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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

Our Revolution Continues As Sanders Encourages Support For Clinton (VIDEO)

Senator Bernie Sanders Screenshot

Screenshot of Senator Bernie Sanders from the DNC on July 25th

“Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaire,” wrote Bernie Sanders in a email to supporters last night. 

A little over a year ago we started a revolution to take back our government from the oligarchs who have corrupted it.  With our fearless leader, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders at the helm, we pushed back against the rigged system.  We knocked on doors. We walked the streets. We talked to our friends and neighbors. We utilized the power of social media to send shockwaves throughout the political system.

Together we helped to make a self proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” a household name and a real contender for President of the United States.

Sadly, Senator Sanders did not win the Democratic Primary contest, but this does not mean that we failed.   We started something that will go down in history as the moment “We the People” took back our government.

Last night, Sanders made one of the best speeches I have ever seen at the Democratic National Convention in support of Secretary Hillary Clinton.  He talked about how we, Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters, created “the most progressive party platform in history.”  We helped to shape this platform that focuses on working people.  This platform continues to push for universal healthcare, a $15 minimum wage, and stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are just a few of the things we helped to get into this progressive platform.

Our political revolution continues even as Bernie is ending his candidacy from President. We will continue to encourage new voters to support candidates who will fight for working families and will fight to take back our government from the billionaire oligarchs.  With the help of millions of new active voters we will change the system but this will not happen overnight.

I encourage you to watch Senator Sanders full speech from the DNC last night. Listen to the man who inspired us, who led us, and who has always been fighting for us, as he makes the case for us to now support Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump.

The AFL-CIO Pushes Back Against Pro-Business Democrats Trying To Change The New Overtime Threshold

Pay Check Everyone agrees that the current overtime threshold needs to be updated. The issue is, how quickly should this update take effect?

In May, the Department of Labor announced that they would be lifting the salary threshold for overtime from just over $23,660 a year to $47,476. This means that if you are a salaried employee who makes less than $47,476 dollars you will now be entitle to overtime (time and 1/2) for every hour worked in a week above 40.

“New overtime protections mark a major victory for working people that will improve the lives of millions of families across America,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO in a May press release. “We applaud the Obama Administration heeding the call for action to ensure working people get paid for all the hours we work. Taking this step to restore overtime is one of the many ways we are beginning to change the rules of our economy that are rigged in favor of Wall Street.”

“The fight for even stronger overtime protections and to raise wages for all working people continues. But today, millions of workers will receive a long overdue raise, healthier and more productive jobs, and more time to spend with our community and loved ones,” added Trumka. 

Congressman Kurt Schrader

Congressman Kurt Schrader

This week, Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5), Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-5), Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and Congressman Collin Peterson (MN-7) introduced legislation that will “initiate a reasonable three-year phase-in of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule.”

“The current overtime threshold is horribly outdated and needs to be raised as both employees and employers navigate our changing economy. This bill will do exactly that without disrupting the way businesses operate and employees are paid,” said Congressman Schrader. “Since the DOL’s immediate phase-in date was announced, we’ve heard from business owners and their employees who are worried about implementing this increase overnight. Without sufficient time to plan for the increase, cuts and demotions will become inevitable, and workers will actually end up making less than they made before. It’s long past time we strengthen overtime pay protections for American workers in a meaningful and effective way.”

“While I believe the time has come to increase the overtime threshold, the DOL rule would put businesses in a bind and potentially lead to job loss,” said Congressman Peterson. “Both businesses and constituents in my district have expressed concern about the impact of an immediate threshold increase. A three-year phase in will provide adequate time for business to adapt to the new standard while also ensuring workers are fairly compensated.”

Surprise, businesses do not want to have to pay workers more money.  How are businesses going to win the race to the bottom if President Obama and the DOL keep raising the floor?

The Schrader plan is to phase the overtime threshold  in slowly to decrease the impact on businesses. Schrader’s office explained this proposed legislation would work in their most recent press release.

“On December 1, 2016, the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act will immediately increase the threshold more than 50% to $35,984. Each year following, the salary threshold will be raised by $74 per week until December 1, 2019, when we reach the DOL’s proposed $47,476 threshold.”

The one thing that Schrader’s office neglected to mention is that the newly proposed legislation would also eliminate the automatic increases to the overtime threshold every three years.

The AFL-CIO quickly spoke out against this newly proposed legislation in a stern letter to all Representatives in the U.S. House.

