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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

Local Massachusetts Union Shirt Manufacturer Featured In New Clinton Campaign Ad

New England Shirt Company ShirtIn New Ad, U.S. Shirtmaker Criticizes
Trump for Outsourcing Jobs, Making Products Overseas

Small Business Owner: ‘Trump Says He’ll Make America Great Again
While He’s Taking the Shirts Right Off Our Backs’

new Hillary for America television ad set to air this week features a Massachusetts shirt manufacturer who employs more than 60 people criticizing Donald Trump for outsourcing jobs to make his products, including shirts, abroad. In the ad, Robert Kidder, the owner of New England Shirt Company in Fall River, says, “This factory has been here since 1883. We have over 60 people here making shirts labeled ‘Made in America,’ but Donald Trump’s brand of shirts come from China, his suits from Mexico, his coats from India.”

Going back to the colonial era, Fall River, Mass., has been central to America’s textile industry, and the New England Shirt Company remains the oldest operating ready-to-wear shirt manufacturer in America. Not only has New England Shirt Company been making shirts in Fall River for over 130 years, but they are also proudly union. Workers are represented by The New England Joint Board, a region group of UNITE HERE locals and “is one of the largest unions in the region representing manufacturing workers.”

Textile manufacturing unions in New England were some of the first and strongest unions in the country in the late 1800 and early 1900s.  Women and children slaved in the mills from Manchester, New Hampshire, through Lawrence, Massachusetts, through Lowell, Massachusetts, and all the way down to New York City.

Unions like the The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) fought for workplace safety, shorter workdays, and for two full days of rest a week.  Workers banded together and pushed the Massachusetts legislature to pass strong labor like and to be the first to pass child labor laws that prevented children from working in the mills.  Laws that were later passed nationally as part of the National Labor Relations Act.

In 1976,  The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America merged to form UNITE who in 1996 merged with HERE, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union, becoming UNITE HERE.

The ad, ‘Shirts,’ joins a previously released ad, “Some Place,” in spotlighting Trump’s long history of making Trump-branded products outside of America as part of a concerted effort over the past month to contrast Trump’s hypocritical business record with Hillary Clinton’s agenda to make the economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. The new ad follows Clinton’s announcement Tuesday of new plans to jumpstart small business startups and strengthen small business growthKidder, the small business owner, closes the new ad, “Donald Trump says he’ll ‘make America great again’ while he’s taking the shirts right off our backs.”

Watch ‘Shirts’

The 30-second ad is a part of and ad buy in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

Clinton has pledged make the largest investment in job creation since World War II in her first 100 days in office and has proposed a comprehensive “Make It In America” strategy to boost U.S. manufacturing and crack down on corporations that ship jobs overseas.

WMUR Still Refuses To Negotiate With Unionized Workers, NH Dems Plan To Boycott Debates

Fair Contract With WMUR

WMUR Local 1228 members at an informational picket in 2015

NH Democrats boycott of WMUR sponsored debates unwavering 

WMUR Channel 9 studio staff Directors and Production Technicians formed a Union to improve their wages and working conditions at the Hearst owned station back in April of 2015 and have been trying to bargain their first Contract ever since. The Union has proposed either leaving the workers in the pension they are in or moving them to the Hearst Union Pension Plan that 12 other WMUR employees are already in. The company is refusing to do that simply because they formed a Union.

After months of negotiations WMUR refused to include the workers in their pension.  The union began to call for help from some powerful allies.

By the end of 2015, the First in the Nation Primary was really heating up in New Hampshire as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were battling for the top spot in the coveted NH Primary.  The two were set to face off in a WMUR sponsored debate on December 19th when Clinton, O’Malley, and Sanders heard about the struggles of the WMUR workers.  All three sent letters to Jeff Bartlett, WMUR’s station manager, urging them reopen negotiations with the IBEW Local 1228 workers.

IBEW Local 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer said,  “We want to thank both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns for their support so far, and look forward to their continued efforts to help our workers hold onto what they already have. We are simply asking for status quo pension conditions. For these talented, dedicated and loyal workers, this is a giant slap in the face.”

