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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

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.

Earth Day 2016: An In Depth Look At Climate Change And NH’s Congressional Delegation

Happy Earth Day

Where New Hampshire’s Elected Representatives Stand On Combating Climate Change 

Today we celebrate the “46th anniversary of the 1st Earth Day, in which 20 million Americans–Democrats and Republicans–took to the streets to rally for a healthy, sustainable future and demonstrated against the deterioration of the environment” said Catherine Corkery, Executive Director of the NH Sierra Club.

“Unfortunately, today the bipartisan spirit of the original Earth Day has been lost, even as the evidence mounts that not only is our planet experiencing Climate Change on an unprecedented scale, but that everyday Americans care deeply about laying the foundation for a sustainable future for their children and grandchildren,” continued Corkery.

Across the nation Democrats have been pushing for better regulations to protect our natural resources and reverse the effects of Climate Change on our planet.

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans have rejected scientific proof of the effects of Climate Change and have pushed legislation to further strip away our natural resources.

“In 2014 Politifact looked at the 278 Republicans in Congress and found that only 8 had publicly accepted climate change science” state Corkery.

“As a professor emeritus at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, I’ve spent years studying climate change’s impact on the Granite State and I can tell you this without a doubt: climate change is the gravest threat facing our state, country and planet today” said UNH Environmental Science Professor Barrett Rock.

“Persistently high temperatures are causing the massive ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica to melt at an accelerated pace, causing rising sea levels on the Seacoast and presenting a major threat to New Hampshire’s economy,” added Rock.

What are we to do? Is there anything that can stop this global trend that will eventually eradicate life on Earth as we know it?

“We need to invest in renewable energy sources like solar and wind, implement energy efficiency measures and start weaning ourselves off high carbon use. We need to use treaties like the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Rock advised. “We need to elect public servants who not only recognize that climate change is a clear and pressing danger, but who are willing to actually do something about it.”

Currently New Hampshire has two Democrats and two Republicans representing us in Washington D.C. The two groups could not be further apart on climate issues.

 

Senator Kelly Ayotte

Ayotte3This week, Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) wrote an op-ed for the Nashua Telegraph claiming, “Earth Day should be every day.”

Ayotte tries to make the case that because she likes hiking and running through Mines Falls Park that she is hero to the environment. The truth is that she has been working to repeal environmental protections since she took office in 2011.

In 2011, Ayotte voted for legislation the League of Conservation Voters called at the time “the greatest legislative assault ever on the environment” after the Koch Brothers political arm urged senators to do so. The bill included the “virtual elimination of the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” the premier fund dedicated to preserving land and water sites across the United States for both conservation and recreation.

And when it comes to air pollution, Ayotte voted for an amendment that would “repeal the scientific finding by the EPA that greenhouse gases endanger human health and the environment,” and permanently block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, again after the Koch Brothers’ political arm urged senators to do so. During her first 4 years in Washington, Ayotte voted with the Koch Brothers nearly 90% of the time.

“Kelly Ayotte’s political spin is out of line with the reality of her true environmental voting record and not fooling anyone,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “New Hampshire voters know that Ayotte has consistently stood with special interest backers like the Koch Brothers against protecting our planet and conserving New Hampshire’s natural resources. Her attempts to pretend otherwise fly in the face of reality.”

Ayotte is facing fierce competition from New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan for her seat in the Senate. Hassan is a strong proponent of green energy and taking immediate action to combat Climate Change.

As a State Senator, and now as Governor, Hassan has pushed for New Hampshire to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to lower carbon pollution.

“From sponsoring New Hampshire’s original Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and helping pass the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard in the State Senate, to signing legislation to strengthen those efforts and establish a long-term Energy Strategy as Governor, Maggie Hassan has always been a strong champion for New Hampshire’s environment,” said Campaign Communications Director Aaron Jacobs.

“Under Governor Hassan, New Hampshire was ranked among the top 5 states for renewable energy,” said NH State Senator David Watters.

 

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Shaheen-021109-18432- 0009This week, Senator Shaheen (D-NH) celebrated a significant environmental win as the Senate finally passed the Shaheen-Portman Comprehensive Energy Efficiency bill, which was introduced in the Senate over five year ago. The bill pushes for expanded use of green energy solutions to address our growing energy problems and works to reverse the effects of Climate Change.