July 14, 2016

Dear Representative:

            I am writing on behalf of the AFL-CIO to urge you to oppose legislation, introduced by Rep. Kurt Schrader, that would rob millions of workers of the overtime pay protection they have earned. The misnamed “Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act” would delay by three years the full implementation of the Labor Department’s new overtime regulations, originally scheduled to take effect in December, 2016.

            The Schrader bill would also eliminate the final rule’s mechanism that would automatically update the salary threshold every three years after implementation. As you know, workers have waited decades for an update to the salary threshold—it has only been updated once since the 1970s—in 2004 (when it was set too low). Having experienced decades of wage stagnation and uncompensated overtime, workers should not have to wait three more years for the protection the new regulations will provide.

            The current salary threshold for overtime pay would be over $57,000 if it had kept pace with inflation since 1975. Instead, effective December 1, 2016, the salary threshold below which salaried employees are automatically eligible for overtime pay will rise from $23,660 ($455 per week) to $47,476 ($913 per week). The Labor Department based this new threshold level on the 40th-percentile salary for workers in the lowest-wage Census region (currently the South). Because history demonstrates that it can take years for the regulatory process to adapt to changing labor markets, the rule also indexes the threshold to inflation. Once implemented, the threshold level will increase every three years, beginning in 2020.

            For approximately 12.5 million workers, this new regulation is the most effective way to raise wages, create jobs, and restore the 40-hour work week. The AFL-CIO urges you to oppose the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act and any legislation that would delay or weaken implementation of this important rule.

Sincerely,

William Samuel, Director
Government Affairs

Phasing in the new overtime rule by $74 dollars a week may be good for some businesses but it is definitely not good for workers. This proposed legislation would create confusion as to when workers would qualify for overtime leaving workers wide open for wage theft.

Aside from ensuring that workers are paid fairly for the hard work they are doing, this new overtime rule is intended to stimulate job growth. Rep. Schrader is worried about potential job losses from the new rule taking effect, yet the only businesses who would be effected by this rule have workers making less than $47,000 a year salary, who work more than 40 hours a week.  This means that businesses will have to choose:

  • Do they want to continue to pay their employee a low salary and pay them overtime for every hour above 40?
  • Do they want to raise the employee’s salary to $47,476, allowing the employee to work unlimited hours without having to pay them overtime?
  • Do they want to continue to pay their employee a low salary and then hire an additional employee to complete the extra work that needs to be done?

Either way workers are going to get a benefit. Either workers will get more money in their paycheck or more workers will receive paychecks.

This proposed legislation is bad for workers and will only continue the stagnation of our economy while leaving workers vulnerable to wage theft by their employers.  This legislation will do more harm than good and should be rejected.


For more information on who will benefit from the new overtime rule read our previous post from May 2016 or check out this handy info-graphic on the DOL overtime changes

Bernie Sanders Calls For Unity In Endorsement Of Hillary Clinton For President #StrongerTogether

Today, Senator Bernie Sanders officially ended his campaign for President by endorsing Secretary Hillary Clinton.

“Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process, and I congratulate her for that. She will be the Democratic nominee for president and I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States,” said Sanders.

“It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That’s what this campaign has been about. That’s what democracy is about. But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee which ended Sunday night in Orlando, there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party. Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen,” added Sanders.

“Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here today,” concluded Sanders.

“Thank you Bernie – for your endorsement, but more than that, thank you for your  lifetime of fighting injustice. I am proud to be fighting alongside you because my friends, this is a time for all of us to stand together. These have been difficult times for America,” said Clinton. “This is a time for all of us to stand together – because these have been difficult days for our country.  

“We are joining forces to defeat Donald Trump!” Clinton declared. “I can’t help but say how much more enjoyable this election is going to be when we are on the same side. You know what? We are stronger together!”

“Sen. Sanders has brought people off the sidelines and into the political process. He has energized and inspired a generation of young people who care deeply about our country,” she said. “To everyone here and everyone cross the country who poured your heart and soul into Sen. Sanders’ campaign: Thank you,” added Clinton.

After the event, Raymond Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party released the following statement:

“Hearing Senator Sanders say today that he intends to do everything he can to make certain Secretary Clinton will be the next president of the United States was an inspiring and powerful reminder that Democrats are stronger together.

