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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

Vast Differences Between Republicans And Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates On Raising The Minimum Wage

Republican Candidates For Governor Of New Hampshire, Reject Overwhelming Voter Support For Raising The Minimum Wage.

Whether or not to raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire will undoubtedly be one of the biggest issues in this year’s Gubernatorial race. Large majorities of both, Republicans and Democrats, support raising the minimum wage. However as we have routinely seen in the New Hampshire Legislature, the elected representatives have made raising the minimum wage a completely partisan issue.

On Thursday, WMUR reported that all of the Republican candidates for governor—Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, State Senator Jeanie Forrester and State Representative Frank Edelblut—oppose the establishment of a state minimum wage, despite the fact New Hampshire is tied for the lowest minimum wage in the country at $7.25-an-hour.

“State Sen. Jeanie Forrester said clearly during her economic rollout news conference on Monday that she opposes the establishment of a state minimum wage,” wrote John DiStaso.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas “does not believe in increasing the minimum wage nor establishing a state wage,” spokeswoman Alicia Preston told WMUR. Gatsas voted against raising the minimum wage when he was a State Senator in 2007.

State Representative Frank Edelblut “opposes raising the minimum wage and voted against establishing a state minimum wage in the current legislative session,” added DiStaso.

Executive Councilor Chris Sununu is attempting to play both sides.

“I oppose establishing a state minimum wage. I am open to a responsible increase in the federal minimum wage, provided there is a strong economic and moral case for it,” Sununu told WMUR.

Given the current political environment in Washington against raising the minimum wage, Sununu can safely say that he is “open” to an increase at the federal level knowing it will probably not happen anytime soon.

“The Republican candidates’ steadfast opposition to establishing a minimum wage highlights how vastly out-of-touch they are with New Hampshire’s working families,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “Everyday Granite Staters are hurting, but Republicans continue to stick with the failed trickle-down economic policies of the past. It’s clear the GOP primary is deteriorating into a race to see who can run the farthest to the right, and they’re all tied.”

The Democratic candidates for governor—Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, former State Securities Bureau Chief Mark Connolly and former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand—all support establishing a state minimum wage.

“New Hampshire has the lowest minimum wage in the country. As governor, I’ll fight to establish a state minimum wage that rewards hard work and grows our economy,” said Executive Councilor, Colin Van Ostern.

“A full-time employee making the federal minimum wage earns just over $15,000 a year—it’s simply not enough. I strongly support establishing a state minimum wage in New Hampshire, because every Granite Stater deserves to be paid a fair, living wage for their hard work,” said Mark Connolly.

minimum wageAcross the board, 76% of Granite Staters surveyed supported raising the minimum wage. Even more astounding is that 59% of New Hampshire Republicans surveyed said they would support current proposals to raise the New Hampshire minimum wage.

Raising the minimum wage is not a partisan issue nationally or here in New Hampshire. Nationally, 63% of those surveyed support a $15 minimum wage by 2020, and 71% support the elimination of the tipped minimum wage.

Research from the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute shows that just increasing the state’s Minimum Wage to $9 an hour would benefit over 76,000 people. That money would almost immediately be pushed right back into our local economies as low-wage workers spend almost everything they bring home in their paycheck.

“No matter who wins the primaries, voters will have a clear choice this November between a Republican who opposes raising the minimum wage and a Democrat who supports it,” Buckley added.

The US International Trade Commission Shows The TPP Is Bad News For Working Families

A New Report From The US International Trade Commission
Shows The TPP Is Not Worth Passing 

ITC-International-Trade-Commission-logoYesterday, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) released their findings on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). To nobody’s surprise the results are not good.

The TPP would not deliver the economic benefits promised by the U.S. Trade Representative. Instead, the report shows that the deal would be disastrous, increasing the U.S. trade deficit by over $21 billion per year and harming employment in key industries.

Basically they found that miniscule gains would be made in most of the sectors of the economy. By miniscule I mean that after 15 years the TPP would increase our GDP by a whopping 0.15%.

Most alarmingly, the ITC report projects that the TPP would increase the U.S. trade deficit in both manufacturing and the services sector. According to the report, once fully implemented, the TPP would decrease manufacturing output by over $11 billion per year and would decrease U.S. employment in manufacturing by 0.2%.  The report also highlights concerns that the TPP would put call center jobs at particular risk of being offshored.