The Clean Distributed Energy Grid Integration Act, identifies and addresses obstacles limiting the use of clean energy technologies, thereby reducing energy costs and improving the power quality and resiliency of the electric grid. Specifically, the legislation directs the Department of Energy to identify the technical and regulatory barriers to integrating clean distributed energy sources on the grid, and to strive to overcome these barriers through research, stakeholder working groups and demonstrations.

Shaheen has put Climate Change and protecting the environment at the top of her legislative agenda. She recently praised the Paris Summit to address Climate Change.

“This agreement is an unprecedented achievement and affirms New Hampshire’s leadership reducing carbon emissions,” said Shaheen. “‎The United States must capitalize on this success and continue to lead by supporting stronger policies that speed the transition to a clean energy economy.‎ We owe it to our children and grandchildren to start today so we can avoid the worst impacts of climate change, while building strong communities resilient to the changes already underway.”

 

Congressman Frank Guinta

Frank Guinta (Image by Mark Nassal)

Frank Guinta (Image by Mark Nassal)

In the US House, Congressman Frank Guinta (R-01) is one of the many climate deniers in the US House. Guinta denies Climate Change science that has the support of 97% of the scientific community. “I’m not sure the science is accurate or complete on this issue,” Guinta said.  As a politician who has received major funding from the Big Oil and the Koch Brothers he would know better than 97% of the scientific community.

During the 2014 GOP Primary Congressman Guinta was videotaped saying “No” to the question, “Do you believe that the theory of man-made climate change has been scientifically proven?”

During Guinta’s time in office he voted to expand drilling rights on the outer continental shelf, block the EPA from regulating Greenhouse Gases, license new nuclear plants, and supported the Keystone Pipeline.

Guinta even went as far to oppose any legislation relating to Climate Change.

 

Congresswoman Annie Kuster

Ann kuster head shot LGNot everyone in Washington believes that Climate Change is a hoax.

In 2013, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH) took a bold stance to push for more action addressing Climate Change.

“We have a fundamental responsibility to confront the challenge of climate change head on – for the health of our environment, the strength of our economy, and the future of our children. I am eager to partner with members of both parties to take responsible, common sense steps that will reduce carbon emissions, make America more energy independent, and advance the development of renewable energy sources. Inaction on these fronts is simply not an option.”

Kuster continues to push back against proposals that will harm our environment like the Northeast Energy Direct (Kinder-Morgan NED) pipeline.

Yesterday, Kinder-Morgan announced they would no longer pursue the construction of the NED pipeline.

Kuster was overjoyed to hear the news.

“I was proud to lead the fight against the Kinder Morgan pipeline project, which, after countless site visits, forums, and meetings with constituents, I deemed a poor deal for New Hampshire – both for our natural environment and the safety of our neighborhoods.  While we must pursue smart energy policies that lower energy costs for New Hampshire, this particular project would have taken advantage of our natural resources without providing sufficient benefits for our state,” said Kuster.

Earth Day 2016

Earth Day - No YearThis Earth Day we need to look at who is representing us in Washington and what they are doing to reverse the effects of Climate Change. We need local and national policy changes that work to clean our air and reserve all of our natural resources for generations to come. As the 2016 elections are quickly approaching we must use our voices by electing representative who will make positive change in Washington, not work to repeal all of the environmental gains we have made in the last 46 years since the first Earth Day.

GOP Gubernatorial Candidates To Push ‘Right To Work’ On NH Once Again

Right To Work is Wrong for NH

As Yogi Berra once put it, “It’s like Déjà vu, all over again.”

The Republican Gubernatorial primary candidates just showed how out of touch they are with working families. WMUR reported this week at all of the GOP candidates for New Hampshire’s Governor came out in strong in support of the so-called Right To Work legislation.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas told WMUR that, “we voted for Right to Work when I was in the Senate, so my position is clear.”

State Sen. Jeanie Forrester said, “I think it’s a good place for New Hampshire to be, and I would support that if it came forward again.”

Not to be outdone, Executive Councilor Chris Sununu played up Right to Work as a job-creating bill.

“We haven’t brought a major business into the state in over eight years. Right to work is part of it.”

Right to Work laws do nothing but hurt workers and their communities through lower pay, less benefits, less job security, less workplace safety, less, less, less…

These laws are specifically designed to break unions and tear workers down in the never-ending race to the bottom.

