Can Help Save America.

http://www.metaphorproject.org/

“We all share the ideal American identity story; it’s who we are when we’re at our best.”

Susan C. Strong created The Metaphor Project, to help empower American “can do” solutions to our problems. She believes that we are still one big American Family, and that we can get back to working together again the way we used to do. For decades she’s been teaching people how to talk to each other in ways everyone can hear, both in college settings and in everyday projects. In “How Speaking American Can Help Save America” you’ll discover that There is a deeper American truth than the bitter disagreements our media report so much. There really is one big American Family out there, alive in our grass roots. And starting there, we can find our way back to a country that works again.

What Is A “Fair Share Agreement” And Why Should I Pay It?

It is time to set the record straight as to what exactly “Fair Share” provisions are in union contracts. 

We have all heard it, we must pass Right To Work legislation to give workers freedom or some BS like that.  Many of them talk about “knowing a guy” who is forced to union dues even though he is not part of the union.  This story has been around for decades, and though it is already illegal to force someone to pay union dues, they continue to spread this lie as they push for these so-called Right To Work laws.

The fact is that many contracts, especially in the public sector, respect the rights of the worker and their choice to join, or not join, the union and have a negotiated agreement with the employer for what is know as a “fair share” agreement.   To people who many not be covered by a collective bargaining agreement in their workplace, this is a clause that basically means that if you benefit from the contract, ie work her under this agreement, then you must pay a fee to cover the costs of negotiating and administering the contract.  That is it.

Check out this amazing and funny video from AFSCME who explains “fair share” agreements in their own way.

The fact is we need more workplaces covered by union contracts.  Workers who are members of a union make hundreds of dollars a month more in take home pay, typically have healthcare and retirement options, and most importantly have a voice in their workplace.  They have protections from employers who would fire you for looking at them sideways.  The union continues to fight for you, the worker, when you become sick or injured on the job.  The fight for safer workplaces with better personal protection equipment and safety protocols.

I am proud to be a union member, and personally I cannot think of any good reason why you would not want to be in a union.  That being said, some people still choose not to be full union members but want the benefits that union representation provides.  This is why we have fair share agreements.  It is a way for those who do not want to pay union dues, to only pay for the administration of the collective bargaining agreement that covers them.

Being covered by a collective bargaining agreement will mean better pay, better benefits, and retirement security.  All things that every worker wants, but not every worker gets.

Over 5,000 Rally In Boston In The #FightFor15, Kicking Worldwide Day Of Action On Wages And Inequality

Massachusetts Kicked Off the Largest Ever
Global Mobilization of Underpaid Workers Protest on Six Continents;
Adjunct Professors, Home Care, Child Care, Transportation, Fast Food, Janitorial, and Walmart Workers to Rally Coast to Coast.

Thousands of underpaid workers frustrated by low wages rallied, walked out in strike, and marched throughout the city of Boston yesterday to call for higher wages and to kick off a global wave of protests against wage inequality. Two-and-a-half years ago Boston was one of the first cities in the Fight for $15 calling for higher wages for fast food workers.  The growing movement has spread across the country, and around the world, and now includes low wage workers from various occupations like home healthcare workers and adjunct professors. Boston became the launching point for the largest ever global mobilization of the underpaid when workers, students, and their supporters took to the streets on Tuesday.

(Time Lapse Video of March by @SEIU)

 

The two-and-half-year-old Fight for $15 has continued to grow on local college campuses as well.  Students from Boston University, Northeastern University, UMass-Boston, UMass-Amherst, Roxbury Community College, Harvard University, Emerson College, Tufts University, Clark University, Lesley University, Boston College, and Brandeis University joined with low wage workers to rally for higher wages.

 

College students are not the only ones who are feeling the pain of low wage jobs, many of the adjunct faculty at these colleges are paid just above minimum wage and are forced to live in poverty. In May of 2014 the Boston Globe reported:

“Nearly 15,000 contingent and adjunct faculty teach in greater Boston. Many work at multiple schools, trying to make enough to support themselves and their families on low pay with no benefits. All have advanced degrees, and many live at or below the poverty level.”

This is why adjunct professors from across the city joined the march and spoke out for higher wages. “We are supposed to be the college professors raising up the next generation,” said one adjunct professor in the video posted by Faculty Forward.

 

A recent Brookings Institution study shows that Boston is the third most inequitable city in the nation, with the top 5 percent of households earning 15 times what the bottom twenty make. Massive income disparity is badly hurting this country and on April 14, low wage workers and their allies will take action to address the growing wage inequality crisis.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts is leading the nation with three groundbreaking pieces of legislation intended to lift up low wage workers.