“Senator Sanders ran a tremendous campaign here in New Hampshire and across the country. His extraordinary passion and dedication brought millions of Americans together to fight for progressive ideals, to stand against unacceptable levels of inequality and to create an economy that works for everyone, not just for those at the top. As Senator Sanders said, he and Secretary Clinton share those values—values that will make her an outstanding president.

“Today’s rally presented a stark contrast with the disarray and dysfunction spewing from Donald Trump and the Republican Party. As Republicans are more divided than ever, Democrats are united, strong and energized as we move toward Election Day,” concluded Buckley.

It is important that we continue to move forward and that means that Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters will have to unite together to ensure that Donald Trump never gets elected.

We must continue to build strong alliances to further our progressive goals of expanding healthcare to all Americans, raising the minimum wage, opposing trade deals that hurt working families, reign in Wall Street, and work to end the corruptive influence of money in politics.

Only together can we defeat Donald Trump and all of the right wing extremists running for office. We must work together to elect real progressives, who share our values and our vision of a better society to Congress and State Capitols throughout the country. Only together can we make this happen.

Connolly And Van Ostern Trade Jabs Over A 24 Year Old Report That Goes After State Workers

NH Progressive Summit Gubernatorial Forum

Kary Jencks asks questions to Steve Marchand, Mark Connolly, and Colin Van Ostern at the NH Progressive Summit Gubernatorial Forum.

Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern and Mark Connolly recently traded jabs at the New Hampshire Progressive Summit Gubernatorial Forum and the NH State Employees Association (SEIU 1984) Gubernatorial Forum. Both Van Ostern and Connolly are vying for the Democratic nomination in the race to be the next Governor of New Hampshire.

(Note: I was not at the SEIU 1984 Forum so I can only report about what I saw at the NH Progressive Summit Forum, though I heard that similar comments were made at both forum’s.)

During the NH Progressive Summit forum, Van Ostern brought a couple of things to light. He mentioned that up until the mid 2000’s Connolly was a prominent Republican.

Connolly did not deny that he was, for many years, a Republican. He stated that when he was a Republican State Representative the Republicans were the real “progressives in the NH House.” He continued by saying that the Republican Party essentially moved away from him and he could no longer support them.

Another thing that surprised people at the Progressive Summit forum was that Connolly helped Governor Judd Gregg with a report on reforming New Hampshire government.   The report, The 1991-1992 Task Force on New Hampshire State Government Operations, was produced by a group of prominent businessmen in New Hampshire.

Much of the report is full of grand ideas of streamlining government operations and eliminating duplication within the state agencies. However some of the report specifically targeted state employees and retirees.

“The state should, at minimum, revise its policy regarding full payment of health and selected other insurance benefits for future retired employees and, further, consider eliminating the state’s contribution entirely,” the Task Force recommended.

The Task Force also recommended an independent third party to be involved in the collective bargaining process to show that the “extensive benefits” offered to state employees for “non-competitive wages no longer applies.”

The reported states:

“For purposes of collective bargaining, the state should retain an independent body to identify the full cost of personnel, including payroll, insurance, retirement, insurance for retired employees, vacations, holidays, and sick leave. This comprehensive package of payroll and benefits must be weighed against the economic and competitive realities of the state. In doing so, the Task Force believes the state will recognize that the justification for the philosophy that state employees are entitled to extensive benefits to compensate for non-competitive wages no longer applies.”

NH Progressive Summit Gubernatorial Forum 2In a 2011 report by USA Today, New Hampshire’s state employees were ranked 27th overall in pay when compared to state employees in other states. On the surface this is good but when compared to private sector compensation, New Hampshire state employees were over $1,800 below their private sector counterparts.

When asked for comment on the report and the specific recommendations listed above, Connolly’s campaign sent a copy of a letter, addressed to the members of the State Employees Association, where Connolly referred to his “opponent’s” comments as a “baseless attack.”

In the letter Connolly states:

“In 1991, I was asked by by my then-employer, Chubb Life in Concord, to serve on a thirteen-member panel assembled by the Governor, Speaker of the House, and Senate President to study state government and how it operates. This group met throughout 1991 and 1992 and ultimately the Task Force on New Hampshire Government Operations published its report on how to make government more efficient. It included important suggestions that I believe would strengthen our state and its employees, such as a four-year term for Governor and the implementation of a stronger sexual harassment policy for state employees.