In January of this year, PEW released a blistering new report that showed workers in Right to Work states are less likely to have access to retirement plans than workers in free bargaining states.

“Access to workplace retirement plans varies widely across the states,” said John Scott, director of Pew’s retirement savings project. “Recognizing the savings challenge faced by so many Americans, half of the states are looking at their own solutions.”

Pew found that more than 30 million full-time, full-year, private sector workers ages 18 to 64 lack access to an employer-based retirement plan, whether a traditional pension or a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k).

At 2.6%, New Hampshire’s unemployment rate is second in the country behind North Dakota, who is experiencing a boom from newly expanded oil and gas drilling.

Recently, other states have forced their own Right to Work legislation through and what has happened? After passing Right to Work legislation, claiming it would create lots of new jobs, Wisconsin the lost a record 10,000 jobs in 2015.

“We are in the midst of an economic crisis. Wisconsin is hemorrhaging jobs at a rate we haven’t seen since the Great Recession and our middle class is shrinking faster than any other state in the nation,” said Wisconsin Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “Thousands of families are struggling to find a job because the policies being pushed by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans simply aren’t working.”

Policies like Right to Work, are destroying good paying jobs and replacing them with low-wage jobs that continue to hurt working families.

Now the entire Republican Gubernatorial delegation in New Hampshire is campaigning on this failed policy. Granite Staters deserve a leader in the corner office who will stand up for their rights and support collective bargaining that ultimately benefits all workers.

The Daily Kos Comments On O’Connor, Shea-Porter Controversy

The local media has touched on this potential lawsuit of an alleged “whisper campaign” by former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. Her primary opponent, Shawn O’Connor, a New York businessman who moved to New Hampshire a few years ago to build momentum for a U.S. Senate run (since changed to run for US House), is accusing her of telling people that he is a “perpetrator of domestic violence.”  (Read our full story on this.) The truth is that O’Connor is a the victim of domestic violence, a fact he made public only a few months ago at a local Democratic Party picnic.

Yesterday, it appears that more national media outlets are looking into this story as well.  The Daily Kos’s daily election update posted this blurb on the NH District 1 race:

NH-01: Blargh. What an ugly mess that Democrats don’t need. Self-funding businessman Shawn O’Connor says he’s going to sue his primary opponent, ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, for defamation, claiming that she’s accused him of domestic abuse through a “whispering campaign.” Shea-Porter has denied the allegations, calling them “bizarre” and “untruthful.” O’Connor, meanwhile, says that he was the victim of domestic abuse, and a Democratic state senator who endorsed him, David Pierce, claims a Shea-Porter confidante had pushed the O’Connor-as-abuser charge on him.

But Pierce wouldn’t name names, and he admitted he didn’t even know whether this unnamed, supposed rumor-monger was on Shea-Porter’s paid staff, or whether Shea-Porter herself even had anything to do with the alleged matter. O’Connor is demanding Shea-Porter apologize; if she doesn’t, he says he’ll file a lawsuit in the “coming weeks.” No matter what he thinks, though, this is not a winning move: Few primaries are won in court.

These are serious accusations and have yet to be fully proven.  The Shea-Porter campaign vehemently denies these claims. The O’Connor campaign released a statement from State Senator David Pierce that claims a member of Shea-Porter’s “inner circle” pushed this rumor on him, though Pierce admitted he does not know if the person in question works for Shea-Porter’s campaign or if Shea-Porter has any knowledge of the rumor being spread.

I think that the Daily Kos nailed it by saying, “No matter what he thinks, though, this is not a winning move: Few primaries are won in court.” 

Is Carol Shea-Porter Really Attacking Shawn O’Connor As A ‘Perpetrator Of Domestic Violence’?

The Democratic Primary for NH’s First Congressional District just took a very nasty turn.

The Shawn O’Connor campaign sent out an email and corresponding petition claiming the Carol Shea-Porter campaign is going around telling people that O’Connor is “a perpetrator of domestic violence.”

“Ms. Shea-Porter’s campaign has repeatedly called her primary opponent, Shawn O’Connor, ‘a perpetrator of domestic violence,’” wrote the O’Connor campaign.

This news came as a shock to many people including myself. I have known Carol Shea-Porter and her campaign staff for the better part of a decade, and this is completely out of character for her. So I contacted both campaigns for more information.

