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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

End Child Abuse In The Name Of “Therapy”

‘The Plight of the Transgender’
Image by Rose Morelli, www.facebook.com/Rosemorelliphotography

This coming week the New Hampshire State Senate will debate and ultimately vote on a bill to prohibit “conversion therapy” to change a person’s gender presentation or identity for children under 18.

New Hampshire looks to join the five states and the District of Columbia that have already banned conversion therapy on minors.

“No child should be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or should somehow conform to be like everybody else. That is the antithesis of freedom and human dignity,” said Senator Fuller Clark, prime sponsor of SB 224.

“Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that is aimed at young people in order to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This harmful practice uses shame, rejection, and psychological abuse and can lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and even suicide,” the Senator added.

“It is not therapy but child abuse that can lead to suicide; and should be illegal,” said Mo Baxley, Former Executive Director of New Hampshire Freedom To Marry.

Conversion therapy is highly controversial due to the unproven tactics and the fact it has continually been deemed as ineffective.

“Research suggests the treatment can worsen feelings of self-hatred and anxiety, because it encourages people to fight or hate a sexual orientation that can’t be changed [5 Surprising Facts About Gay Conversion Therapy],” wrote Tia Ghose for LiveScience.

Ghose goes on to describe the practice of conversion therapy as “a method reminiscent of the one used in ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ In aversion therapy, gay people were exposed to a negative stimulus (such as being shocked, given nausea drugs or imagining such exposures) while viewing same-sex erotic material.”

Conversion Therapy has not been proven to “convert” people but is actually harmful to “patients.”

American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry wrote in their 2012 study, Practice Parameter on Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Orientation, Gender Nonconformity, and Gender Discordance in Children and Adolescents:

“Clinicians should be aware that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful. There is no empirical evidence adult homosexuality can be prevented if gender nonconforming children are influenced to be more gender conforming. Indeed, there is no medically valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality, which is not an illness. On the contrary, such efforts may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts. Given that there is no evidence that efforts to alter sexual orientation are effective, beneficial or necessary, and the possibility that they carry the risk of significant harm, such interventions are contraindicated.”

“There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of “reparative therapy” as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation,” stated the American Psychiatric Association in a 1997 study. They go on to say, “The potential risks of “reparative therapy” are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

The Human Rights Coalition cites at least a dozen other organizations that show “conversion” or “reparative” therapy does not work and can cause more harm to young adults.

“People who have gone through conversion therapy face 8.9 times the rates of suicide ideation, face depression at 5.9 times the rate of their peers and are three times more likely to use illegal drugs and be at high risk for sexually transmitted infections,” wrote Zach Stafford in the Guardian.

It is time to end this inhumane practice, especially on children. This bill will be heard in the NH Senate this Thursday, Feb 23rd. Contact your State Senator and tell them you want them to support SB 224, a ban on conversion therapy in NH.

Right To Work Goes Down In The NH House, New Hampshire Labor Rejoices

To the great “disappointment” of Governor Sununu, SB 11, the so-called “Right to Work” for less bill, goes down in flames.  By a bi-partisan vote of 200 to 177 the members of the NH House voted to kill the bill.  “I am deeply disappointed today by the House’s failure to pass Right to Work,” stated Governor Chris Sununu.

“Today’s vote was a confirmation of what we determined in the House Labor Committee, where Democrats and Republicans worked together to recommend defeat of so-called ‘right to work,’” said Representative Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey), the Ranking Democrat on the House Labor Committee. “With a strong economy and the lowest unemployment rate in America, legislation that reduces wages and interferes with the employer/employee relationship is the last thing our state needs.  I am very pleased that the full House agreed with the bipartisan Labor Committee recommendation, and that we can finally put this issue behind us.”

“Today a bi-partisan majority confirmed that ‘Right to Work’ is still wrong for New Hampshire, and this vote should be the final nail in the coffin,” said NH AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett. “Across the Granite State, working people stood together against this corporate-backed legislation that would cripple our ability to speak up on job. We thank the legislators who let workers’ voices rise above special interests’.” 

AFT-NH, that represents 4,000 teachers, school support staff, city and town employees, police officers, library employees, and higher education faculty, was “extremely pleased” with Right to Work’s defeat.

“We are extremely pleased that the NH House defeated Right to Work by a 200-177 vote today,” said Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “The defeat of this bill was the result of cooperation across party lines and hard work by our members, fellow union brothers and sisters in the labor movement and community allies. The actions by the NH House today puts to bed this divisive legislation for at least another 2 years. We thank legislators who stood with working families.”

NEA-NH, the state’s largest public employee union, representing over 17,000 members, praised the vote.

“Educators’ working conditions are our child’s learning conditions,” said Megan Tuttle acting NEA-NH President. “By weakening the ability of educators to advocate for students, kids across New Hampshire stood to lose things like smaller class sizes, safe classrooms and drinking water, up-to-date resources, and expanded curriculum choices. Our ability to advocate for every public-school student was preserved today.”

“When out-of-state interests with pre-written legislation and lots of money try to set legislative priorities in New Hampshire, kids lose. Today’s vote prevented that from happening.”