Home care workers bill

  • Provides $15 an hour to nearly 20,000 workers who provide home care to seniors and people with disabilities through “agency” home care employers.
  • Requires annual cost reporting from home care agencies, including detailed financial disclosures of executive compensation and overhead costs.

Fast food and big box retail workers bill

  • Requires big box retail and fast food corporations to pay their employees at least $15 an hour by 2018.
  • Applies to hourly wage workers at corporate fast food chains and Big Box stores over 25,000 square feet and with 200 or more employees in Massachusetts.

Tipped wage bill

  • Gradually eliminates the subminimum wage for tipped workers.
  • Mandates that after 2022, tipped employees would have the same hourly minimum wage as workers in all other industries in Massachusetts.

Following the global kick off event in Boston on April 14, protests will stretch around the globe the next day, with demonstrations expected in more than 200 U.S. cities, 100 international cities, in 40 countries, and on six continents, from Sao Paolo to Tokyo.  Follow the worldwide events on twitter at the #FightFor15 hashtag

Below are images from yesterday’s rally in Boston, provided by SEIU 1199 Massachusetts. All images were taken by Rose Lincoln, 1199SEIU.  More images and tweets of support for Massachusetts workers can be found on the #WageAction hashtag and on Youtube.

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NATCA’S Proven, Powerhouse Leadership Team, Will Continue To Lead NATCA For The Next Three Years

NATCA Convention 2010 (Micah Maziar (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0))

NATCA Convention 2010 (Micah Maziar (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0))

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert
to Serve Historic Third Term
 

Over the past twenty-seven years the National Air Traffic Controllers Association has grown to become one of the biggest power players in Washington D.C. NATCA was formed from the ashes of the PATCO strike, when President Ronald Reagan summarily fired over 12,000 air traffic controllers on August 3rd 1981.

The problems that the PATCO controllers talked about – safety, fatigue, and equipment failures – did not go away when the workers were terminated. A few years after that dreadful day, a new generation of controllers began to organize and eventually formed the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).

NATCA was officially certified as the sole representative for Federal air traffic controllers in an overwhelming election in 1987. Since that small and humble beginning, NATCA has grown to represent over 20,000 public and private air traffic controllers, as well as engineers and safety professionals who help make the National Airspace System the safest and most efficient in the world.

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi

NATCA President Paul Rinaldi

This week the National Air Traffic Controllers Association announced the reelection of President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert. They will be the first President and Executive Vice President in the history of NATCA to serve three terms in their respective positions. They ran for the third term unopposed.

“I am honored that the incredible professionals of NATCA give their full support for Executive Vice President Gilbert and me to represent them for another term,” said Rinaldi. “We look forward to continuing our work as their voices in Washington and around the world to enhance collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration and the aviation industry, and to advance the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System.”

“The opportunity to continue representing my NATCA brothers and sisters is a true privilege,” said Gilbert. “The dedication and passion they have for their professions and the system is unrivaled. Together, we have accomplished so much over the past six years; I’m eager to continue building on the work we’ve done and take NATCA and the National Airspace System to new heights.”

 

Labor Struggles Shape NATCA’s Future

Paul Rinaldi began his career as a controller at Dulles (IAD) Tower where he served as the Facility Representative and the Alternate Regional Vice President for the Eastern Region. Rinaldi’s diverse history in NATCA includes time as an Air Safety Investigator and arbitration advocate.

In 2006, Rinaldi was elected to the National Executive Board as NATCA’s Executive Vice President. At the time, NATCA was in a bitter labor dispute with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA and NATCA could not come to an agreement on their Collective Bargaining Agreement and the FAA unilaterally forced its “last best offer” on to the membership. These “imposed work rules” slashed the pay for newly hired controllers and sparked outrage by the membership.

These were tough times for NATCA members and it would take strong leadership from their then-President Patrick Forrey and his newly elected Executive Vice President Rinaldi. As push came to shove, and speaking became yelling, NATCA members banded together to fight the oppressive work rules. NATCA would later describe this “as the worst time in our union’s history.”

To overcome these “imposed work rules,” NATCA needed a legislative fix and leadership change from the White House down. At the time, Trish Gilbert was the chair of NATCA’s Legislative Committee. This very difficult but prestigious position was responsible for making NATCA’s issues known to the members of Congress.

NATCA had many friends on the Hill, both Republican and Democrat. Trish Gilbert and all of NATCA’s legislative team lobbied the members to help resolve this dispute. NATCA found help from the relatively unknown Junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.

In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama, spoke to NATCA members at their annual lobby week, NATCA in Washington.