The weak economic projections in the ITC report are especially notable given that ITC’s track record is one of being overly optimistic about the effects of free trade deals on American workers and our economy.

These results are not surprising to many of the labor groups who have been against this multi-national trade agreement since it was announced.

“This ITC report is so damaging that any reasonable observer would have to wonder why the Administration or Congress would spend even one more day trying to turn this disastrous proposal into a reality,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Even though it’s based on unrealistic assumptions, the report could not even produce a positive result for U.S. manufacturing and U.S. workers.”

“One of many shockers is just how meager the purported benefits of the TPP are. A mere .15% of GDP growth over 15 years is laughably small—especially in comparison to what we’re being asked to give up in exchange for locking in a bonanza of rights and privileges for global corporations,” added Trumka.

“Even though the report fails to account for currency manipulation, wage suppression and the negative impacts of uninspected food imports and higher drug costs, the study still projects the TPP will cost manufacturing jobs and exacerbate our trade deficit,” Trumka concluded.

“This report validates that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not worth passing,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard. “This report, as mandated by law, indicates the TPP will produce almost no benefits, but inflict real harm on so many workers.”

Trumka and the AFL-CIO are not alone in their condemnation of this report. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers highlights that includes many of the same provisions, currently in our international trade agreements, that fail to protect basic labor rights.

“The ITC, which historically has overestimated the benefits of trade agreements, predicts that the TPP will increase our nation’s trade deficit in manufacturing. This means that the corporate driven, secretly negotiated TPP will lead to the export of good paying manufacturing jobs to countries like Vietnam that lack basic human rights,” said International President Robert Martinez, Jr., of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). “For ordinary Americans struggling to get by this will result in more unemployment and continued downward pressure on wages and benefits.”

“The IAM has repeatedly called for the inclusion in the TPP of the International Labor Organization Conventions, which explicitly define basic labor rights. Unfortunately, the TPP labor chapter contains the same ineffectual provisions as in other U.S. trade agreements and fails to provide effective mechanisms to deal with countries lacking fundamental labor rights, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Mexico. That Malaysia, a country cited for human trafficking while focused on rapidly developing its aerospace industry, would be include in the TPP repudiates any notion that the agreement sets a new standard for international labor rights.”

“While the ITC has found that the TPP might increase U.S. GDP by a meager 0.15 percent by 2032, this is of little solace to the working families that will be devastated by the agreement’s numerous flaws. The IAM strongly urges Congress to reject the TPP and focus on a trade policy that benefits America’s working families.”

“The ITC has a long history of being overly optimistic about our trade deals. Yet, even the ITC’s rosy projection paints a picture of the TPP that would be bad for American workers,” said Shane Larson, Legislative Director of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).  “Across the electorate and throughout the country, the public is coming out strongly against the TPP and for good reason. The TPP was based on a trade model that has led to lost manufacturing jobs, lower wages, and increased trade deficits. It’s no surprise that those outcomes are what the TPP will deliver.”

The TPP will be hot button issues during this coming election. We have already seen this in the Presidential primary process. People all across the country are challenging candidates to stand up in opposition to this disastrous trade deal now.

“The American public has made clear its overwhelming opposition to the TPP and the approach to trade it embodies, and now this report makes it even more clear why lawmakers of both parties should stand with the American people and loudly oppose the TPP,” Larson stated.

“This year voters across the country are clearly making trade an issue. Most Washington policymakers and politicians are out of touch with the lives of average Americans. The American public is sick and tired of economists projecting fantasies of prosperity for them when it’s primarily multinational corporations that benefit. On Main Street and in workplaces all across America, working Americans know firsthand the consequences of what economists experience in theory,” added Gerard of the USW.

“But in the end, this may be the most damning government report ever submitted for a trade agreement. It is clear that the TPP will be DOA if Congress ever decides to bring it up,” Gerard stated.

This report clearly shows that the drawbacks to the TPP far out weight the meager benefits promised the US Trade Representative and the White House.

Our Failure To Invest In Infrastructure Is Actually Costing You Thousands

Crumbling Road

Just drive down the road and you will quickly realize that our roads and bridges are in dire need of repair. However roads and bridges are not the only part of our crumbling infrastructure that needs to be addressed before its too late. Our infrastructure includes water, wastewater, electricity, airports, inland waterways & ports, and rail.