“The 17,000 members of NEA-New Hampshire extend our thanks to those voting against SB11 today, especially those members who stood strong against the pressure applied by the majority leadership on this issue. Their resolve helped ensure that kids and educators across the state will continue to have a strong voice,” concluded Tuttle. 

Richard Gulla, President of the NH State Employees Association was “proud” of the legislators who stood with working families.

“Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted SB 11 Inexpedient to Legislate. We are proud of the legislators for standing with Granite State workers today and putting the so-called Right to Work bill behind us, where it belongs. The New Hampshire House recognized that there was no constituency supporting this legislation and proved out-of-state special interests have no place in our politics. It took courage to stand against the constant stream of pressure from outside funding – and Granite State families can now celebrate this accomplishment.”

“We are incredibly grateful to our elected officials for continuing to stand up for what is important. We look forward to working with Governor Sununu and the legislature to continue helping New Hampshire families,” Gulla added. 

Democrats also rejoiced as Sununu’s highest priority piece of legislation was defeated.

“New Hampshire proved once again that it’s a friend to workers’ rights. Despite Governor Sununu and NHGOP Chair Forrester’s brazen attempts, Republicans and Democrats in the State House stood together and made clear that this issue is above partisan politics,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckey. 

“Today’s defeat of the so-called Right to Work for Less legislation is a great victory for New Hampshire’s working families,” said Jeff Woodburn, NH Senate Minority Leader.  “Right to Work for Less makes it harder for people to earn a living, harder for people to make ends meet, and harder for people to support a family. I congratulate the bipartisan coalition in the House that recognized the damage it would have caused and came together to defeat this harmful legislation.”

Democracy Fails As Executive Councilors Vote To Confirm Edelblut, Against Constituents Overwhelming Objections

Today our elected representatives have failed us and took another step toward the destruction of our democracy.

With a party line vote of 3-2, the NH Executive Council voted to confirm, the completely unqualified Frank Edelblut, as Commissioner of Education against the wishes of their own constituents.

“Republicans on the Executive Council let down Granite State students and young families today by confirming Frank Edelblut, despite overwhelming grassroots opposition, a vote of no confidence by the State Board of Education, and a remarkably unqualified resume for this important position,” said Granite State teacher Matthew Gerding.

“As a school teacher and a young LGBT Granite Stater hoping to raise my family here, I find it incredibly disheartening to see Republican leaders chose to confirm someone who opposes full-day kindergarten, refuses to oppose the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy, and calls education a ‘product’ not a public good.”

“Governor Sununu has taken every opportunity in his short time in office to turn young people away from our state. From nominating Mr. Edelblut, to raising tuitions at our state and community colleges in his budget, Governor Sununu is sending a clear message that he values politics over people,” concluded Gerding.

“Like DeVos, Edelblut has no experience or inter­action with the public education system of New Hampshire. Overseeing a state department of education requires an in-depth knowl­edge of how public schools are governed, how they are man­aged, and the challenges employees in public schools face. Mr. Edelblut possesses no such knowledge or experience. Other than overseeing the management functions of the employees under his direct supervision, the business skills Mr. Edelblut possess are not transferable to ensuring our children’s educational experi­ence is exceptional. Our chil­dren’s futures are too important to rely on someone who cannot hit the ground running on day one,” stated NEA-New Hampshire.

“Educators throughout New Hampshire strive to reach every child in their classroom, develop effective and engaging lesson plans, spend hours correcting papers and encouraging students to keep persevering. Every day for educators the theory and practice of pedagogy becomes real in the lives of the young people entrusted to their care. To have the highest ranking education official in the state bring only system level management and communication skills to the job threatens the future of every public school student in New Hampshire,” continued NEA-NH.

“The fundamental promise of a great public education for all students is under attack here, and across the country,” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-NH Vice-president. “We’re not just arguing over budget questions any longer; we’re in a full-on ideolog­ical battle with people who do not believe that every child deserves the same opportunity to succeed.”

“We are disappointed that a majority of the Executive Council did not listen to voices of thousands of parents and educators across the state or to the concerns expressed by the NH Board of Education about the appointment of Frank Edelblut as our next Commissioner of Education,” stated Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “We remain gravely concerned about a Commissioner of Education who, when running for governor, supported further diverting much needed funding and resources from our public schools.   There still has been presented no evidence, after a lengthy public hearing, to suggest Mr. Edelblut either has the experience or qualifications in education to lead NH schools and serve more than 180,000 students, our State’s most precious resource.”

“Our teachers and school district employees pour their hearts into the education of NH’s students, are highly trained and have dedicated a lifetime to serving NH students. They deserve a Commissioner who cares deeply about public education.”

“AFT-NH will remain vigilant in protecting our public schools and our cherished public education system in NH. We will always extend a hand to anyone, including Mr. Edelblut, willing to strengthen and support public schools but we will speak up and act in fierce opposition to any extreme agenda or attack on our schools. We sincerely hope that Mr. Edelblut will retreat from his past positions and start anew by listening to NH parents, educators and stakeholders in our schools,” concluded Ley.