Then Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, chair of the Democratic National Party, contacted WMUR where WMUR/Hearst lied to her about who was failing to negotiate.  She was told that the union, not WMUR/Hearst was refusing to negotiate before the debate.

“I find it unbelievable that WMUR/Hearst lied to Debbie Wasserman Schultz about our willingness to settle this contract since they have little or no regard for workers who just want to keep the pension they already have”, Fischer said.

All of the candidates and the DNC agreed to boycott the debate unless WMUR was removed as a sponsor of the debate and agreed to negotiate with the newly elected union.

ABC and Hearst caved to the DNC. “As a result of WMUR’s unwillingness to move forward on scheduling negotiations between the Hearst Corporation and Production Department employees represented by IBEW Local 1228 prior to the debate, we will no longer include WMUR as a co-sponsor of the debate,” said Wasserman-Schultz and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

“WMUR management’s refusal to meet in good faith with its employees stands in gross violation of that principle so I’m pleased that DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and N.H. Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley have taken this step,” stated IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson 

After the debate was concluded the members of IBEW Local 1228 did meet with WMUR but still could not reach an agreements.  Now nearly 10 months later, and well over 15 months since they started negotiating, there still is no contract.

Today, the NH Democratic Party reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the WMUR workers, by continuing to boycott WMUR sponsored debates.

“We told WMUR Station Management earlier this year that New Hampshire Democratic candidates would not participate in WMUR sponsored debates as long as the negotiations between the Union Production workers and Hearst were not resolved.” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “We have not changed our position and the station knows it.”

Hearst media is well known for their strong anti-union stance going all the way back to the Newsboys strike of 1899.  They continue to punish workers who elect to unionize.

“Hearst hasn’t allowed a bargaining unit of reporters in Pittsburgh who unionized in 2012 into their Union pension plan, and are still fighting for their first contract. Hearst says they’re not about to do it for the WMUR production workers.” said Fletcher Fischer, Business Manager of IBEW Local 1228 who represents the workers.

Hearst and WMUR are raking in millions as they refuse to add the 12 unionized employees to their already existing pension plan.

Screen ShotA report by Ad Age (analysis of data from Kantar Media’s CMAG — see attachment) showed that WMUR has either sold or has scheduled $34,768,054.00 in political advertising. They are number one in the top ten stations for money spent and/or booked on presidential campaign ads to date (from April 5, 2015 through Nov. 7, 2016) as of June 2016.

“Despite these tens of millions in revenue to Hearst owned WMUR, the Hearst Company is trying to steal the pensions of 10 workers who make the product that generates the ad revenues. This is nothing short of cruel corporate greed and overt union busting.” said Glen Brackett, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

Local 1228 also represents the Photographers, Master Control Operators and Live Truck Operators at WMUR. “The production workers are thankful that the New Hampshire Democrats for standing up for working people in the state against the Hearst money machine. It would be refreshing if the Republican candidates would do the same. After all, if the Contract is not settled in a month or so, Republican candidates will have to debate on whatever station the Democrats contract with.” said Fischer.

WMUR has long been the station of record for political coverage in New England, but Hearst’s stand against their workers has given the station a black eye. In December of 2015, the Democratic National Committee removed them as a sponsor of the Democratic Presidential debate in Manchester. To date, there have been no WMUR sponsored or broadcast political debates.

The IBEW informed us that as of today, no bargaining dates are scheduled. The Company said they would not be available throughout August.

Troubling The Ashes: A Tale Desegregation In Governor Wallace’s Alabama

Troubling the Ashes_CoverI just finished reading a wonderful new book, Troubling the Ashes, that highlights the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South.  The fictional story follows the life of a white woman, Marley, and her family, living through the turbulent times of the 1960’s.

Marley’s husband Winston was offered a job as a football coach in the small town of Natasugla, Alabama. The town was still reeling from when the school was burned to the ground just two years prior. Curious about what happened to the school, the school principle, Hunter,  tells the story of how the school was burned down to prevent the black children from the nearby town of Tuskegee from being allowed to attend.