The O’Connor campaign told me that Shea-Porter’s campaign manager Naomi Andrews communicated this rumor to Julia Barnes, the former NH for Bernie campaign director, at an event in January. O’Connor’s campaign also claimed that this rumor was repeated to former Senator Jackie Cilley and Senator David Pierce by people who have supported Shea-Porter’s campaign in the past.

After getting O’Connor’s side of the story, I reached out to Julia Barnes and Naomi Andrews for their comment. While I was unable to reach Ms. Barnes, she did post her very strong support for Carol Shea-Porter.

JuliaFacebook

Ms. Andrews immediately denied these claims stating, “This is just a sad and desperate attack. Nothing more needs to be said.”

O’Connor’s campaign second claim was that Caroline French, a well know local Democrat, also repeated this rumor to Jackie Cilley.

I spoke with Ms. French directly and she was shocked to hear what they were claiming and that she was somehow connected to this. She knew nothing of this. She only marginally remembered hearing something about O’Connor being the victim of domestic abuse and never said he was “perpetrator of domestic violence.”

In a response to WMUR, Jackie Cilley said, “’There is no doubt in my mind that Shawn O’Connor has been slimed with being the perpetrator of domestic violence,’ through rumors circulating in Stafford County.” Cilley continued to say that she “heard rumors about [O’Connor]” but as WMUR clearly pointed out, “Cilley stressed several times, she has received no indication that Shea-Porter or her campaign staff is the source of any sort of whispering campaign.”

Lastly, the O’Connor campaign claimed that another local member of “Team Shea Porter” shared this rumor with State Senator David Pierce. O’Connor’s campaign claimed that this person even went as far as to admit this rumor was a lie being pushed by Shea-Porter’s campaign.

After multiple attempts via phone, email, and social media, Sen.Pierce has yet to respond to me with any comment at all.

The O’Connor campaign did release a statement that Sen.Pierce affirmed that a “member of Team Shea-Porter” had told him this rumor directly. “I spoke to a member of Team Shea Porter who told me a number of allegations against Shawn, including that he was a perpetrator of domestic violence.”

Sen.Pierce has refused to talk to us but did respond to WMUR where he said that, “someone who he knows is in the Shea-Porter inner circle of supporters” was spreading this rumor. This is a giant step back from the claim it was someone on the inside of Shea Porter’s campaign.

Pierce went on to tell WMUR, “I have no knowledge that Carol knew any this was going on. I don’t know if any of her staff knew that any of this was going on because I don’t know if, and I don’t believe, this person is on her staff.”

Pierce told WMUR he could not recall “the specific words, the specific way in which this person came about this information…”

Now O’Connor is threatening to sue Shea-Porter for rumors that are floating around in the area and have yet to been connected to Shea-Porter’s campaign.

If none of these people can connect Carol Shea-Porter or anyone in her campaign, why is O’Connor calling for her to quit the race? She has done nothing wrong, and he has no evidence that she has.

Another thing that strikes me as strange is that the O’Connor campaign is claiming that these rumors have been circulating since July of 2015, yet it was unknown to pretty much everyone, that O’Connor was a victim of domestic violence until he shared his story in the fall of 2015.

Based on the evidence presented, and lack of evidence connecting the Shea-Porter campaign, I find this attack to be completely baseless and unsubstantiated. There is no proof that Carol Shea-Porter or her campaign are involved in these “rumors” about O’Connor and calling for her to end her candidacy is unwarranted. This is a well-crafted smear campaign by O’Connor against a very upstanding public servant who has represented the people of the New Hampshire with honor and dignity for years.

I do not know how well Mr. O’Connor has gotten to know Ms. Shea-Porter in the short two-years since he moved here from New York, but those of us who have been around her for many years know that this completely uncharacteristic for Carol or her campaign. This only adds to unbelievability of these claims against her.

This makes me greatly suspect of Mr. O’Connor’s character by pushing these unsubstantiated claims against Shea-Porter in an attempt to eliminate his primary competition. This entire attack on Carol’s integrity is dirty, underhanded and reeks of corrupt New York style politics.

I hope that the Shawn O’Connor campaign pulls their petition and apologizes for spreading this misinformation about Carol Shea-Porter.

I welcome real substantive debate on the issues between O’Connor and Shea-Porter, not baseless mudslinging, and look forward to moving through the primary process to see whom the people of New Hampshire will support.