Failure to act“Infrastructure is the backbone of the U.S. economy and a necessary input to every economic output. It is critical to every nation’s prosperity and the public’s health and welfare,” wrote the American Society of Civil Engineers in their new study, Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Future.

“Each Failure to Act study demonstrates that deteriorating infrastructure, long known to be a public safety issue, has a cascading impact on our nation’s economy, impacting business productivity, gross domestic product (GDP), employment, personal income, and international competitiveness,” ASCE added.

Failing to properly invest in maintaining and rebuilding our infrastructure is costing Americans thousands of dollars a year and it is about to get worse.

“From 2016 to 2025, each household will lose $3,400 each year in disposable income due to infrastructure deficiencies.” ASCE warned that if this infrastructure gap is not closed, by 2025, households would lose $5,100 annually and the economy could lose over $4 trillion in GDP.

ASCE 3400 lossIf we do not make the needed repairs today, they will ultimately cost us more in the future. It is the Republican led budget austerity that is leading us down this dangerous path. Since 2002, spending on roads and highways alone has fallen 23%. That is millions of dollars lost in our GDP and thousands of jobs lost, every year, by not investing in our future.

“America is currently spending more failing to act on our investment gap then we would to close it. Inefficient infrastructure is costing every household $9.30 a day. However, if every family instead invested an additional $3 a day per household, we could close the infrastructure investment gap in 10 years,” added ASCE.

“By increasing the investment by $144 billion a year for the next 10 years at the federal, state and local levels, we can upgrade our infrastructure, and protect our GDP, jobs, families’ disposable income and our nation’s competitiveness.”

America cannot wait any longer. The time is now.

Take action by sending a message to your elected leader.

Share this post with the hashtag, #InfrastructureMatters


 

Related reading: Business and Labor Agree: Let’s Fix our Crumbling Infrastructure Now

The DOL To Double Overtime Rule Lifting The Wages Of An Estimated 12 Million Workers

Thomas Perez delivers remarks after President Barack Obama announced Perez as his nominee for Labor Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Thomas Perez delivers remarks after President Barack Obama announced Perez as his nominee for Labor Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

12.5 Million Americans: the number of people that the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates will be affected by President Obama’s changes to the overtime rule.

Today, the Department of Labor, under President Obama’s direction, will update the threshold for salaried workers who automatically qualify for overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week.

“We’re making more workers eligible for the overtime that you’ve earned. And it’s one of the single most important steps we can take to help grow middle-class wages,” said President Obama.

“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. “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. 

This simple rule change will have a significant impact on our local and national economy. The White House estimates this rule change will put $12 billion dollars into the hands of hard working Americans over the next ten years.

The DOL is lifting the threshold for salaried workers 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.

This doubles the current salary threshold while being responsive to public comments regarding regional variations in income by setting the salary threshold at the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest income Census region (currently the South). Tying the salary threshold to the lowest-wage region of the country has strong historical precedent in previous rulemakings.

This salary threshold will be reevaluated and updated every three years ensuring that if continues to meet the 40th percentile mark.

Employers have used this low salary threshold to cheat workers out of higher wages for decades. Many of these workers routinely work 50-60 hours a week and are paid a flat rate. In some cases salaried workers were putting in so many extra hours, without any additional pay, that their per-hour rate would drop below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Now employers will have to choose between raising the wages of salaried employees or keeping employees at their current salary but reducing the number of hours they work in a week. Reducing the number of hours worked would lead to job growth as employers will need to hire additional workers to fulfill their needs.

Check out this short video from the White House that explain the rule change and how it will effect individual salaried workers. 

EPI estimates that raising the overtime salary threshold will directly benefit a broad range of working people, including:

  • 6.4 million women, or 50.9 percent of all directly benefiting workers
  • 4.2 million parents and 7.3 million children (under age 18)
  • 1.5 million blacks, and 2.0 million Hispanics
  • 4.5 million millennials, defined as workers age 16 to 34 (who make up 28.2 percent of the salaried workforce but 36.3 percent of directly benefiting workers)
  • 3.6 million workers age 25 to 34 (who make up 22.9 percent of the salaried workforce but 28.7 percent of directly benefiting workers)
  • 3.2 million workers with a high school degree but not more education (who make up 15.5 percent of the salaried workforce but 25.3 percent of directly benefiting workers)

This is a monstrous step in the right direction to lift the wages of millions of Americans. The White House estimates that the new rule is expected to extend overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans who are not currently eligible under federal law.