One of the many additional recommendations made by this group in the fifty-page report held that the state should “revise its policy regarding full payment of health and selected other insurance benefits for future retired employees and, further, consider eliminating the state’s contribution entirely.” As a former state employee, I did not agree with this recommendation then and I do not agree with it now. Contrary to the attack made on me that evening, I did not recommend this, nor did I support it. Any contention that I did specifically support this recommendation is simply false.”

When asked why Connolly would sign on to a report that included sections he did not agree with, Colin Pio, Connolly’s Campaign Manager, explained that task force members broke up into different teams and specifically tackled different sections of the report. The separate sections were then compiled by the Chairman of the Committee and submitted to the Governor, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House.

Pio explained that Connolly specifically worked on the section of the report that “focused on the Executive Branch and how it was structured.” Pio also stated that to the best of Connolly’s recollection, “there was no sign-off process for individual members.”

In the letter Connolly added:

“Public employees are the backbone of our state government, and I am proud to have served as one for fourteen years. I have always believed we must honor our contract with you and your fellow members. Your retirement benefits, your pension, and your healthcare were promised to you when you started your service and, as Governor, I will stand up for your collectively bargained rights and your secure retirement each and every day.”

Only time will tell whether state employees believe Connolly’s explanation on his involvement on the 1992 Task Force or whether a 24-year-old report has any significance today.

 


Attached is a copy of the 1992 Task Force recommendations and Connolly’s letter to the members of the State Employees’ Association.

New Report Shows The Underlying Issues In The American Workforce

Over the last forty years we have lost millions of high paying manufacturing jobs. Many of these jobs did not require any advanced degrees and any specialized training was down by the employer or the union.

At the same time parents began pushing their children to go to college because in the 1980’s college educated workers were in short supply and were paid accordingly.

Now almost every employer is requiring some level of college education to even be considered for employment. This has created a new problem, underemployment.

Everyone knows about unemployment, the percent of workers who are unemployed and are currently seeking employment. Currently we have a national unemployment rate of 5.5%. Considering that in October of 2009, deep into the great recession, our national unemployment peaked at 10%, 5.5% means we have made great progress.

But have we really? Yes, the number of unemployed people in the U.S. has been cut in half but that is not the entire story.

During the recession when millions were out of work, struggling to pay their bills, people would take any job they could. People with bachelors’ degrees were working at McDonalds just to pay their outrageous student loans. This is what we refer to as underemployment, where a worker is employed in a job below their education and skill level.

underemployment_headerToday, PayScale Inc released a new report, “Underemployed: The War on the American Worker,” highlighting America’s underemployment problem.

“There are many economic indicators followed by business and policy leaders to gauge the health of an economy. One notable such report is the monthly jobs report produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which includes unemployment figures. However, unemployment only tells part of the story. At PayScale, we believe another crucial indicator is underemployment – people who are either working at jobs that don’t leverage their education or seeking full-time work, but are working part-time. Therefore, we created our latest report tying underemployment figures to educational choices, jobs, and gender,” said Katie Bardaro, Lead Economist, PayScale.

To conduct their research PayScale interviewed nearly one million people over a two-year time frame starting in March of 2014.

underemplyment_chart05aPayScale found that 46% of those surveyed consider themselves underemployed. Of these respondents, 76% say they are not using their education or training while 24% say they are working only part-time but would like full-time work.

“There are two underlying themes in this report: The importance of education and the persistence of the gender gap. The report notes underemployment decreases as educational attainment increases. Also, in addition to a pay gap and an opportunities gap, we see the gender gap materialize in underemployment as well: Women report a greater percentage of underemployment than their male counterparts,” added Bardaro.

Education level does make a difference. PayScale found that Medical Doctors have the lowest level of underemployment at 30%. That is a vast difference when compared to the 50% who claim to be underemployed with an Associates Degree.

The report shows that just over 40% of those with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) report being underemployed. Of the underemployed MBA degree holders, 90% reported they are not using their education and training.

underemplyment_chart10When we break down the numbers by gender, women have a slight edge over men in underemployment. 49% of woman report being underemployed compared to 42% of men. Women are also 7% more likely to be underemployed due to working part-time when they really want to be working full-time.

“These statistics may be a reflection of the gender opportunity gap,” wrote PayScale. “According to PayScale’s research, as employees climb the corporate ladder, men are often promoted more quickly than women, and women generally report more negative feelings about job satisfaction, job stress, and communication with their employers. (Learn more about the gender opportunity gap and the gender pay gap in PayScale’s report, Inside the Gender Pay Gap.)”