Hunter told them about the first day students from Tuskegee came to Natasugla. He told them of how the mob of segregationists beat a white photographer in the streets for supporting the integration all while the county sheriff watched.

Marley and Winston eventually decided to stay and raise their own children in Natasula. The next few years are filled with attacks, false accusations, and the KKK.  Marley, Winston and a growing group of “public school supporters” work together to lessen the racial tensions that erupted over the past few years always hoping that one day they would be gone forever.

Shirley Aaron, author of Troubling the Ashes, does a masterful job of weaving the fiction characters and historical events.  At times the book reads more like a historical autobiography than a work of fiction.

The release of this book could not be prudent as some have noted the eerie similarities between Governor George Wallace and Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump.  While many political pundits on the right claim that racism and segregation ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, it is simply not true.

According to a new Pew Research Study, 61% of Americans believe that changes must be made in order to achieve racial equality.  It also reveals that black-white gaps in social and economic well-being persist across several measures. So how far have we come?

Shirley Aaron, author of Troubling the Ashes

Shirley Aaron, author of Troubling the Ashes

“Of course, we’ve seen many great changes since the turbulent 1960’s,” says Aaron. “But racism still lingers in closets, under beds, and inside the mind. Today, it just wears a different mask.”

With the current rise of the Black Lives Matter movement many Americans are learning that systemic racism still hinders blacks from getting a quality education, a good paying job, and that blacks are routinely targeted by law enforcement.

George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Troubling the Ashes is the prefect way to stop and look back to see how far we have come in the last fifty years only to see that there is more work to be done.

Democrats Answer: “Will You Vote For The TPP In The Lame Duck Session?”

Because the TPP is such a hot button issue for many Americans, specifically those in the labor movement, I thought I would share with you this short video from Under Current.

The video was filmed at the Democratic National Convention.  Senators and Congressmen were asked straight out if the TPP comes up during the “Lame Duck Session” will you support it?

We must keep the pressure on our Congressional Representatives, specifically the Democratic representatives who say they support labor, to ensure that the TPP does not pass.

It Is Time That Al Baldasaro Is Removed From His Position As State Rep

For years now we have known that Londonderry State Representative Al Baldasaro is a loudmouth who says whatever pops into his head no matter how truthful it may be.

But this time he has gone too far.

First he told interviewers that Hillary Clinton should be “put in the firing line and shot for treason” over the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. People were shocked and outraged that he publicly called for the execution of Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.

His comments not only drew national outrage but it drew the attention of the Secret Service.

“The U.S. Secret Service is aware of this matter and will conduct the appropriate investigation,” said Shawn L. Holtzclaw, a spokesman for the Secret Service.

Even the Republican Speaker of the House, Shawn Jasper, was appalled at the comments spewing from Baldasaro’s mouth.

“Whether a person likes Hillary Clinton or not, the idea that a New Hampshire lawmaker would suggest that a candidate should be executed is just outrageous,” Jasper said.

Baldasaro, a retired Marine Corps veteran, continued to shock people by standing up for Donald Trump as he attacked the Khan family who lost their 27 year old son in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In his death, Capitan Humayun Khan saved the lives of hundreds of his fellow soldiers. CBS News explains:

“In 2004, Captain Khan was deployed from Germany to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom, despite the fact that his four years of required service had technically been completed. Then on June 8th, four months into his tour of duty, Khan was inspecting soldiers on guard duty when a suspicious vehicle approached the gate of his compound at high speed. Khan ordered his fellow soldiers to stay back, as he took 10 steps toward the car with his arm outstretched. The car then exploded, killing Khan, but its improvised explosive device detonated before it could reach the gates and the nearby mess hall where hundreds of Khan’s fellow soldiers were eating breakfast.”

(Read more about Humayun Khan’s life, his charitable works, and his dedication to the United States.)

Like Trump, Baldasaro took to twitter to spread wild conspiracy theories calling Khizr Khan, Humayun’s father who spoke at the Democratic National Convention, “a Muslim Brotherhood agent.”

Al Baldasaro is, right now, the face of NH as far as the rest of the world is concerned. His violent rhetoric calling for the death of a presidential candidate does not represent the residents of the state of NH. His slandering of the family of a US soldier who died serving his country is beyond the pale.