 

Just prior to speaking at the NATCA in Washington event, Senator Obama co-sponsored bi-partisan legislation written by Senators Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and James M. Inhofe, R-Okla — The Federal Aviation Administration Fair Labor Management Dispute Resolution Act of 2006 — to block the FAA from imposing its work rules and require it to bargain in good faith with NATCA.

Though the bill failed to stop the FAA from imposing their “work rules,” Senator Obama solidified his relationship with NATCA and the 15,000 air traffic controllers it represents.

NATCA worked with other labor unions across the nation to help Senator Obama become President Obama.

On top of his other union obligations, (then-Executive Vice President) Rinaldi spend much of his time traveling the country, speaking directly to members about the importance of standing strong against the “imposed work rules” and the importance of electing a President who would stand with NATCA.

(Then-Senator Barack Obama Addresses NATCA members at their convention in 2008)

“President-elect Obama supported NATCA from the beginning in our long struggle for fair collective bargaining rights with the Federal Aviation Administration,” Patrick Forrey, then-President of NATCA wrote in a 2008 statement. “We were proud to support him and join with working men and women across the country to win this campaign.”

Shortly after taking office, President Obama directed the FAA to open negotiations with NATCA and resolve the three-year labor dispute. By the fall of 2009, NATCA and the FAA reached a tentative agreement that was ultimately ratified by the members.

In 2009, just after the agreement was ratified by the membership, NATCA President Forrey stated, “Today, the members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association overwhelmingly approved a collective bargaining agreement with the FAA. It is a testament to our membership that they have endured the worst time in our union’s history, working towards and holding out for a contract that was negotiated in a fair process and agreed to by the parties.”

“This would not have been possible without the support and commitment of the Obama Administration, key members of Congress and the AFL-CIO in providing a fair and transparent process,” Forrey said. “Now is the time to move forward and forge a working relationship that will stabilize the workforce, effectively train the large number of new hires and keep the current system safe and efficient while we transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System.”

 

A NEW ERA

Just prior to reaching an agreement with the FAA, Paul Rinaldi was elected President of NATCA and Trish Gilbert was elected Executive Vice President.

“I’m honored that my NATCA brothers and sisters have chosen me to represent them and am equal to the task. Throughout my career, I’ve made it my mission to further the goals of this union and I’m not stopping now,” said Rinaldi.

NATCA's Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert

NATCA’s Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert

Trish Gilbert was very well known throughout NATCA. Over her 21-year career, Gilbert was the Facility Representative at the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center, chaired NATCA’s National Legislative Committee from 2005-2009, chaired NATCA’s National Organizing Committee and was the NATCA Charitable Foundation’s Vice President, and then its President.

“I congratulate my colleague, friend and NATCA president-elect and am ready to work with him to move our organization to the next level,” said the newly elected Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert in 2009.

The new leadership team of Rinaldi & Gilbert faced both new and familiar challenges. For the three years prior to their taking office, the relationship between NATCA and the FAA was completely broken. Rinaldi and Gilbert led NATCA to a new era of mutual collaboration with the agency. They have made improving the working relationship between NATCA, the FAA and Department of Transportation a top priority. Efforts like the Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP), Professional Standards, and Partnership For Safety are a result of their focus on progress and safety. These processes have led to collaborative decisions on important issues involving airspace, procedures, technology, staffing and training while also raising NATCA’s leadership role and voice in the aviation industry.

 

Political Strife Results In NATCA’s Rise To Power In Washington

2013 would prove to be an especially difficult year for NATCA and its members, as NATCA began warning people about the possible effects the Sequester cuts could have on the National Airspace System and the flying public.

“Sequestration cut nearly $493 million from the FAA’s Operations budget, $142 million from its Facilities and Equipment budget, and $8.6 million from its Research, Engineering, and Development budget,” Rinaldi testified to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “These sequestration cuts were not the result of a research-driven strategy to increase safety and efficiency, but rather for the sole purpose of saving money.”

NATCA Stop the Furloughs“Today’s announcement from the FAA unfortunately confirms the concerns we have been warning about for months – sequestration will significantly and perhaps permanently undermine the capacity of the National Airspace System. The fact that they will not just be furloughing critical FAA personnel but closing air traffic control towers means the system will be even more compromised than anticipated,” said Rinaldi. “The National Air Traffic Controllers Association continues to urge the nation’s policy-makers to find a solution that prevents or mitigates the impact of sequestration in a way that does not diminish the world’s safest and most efficient national airspace system.”