You can find out more about PayScale’s report here.

Upcoming Vote To Restore Planned Parenthood Funding Shapes NH Governor’s Race

Approximately 1 in 5 women have relied on a Planned Parenthood health center at some point in their lifetime.

planned-parenthood-logoEarlier this week, the New Hampshire Executive Council meeting agenda was announced. On June 29th, Executive Councilors will vote on whether or not to restore funding to Planned Parenthood health centers throughout New Hampshire.

The lines are quickly being drawn as Colin Van Ostern urged his fellow Councilors to restore funding to Planned Parenthood.

“For nearly a year, New Hampshire women and families have been deprived of significant funding for critical medical care for birth control, cancer screenings, and annual exams when the Executive Council voted to restrict funding for Planned Parenthood,” said Colin Van Ostern, Executive Councilor and Democratic candidate for Governor. “It’s well past time to vote yes, and approve these funds, and stop playing politics with women’s health.”

“I will vote to approve funding for women’s health care on Wednesday and I encourage Councilor Sununu and his colleagues to vote yes, as well,” Van Ostern concluded.

Van Ostern has consistently been an outspoken advocate for Planned Parenthood and against any attempts to take away women’s reproductive rights. He has made women’s health a priority by working to restore funding for Planned Parenthood three of the past four years. In 2015, he was recognized by NARAL Pro-Choice NH for his work on this issue and was named the state’s “Champion for Choice.”

Executive Councilor and candidate for NH Governor, Chris Sununu is also weighing his decision on the upcoming vote. However, WMUR tweeted that Sununu has no comment on the upcoming Planned Parenthood vote and said, “He hasn’t seen the contract yet.”

Considering that Sununu voted to defund Planned Parenthood last year and the Republican Party as a whole is against Planned Parenthood, I expect he will vote against it as well.

Mayor Ted Gatsas, who is also running for Governor, was quick to show his misguided opposition to Planned Parenthood in a statement urging Chris Sununu to oppose the contract.

“I have consistently opposed public funding for Planned Parenthood and believe that there are many community health organizations that can provide alternate, high quality health care options for women. As governor, I will ensure that Planned Parenthood does not receive tax dollars.”

Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, was quick to point out how as Mayor, Gatsas has failed the people of Manchester when it comes to providing quality healthcare.

“For fifty years, tens of thousands of New Hampshire women, men, and young people have chosen Planned Parenthood of Northern New England as their healthcare provider, while Ted Gatsas has been working against public policies and programs that improve their health and safety.

“Under Ted Gatsas’ tenure as Manchester mayor, the City has consistently had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state and the Manchester Health Department even shut down its STD/HIV clinics. Now Gatsas wants to further deny women, men and young people life-saving medical services such as cancer screenings, breast exams, access to contraception and STI testing and treatment.”

“Ted Gatsas is campaigning to spread his dangerous anti-women’s health agenda across the state and it is clear that the reproductive health of women and families and the public health of our communities is at great risk.”

“When it comes to funding for critical women’s health services Ted Gatsas is on the wrong side of public opinion, the wrong side of public health, and the wrong side of history. New Hampshire voters are watching and they will remember in the fall,” Frizzell concluded.

Thousands of working women rely on Planned Parenthood to provide quality, low cost healthcare in the Granite State. This should not be a partisan issue. These Councilors should put the health and safety of the people they swore to represent above partisan political bickering.

We urge all of the Executive Councilors to vote to restore funding to Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire.

 

 


Planned Parenthood Action Fund will be hosting a “rally in pink” to urge Councilors to restore funding to Planned Parenthood prior to the Executive Council meeting on June 29th at 9am.
(More details on PPAF’s Facebook Event)

Also take a few seconds to sign the petition urging Executive Councilor to restore funding for Planned Parenthood health centers.


 

Disappointment Over SCOTUS Immigration Tie Highlights Call For Senate To “Do Your Job”

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

The Supreme Court splits on DACA and DAPA, highlighting the urgent need to confirm a ninth Supreme Court Justice.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a 4-4 decision in United States v. Texas, the case challenging expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). This means that the Fifth Circuit’s decision upholding the preliminary injunction against these initiatives will stand.

This ruling does not impact the original DACA program launched in 2012.

“One of the reasons why America is such a diverse and inclusive nation is because we’re a nation of immigrants,” said President Barack Obama. “Our Founders conceived of this country as a refuge for the world. And for more than two centuries, welcoming wave after wave of immigrants has kept us youthful and dynamic and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character, and it has made us stronger.”