“During the confirmation process, Frank Edelblut demonstrated he lacks both experience with and support for our state’s public schools,” wrote Executive Councilor Chris Pappas just after the vote. “It is clear that Mr. Edelblut is unable to be the type of non-partisan, consensus-building commissioner that our education system deserves. He holds political views on a range of issues that place him outside the mainstream, from his opposition to full-day kindergarten to support for gay conversion therapy. We do not need a commissioner who will interject ideology into the role, and I didn’t receive assurances that he would abandon past positions or steer clear of political activities after he is confirmed.”

It is plainly clear that the confirmation vote for Edelblut was purely partisan politics as usual. Two of the Executive Councilors openly admitted that they would vote to confirm despite overwhelming opposition to Edelblut’s nomination.

“Executive Councilors Joseph Kenney and Russell Prescott told us all about the concerns they heard from parents and educators about Frank Edelblut. Instead of listening to their constituents, they decided to put in earplugs and vote to confirm him in a blindly political move,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley. “It’s shameful that Governor Sununu didn’t consult the Board of Education before he made the pick. Instead, he followed the Trump model by appointing an unqualified businessman rather than looking out for the future of New Hampshire.”

“We are disappointed that Executive Councilors Russ Prescott, Joe Kenney, and David Wheeler decided to rubber stamp Governor Sununu’s blatantly unqualified nominee despite widespread opposition from the State Board of Education and their constituents,” stated Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “Councilors Kenney and Prescott specifically mentioned that their constituents were overwhelming in opposition to Frank Edelblut before going on to say that they would vote for him anyway.

“Community members should be on notice that Prescott and Kenney fully acknowledged that they were voting against their constituents on this nomination,” Rice-Hawkins added.

It is obscene that our elected representatives are completely ignoring the will of the people in a partisan political vote. It takes a lot to get people to engage in politics, especially when it comes to political appointments like this. Yet hundreds if not thousands of Granite Staters took the time to write letters, emails, and call their Executive Councilors asking them to oppose Edelblut’s nomination.

To Councilors Prescott and Kenney, those constituents do not matter.

This is where democracy dies. When our elected leaders only do what is good for their political careers and reject the will of the people we can no longer say we live in a democracy. The people spoke out and overwhelmingly opposed Frank Edelblut’s nomination, yet they confirmed him anyway.

This is a sad day for the future of our public schools and our democracy.


I would like to join Granite State Progress in saying:

“We thank Councilors Andru Volinsky and Chris Pappas for standing with the majority of constituents and experts who voiced concern over Governor Sununu’s unqualified nominee.”

(Featured image of Russ Prescott by Granite State Progress on Twitter)

Right To Work Hurts All Workers And Will Not Magically Create New Jobs

Our Legislature is once again considering the so-called “Right To Work” law that special interests have been pushing for more than 40 years.

Those lobbyists will tell you that “everyone should have the right to work” – but the so-called “Right to Work” law has nothing to do with getting a job. Passing “Right to Work” will not magically make new companies appear out of thin air.

Governor Scott Walker forced a “Right to Work” law through the Wisconsin Legislature in March 2015 by promising that it would create tens of thousands of new jobs. Instead, Wisconsin ended up losing more than 10,000 jobs by the end of the year.

Just across Wisconsin’s border, Minnesota has a pro-worker, progressive agenda. Minnesota created more than 12,000 jobs just in the last quarter of 2015 and was ranked the “Top State for Business in 2015.”

So why should our legislators believe the lobbyists’ spin about “job creation?”

Those lobbyists are also spinning “Right to Work” laws as “freedom from greedy union bosses.” Are they talking about the same “greedy unions” who ushered in workplace safety regulations, vacation time, retirement benefits, and the weekend itself? If those lobbyists had their way, our manufacturing facilities would be filled with 12-year-olds working 14 hours a day, six days a week, for pennies a day.

The lobbyists are also spinning “Right to Work” as “giving workers the freedom to choose if they want to join a union or not.” But the truth is that it’s already illegal to force someone to join a union.

And employers are the ones who choose whether or not workers pay agency fees in exchange for benefits under the union contracts. “Right to Work” takes that choice away from private businesses and substitutes the Legislature’s “wisdom” instead. Earlier this year, several employers testified that they want to keep that right.

Nevermind the lobbyists’ spin about “employee freedom.” All “Right to Work” does is get in the way of businesses making their own decisions.

And restricting employers’ rights is not going to encourage businesses to move here.

New Hampshire already has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. (At the other end of the scale, seven of the top ten states ranked by unemployment are “Right to Work” states.)

During the last “Right to Work” hearing, employers testified about that, too. They are concerned that passing “Right to Work” will lower average wages – and discourage highly-skilled workers from moving to New Hampshire. Employers testified that there is already a severe shortage of the types of skilled workers they need – and passing “Right to Work” would make their problems worse.

Is our Legislature listening more closely to out-of-state lobbyists than to our local employers who came to our State House to testify against “Right to Work?”

The National Right To Work Committee spends more than $11 million a year lobbying state legislatures to pass “Right to Work.” But none of the lobbyists who testified this year could name a single company that would move to New Hampshire if the law was passed. All they could point to was one company which decided to build a new facility in North Carolina – after being promised more than $10 million in economic incentives to build there.

