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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

Labor Praises The Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality Decision And Recognizes That There Is More To Be Done

Gay-Couple-from-back-Holding-Hands Square

For over thirty years organized labor and the LGBT have been walking hand-in-hand to push for equality.

Last year I wrote a labor history story called “Labor of Love: How The American Labor Movement Is Securing LBGT Equality” which focused on the role that labor unions played in pushing for equality.

“The UAW was the first union to get same sex couple benefits into labor contract,” said Roland Leggett, the Michigan State Director for Working America.  After the UAW successfully got domestic partner benefits into their contracts in 1982, more and more Fortune 500 companies started to adopt similar policies.  By 2006, 49% of all Fortune 500 companies offered domestic partner benefits.

As you are already well aware, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. This ruling will force states like Texas, to accept and recognize all marriages.

Labor unions from across the country applauded this decision and reminded us of their role in helping to make the dream of equality, a reality.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision marks a truly historic day in America. While there is still work to do to secure economic and social justice for LGBT Americans, the court’s ruling is a major victory for everyone who believes in equality,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “Same-sex couples will now have equal access to marriage licenses like any other couple. This ruling is a win for children, families, workers and our entire country.”

“The United Steelworkers applaud the court for upholding the 14th Amendment of the U.S Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law,” said The United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard and International Vice President Fred Redmond. “This is a historic day, and we are proud especially for our LGBT members. This victory confirms the principles of our union that regardless of the color of a person’s skin, regardless of religion or nationality, and no matter who a person loves, discrimination has no place in our union or in our society.”

“Today is a momentous day. Together as a nation we took a dramatic step toward the ideals of equality and freedom. Today, brave Americans who were unafraid to stand up and organize for their basic rights proved once again the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice,” stated Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

“AFGE applauds today’s Supreme Court ruling declaring that same-sex couples across the country have a Constitutional right to marry,” said American Federation of Government Employees National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Augusta Y. Thomas. “This was the right decision for the country and the right decision for everyone who believes in the principles of fairness, equality, and basic human dignity.

“As the largest union representing federal and D.C. government employees, AFGE represents people across the social and political spectrum, including many LGBT members. Just two weeks ago, AFGE was proud to march for the first time in the 2015 Capital Pride Parade – the only labor union to participate. For years, our AFGE Pride Program has been working toward fair treatment and equality for LGBT employees in the government workplace,” concluded Thomas.

The National Education Association and its 22 state-level affiliates, were a part of a broad-based labor coalition with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and Change to Win, filed an amicus brief, arguing that state discrimination against same sex couples deprives such couples of an array of economic benefits and legal rights, and deprives them and their children of fundamental dignity, benefits and rights that other couples and their families enjoy.

“Today the Supreme Court has taken a monumental step forward in our national journey toward a more perfect union by making marriage equality the law in every state of our great nation,” said National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García. “On behalf of our members—and the students they serve—we applaud the court’s historic decision, which will end discrimination against same sex couples, place them on equal footing with other families and safeguard all of our children.”

“We know that today’s ruling will make a tremendous difference both to the dignity and personal and economic well-being of same sex families and to the dignity and personal well-being of their children as well as others who have been bullied and fearful due to their sexual identity. We applaud the Supreme Court and the many advocates whose work resulted in today’s historic decision,” concluded Eskelsen García.

For some this decision hit very close to home. Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers is also one of the few openly gay, national union leaders.

“From Loving to Windsor to today, love has won. As people start seeing one another’s real aspirations and dreams for all our families and our communities, as well as for ourselves, we see that the arc of history does bend toward justice,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

“And while this is a day of celebration, there is more work to do in our fight for full equality. As a gay woman and union leader, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my union—an ally in the struggle for rights and a shield from unfair discrimination in the workplace,” said Weingarten.

The freedom to marry does not mean that the LGBT community has reached full equality. The persecution and discrimination of LGBT members still runs rampant in many parts of our great nation.

While I celebrated this decision, in solidarity with the dozens of my personal friends and family who are gay, I know that we still have a long way to go. The suicide rate of LBGT teens is almost 30% higher than non-LGBT teens. This is in large part to the persecution and bullying that LGBT teens must endure as they grow and find themselves. Most states have protections from bullying based on race or ethnicity, but very few have protections for the LGBT members.

We also have work to do to ensure that LGBT workers cannot be discriminated against in applying for a job, and cannot be arbitrarily fired just for being gay. Unfortunately too few states have protections for LGBT members from workplace discrimination.