The new rule is slated to take effect on December 1st of this year.


Below are a couple of charts from the EPI that break down what industries will see the biggest boost from this new rule change and the number of workers impacted by the new rule, state by state.

In New Hampshire, over 54,000 workers will be directly effected by this new rule change.  Texas, Florida and California will see the biggest increases with over 1 million workers benefiting from this change.

Campaign Finance Violations Result In Vastly Different Penalties

Congressman Guinta gets a $15,000 fine while Congressman Bera’s father faces 30 months in prison. 

Guinta Is A Damned Liar

Image from the front page of the Union Leader May 15, 2015

We already know that Congressman Frank Guinta is, as the Union Leader put it, “a damned liar,” for lying about violating campaign finance laws.

For years Guinta denied any wrongdoing in the $355,000 loan he gave to his campaign. Last year, we found out that Guinta had violated campaign finance regulations and that Guinta and the FEC had settled the dispute. Guinta was forced to pay the money back and pay a minuscule fine.

Many people were outraged that the FEC did not come down harder on Guinta for his FEC violations, though his credibility is now completely shot.

The FEC rules are pretty clear but penalties vary.

For example, Babual Bera, father of Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) funneled $225,000 to Rep Bera’s campaign in a flagrant violation of FEC campaign donations limits.

According to the LA Times, Babual Bera convinced others to donate to his son’s campaign and then repaid them for their maximum legal contribution.

“Prosecutors said there were more than 130 instances of improper campaign contributions reported from approximately 90 people. Bera’s father repaid at least portions of those donations, and investigators said that it’s possible even more money was donated illegally to the congressman’s early campaigns.”

Babual Bera is set to be sentenced in August and the federal prosecutors are recommending 30 months in jail.

This is where penalties vary. Bera is facing the possibility of 30 months in federal prison while Congressman Guinta got off for his illegal $355,000 violation with a $15,000 fine.

The cases are not exactly the same, Bera’s father acted alone and repaid donors with his own money, while Guinta got a massive loan from this parents and donated the money directly to his own campaign, but there is a vast difference in penalties.

Guinta got off with a slap on the wrist years after his violation won him a seat in Congress. Bera’s father is facing years behind bars.

Why did Guinta not face jail time for his offenses? Why did Bera not get off with a minor fine?

Unfortunately the Constitution does not allow the FEC to bar those who violate finance laws from public office. If you cheat you should not be allowed to represent the people ever again. Short of that, stiffer penalties than the $15,000 Guinta received is necessary to stop corrupt politicians from trying to cheat the system.

The Lack Of OSHA Inspectors, Combined With Corporate Greed, Is A Recipe For Worker Abuse

Photo: Earl Dotter/Oxfam America

Photo: Earl Dotter/Oxfam America

OSHA’s lack of resources to enforce safety and health regulations create window of opportunity for greedy corporations to blatantly violate workers rights.

 

This week a new report from Oxfam showed the ugliness of corporate greed in America’s food processing plants. The new report showed that workers from Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue and Sanderson Farms, were routinely not given bathroom breaks and had to wear diapers on the processing line.

Click Here to Tweet Tyson Foods

.@TysonFoods: let your workers take bathroom breaks when they need to! #GiveThemABreak
Click Here to this tweet Tyson Foods

“Workers urinate and defecate while standing on the line; they wear diapers to work; they restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees; they endure pain and discomfort while they worry about their health and job security. And they are in danger of serious health problems,” the report stated.

“The denial of bathroom breaks strikes women particularly hard. They face biological realities such as menstruation, pregnancy, and higher vulnerability to infections; and they struggle to maintain their dignity and privacy when requesting adequate time to use the restroom,” the report added.

This is absolutely disgusting. These are the people who are processing the food that we eat every day.

“A recent survey in Minnesota revealed that 86 percent of workers interviewed said they get fewer than two bathroom breaks in a week.”

Two bathroom trips a week. Are you kidding me? This is inhumane! People should not be treated in this way.

“We’re human beings who feel, and hurt, and we work the best we can. But it’s not enough for them. They demand more and more… They demand more than you can do,” said Marta a worker at Pilgrim’s Texas processing plant.

Right now you are probably asking yourself, “How could this happen? Don’t we have laws against this type of worker abuse?”

Yes as a matter of fact we do.

“Denial of regular access to the bathroom is a clear violation of US workplace safety law, and may also violate US anti-discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and civil rights laws outlawing gender and sex discrimination,” the report stated.