If you have more information about this story or further proof that I am wrong, message me directly.

Union Busting: Legal Team Creates Unions To Raid Memberships, Benefiting Employers

A union busting legal firm, Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen, is working to undercut workers through divisive tactics and raiding the membership of United Association of Flight Attendants members.

union-busterUnion busting is nothing new. For over a hundred years employers have fought against unionizing efforts and worked to break unions after they win an election.

They use fear and intimidation to push people against forming a union. After a union is elected they hold up negotiations, even sending out false information to workers, in an effort to splinter union support.

Like I said, this is nothing new. We have seen these tactics in action for decades. Now we are seeing a new type of union busting, where the employer encourages workers to form a new union to replace the current union. Yes, you read that right, the employer works with a “union” to raid the membership of an existing union to gain enough support to have the existing union de-certified, thereby loosing all of the gains made from previous contracts.

This tactic is very sneaky and very hard to pull off, but it has worked in the past for one specific law firm, Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen (SSM&P). The conditions have to be just right to make this work. There must be a certain level of discontent within the exiting union and this usually happens as contract negotiations fail.   The “company union” then organizes the discontent workers into forming a new union to replace the exiting union.

A Long History of Pro-Company Union Organizing

Over the last forty years members of the law firm of SSM&P have been forming these new unions, mostly during times of chaos like massive mergers or labor strife.

EL AL Israel Airlines - Boeing 767-3Y0(ER) - Tel Aviv Ben Gurion - 4X-EAP

EL AL Israel Airlines – Boeing 767-3Y0(ER) – Tel Aviv Ben Gurion – 4X-EAP

In 1983, Martin Seham, working for El Al Airlines, attempted to break the International Association of Machinists union that was in long and bitter contract negotiation that ultimately resulted in a 28-month strike.

“During the strike, some of the clerical workers decertified IAM in favor of an independent union. Management imposed severely concessionary terms and recruited scabs as replacement workers,” wrote Captain DD, who has done extensive research on SSM&P when his union, the Airline Pilots Association, came under attack from a new SSM&P union. “Labor law firms advising management typically play very significant roles in developing these anti-union strategies. It is an undeniable fact that it occurred on SSM&P’s watch, and it occurred after that firm played a leading role in helping management to divide the rank-and-file and then crush its workers and the lAM at EI AI.”

In the early 1990s, Seham worked for Varig Airlines, a Brazilian air carrier, to once again undercut the Machinists union.

“This negotiation resulted in another strike. During these negotiations, management-with Seham as its advisor- insisted on removing all restrictions on its right to subcontract work and to remove the union security clause,” explained Captain DD. “The IAM understood that the notice was specifically designed to intimidate and coerce union members to resign their membership with the organization.”

In the decades that followed, SSM&P has been connected with new start up unions at Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Air, Delta, and other carriers that were already represented by unions.

SSM&P say they are fighting for workers and trying to form a new union. What they are really doing is pitting worker against worker to completely break the existing union, leaving all of the workers without any protections and without a voice.

The Northwest Suicide Strike

Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen are most well known for forming the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Organization (AMFA), who some have called the worst union in the country, specifically for their raids on other unions and complete lack of leadership.

While AMFA was attempting to organize mechanics at Northwest Airlines, who were already represented by the International Association of Machinists, “Northwest assisted AMFA by allowing [AMFA] access to company property and equipment and that AMFA supporters were allowed to campaign while on company time.”

Northwest most likely assisted AMFA because they knew that a new union would be easier to negotiate with than the IAM and would eliminate all of the previously negotiated agreements.

The AMFA did ultimately win the right to represent the 10,000 mechanics at Northwest Airlines and in turn de-certified the IAM.

Striking union mechanics Don Diedrich, left, and Bert Atienza are on picket duty outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, just after the vote result was announced. Both voted "no." (MPR Photo/Jeff Horwich)

Striking union mechanics Don Diedrich, left, and Bert Atienza are on picket duty outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, just after the vote result was announced. Both voted “no.” (MPR Photo/Jeff Horwich)

In AMFA’s negotiations with Northwest, AMFA gave Northwest the ability to sub-contract work outside of the union. This resulted in nearly 8,000 good jobs being lost to outside contractors over the years that followed.