It is time for Representative Al Baldasaro to either step down or be removed from office for his outrageous comments and publicly disgracing the State of New Hampshire, the people of New Hampshire, and the office he was elected to.

I am calling on Governor Maggie Hassan and House Speaker Shawn Jasper to “convene a special session of the legislature and vote to expel Rep. Al Baldasaro from his current position as State Representative for dishonoring the NH House of Representatives and disgracing the state of New Hampshire.”

Join me by signing the petition below and sharing this message.

Petition- Remove Rep. Al Baldasaro from office (1)

Petition to be delivered to Governor Maggie Hassan and Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper:

We are calling on you to convene a special session of the legislature and vote to expel Rep. Al Baldasaro from his current position as State Representative for dishonoring the NH House of Representatives and disgracing the state of New Hampshire.

Petition can also be found and shared directly from here.

Legislative Committee Fails To Act On Governor Hassan’s “Gateway To Work” Program

Republicans Block The Proposal That Is Strongly Supported by New Hampshire’s Business Community 

CONCORD –Today, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal, which would have strengthened workforce development in our state and has strong support from the NH Business and Industry Association. An attempt to remove the proposal from the table was defeated by the Republican majority on the Fiscal Committee.

Announced in Governor Hassan’s State of the State Address earlier this year, Gateway to Work will use repurposed existing federal funds to help New Hampshire’s citizens succeed in the workforce through strengthening job training, creating new apprenticeship opportunities, helping remove the barriers that cause too many citizens to fail in the workplace, and helping young people in the Granite State get a leg up on their futures.

“As we educate our young people and build the highly skilled workforce of the future, innovative businesses looking to grow here in New Hampshire need more workers now,” Governor Hassan said at the Gateway to Work kickoff event in March. “We have an opportunity to better use the talent of our own people right here in New Hampshire, helping our businesses thrive while closing the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

“Through Gateway to Work, we can provide more of the workers our businesses need to thrive,” Governor Hassan said. “We can help give more of our families the opportunity to work their way to self-sufficiency and into the middle class. And we will do so using only existing federal funds, while achieving long-term savings for taxpayers by moving people off of public assistance,” added Hassan.  

The New Hampshire business community has continued to say that New Hampshire does not have enough skilled workers to fill the open jobs currently available now.  Recently the Washington Post highlighted New Hampshire’s growing need for skilled manufacturing workers as the majority of the workforce heads into retirement.

“While New Hampshire’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate is largely a good thing — it’s one of the nation’s lowest — it also means the labor pool is shallow. It’s created a squeeze for manufacturing companies in particular for two reasons: The industry’s workforce is aging at a faster than average rate, while fewer young workers have the proper skills — or interest — to fill the void of retiring workers,” wrote the Washington Post.

Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“New Hampshire’s continued economic growth depends on our ability to meet the workforce needs of our businesses. As we work to retain existing businesses and attract new ones, the number one concern that I consistently hear from employers is their need for skilled workers.

“Gateway to Work has strong support from the business community because it would move people off of public assistance into sustainable careers, saving taxpayer dollars and providing innovative businesses with the workers they need to grow and thrive. With a strengthening economy and an unemployment rate that is among the lowest in the nation, the business community is desperate for workers. I am disappointed by the Fiscal Committee’s repeated delays with transferring the existing federal funds to launch Gateway to Work, and I am concerned that Republicans on the committee are allowing politics to prevent us from moving forward with this common-sense initiative to fill jobs at growing companies and help close the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

After the vote, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), member of the Fiscal Committee, released the following statement: 

“I am frustrated and disappointed that the Joint Fiscal Committee played politics with our state’s economy today by voting against transferring TANF dollars to fund the innovative Gateway to Work program.  This program that has strong support from New Hampshire’s business community would have gone a long way towards strengthening our economy by providing potential employees with the skills and services they need to successfully gain employment.”  