We have strict labor laws to protect workers safety and health. We even created a national agency, OSHA, to enforce these laws.

And there in lies the problem. OSHA is so underfunded that enforcing these labor laws in next to impossible.

Republican’s preach we need to reduce regulations to allow businesses to thrive. Since we have blocked them from taking away our rights as workers, they have taken away the funding to enforcement agencies.

As Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turk explain in this video segment (embedded below), OSHA only has the resources to “check less than 1% of worksites in 2013.”

Think about it. When was the last time OSHA came to your worksite?

Labor laws like mandatory breaks are violated all the time. Some workers do not even know these laws exist or that they have any rights in the workplace at all. They do not speak up to their bosses for fear of retaliation. In states like New Hampshire workers at “at will” employees and that means employers can fire you for any reason they want with no justification needed.

Want to test my theory? Next time you go out to a bar or restaurant ask the server when the last time they got their mandated 15 or 30 minute breaks?

The laws are not the problem; it is enforcing these laws where we fall apart. Without enforcement companies are left to regulate themselves. What a joke that is. Greedy corporations like Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue and Sanderson Farms don’t care about the workers, they only care about how much money they will make today. They don’t care if OSHA slaps them with a $10,000 fine for violating regulations, because they made $100,000 while they were breaking the law.

We need stronger enforcement of existing labor laws and bigger fines for those who violate these laws. This means the government needs to hire more inspectors to ensure that workers are safe on the job and greedy corporations are not violating worker’s rights.

This is also another example of why workers need to come together and form unions. Many unions have trained and dedicated members who ensure that workplace regulations are being adhered to and are not afraid to speak out when workers are put at risk.

If these workers were union members, there is no way this type of outrageous behavior from these corporations would have been allowed at all.

 


Below is a the clip from The Young Turks where Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian talk about the failure of our government to enforce our labor laws and OSHA’s lack of funding.  This is a really great segment by TYT that everyone should see.

 

 

 

The US Chamber Of Commerce Releases New Legislative Guide To Steal Workers Rights

Chamber of Commerce Labor Report

The US Chamber of Commerce releases a new legislative guide with suggested legislation gut workers rights and block union organizing efforts.

 

If you ever thought the US Chamber of Commerce was working on your behalf, man were you wrong. Their only agenda is to screw workers out of their rights so they can maximize their corporate member’s profit margins.

Yesterday, the US Chamber of Commerce released their 2016 “Tools for Growth” report that details how states can reform their labor laws to “promote a favorable business climate.”

The report is basically a guideline for state legislators to push anti-union, anti-worker legislation that serves to line the pockets of wealthy business owners and corporate executives.

These laws are not designed to help workers in any way. They are intended to weaken or outright break unions by attempting to legislate away our rights.

Here are just a few of their legislative goals in their “Tools for Growth:”

  • Passing Right to Work – A law that does provide any benefit to jobs or the economy and has only been proven to lower wages.
  • Prohibiting City Ordinances to Raise the Minimum Wage – This legislation would make it illegal for any city or township to raise the minimum wage above the state’s minimum wage. Dozens of cities have already enacted higher minimum wages including New York City, Sea-Tac, and San Francisco to combat the high cost of living in these cities.
  • Legislating a reversal of the NLRB’s “Franchise” decision – The NLRB ruled that corporations could be held accountable for labor law violations in franchised shops.
  • Banning Project Labor Agreements – PLA’s ensure that workers are paid a fair wage, provided healthcare and retirement options, and ensure strong workplace safety protections and workmen’s compensation insurance.
  • Legislating away workers rights to organize and demonstrate – This includes multiple legislative reforms like: Prohibiting card check agreements, prohibiting union-management neutrality agreements, and prohibiting mass picketing [strikes, boycotts, picketing businesses for any reason, or any other demonstration intended to bring harm or attention to a specific business].

This report is nothing more than a legislative roadmap on how to screw workers, allowing corporations to further line their pockets with our lost wages.

The majority of their supporting evidence and legislative proposals in this new report are backed by, none other than the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, who have spent years trying to block unions and limit workers rights.

The US Chamber of Commerce will stop at nothing to prevent workers from organizing and forming unions and fighting for higher wages.

Granite State Republicans Continue To Vow Support Trump Even Though It Will Cost Them The Election

Donald Trump (Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Donald Trump (Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Republicans worst nightmare has come true. Donald Trump has won their nomination for President.