So what, exactly, would New Hampshire gain if our Legislature passes “Right to Work?”

And why would our legislators want to give the out-of-state lobbying groups a “win” at the expense of our state’s employers?

 

Join The Fight Against Transgender Discrimination, Tell Your Reps To Support HB478

We all know that it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their race or the color of their skin, but did you know that because of weak discrimination laws there are no real protections for those who are transgendered.

This means that a transgendered person can be fired from their job, denied an apartment or denied service in a restaurant, and otherwise discriminate against them simply because of who they are.

“Findings from a 2011 study by NCTE and the Task Force show that 63% of transgender participants had experienced a “serious act of discrimination”—events like a lost job, eviction, homelessness, and assault that drastically impede one’s ability to sustain themselves financially or emotionally” stated Freedom New Hampshire.

This is unacceptable!

“Everyone should be treated fairly and equally under the law,” State Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Location, said. “By updating our civil rights laws to protect transgender individuals from discrimination, we will be saying that New Hampshire is an open and welcoming place for everyone.”

“There are thousands of transgender individuals in New Hampshire whose lives will be positively impacted by this bill,” said Gerri Cannon, a transgender community leader and Granite Stater. “No one should be turned away from a public business, kicked out of their home or be fired from a job simply because of who they are.”

The NH Labor News, the ACLU of NH, New Hampshire Freedom to Marry, and Freedom New Hampshire are encouraging everyone to contact your State Legislators and ask them to support HB 478, “An Act to Prohibit Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity.”

This bill will update and strengthen New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination laws —which currently protect people from discrimination at work, in housing, and in places open to the public— to include people who are transgendered. Law enforcement and public safety officials agree that protecting transgender individuals from discrimination is critical to ensuring everyone can live their lives safely.

“As Chief of the Dover Police Department and a member of law enforcement for over 31 years, I know our communities are safer when everyone is treated fairly and equally under the law and that includes transgender people,” said Chief Anthony Colarusso. “This group is actually disproportionately targeted for harassment and assault. However, in places where legal protections are in place, rates of violence against transgender individuals go down with no uptick in public safety incidents. Transgender equality and equal treatment for all is ultimately about building stronger communities for everyone.”

“We are united in our belief that fairness and equality are important to all of us,” JeanMarie Gossard, Freedom New Hampshire’s campaign manager, added. “Freedom New Hampshire is thrilled to be working with a broad coalition of business, faith and civic leaders, and people across the political spectrum, to support this important measure.”


Please visit www.freedomnewhampshire.org for information on how you can help secure these important protections for transgender Granite Staters.

How Are The Humane Society, The USDA, Peter T Paul, and ‘Dr. Evil’ All Connected To NH Politics

OK folks time to connect the dots.

What does the Humane Society of the United States, a Super Bowl ad, Dr. Evil, Peter T. Paul college of business and economics at UNH and a sudden USDA data purge have in common? Settle in and get out your graph paper.

Did you see this ad that ran just before the start of the Super Bowl?

Are you angry or confused about the Humane Society now? Before you jump to any conclusions, let me tell you about the political hacks that produced the ad, why I think it happened, and how this duplicitous ad relates  to New Hampshire politics.

Where The Advertisement Came From

The two-minute ad was created by HumaneWatch.org, a “project” of the Center for Consumer Freedom. According to their website, HumaneWatch.org is “Keeping a watchful eye on the Humane Society of the United States.”

In reality, the Center for Consumer Freedom is nothing more than one of many PR websites for a non-profit front group created by Rick Berman and Company, and is designed to spread misinformation or outright lies about the Humane Society.

If truth in advertising mattered, the more accurate name for Mr. Berman’s operations could be Lies R Us!  Mr. Berman revels in marketing and selling lies.

Wearing one of his many highly paid PR hats, talking to energy executives in 2014,

“Mr. Berman said in his speech, (companies) must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because “you can either win ugly or lose pretty.”  (New York Times, 2014)

Rick Berman, aka Dr. Evil

Other Rick Berman non-profit front groups include: The Employment Policies Institute, Union Facts, PETA Kills Animals, Maternity Pens, and dozens more.

Rick Berman, aka Dr. Evil, is the CEO of Berman and Company, a D.C. based public relations firm that specializes in taking money from corporations and industry lobbyists to create a PR campaign against proposed legislation.

“Masquerading as a legitimate non-profit organization, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is a front group for corporations trying to thwart animal welfare, environmental, and other public interest reforms,” stated the website WhoAttacksHSUS.org.

Berman creates a non-profit front group, which is funded with dark/secret money from his corporate friends, and then he pays himself to run the non-profit as their Executive Director.

“According to CCF’s 2008 tax filing, 92 percent of all revenue taken in by CCF went straight into the pockets of Berman and his for-profit PR firm which appears to be nothing less than a personal enrichment scheme,” added WhoAttacksHSUS.org.

The non-profit front group then creates a website and funds researchers in their think-tanks to manufacture reports that lobbyists can then use to sway legislators and push in op-eds against the proposed legislation.

Berman then goes on TV, using any one of his dozens of non-profit Executive Director titles, to push his propaganda through the media as the “opposing view.”  Berman never discloses that he is being paid by corporations and industry lobbyists to spread his misinformation.