“But for more than two decades now, our immigration system, everybody acknowledges, has been broken. And the fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be,” Obama added.

Confirming that this ruled does not affect the original DACA program and in an attempt to ease people’s minds, Obama continued:

“I know a lot of people are going to be disappointed today, but it is important to understand what today means. The deferred action policy that has been in place for the last four years is not affected by this ruling. Enforcement priorities developed by my administration are not affected by this ruling. This means that the people who might have benefitted from the expanded deferred action policies — long-term residents raising children who are Americans or legal residents — they will remain low priorities for enforcement. As long as you have not committed a crime, our limited immigration enforcement resources are not focused on you.”

“The decision is a huge disappointment for immigrant families and their defenders. It’s bad for American communities, workers and the economy,” wrote the Immigration Policy Council. “We will continue to explore all available legal avenues and will urge the government to do the same. Ultimately, the nation needs a permanent solution to our outdated immigration system, and that must come from Congress. The fight will continue.”

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a setback for all those who have fought for more humane and rational enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “While we are deeply disappointed by the Court’s failure to reach a decision, we will redouble our organizing efforts to defeat the obstructionist, anti-immigrant forces behind this lawsuit and ensure that all working people can assert their rights on the job and in the community without fear of deportation.”

“This decision will further motivate a resilient community that is a vibrant and vital part of our labor movement. We continue to urge the Administration to use its discretion to protect those courageous immigrant workers who are exercising their workplace and civil rights,” added Trumka.

Locally, elected leaders and advocates spoke out against this decision.

“Today’s SCOTUS un-decision comes as a hard blow to the millions of immigrants that could have benefited from DAPA and the extension of DACA,” said Eva Castillo, Program Director for the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. “We will not stand still, we will continue to push back against anti-immigrant politicians and what they represent.”

“In November our vote will speak loudly against all candidates that stand for hatred, xenophobia and racism. That is our pledge,” Castillo added.

In 2015, Senator Shaheen joined more than 30 Senators and 180 Members of the House of Representatives, in an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court before the case went to trial.

“Families shouldn’t live in fear that at a moment’s notice a father, mother or child could be separated from their loved ones,” said Shaheen. “The Supreme Court’s order today is extremely disappointing and demonstrates why having only eight justices on our nation’s highest court hurts our country.”

“This order ignores the clear intent of Congress to grant the executive branch the discretion to establish and enforce immigration policy. Our country is at its strongest when we are open, inclusive and embrace all people. DAPA and expanded DACA would be good for families, our communities, and our economy and I am deeply disappointed that partisan opposition has prevented these initiatives from going forward.”

“It’s now up to us in Congress to work together to advance immigration policies that will keep families together and strengthen our nation,” Shaheen concluded.

Action at Ayotte Do your Job 2

This split decision only further highlights the need for the US Senate to hold confirmation hearings on a new Supreme Court Justice.

President Obama nominated Merrick Garland 100 days ago and some Senators, including New Hampshire’s own Kelly Ayotte, are refusing to hold confirmation hearings on Garland.

“Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to do her job has now hit the 100 day mark as she keeps a Supreme Court seat open for Donald Trump to fill with an anti-choice justice,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Melissa Miller. “100 days later, New Hampshire voters still want Ayotte to do her job and give the President’s nominee fair consideration.”

“Granite Staters have had enough of Kelly Ayotte’s political obstruction and reckless support for a misogynist presidential candidate who would appoint judges to the Supreme Court to turn back the clock on women’s rights,” Miller added.

“Today’s decision is a shattering blow to millions of families and a painfully clear illustration of why we need a fully staffed Supreme Court in order to address the most important issues we face as a country,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of the People for the American Way. “Without issuing a real opinion or providing any reasoning, our hobbled Supreme Court has allowed a single district court judge to implement a twisted ruling that will have a profound impact on the lives of families all across the country. The Court has provided no guidance to lower courts while simultaneously impacting millions of people’s lives.”

The People for the American Way have been leading the charge for the Senate to confirm a new Justice. Baker continued by blasting Ayotte for failing to uphold her Constitutional duty to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice.

“This isn’t how our system of justice is supposed to work. Yet Republicans including Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who are eager to force their ideology into law by any means necessary, have refused to perform their most basic responsibilities and give fair consideration to a pending Supreme Court nominee. This is the result of a broken system of government, and make no mistake, Republicans have broken it on purpose.”