Former New Hampshire Republican leaders have been warning that a Trump led ticket would be disaster for Republicans all the way down the ticket.

“Here in New Hampshire, if Donald Trump is the nominee, we will not get a Republican governor. We will lose the New Hampshire state Senate, and we could lose the New Hampshire state House… and we could lose Sen. [Kelly] Ayotte.”
Former GOP Gov. John H Sununu

“I think they’re very concerned if they’re up for reelection . . . Clearly Trump at this time is not going to carry swing states. I’m thinking of New Hampshire, for example.”
Former New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg

“If Donald Trump is the nominee, Kelly Ayotte might as well resign because it’s all over.”
Former NHGOP Chair Fergus Cullen

Even with strong warnings from former party leaders, Republican candidates are still refusing to reject Trump and his racist, fascist, misogynistic rhetoric.

Senator Kelly Ayotte says she will support Trump’s nomination by voting for him but will not endorse him. Pledging to vote for him is in the eyes of everyday voters, the same as endorsing him.

Aaron Jacobs, Communications Director from Maggie for NH blasted Ayotte in a recent statement for her vowing to vote in support of Trump.

“While Kelly Ayotte just today made her support for Donald Trump official, they’ve long been in agreement when it comes to critical issues such as their desire to defund Planned Parenthood, undermine Roe v. Wade, and obstruct the Supreme Court confirmation process. And all Granite Staters should be concerned that Ayotte has announced her support for Trump despite national security experts and members of both parties have condemned his foreign policy positions as dangerous to our country’s vital interests. The people of New Hampshire will soundly reject the Trump-Ayotte ticket in November.”

Women’s health and equal pay are on the forefront of the minds of many women voters in the Granite State. Both Ayotte and Trump oppose equal pay for women and want to nominate a Supreme Court Justice to overturn the forty-year decision of Roe v. Wade.

senators_onnotice_03.1

Image from EMILY’s List

senators_onnotice_04

Image from EMILY’s List

National women’s rights advocacy group EMILY’s List has routinely highlighted the connections between Trump and Ayotte.

“Kelly Ayotte stepped even further away from New Hampshire women and families today with her confirmed support for Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. She chose her extreme party over the women she was elected to represent by pledging to support a nominee who has called women ‘fat pigs’ and ‘slobs’ and who spews hateful rhetoric every chance he gets,” said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock.

“Although really, it should come as no surprise to anyone that she’s lining up behind Donald Trump — they both share a radical agenda of wanting to defund Planned Parenthood, opposing meaningful efforts to end gender discrimination in pay, and wanting to take away women’s rights to make their own health care decisions. If New Hampshire women can’t even count on Kelly Ayotte to stand up to Donald Trump, they definitely can’t count on her to stand up for them in the Senate,” added Schriock.

It is not just Ayotte who is vowing to support Trump. Congressman Frank Guinta and Rich Ashooh, who are both vying for the GOP nomination in NH’s 1st Congressional District, have also said they will support the Republican nominee, even if it is Trump.

Ashooh recently told NH1 last month that he wouldn’t commit until Trump had the nomination. With Ted Cruz and John Kasish leaving the race, Ashooh is left with little choice.

Guinta told NHPR in March that he will support the eventual nominee. Carol Shea-Porter, candidate for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st District, has already called on Frank Guinta to denounce Trump’s deeply offensive statements.

Shea-Porter additionally called on Guinta to return a personal contribution Trump made to Guinta’s re-election campaign earlier last year. Frank Guinta refused to comment to WMUR on whether he’d return the contribution.

“Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee, Rich Ashooh and Frank Guinta need to admit to Granite State voters that they pledged to blindly support their nominee, including Donald Trump and his ignorant and dangerous views. We already know where Frank Guinta’s loyalties lie, as he refused to condemn Donald Trump for his hateful and divisive remarks, and he has also refused to return the campaign money he took from Trump earlier last year,” said Shea-Porter. “Rich Ashooh and Frank Guinta have already said that they will commit to supporting the eventual nominee, so now Granite Staters will see whether Ashooh and Guinta will follow through on their promise to Republican voters.”

Trump Sununu Campaign SignTrump’s Presidential campaign is already having an impact on the NH Gubernatorial election.