Berman and Company have been using this formula to thwart any increase in the minimum wage for over 25 years.  Berman has an accomplice in his minimum wage fight, an economist by the name of Joseph Sabia (aside: Berman’s go to guy,  was recently hired by the Peter T. Paul college of Business and Economics at UNH,) who is brought on  to create questionable reports showing how raising the minimum wage would hurt low-wage workers and kill jobs.  Writing economic papers for Berman has its benefits. Sabia has collected over $200,000 in grant money from Berman’s group in the last eight years.

(More on Sabia and Peter T. Paul in a minute)

The Humane Society of the United States Becomes The Target

So why did Berman, a paid shill for the industry, come out and attack the Humane Society of the United States on national television?

One reason is because the Humane Society Legislative Fund came out hard against Donald Trump in the 2016 election.  This was the first time in their history the Humane Society of the US has ever endorsed a Presidential candidate.  They released this ad in early October that stated a “Trump presidency would be a threat to animals everywhere.”

In their endorsement of Hillary Clinton, HSLF President Michael Markarian wrote:

“One ticket has a clear, compelling record of support for animal protection, while the other has assembled a team of advisors and financial supporters tied in with trophy hunting, puppy mills, factory farming, horse slaughter, and other abusive industries.”

Aside from his usual anti-humane front group funders – the International Dairy Foods Association, the Corn Refiners Association and the Institute for Humane studies, “a think tank headed by activist billionaire Charles Koch” – Berman had the perfect excuse to shake down his corporate donors to pony up big bucks to run a TV ad just before the Super Bowl.

Beside retaliating against the Humane Society for their support of Hillary, Berman needed to undermine the reputation of the Humane Society of the US before they came out swinging against an Orwellian action taken by the USDA just before Super Bowl weekend.

Brian Klippenstein, Executive Director of Protect the Harvest, and a long time enemy of the Humane Society of the US, was tapped to lead Trump’s transition team for the USDA.  Elections have consequences and on Feb 3 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suddenly removed the public’s access to thousands of documents detailing what facilities are keeping animals and “whether those animals are being treated humanely under the Animal Welfare Act.”

If access, transparency and knowledge are important to the welfare of animals, wiping clean the USDA website “…benefits no one, except facilities who have harmed animals and don’t want anyone to know,” The Humane Society of the United States said in a statement.

Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the US Humane Society, said in a radio interview with The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen, that the USDA inspects “over 9,000” facilities a year ranging from local zoos, traveling circuses, research laboratories, and dog breeding facilities or so-called “puppy mills.”

According to Science Magazine these USDA reports have led to big animal welfare violators. “Public access to the reports has led to scores of media reports like this article in The Boston Globe in 2012 documenting problems at Harvard University’s primate research facility; the university later closed the trouble-prone New England Primate Research Center.”

While this specific ad may be in response to the attacks on Donald Trump, the feud between Berman and Company and the Humane Society goes farther back than the 2016 elections.  Berman also created a few different front-groups to attack the Humane Society and animal welfare groups over the past decade.

According to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, under the Center for Consumer Freedom, Berman created:

  • Maternity Pens – Maternity Pens is project that “defends the use of gestation crates used by pork producers and criticizes the arguments of animal rights activists.”
  • Animal Scam – Animal Scam is a project “that denigrates animal rights activists and criticizes their advocacy campaigns.”
  • The Humane Society for Shelter Pets – The Humane Society for Shelter Pets “complements the work of the Center for Consumer Freedom’s HumaneWatch by encouraging the public to donate to local animal shelters instead of the Humane Society of the United States.”
  • PETA Kills Animals – PETA Kills Animals is a project “that smears People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and promotes negative information about the group’s practices.”

Got an issue you want to kill, Berman has a think-tank for you.

How Does Joe Sabia, Peter T Paul, and Berman Connect To New Hampshire?

Now that we understand who Rick Berman is, how his PR firm is paid to create opposing views to major legislative initiatives, and the model they use to create their research, let look at how this connects to the University of New Hampshire and the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics.

Dr Joseph Sabia

In September of 2016, the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics quietly hired Joseph Sabia, an economist from California as the McKerley Chair of Health Economics.

This raised a few red flags, as Sabia is one of Berman’s most quoted economists against raising the minimum wage.

As one of Berman’s researchers, Sabia collected over $200,000 dollars in grant money, to say the minimum wage would hurt low-wage workers and ultimately kill jobs.

Berman’s Employment Policies Institute pushed Sabia’s work directly to lobbyist from the National Restaurant Association, the Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and the National Federation of Independent Business to convince lawmakers to oppose any wage increases.

Sabia’s validity was called into question by a San Diego news agency, Voices of San Diego:

One of [Sabia’s] seven studies for EPI concluded New York’s 2004 minimum-wage hike led to a significant decline in employment for 16-to-29-year-olds without high school diplomas and projected more than 16,000 lost jobs.

That study got particular attention in the Times’ report because University of Delaware economist Saul D. Hoffman reviewed the same data and found it lacking.”