Governor Maggie Hassan, who is running against Ayotte, highlighted Ayotte’s failure to do her job and confirm a new Justice.

“Earlier this week, the American Bar Association affirmed what members of both parties have said to be true: Judge Merrick Garland is exceptionally qualified to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States and his nomination deserves fair consideration,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Unfortunately, Senator Kelly Ayotte continues to side with her party leadership in obstructing the Supreme Court confirmation process – despite the fact that a majority of Granite Staters support considering Garland’s confirmation now.”

“As this irresponsible blockade of the Supreme Court confirmation process marks 100 days, I call on Senator Ayotte to drop the partisan politics, do her job and stop putting her political party before justice for Granite Staters,” Hassan concluded.

The Supreme Court has shown twice now that they cannot function properly with only eight Justices. The Senate must do their Constitutional duty and confirm a new Justice.

Sanders Supporters Attempt To Change Super Delegates Votes Through NH Democratic Convention

NH Convention 2016

Democrats line the street leading up to Bedford High School where the NH Democratic Party held their convention today.

An attempt by Bernie Sanders supporters, to change the New Hampshire Democratic Party platform regarding super delegates, failed at today’s NH Democratic Party Convention.

As the Democratic National Committee rules allow, super delegates freely choose whom they will support, regardless of whom the voters of their state voted for in the primary.

Secretary Clinton collected hundreds of super delegates before many of the primary votes were cast. Most of NH’s super delegates became outspoken surrogates Hillary throughout the primary.

After Sanders beat Clinton, 60%-38% in the NH Primary, voters began to call for the super delegates to change their position and support the candidate that the voters overwhelmingly supported.

At today’s convention, delegates were given the final copy of the party platform that included a resolution to pursue changes to super delegates in the 2020 primary. To many of the delegates this was not enough, but the convention rules, once adopted, would not allow for any amendments to the state party platform from the delegates on the floor.

Prior to the adoption of the convention rules, NH State Representative Peter Bixby offered up his own rule changes. The change was pretty basic, allow delegates to amend the resolutions, or the party platform, from the floor.

If this rule change would have passed, the New Hampshire Democratic Party could have passed a resolution similar to the one passed in Maine, which would have forced more super delegates to cast their vote for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention next month.

Both rules changes failed to get the required votes (140-293, 175-297). Unlike the convention in Nevada where a similar resolution was defeated by a voice vote, NH delegates cast their votes in a standing count.

Though Sanders supporters did not get the result they wanted, they process was done professionally. Rep. Bixby even commended Michael Rollo, the rules committee chair, for the way he handled the proposed amendment and the voting process.

After this amendment to the rules failed, the proposed resolutions and party platform were adopted by the convention body without any discussion.

The only question left is what are Sanders and his supporters going to do now?

Will Sanders go to the National Convention and endorse Hillary Clinton? Will he succeed in changing the National Party Platform to remove super delegates from future primary contests? Will those Democrats who supported Sanders in his campaign come together with Clinton supporters to ensure that Donald Trump does not become president?

Lastly, what will happen to all of the Sanders supporters who supported his strong progressive democratic policy ideas but do not call themselves Democrats? What will they do in the general election between Trump and Clinton? Will they keep pushing the Clinton campaign to take a stronger position on Wall Street reform and money in politics? Or will they end up supporting Donald Trump, the man who epitomizes everything that Sanders stood against?

The Sanders campaign scooped up nearly 40% of the overall Democratic voters in his run for the President. Without their support, Hillary Clinton will not be elected, and we will forced to endure four years of Donald Trump.

Shawn O’Connor’s Campaign Filing And Caucus Announcement Shocks Democrats

Just in case you did not hear the news this weekend, Shawn O’Connor has filed his candidacy for US Congress to represent New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.

However to the surprise of many, O’Connor filed to run as an Independent.

O’Connor was first out of the gate to announce his candidacy for Congress. He announced his run as the first Democrat to challenge Congressman Frank Guinta in March of 2015.

He made his announcement to run as an Independent on WMUR’s Close Up, that aired over the weekend adding that he will caucus with whoever is in power when he gets elected. This means he will caucus with Republicans or Democrats.

O’Connor, who said he was “proud to” endorse Senator Sanders campaign for President also stated that he was “firmly in the Sanders – Elizabeth Warren camp of the Democratic Party.”