Last month, Democrats led by New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley unveiled a new campaign sign for the Trump/Sununu ticket, highlighting their shared far-right policies of defunding Planned Parenthood, opposing Medicaid expansion and denying climate change.

“The fact is that Donald Trump’s out of touch views are shared by Chris Sununu and the whole Republican gubernatorial field,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “Some Republicans are lining up to denounce Trump because they know how devastating his selection would be for down ballot Republicans. But not Chris Sununu, who said he’ll absolutely support whoever the Republican nominee is, even if it is Trump. I guess we’re not surprised since their policies line up so well.”

With Trump at the top of the ticket this means disaster for the GOP all the way down the ticket. This means that we, as Democrats, have a strong chance of retaining the Governor’s seat and taking back the state House and Senate.

“The Republican party has spoken and chosen the dangerous and offensive Donald Trump to carry their banner into the general election; unfortunately for New Hampshire Republicans, the general electorate won’t make the same mistake,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “That’s why Republican leaders in the Granite State have been warning against his candidacy for months. They know that Trump as their party’s nominee means disaster for Kelly Ayotte, Chris Sununu, Ted Gatsas, Jeanie Forrester, Frank Guinta, and the rest of the New Hampshire Republican ticket who have refused to condemn Trump and his destructive policies.”

UBER’s Sharing Economy Is A New Name For Exploiting Workers

Uber and the “sharing economy” may be the biggest economic lie since “Right to Work.”

The sharing economy is a fraud, a sham, a corporate marketing stunt to get people who believe that by using “on-demand” apps is somehow helping workers and not feeding the greedy capitalistic system.

Webster’s defines the sharing economy as: “Economic activity that involves individuals buying or selling usually temporary access to goods or services especially as arranged through an online company or organization.”

What part of “sharing” means charging a fee for service?

A true sharing economy would be offering free rides to people because you were already going there. Pretty much like a carpool of with your co-workers. Everyone rides together saving money and then rotates the burden of driving between the different riders.

That is not what ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft actually are. These ridesharing apps are using technology to hire a personal driver to take you wherever you need to go. They are a taxicab with a free app to notify the driver you need a ride.

Companies like Uber are actually hurting workers and hurting the economy with these on-demand ridesharing apps. Uber is bypassing years of progress and regulations on the taxicab industry that has helped to protect the passengers and helped to ensure the drivers are paid a living wage.

Most major cities and states have taxicab commissions that regulate the taxi and limousine industry. They ensure that the company properly maintains the cars, they ensure that the company carries the proper commercial car insurance, they ensure that drivers are properly trained, and usually set minimum rates to ensure that all workers are paid decent wage.

As employees of a taxicab company drivers are also able to access employment based benefits like social security, unemployment, vacation time, healthcare, and retirement options.

Uber avoids all of these regulations and employee based benefits by signing up drivers as “independent contractors.” The only requirements Uber has to be an independent driver is that you have a car, a driver’s license and proof of insurance. The driver’s name is also run through a very weak background check before being signed up as a driver that has led to hundreds of reported cases of assault by an Uber and Lyft drivers.

Uber does not verify the condition of the vehicle or ensure that the driver has coverage that would protect a paying passenger in case of an accident. Because Uber drivers are not employees they do not get access to healthcare benefits, retirement, sick or vacation time, social security, and Uber is not required to ensure that workers make at least the state minimum wage per hour.

Some Uber drivers in large cities are making upwards of $20 an hour for full or part time work, but after expenses (insurance, wear and tear on the vehicle, gas, taxes) are factored in, many only average about $10 an hour.

In smaller cities, where the demand for on-demand drivers is far less, drivers are routinely making less than minimum wage after expenses.

Recently the AFL-CIO released its “Statement of Principles On the On-Demand Economy” laying out ways to protect working people in an ever-changing work environment.

“The AFL-CIO is committed to making sure that the on-demand economy leads to better lives for working people,” said AFL-CIO Director of Policy Damon Silvers. “New technologies must not be an excuse for old style injustice. Workers in the on-demand economy, no matter what their titles, must have decent wages and benefits, safety and most of all, a collective voice on the job.”

If you really want to participate in the sharing economy, start a carpool don’t hire an Uber driver, because you are not really helping the driver, you are feeding the greed of capitalism that has exploited workers for hundreds of years.


Still unsure about Uber and it’s effect on our economy. Check out this great video from Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

 


Also listen to this excellent podcast from Best of the Left on the sharing economy.