“Mr. Hoffman concluded that the narrow cut of data Mr. Sabia picked was perhaps unintentionally skewed, and once corrected, it would have showed that the 2004 increase in New York State’s minimum wage had no negative impact on employment — the opposite of the conclusion the institute had proclaimed in its news releases.”

Sabia’s hire raises some serious questions:

*   Who exactly hired Sabia?

How open and transparent was the hiring process?

Were other economists even considered for this position?

*   Did Peter T. Paul and his partner, Judith Blake, have any say in the hiring of Sabia? (They are both on the Board of Advisors to the Dean of the Peter T Paul College of Business and Economics.)

After Paul donated $25 million to UNH, the Whittemore School of Business was renamed after Paul, ie. The Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics.

Judith Blake, Peter’s partner ran for the University’s Board of Trustees the same year he made the $25 million donation and won election to the Board.

Just this year, Blake donated $8 million dollars with the vast majority to go for scholarships to Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. (The terms of the scholarships have not been publicly disclosed as of this writing.)

*   What did Paul College Dean, Deborah Merrill-Sands, know about Sabia before hiring him?

Merrill-Sands told the NH Business Review that her focus has been on “business ethics, corporate responsibility and sustainability.”

*   Did Merrill-Sands know about Sabia’s questionable ethics before hiring him and does Sabia’s ethics fit into her model for an academic leader?

The NH Business Review specifically questioned Merrill-Sands about being an academic leader.

Q: How have your international experiences informed your perspective as an academic leader?

A: I’ve spent almost two decades working on issues of rural poverty around the world. When you are exposed to such profound poverty for a long time, you gain a much broader perspective on the vital role of business in society. I learned quickly that government wasn’t enough and saw the impact of the private sector in economic and social development.

As a dean in a business school, I believe it’s important to understand the positive impact of business while not getting swept away by the power of greed. We still need ethics and accountability. 

*   Is there some type of ethics violation by Sabia to be paid by Berman’s anti-minimum wage front group to produce research that benefits Berman’s corporate donors?

We already know that Peter T. Paul has questionable ethics, as he was the creator of “Alt-A” mortgages that many attributed to the financial collapse in 2008.

*    Did his anti-minimum wage research play a roll in his hiring by the Peter T Paul College of Business and Economics?

The Connection To NH Politics

Peter T. Paul was the billionaire backer of Dan Innis the former Dean of the UNH Business School. Innis courted Paul to donate to the school, Innis left the position of Dean to run for U.S Congress in 2014. Peter T Paul created a Super PAC with at least $500,000 to fund Innis’ primary campaign. Despite the large cash support Innis lost his 2014 bid against incumbent Rep Frank Guinta.

Peter T Paul (UNH Photo Services)

In 2016, Peter T. Paul once again helped to fund Innis. This time the Paul Super PAC refocused on state races, just as Innis flipped from running for Congress to making a run for NH State Senate. Innis won and is now pushing Right to Work (for less) and opposing an increase in the NH Minimum Wage.

By far the most important questions are: What is next for the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics? Will the college become a shill for Berman and Company using Sabia’s work to denounce raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire and throughout the country?

Is hiring Sabia and pushing Innis into the NH Senate all part of Peter T Paul’s plan to reshape New Hampshire politics to mirror his own right-wing ideology?

We already know that attempts have been made by billionaires like the Koch Brothers, Arthur Pope, and Betsy DeVos to highjack our political system. They use their unlimited funds to rig the system against working people and to foster their own personal greed.

It is vital that people understand who is pushing these lies that the minimum wage kills jobs and that inhumane treatment of animals should be ignored. It is all connected.

Big Business and billionaires are using people like Berman to deceive you and we must put a stop to it.

We must have answers to these questions. This is our college, funded with our tax dollars, and we demand answers.

DeVos And Edelblut Nearly Identical Ideologs’, Both Nominated To Head Education Departments

Photograph: Getty Images CC

The New Hampshire Executive Council could learn something from our US Senators when it comes to confirming a nominee to head the Department of Education.

Right now the Republicans in Washington D.C are scrambling to try to get their unfit, unqualified Secretary of Education confirmed. Betsy DeVos has no experience as an educator and has spent millions pushing religious charter schools to the Michigan Legislature.

Both of New Hampshire’s Senators have been outspoken in their opposition to Betsy DeVos.

“Throughout her confirmation process, Ms. DeVos has demonstrated a complete lack of experience in, knowledge of and support for public education. Instead, it is clear that she would pursue policies that would undermine public schools, in my home state of New Hampshire and across our nation,” wrote Senator Maggie Hassan in a New York Times Op-Ed.

Last week, after DeVos got roasted during a particularly grueling nomination hearing, Senator Jeanne Shaheen announced that she would oppose the nomination.

“As a parent, a former public school teacher, a governor and a senator, I’ve always cared deeply about providing equal opportunity for our children,” said Shaheen. “I was dismayed by many of Ms. DeVos’s answers during her confirmation hearing. At a very minimum, our next Secretary of Education should be able to commit to enforcing current law that protects and provides opportunities to students with disabilities. Her answer to Senator Hassan’s questioning on this subject was entirely unacceptable.