“We hear constantly that with an improving economy, the most significant challenge our employers face today is finding skilled workers who are able to take jobs when offered. Gateway to Work targets potential employees who have barriers to employment such as reliable child care and transportation and helps lower those barriers to get them into the workforce. Every day that we delay implementation of this program, we leave both our unemployed constituents and our businesses behind.  We should be doing all we can to help Granite Staters escape poverty and move off of public assistance and towards self-sufficiency, and the vote by the Fiscal Committee today is a step in the wrong direction.” 

“Today’s action by the Republican majority forces our unemployed constituents to stay on public assistance programs instead of finding good employment and leaves our businesses without the workers they need to thrive and expand our economy.”

Representative Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord) issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“I am extremely disappointed that Republicans continue to obstruct the implementation of the Gateway to Work initiative. It is a common sense program critical to New Hampshire’s future and should be approved as quickly as possible.

The Gateway to Work initiative would help workers, businesses, and the economy as a whole by investing in job training, apprenticeship opportunities and other supports for hard-working Granite Staters. There is no reason to delay an initiative that benefits everyone: Gateway to Work would help workers to get good-paying jobs, help businesses utilize a skilled workforce, and reduce government spending by moving people off public assistance and into stable careers. Republicans need to stop playing politics with our state’s future and approve Gateway to Work.”

By continuing to block programs like the “Gateway to Work,”  Republicans in Concord are showing that they are less interested in doing what is best for working people and businesses in New Hampshire and more interested in chasing wild conspiracy theories from doctored videos and sticking to their partisan opposition to Governor Hassan.

Republicans routinely complain about having too many people “living off the system” on public assistance and yet oppose one of the strongest proposals to help people “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” by providing them with the skills necessary to find a lasting career that will help lift them out of poverty.

The Heritage Foundation Takes Aim At Federal Workers

Federal Workers beware. Republicans and the Heritage Foundation are coming to steal your pay and slash your benefits.

heritage-foundation-logoThe Heritage Foundation, a well known right-wing think tank started by the Koch brothers, released a new report that directly targets federal workers in the ongoing race to the bottom.

The majority of the savings would come from eliminating any defined contribution plan or pension, as part of a workers retirement package and forcing workers into the government’s defined contribution plan, a 401K called the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

From reporting by Government Executive online:

“New hires and workers with less than five years of experience should be shifted to a more generous defined contribution system exclusively — with a maximum government match of 8 percent of employees’ salaries into their Thrift Savings Plan accounts — while employees already retired, separated or with 25 years experience should be grandfathered into the current system, the think tank said.

Those with between five and 25 years of federal service would be given three different options enabling them to either keep the same basic structure while contributing more toward their pensions, or to freeze or stop their defined benefit in favor of a more generous TSP contribution.”

Their plan would steal a workers pension and in trade give them the option to add an additional 3% in contributions to their TSP.

Working people across the country are already struggling to pay their bills as wages have stagnated but the Heritage Foundation wants workers to fund their own retirements by taking more out of their paychecks.

The private sector shifted to 401K retirements over the last two decades as a way to reduce their operating costs and force the employee to plan and fund their own retirement. The loss of employer-funded pensions is also why many seniors are forced to work well past retirement age and rely more on Social Security to pay their bills.

The Heritage Foundation also suggests that lawmakers make it easier to fire workers by reducing the “burden of proof necessary to fire” workers and expanding the probationary period for workers three fold.

On top of that the Heritage Foundation want Congress to cut federal workers vacation time (Annual Leave) and Sick Leave to replace it with a “paid time off” system. This means if a worker gets sick they would not longer have a bank of Sick Leave to draw from but would have to draw from their total PTO time. This is the same program that has screwed private sector workers out of their paid sick leave.

The report does not indicate whether or not a worker would be allowed to carry over any unused PTO like they can with Annual and Sick leave now.

Lastly the Heritage suggested that Congress should strip away all retirement health benefits from workers yet to be hired.

Right-wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation like to tell everyone that federal workers are overpaid and have outrageous benefit packages but many others argue that is not the case.

“Federal employees remain significantly underpaid compared to their private sector counterparts, according to a review by a group advising the president on federal wages, with feds’ pay lagging 35 percent behind non-federal workers performing similar jobs,” wrote Government Executive in a 2015 article.