“From talking with LGBT members throughout the country, I know the importance of ensuring that there are comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections in place. Without these protections, same-sex couples who have the right to marry in their home state will still be at risk of being fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartments based simply on who they are. We will continue the fight forward,” concluded Weingarten.

 

#FITN: Jeb Bush’s Record Of Attacking Public Workers

Image by Gage Skidmore

Image by Gage Skidmore

Today, Government Executive posted a blistering article about the newest candidate in the GOP Primary, Jeb Bush.

The article highlights Jeb Bush’s attack on public workers in Florida and how he slashed the number government employees by over 25% and sold those services of to for profit industries.

Privatization became the “signature of his administration,” Crew wrote of Bush. The governor expanded contracted services to include previous government operations such as criminal defense, certain welfare benefits, child protection and the staffing of nursing homes for veterans.

As Governor, Jeb Bush stripped workers of their right to due process and gave managers overwhelming discretion to fire workers.

Bush successfully stripped Florida’s 16,000 career managers and supervisors of due process protections by turning them into at-will employees. Also during his governorship, Bush changed the policy for “cause” from a specific list of fireable items to the much broader “sound discretion of an agency head.”

…“I look forward to the time when these buildings of government are empty,” Bush said in his second inaugural address. “There would be no greater tribute to our maturity as a society than if we make these buildings around us empty of workers, monuments to a time when government played a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill.”

What would Jeb Bush do as President? Would he eliminate entire agencies like other candidates have proposed? Would he sell off those agency services to his Wall Street buddies under the guise of privatization?

Federal workers should be aware that if Jeb Bush somehow becomes President, their jobs would be on the chopping block.  Jeb wants to take more from the dedicated hard working men and women of the federal government, just like his brother and his father did when they were President.

Excerpt from Government Executive below

Why a Jeb Bush Presidency Could Mean
Far Less Job Security for Feds

Throughout his governorship, Bush called for government to be stripped to its essential core, and followed up the rhetoric with the downsizing of Florida’s bureaucracy.

“My hope is that we’ll have a smaller government in terms of workforce,” Bush said at the outset of this tenure, “but a better government.” He has, at other times, referred to government as a “dinosaur.”

…Bush successfully stripped Florida’s 16,000 career managers and supervisors of due process protections by turning them into at-will employees. Also during his governorship, Bush changed the policy for “cause” from a specific list of fireable items to the much broader “sound discretion of an agency head.” He coupled those policies with a directive to all state agencies requiring them to issue blueprints for reducing their workforces by 25 percent.

…Bush offered a reminder of his penchant for firing government workers last month, when he criticized the Obama administration for not firing more employees at the Veterans Affairs Department in the wake of the waitlist manipulation scandal.

…“I look forward to the time when these buildings of government are empty,” Bush said in his second inaugural address. “There would be no greater tribute to our maturity as a society than if we make these buildings around us empty of workers, monuments to a time when government played a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill.”

…Privatization became the “signature of his administration,” Crew wrote of Bush. The governor expanded contracted services to include previous government operations such as criminal defense, certain welfare benefits, child protection and the staffing of nursing homes for veterans.

Bush also significantly increased the temporary workforce, employees with no access to health care, retirement or other benefits afforded to career workers.  Even for those in permanent positions, the average salary dropped during the Bush administration while the probationary period for new employees jumped from six months to one year.

…The newest entrant into the ever-growing race for the Republican nomination has faced some controversy in dealing with government workers’ pensions. Bush has been accused of pushing pension administrators to invest with his donors. He created an incentive program for municipalities to give their employees larger pensions, but the expiration of the temporary state-level funding has led tomassive unfunded liabilities in some areas.

Thank You To Those Who Voted Against The TPP, However The Fight Is Not Over

Working Families Have Spoken And Washington Was Listening.

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives held a vote on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which failed by a 126 to 302 vote, due to strong opposition from House Democrats.

For months, progressives and labor advocates have been speaking out against the TPP. Senators Warren and Sanders have made their opposition to the TPP a main talking point in all of their recent speeches. They spoke out because the White House was negotiating the TPP in secret. What little information has been leaked on the proposed deal shows that the deal would be harmful to American workers, continuing the failed policies of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Fast Track legislation narrowly passed the Senate however House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rallied House Democrats against it.

“Nancy Pelosi has always fought for working families and today her leadership on the trade package vote was instrumental in the House voting against another bad trade deal,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “She stood up against corporate interests and as always put first the people who are too often left out of trade agreement discussions. I applaud Rep. Pelosi’s bravery and leadership on this and look forward to working with her on good trade bills.”