Throughout her confirmation hearing, she did not express a real commitment to our nation’s public schools which are the best opportunity for kids from all walks of life to get the education they deserve. I cannot in good conscience support her nomination and will also strongly urge my colleagues to oppose her nomination.”

Both of New Hampshire’s U.S. Senators are adamantly opposed to putting an unfit, unqualified person in charge of the Department of Education.   So why is the New Hampshire Executive Council willing to put a completely unfit, unqualified person in charge of the Department of Education in New Hampshire?

The parallels between Former State Rep Frank Edelblut and Betsy DeVos are uncanny.

Edelblut has no experience as an educator and choose to home-school his seven children. He has never served on a local school board or sat on a PTA board. Why would someone, who did not even entrust his own children to the public school system, be the “best qualified” person to run the state’s Department of Education?

Like DeVos, Edelblut has been an outspoken advocate for “school choice” that would allow taxpayer money to be taken from our public schools and given to for-profit religious schools. The school choice voucher law was ruled unconstitutional by the NH State Supreme Court and is currently being repealed by the NH House.

When asked by reporters from the Union Leader, Edelblut dodged the question over whether he would force schools to teach creationism alongside evolution.

“In science, we should study all theories of human origins, all legitimate or substantive theories of human origins … What I would advocate is for good science, and good science should support all theories of human origins, whatever they might be,” stated Edelblut.

During his confirmation hearing Edelblut once again refused to answer the question over teaching creationism claiming the Commissioner of Education does “not have jurisdiction over that.”

Councilors Pappas and Volinsky took the confirmation hearing of Frank Edelblut as an opportunity to show how unfit and unqualified Edelblut is for Commissioner of Education. The Union Leader decried Volinsky’s “performance” during the confirmation hearing calling it “a high school production of A Few Good Men.” Others applauded him for taking his responsibility as an Executive Councilor seriously and not rubber-stamping the Governor’s nominations.

Just as Betsy DeVos is unfit and unqualified for Secretary of Education, Former State Rep Frank Edelblut is also unfit and unqualified for Commissioner of Education in New Hampshire.

Councilors Pappas and Volinsky have already stated they will oppose Edelblut’s nomination leaving the three Republican Executive Councilors left. Will they do what is best for the 180,000+ children currently in the public school system or will they just ignore the facts and rubber-stamp the Governor’s unfit unqualified nominee.

Contact your Executive Councilor today and tell them to put the children of New Hampshire first and oppose the nomination of Frank Edelblut.

Building On Our Intersectional Platform, The NH Labor News Is Expanding And Looking For New Voices

We have new and exciting news: The NH Labor News is expanding.

From our very humble beginnings in 2011, the NH Labor News was started to help share the voices of working people as Speaker Bill O”Brien and the NH Legislature began a new assault on working people. In the early days we focused on unions and legislation that effected unions in New Hampshire.

Over the years we have continued to grow and expand adding new voices. Now many progressives are using the term “intersectionality” to describe what we have been trying to do for many years. Intersectionality is the idea that there is a point where all of our different social movements intersect.

A prime example of this is our work with Granite State Progress. Granite State Progress helped connect our strong labor focused community with new social movements like gun violence protect, LGBT rights, protecting women’s reproductive rights, and voting rights.   There are many examples where these issues intersect with the goals and values of the labor community and many of us are already involved in these fights.

We also added weekly commentary from MaryLou Beaver, Executive Director of Every Child Matters (NH) who focuses on education, poverty and healthcare issues facing working families in New Hampshire.

From the beginning, labor unions helped to push social and economic justice movements. Labor was instrumental in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s and the LGBT movement that began in the 1980’s.

With that in mind the NH Labor News will be working to create an even more diverse cross section of commentators who regularly publish through our network. Specifically we want to hear directly from people inside of these movement to better understand what is happening, why it is important to everyone, and most importantly, what we can do to help. There is a real difference hearing about an issue from someone who is personally effected by policy changes than by someone reporting what they know about it.

Starting this week we will be adding another regular column from Mark Dobbins. Mark is an art historian and writer who currently lives in Philadelphia.

As an LGBTQ activist, Mark has been fighting for civil rights for over twenty years. Most recently, Mark was appointed to the Hillary for Pennsylvania LGBT Leadership Council.

As part of the NH Labor News team, Mark will write about those issues that affect your lives. From workers’ rights, living wages, union rights, LGBTQ rights, and the daily struggles of working families everywhere – Mark will write about what matters to you.

We are also looking to add more voice to our growing network. We are specifically looking for two voices to fill a few a few voids in our coverage.

We are looking for a regular commentator who would like to keep us up to date on immigration and refugee issues. With the newly imposed ban on refugees and the repeal of DAPA and DACA, it will take all of us working together to help protect the rights of immigrants and refugees.

We are also looking for a person of color to discuss some of the issues facing people of color, like the school to prison pipeline, the Black Lives Matter movement, and voting rights.

As of right now, these will be voluntary but as we grow who knows what will happen. So if you know of someone who is willing to take on a bi-weekly or weekly column in the NH Labor News please contact me directly.

Together we can build a strong broad based coalition of working people to fight back against daily assault on our rights.