Jessica Klement, legislative director of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association told GovExec that, “federal pay lags behind industry in many sectors and large companies often offer benefits the government does not.”

“If anything, the federal government should start to emulate those practices, not move further away from attracting top talent to serve our nation,” Klement added.

David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, called the report a “vicious” attack on the federal workforce.

“It is disgusting to advocate for cutting the pay for the people who care for our veterans, patrol our borders, and inspect our food, while showering the wealthy with billions in tax cuts,” Cox said.

Private sector workers are already feeling the downward pressure of the ongoing race to the bottom. They have already begun to lose their healthcare benefits, the vacation time, and their pay. Now wealthy business elites, with the help of their “think tank” the Heritage Foundation, have turned their sights on federal workers.

We need to stop letting these wealthy business executives and greedy politicians pit worker against worker. The result will leave working people suffering while they reap all the benefits of our hard work.

The Gatsas Economic Plan Is Full Of Holes

Mayor Ted Gatsas (Image By Marc Nozell)

Mayor Ted Gatsas (Image By Marc Nozell)

Ted Gatsas’s economic plan, the “Granite Growth Agenda,” is just a reinvention of Regan’s failed “trickle down” economic policy and is so full of holes you could strain pasta with it.

Yesterday, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas was traveling the state promoting his economic plan that focuses heavily on helping the business community.

“As governor, I will be a partner in working to strengthen and grow New Hampshire’s economy,” said Gatsas at an event in Nashua. “No matter who you are, where you live or how big your business is, the Granite State economy will work for you.”

“As governor, I will get Concord off (the) backs of New Hampshire families and businesses and out of your wallets,” Gatsas continued.

How will he accomplish this? With GOP magic, cut business taxes and magically the economy will flourish.

Gatsas told the Concord Monitor Editorial Board that “he would like to see the Business Profits Tax and the Business Enterprise Tax either rolled back or cut altogether.”

First Gatsas wants to cut taxes reducing our state’s revenue at the same time he wants to increase the state’s contributions to the NH Retirement System.

Gatsas told the Monitor that he thinks the State should “pay its fair share of retirement costs.”

“Gatsas said he thinks municipalities would like to see the state’s retirement system contribution returned to its original 40 percent,” wrote the Concord Monitor. Gatsas also admitted, “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

But wait there is more!

Gatsas also says he would like to see cities and towns adopt full day kindergarten. He told the Monitor that it would not be mandatory but he would “encourage” all communities to join.

At least Gatsas realizes the problem with instituting full day kindergarten.

“The most obvious barrier is funding,” Gatsas said. “To encourage districts to adopt full-day kindergarten I will work with the legislature to adjust the education funding formulas to count each kindergarten student in a public full-day program to be reimbursed at the full-day rate.”

So the Gatsas’ plan is to cut tax revenue while increasing state expenses.

“Rehashing failed Republican economics and repeating far-right talking points can’t hide the fact that Ted Gatsas’ ‘plan’ would do nothing for middle-class families trying to get ahead,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair, Raymond Buckley. “His record offers more of the same. Gatsas has spent his time in office blocking investment in New Hampshire’s clean energy future and implementing deep education cuts that led to massive layoffs.” 

Because the Legislature is required to pass a balanced budget, the loss in revenue and increase in expenses, means that cuts will have to be made in other departments as well.

 

Maybe Gatsas can explain how cutting taxes will help to fix the hundreds of “red listed” roads and bridges across the state? How are we going to attract new businesses to New Hampshire when they do not have access to the infrastructure needed to move their products?

New Hampshire also has a significant problem retaining young workers. Many leave the state because the cost of living is so high and wages are so low. Local companies are already struggling to find workers to replace their aging workforce. Why would any new business want to relocate to a place where they will not be able to find an adequate labor force?

Trickle down economics is a scam to help businesses at the expense of working people and our communities. We do not need more austerity politics. We need more investment in our future. We cannot make the investments needed if we continue to cut our revenue streams.

Mayor Gatsas, your pasta is ready.

 

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

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