“The House leadership tried to use a gimmick to push Fast Track through Congress. In rejecting an extremely weakened Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) package, representatives today stood with working families who want good jobs and thriving communities,” wrote the Communication Workers of America (CWA).

House Democrats like Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) truly understand why it is important to stop this Fast Track legislation.

“Every day, I’m fighting to support New Hampshire workers, small businesses, and family farms, which all deserve a strong say in our nation’s trade policies. I believe the trade promotion authority legislation currently before Congress fails to give these groups a real seat at the table, and fails to include necessary protections for American jobs and workers, which is why I plan to vote against it,” said Kuster in a written statement just days before the vote.

“The New Hampshire AFLCIO is especially proud of Congresswomen Kuster who stood strong in the face of tremendous political pressure to do what was best for New Hampshire workers and workers everywhere,” said Mark MacKenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO.

It was not just Leader Pelosi who made this vote against the TPP a reality. It was the combined actions of millions of hard working Americans who lobbied their Congressional Representatives to oppose this secret trade deal.

“American workers came together and spoke with one voice about the path their country and economy should follow. We are very grateful for all the activists, families, community leaders, and elected officials who worked so tirelessly for transparency and worker rights in international trade deals,” Trumka said.

“This is a victory for hard-working men and women all across America. In the face of long odds, the American people sent a powerful message that their interests trump narrow political agendas and special interests,” said Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

“Today, we saw elected leaders stand up and make clear that the failed promises of global trade agreements, which only seem to serve irresponsible corporations, must come to an end. More importantly, we have seen what hard-working families can accomplish when we stand together and fight for what is right for both workers and this nation,” Perrone said.

“We keep score. We see the Democrats and the Republicans that stood with us. TAA was the only way to get Fast Track through, and despite the efforts of the President, TAA failed. The subsequent vote on Fast Track itself proved this as we failed to stop Fast Track by a margin of eight votes – just a difference of four votes either way. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi got it right when she said that Democrats have always supported TAA but not as a path to Fast Track,” said CWA past President Larry Cohen, leader of the coalition work on Fast Track.

CWA President Chris Shelton said, “I’ve never been prouder of our union and the work CWA members do. We’ll continue to fight back and build the movement we need.”

Organized labor relied heavily on their progressive allies, like CREDO Action to help spread the word of the dangers of passing this “NAFTA on steroids,” Fast Track legislation.

“The failure of the White House to win a key vote to advance Fast Track Authority for the TPP shows that the millions of Americans who spoke out against job killing trade deals are making a big difference despite an all out effort by Wall Street lobbyists, the Chamber of Commerce, and the White House to ram this through,” said Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director at CREDO Action.

However the fight over the TPP is far from over. House leadership has already stated that they will hold another vote on the Trade Authorization Assistance package early next week.

“This fight is not over,” Zaheed continued. “CREDO will continue to fight against Fast Track and any treaty that puts the rights of multinational corporations over the rights of the American people.”

We need our elected leaders to stay strong against the fierce lobbying arm of Wall Street and Big Business.

“We must fully defeat Fast Track, so that Congress can work for trade deals that give working families at least as much standing as corporations. We need 21st century trade that works for all of us, not just investors and multinational corporations,” wrote the CWA.

“Our broad coalition of Americans — representing millions of union members, environmental activists, immigrant rights advocates, people of faith, students, public health and consumer advocates, community leaders and so many more — will keep up the fight until Fast Track is defeated,” CWA concluded.

The New Hampshire Labor News would like to thank all of the Representatives who chose to stand with working families in opposition to this disastrous trade agreement. We the people have spoken and we thank you for listening! We hope that you will continue to stay strong in your opposition and defeat this disastrous trade agreement once and for all.

The GOP In The NH Senate Push Their Utterly Disgusting Budget Through To Committee Of Conference

The New Hampshire Senate recently passed their version of the budget, right down party lines. Their budget reduces taxes on corporations and slashes funding to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Senate has also voted to cut funding to the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) formerly known as Medicaid Expansion, effectively booting 40,000 low-income families off their healthcare.

Senate Republicans would rather show working families that they care more about a few hundred businessmen than 40,000 hard working Granite Staters.

The NHHPP is already showing great progress as New Hampshire area hospitals are reporting a 20% drop in uninsured emergency room visits.