TEA Party Rep, Steve King Pushes A National Right To Work Bill And Repeal Of Davis Bacon

Labor unions respond to Rep King’s introduction of a National Right to Work (for less) law and a full repeal of the Davis Bacon Act that ensures a prevailing wage on all federal projects.

Once again TEA Party Representative, Steve King (R-IOWA) introduced a national Right to Work bill in Congress.

“So-called right-to-work has done enough harm to working people in the states where it is law. Forcing it upon every state in the country would be a national disaster,” said Robert Martinez, Jr., International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

“Right to work is a lie dressed up in a feel-good slogan. It doesn’t give workers freedom—instead, it weakens our right to join together and bargain for better wages and working conditions. Its end goal is to destroy unions,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Numbers don’t lie. Workers in states with right to work laws have wages that are 12% lower. That’s because unions raise wages for all workers, not just our members. Its end goal is to destroy unions.”

“Right to work isn’t the will of the people, it’s legislation pushed on working people by out-of-touch corporations that want to ship jobs overseas, cut health and safety protections, and pay lower wages,” added Trumka.

“In introducing so-called “right to work” legislation, Republicans in Congress didn’t waste any time doing the bidding of corporate interests who have plotted for years to weaken the collective bargaining rights of working people,” wrote the Communication Workers of America. “Right to work doesn’t create jobs. It doesn’t improve economic development. It does result in lower wages – 3.1 percent lower, according to the Economic Policy Institute –and fewer benefits for working people. It weakens workers’ ability to join together and bargain collectively with their employer.”

To add further insult to working people, Rep King, and fellow TEA Partier, Senator Mike Lee, re-introduced a repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act.

The Davis-Bacon Act set a prevailing wage that must be met on all federal projects. Prevailing wages are set by regions to ensure that workers in the local area of the project are paid a wage comparable to other workers in their area.

“The introduction of national so-called “right to work” and anti-Davis Bacon legislation is a bid to further shrink opportunities for working class Americans and their families,” said Terry O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA). “These pieces of legislation are a deceptive politically-motivated trick to deny millions of American workers the freedom to join together in a union for mutual benefit and to earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”

“The bill to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act is a severe attack on the wages and living standards of millions of blue-collar workers and on taxpayers who expect quality construction work on public projects. For generations the Davis-Bacon Act has helped to prevent government projects from driving down wages and help to attract skilled, trained workers, and has given taxpayers the best deal for their money,” added O’Sullivan.

As the Koch Brothers and their political organization, the Americans For Prosperity, push Right to Work at the state level, this new federal bill is just another ideological partisan attack on working people.

“The political motives for right-to-work laws are clear: transfer even more money and power to corporate elites who don’t give a damn about the middle class,” said IAM President Martinez. “November’s election should have made this clear to the political class—American workers are sick and tired of having their wages slashed, and all too often, their jobs shipped overseas. Taking away their right to a strong voice at the bargaining table will hurt the same people Congress is supposed to represent.

“Working people were loud and clear in this past election. We want an economy that works for all, not just corporations. We know we need to rewrite the rules of the economy so that policies like bad trade deals and right to work aren’t the new norm. President Trump has said he supports unions and the people who are our members. He has stood up to corporate Republicans on trade. We call on him to do the same on right to work, and to stand up for every worker’s right to join a union,” Trumka added.

AFL-CIO, LiUNA, CWA and IAM all agree that Congress should once again reject the passage of so-called Right to Work legislation and oppose the repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act.

Frank Edelblut Is Unqualified For Commissioner Of Education Send A Letter To Exec Council

Frank Edelblut, Image from Girard At Large FLIKR

If you agree that Frank Edelblut is unqualified and the wrong choice for Commissioner of Education please send a message to the New Hampshire Executive Council before they vote on his confirmation on January 31st.

Click here to send your letter to the NH Executive Council.

The next Commissioner of Education should be qualified and should be a strong advocate for the over 180,000 students currently enrolled in New Hampshire public schools.

One-term State Rep. Frank Edelblut lacks the necessary qualifications to lead the Department of Education. He has no background in education. He home schooled his seven children but has no experience with public schools. He has never once served on a local school board. The state law is very clear: the commissioner must be qualified “by reason of education and experience.”

Edelblut is an advocate for “school choice” allowing public funds to go to private schools, charter schools, religious schools, and those who choose to home school. In his only term as a State Representative, Edelblut voted for school choice legislation that opponents warned would take away funds from already underfunded public schools and give them to for-profit private and religious schools.

If you agree that Frank Edelblut is unqualified and the wrong choice for Commissioner of Education please send a message to the New Hampshire Executive Council before they vote on his confirmation on January 31st.

If you are able to join us to testify in person or hold a sign the day of the vote, email Zandra@GraniteStateProgress.org.

Click here to send your letter to the NH Executive Council.


A word of caution for New Hampshire educators: There is a good chance that Frank Edelblut will be confirmed as the current Executive Council has 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats. This does not mean you should not take action to oppose Edelblut’s nomination but please be mindful of how this public opposition to Edelblut could affect your professional career in the future.

If you would rather make your opposition to Edelblut anonymously please send your letter to Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky directly at P.O. Box 1181, Concord 03302. Remember letters must be received by January 30th to be entered into the record on January 31st.

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