As March 2013 approached, it became clear that the Sequester cuts were going to take effect, and they were going to be painful for the American public. NATCA produced its own report on exactly how the Sequestration cuts would affect the flying public, and explained how every air traffic controller would be forced to take between 11-22 furlough days – forced time off without pay – between March and the end of the fiscal year.

The forced furloughs would mean that at least 10% of the available controllers would be forced off without pay on any given day. The Department of Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, and NATCA warned that this would mean immediate and significant delays throughout the National Airspace System.

NATCA, under the strong leadership of Rinaldi and Gilbert, tried to overturn these disastrous cuts. NATCA worked with legislators from both sides of the political aisle to pass legislation to stop the controller furloughs.

Like many things in life, sometimes you have to lose something to realize how much you really needed it. This was the case with Congress as air traffic controllers were furloughed in April of 2013.

“After just two days of furloughs for air traffic controllers, more than 10,000 flights have been delayed and more than 600 canceled,” wrote the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. “This is no way to run the world’s safest, most efficient national airspace system. Controllers continue to do their best every day to keep the system running. It’s time policymakers show the same amount of effort and dedication.”

Within three days, a bill was put on the floor of the House to end the controller furloughs. Within one week the FAA Furlough Bill was signed into law and controllers returned to work. It clearly showed the importance of the air traffic system and the political might of NATCA.

“Thanks to the action taken this week in Congress, they will be able to return to work full time,” NATCA said. “We applaud the bipartisan nature of the votes and look forward to working closely with the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure the newly granted flexibility is exercised in a way that maintains our national airspace system’s status as the safest and most efficient in the world.”

As 2013 continued, it became more and more obvious that House and Senate were never going to agree on a federal budget. Without a budget the government was forced to shutdown on October 1st. NATCA President Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Gilbert worked with Congress and informed the public of the dire effects on the air traffic system if Congress did not act to end the government shutdown.

“It is unacceptable that thousands of our aviation safety professionals have been forced to stay home due to partisan posturing in Congress,” said Rinaldi. “I implore Congress to reach an agreement to end this shutdown, which is hurtful to our nation’s aviation system, our economy and the American people.”

Image From NATCA

Image From NATCA

15,000 air traffic controllers were forced to go into work without knowing if they would be paid for their work.

“There are grave repercussions as a result of the shutdown on all aspects of the system,” said Rinaldi. “There are real people suffering real consequences as a result of this shutdown. The only way to restore the aviation system to full staffing and speed is to end it right away. This is an increasingly difficult situation that will only worsen as it drags on. The shutdown must be stopped immediately.”

NATCA was not alone in the fight to protect the National Airspace System from the government shutdown. NATCA partnered with unions and aviation advocacy groups calling for an end to the government shutdown.

It took two full weeks before the political winds shifted and the government reopened. NATCA began to make a call for a more stable form of funding, to avoid these problems in the future.

“Sequestration, the shutdown and the uncertainty they have wrought have disrupted flight schedules, peeled away layers of safety redundancies and threatened our ability to maintain fully staffed and trained workforces,” NATCA wrote.

It is clear to see why Paul Rinaldi, Trish Gilbert, and NATCA are helping to shape policies that affect not only the National Airspace System but all of labor as a whole.

At the AFL-CIO 2013 Convention, Rinaldi was elected as a vice president of the labor federation’s Executive Council. Rinaldi also serves as a union representative on the FAA National Labor-Management Forum, a group whose formation was mandated by a presidential executive order to improve labor relations within the federal government.

 

Looking Forward

As Rinaldi and Gilbert begin their historic third term they are facing some significant and pressing political issues. With the Republicans regaining control of the Senate and retaining their control in the House, the attacks on federal workers have already begun.

NATCA continues to call for a more stable funding process, one that will not be affected by the shifting political winds. President Rinaldi testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation. Rinaldi delivered his remarks during a hearing about the upcoming Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization process and options for FAA air traffic control reform.

“NATCA looks forward to working with Congress and other stakeholders to determine a solution that protects air traffic control and secures it for future growth,” said Rinaldi.

Now the entire government is facing deeper cuts due to the Sequester beginning again in this October. This is compounded by the cuts proposed by the House and Senate budgets that would force workers to pay more for benefits, push workers into a new retirement system, hinder the FAA from continuing their modernization efforts and would put addition strain on the workforce.

“End sequester,” Rinaldi said. “It is not conducive to modernizing our system, running our day-to-day operations, and growing aviation, which is an economic engine. We need a predictable funding system so that we can enhance the NAS and continue to be the world leader.”

It will take strong leadership and strong political influence to overcome the issues facing NATCA in the near future. NATCA clearly has both.

 

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