Governor Maggie Hassan said, “Reauthorizing this bipartisan program beyond the end of 2016 is critical for the health of our people and our economy, as uncertainty about the continuation of the program could lead to rising rates for all consumers. Uncertainty about the program’s future could also cause insurers to decide not to offer coverage in New Hampshire in 2017. We must work together to find a bipartisan path forward.”

This budget is pushing New Hampshire in the wrong direction. Forcing people off their healthcare to give tax breaks to a few select corporations.

“In light of the Department of Revenue Administration’s new findings that the Senate’s proposed tax cuts will primarily benefit a small number of very large businesses operating in the state, we should be especially concerned that these revenue losses will simply flow out of the state with no benefit to New Hampshire,” wrote the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “There is no guarantee that these tax cuts will produce jobs or economic growth for New Hampshire, but they will leave the state with fewer resources to invest in the things we need today to keep our economy strong: good schools, safe roads, a healthy workforce, and public services that support the state’s current high quality of life.”

This would blow an $80 million dollar hole in the budget and force even more cuts in the future. “These proposed reductions in business tax rates will reduce revenue by more than $80 million per biennium when fully phased in, with no plan to replace the lost revenue,” said the NH Fiscal Policy Institute.

Republicans in the Senate are pushing to make New Hampshire more like Kansas and New Jersey whose tax cuts have resulted in massive cuts to education funding, credit downgrades, and ultimately tax increases on working families.

To add further insult to injury, the NH GOP will be starting a “countdown clock” to shutting down the New Hampshire Government.

The [finance] committee said state government would be forced to shut down at midnight June 30 if a budget is not approved.”

“It’s extremely disappointing that New Hampshire Republicans are sending such a clear signal that they are not willing to compromise during the Committee of Conference process and are threatening to shut down the government if they don’t get their way. Enacting a balanced, fiscally responsible budget will require Republicans to compromise with Democrats – not just with Bill O’Brien and the Tea Party,” said Ranking Democratic Finance Committee members Representative Mary Jane Wallner and Senator Lou D’Allesandro in a joint statement.

Shutting down the government is not a viable option either. It will cause unnecessary harm to thousands of state workers who be forced to lose their paycheck because Republicans are unwilling to work with Democrats to craft a fiscally responsible budget that truly helps New Hampshire families.

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, though at this moment it seems unlikely.

 

 

 

Kelly Ayotte Talks To NHPR On Guinta And Fast Track Trade Authority

Kelly Ayotte 3 (Gage Skidmore)

Today Senator Kelly Ayotte spoke to NHPR’s Morning Edition.  She spoke at length about Congressman Guinta’s FEC violation and reaffirmed her call for his resignation by stating:

“Well, obviously this is his decision. I believe the right thing to do for him would be to step aside so that we can make sure that the focus is on serving the people of New Hampshire and not the findings of the FEC. And when it comes to things like this, I think it’s important to put the public trust first before any party concerns on this issue.”

NHPR continued to press Ayotte about some of the other things she is working on in Washington, like Fast Track trade authority.  This is what she had to say about that.

(NHPR) You joined Sen. Shaheen in voting in favor of so-called fast track trade authority for the president. This is a measure supported by President Obama, but actually opposed by many Democrats, who say ties the hands of Congress on trade deals.

Why is fast-track authority the right move?

It’s the right move because again it’s about New Hampshire jobs and creating more opportunities. We have seen in New Hampshire great opportunity for more exports. The stakes are high. Some of the pending trade agreements, the estimates are they could create as many as 8,000 new New Hampshire jobs. We have seen increases in exports and we can see even greater opportunities. Ninety-five percent of the consumers live outside of the United States, so the more we can break down some of the barriers that our companies have, and have more American trade to allow them to sell their great products overseas, I know that’s why I support it. This is one that the president supports, as well.

Audio Below or at  http://cpa.ds.npr.org/nhpr/audio/2015/05/nht052715mb1.mp3

 

Obviously I disagree with Senator Shaheen and Senator Ayotte in voting for the Fast Track trade authority. The TPP is NAFTA on steroids and while it will open up other markets to US trade, it will also allow big multi-national corporations to move more of their manufacturing facilities out of the US and kill more jobs.

Hopefully we can get the people in the US House to do what is right for working families.

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

Screen shot CSPAN

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

VIDEO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get the popcorn, because this show is only beginning!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Sanders North Conway NH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 by 2020 (Patty Murray)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Image by Purple Sherbet Photography FLICKR

Image by Purple Sherbet Photography FLICKR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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