Indiana Carrier Plant Workers Take Their Case Directly To UTC Shareholders

Members of the Indianapolis community rally behind USW Local 1999 on March 23, 2016.

Members of the Indianapolis community rally behind USW Local 1999 on March 23, 2016 after United Technologies announced they would be moving the plant to Mexico. Image by USW 1999

Steelworkers travel to shareholders meeting, deliver petition calling on Carrier’s parent company to reconsider moving production from Indianapolis to Mexico

United Technology shareholders came face-to-face with workers being destroyed by insatiable corporate greed.

On February 10th, United Technologies (UTC) announced its “business decision” to shutter the Carrier plant in Indianapolis and move production to Monterrey, Mexico.  The move would eliminate at least 1,400 jobs in Indianapolis. A video of the heartless announcement was posted on YouTube and has received more than 3.7 million views, drawing national attention to UTC offshoring plans.

On Monday, members of the United Steelworkers Local 1999 who work at the facility scheduled for closure traveled to the UTC shareholder meeting in Florida.  The USW members delivered a petition signed by 4,500 people, asking the company to reconsider moving their jobs to Mexico, and called on UTC to keep good, family-sustaining jobs in Indianapolis.

“Abandoning the Indianapolis plant will have a devastating effect on not only 1,400 workers, but also our families and our community,” said USW Local 1999 Unit President Donnie Knox. “UTC’s decision to move our jobs to Mexico and the video of a manager’s callous delivery of that devastating news to workers in Indianapolis have made Carrier and UTC into poster children for corporate greed.”

United Technologies’ greed is not unusual. It is exactly what many of the other American companies have done over the last thirty years.  Corporations sell out American workers, who labored to build the company from the ground up, only to watch their jobs shipped overseas so the stockholders can make a quick buck.

In October, United Technologies, Carrier’s parent company, used a stock buyback program to temporarily inflate the share price.  They announced plans to buy back $12 billion worth of the corporation’s own stock — boosting the price per share up by almost 5%.  UTC plans to spend another $3 billion later this year, to buyback even more shares. This is great news for the wealthy executives and Wall Street hedge fund managers who hold the majority of UTC stock (even though it’s one of the reasons for a recent downgrade in UTC’s bond rating).

What about the people who work for UTC?  Instead of reinvesting in the company, expanding current operations or increasing the wages of the hard working men and women who built the company, UTC decided to use all those billions to buy back their own stock.

Just imagine what that $12 billion could have meant for the 195,000 workers employed by UTC.

As if spending $12 billion to buy back their own stock was not bad enough, let us not forget that UTC also paid out dividends to stockholders.  In 2015, UTC paid a quarterly dividend of around $0.66 per share. This means that over the year UTC paid out $2.50 to all 843 million shareholders, totaling $2.1 billion dollars in dividend payouts.

That’s more than $14 billion total paid to stockholders in buybacks and dividends.  The amount of money would it take to keep these 1,400 workers in Indianapolis would be just a drop in the bucket, compared to what is being shelled out to stockholders.  The greedy executives do not seem to care about the workers, their families, or the city they will destroy when they close this factory.

Knox, and his fellow Steelworkers, delivered a petition with more than 4,500 signatures from Carrier employees and their supporters from Indianapolis and around the country, calling on the company to reconsider its heartless decision to abandon American workers.

Carrier’s decision to move these jobs to Mexico is what is wrong with too many American corporations. They no longer care about building a lasting company that employs as many Americans as they can, they only care about how they can boost their stock prices to further line their own pockets.

The members of Local 1999 are going to continue to fight until Carrier reverses their decision to send these jobs to Mexico.

On Friday, April 29, members of USW Local 1999 will take the fight to save their jobs to the streets with a march and rally at the Indiana State Capitol. The rally will be headlined by USW International Vice President Fred Redmond, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka.


Here are three articles on United Technologies stock buyback program:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/united-technologies-unveils-12-billion-buyback-1445343580

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-utc-results-idUSKCN0SE1AR20151020

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/united-technologies-sets-6-billion-accelerated-buyback-2015-11-12


Related reading on stock buybacks from the NH Labor News:

Read the series about Verizon as a case study of what’s wrong with the economy, starting here.

Read “What Mitt Romney taught us about America’s Economy” here.

Read “McDonalds: Paying Billions (of Borrowed Money) to Stockholders” here.

Read more NHLN coverage of stock buybacks here.

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