If O’Connor really was firm believer “in the Sanders – Warren camp of the Democratic Party” why would he ever say he would caucus with the Republicans? The answer is simple. O’Connor does not care about either party. He is trying to buy his way into power by buying a seat in Congress.

Oconnor approval ratingsO’Connor claims that polling supports his campaign for Congress even though polling from UNH in April shows that 86% people “don’t know enough about him” and that his favorability actually went down from previous months.

Just as O’Connor made outrageous claims that Carol Shea-Porter was spreading a whisper campaign against him. Now he is claiming that the New Hampshire Democratic Party is blocking his campaign by not allowing him to speak at their upcoming convention. I guess when you threaten them with lawsuits they tend not to want to invite you to their party.

The fact is that O’Connor is a carpetbagger who moved to New Hampshire from New York City a few years ago with the sole purpose of running for Congress. He has donated a million dollars to his own campaign to buy his seat in Congress.

He is a greedy, power hungry opportunist evident by the fact that he probably knows he will lose the primary to Carol Shea-Porter so he is now running as an Independent. An Independent who stated he will caucus with whoever is in power to get better (more powerful) committee positions and assignments.

O’Connor has completely gone off the rails and as every day that goes by his entire campaign shows that he is only interested in one thing, buying his way into Congress.

As A Sanders Supporter, It Is Time To Come Together And Unite The Party Behind Clinton

In the beginning of 2016 I said I was leaning towards Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary. As New Hampshire’s First in the Nation primary grew closer, I knew that Bernie was my choice. He is a true progressive and was willing to take on the political establishment as well as the corporate establishment that continually buys our elections.

When Bernie first hinted at running, he was meeting with people here in New Hampshire. His message was broad but easy to understand: Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership and reverse the offshoring of American jobs by our previous failed trade agreements. Institute a national healthcare system that took for-profit corporations out of the process. Invest in our future by rebuilding our infrastructure, putting millions of Americans to work. Raising the minimum wage to “15 bucks and hour.” Addressing the growing problem of income inequality. And reigning in the Wall Street gamblers who wrecked our economy and made trillions in profits from the taxpayer funded bailouts.

These were the same issues Senator Sanders has been fighting for with other progressives in the U.S. Senate. His honesty and integrity is one of the reasons people began to “Feel the Bern.”

As I said before, I did not think that Bernie would win the Democratic Primary against Secretary Clinton but it was vitally important for him to try.

As a candidate he took his progressive message all across the country, holding some of the largest campaign rallies in history. His message resonated with millions of working families and slowly the polls began to show it.

Democrats, including Secretary Hillary Clinton began to adopt Bernie’s powerful messaging. Hillary began to shift to the left on issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the fight for $15. She talked about taking on Wall Street and overturning Citizens United to rid our political system of the corrupting influence of money in politics.

This is why it was so important for Bernie to run. He moved the very centrist Hillary Clinton to a place where us liberal progressives want our Democratic candidate to be.

I still support Bernie and I think he may even take the California primary but we all know that unless Bernie wins California by 30 points he will not have enough delegates to win the nomination. Yes, I know all about the Super-Delegates and they are not pledged until they vote in the convention. Let’s be honest, these surrogates for Hillary are not going to change their mind and suddenly vote for Bernie.

Before Bernie makes his final curtain call in the primary he has one more thing left to do.

He must announce his support for Hillary as the nominee and encourage all of his devoted followers to join him in supporting her.

I know there are serious differences between them and you know what, in every Presidential primary there are significant differences between the candidates. There are always wedge issues that create competition between the candidates. The important thing to remember is that when the primary is over that we open our hearts & minds and come together to ensure a Democrat wins the election.

The Republicans have already chosen their candidate; A lying con-man who has filed for bankruptcy multiple times, wants to register and ban Muslims, and evict 11 million aspiring Americans. These are just a few items from his extreme agenda.

We cannot let Donald Trump become the President of the United States. We must come together to ensure that President Trump never becomes a reality.

We need to come together now and push back against Trump. A party united that will stand strong against the Republicans. A party untied that will fight to elect more progressive Democrats all the way down the ticket.

If we stay divided, like some are suggesting, we will lose the Presidency and with Republicans in control of Congress we could lose everything we have worked so hard for over the last ten years.

The time is now for Senator Sanders to make a strong statement of support for Secretary Clinton and begin the process of bringing the party back together.

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