After 9/11, Northwest’s losses were piling up and they went to AMFA demanding concessions. AMFA refused to accept the concessions without holding a vote from the membership on Northwest’s “last best offer”. Then AMFA’s leadership took members out on strike, without holding a strike authorization vote, in what became known as the “suicide strike”.

Thousand of workers walked out in the strike. AMFA worked out a deal with Northwest for a “No Retribution, Retaliation or Harassment Due to Participation or Non-Participation in the Strike or Permanent Replacement Status.” In laymen’s terms, this let the scabs that crossed the strike line, keep their jobs and the rest of the unionized workers were laid off.

What union would ever agree to let scab workers keep their jobs while union members are being tossed aside? Any real, pro-worker union, not a company front group, would never have accepted these terms to allow scab workers to keep union member jobs.

Thanks to AMFA’s leadership the 10,000 mechanics at Northwest, were replaced by 500 scab workers.

After Northwest and Delta merged, “AMFA extinguished their certification with no fight at all.” This appears that they were never really in it for the workers.

Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen Strike Again With Another “New Union”

SSM&P are the legal team behind the United Flight Attendants Association, a new union trying to win representation rights from the Association of Flight Attendants (CWA-AFA), who currently represent United Airlines Flight Attendants.

AFA is currently deep in negotiations with United as their current contract is expiring and possible strikes are on the horizon. This situation is nearly identical to all of the other “new unions” formed by SSM&P to fracture the membership.

The newly formed UFAA is trying to get current AFA members to give up their membership and join with UFAA. If they gain enough support AFA would be ousted leaving SSM&P to negotiate on behalf of the workers. What could go wrong with that?

Sito Pantoja, General Vice President of the International Association of Machinists addressed this attempt to raid AFA’s membership without calling out UFAA by name. In an email to AFA members Pantoja clearly stated that IAM stands with CWA-AFA against this fake union.

International_Association_Of_Machinists_and_Aerospace_Workers_logo1“That is why I was extremely dismayed to hear that a few misguided individuals are trying to fracture your union. If they succeed, it will dismantle our successful partnership and all Flight Attendants will lose.”

“Your solidarity and bargaining strength is being undermined by an attempt to lure you away from AFA with promises from a union that does not even exist. This upstart has no finances, no structure, no resources and no experience. A website and a constitution written by a union-busting lawyer does not make a union.”

“The IAM has faced similar challenges from the same people directing this group, and each time airline workers lost…”

“…These divisive efforts surface only during contract negotiations, which cripples the Union bargaining committee and only benefits the company. When unionized workers sign an election authorization card to change unions they play right into the company’s divide and conquer strategy, making it much harder for your negotiators to attain the contract you have earned.”

“The Machinists Union strongly supports the AFA and looks forward to continuing and strengthening our partnership. I urge you to do the same and soundly reject any request to sign a card for this splinter group. Each card that is signed weakens your solidarity and position at the bargaining table.”

Do not be fooled by these union busting lawyers who are looking to steal your voice. They want you to sign a union authorization card, a legally binding document, to de-certify the AFA.

I do not have any proof that SSM&P are working for, or in collusion with, United Airlines but the parallels of their previous union busting actions are uncanny.

United flight attendants should beware that these union busting lawyers are behind this coup and their goal is to destroy the strength you have gained through years of negotiations, contracts and solidarity.

NH Senate Passes Medicaid Expansion, Heads To Governor For Signature

In a truly bipartisan vote of 16-8, (10 Democrats and 6 Republicans) the New Hampshire Senate approved HB 1696, which would reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) through December 2018.

Governor Maggie Hassan applauded legislators from both parties and said she will sign the bill.

“Two years ago, we worked across party lines to pass the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which has made a real difference for our people, for our businesses and in our efforts to combat the heroin and opioid crisis,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “With its bipartisan vote today, the New Hampshire State Senate has taken another important step forward to build on that progress, joining the House of Representatives in its recognition of the importance of this critical program.”

“Thanks to our bipartisan healthcare expansion plan, nearly 50,000 hard-working Granite Staters have access to quality, affordable health insurance, reducing healthcare cost-shifting onto all of our people and businesses. I applaud legislators from both parties, the medical community, advocates and other stakeholders for their efforts to reauthorize our bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program, and I look forward to signing this legislation into law so that we can continue this critical program that is strengthening the health and financial security of our people and boosting our economy,” concluded Hassan

“We applaud the Senate reauthorization of the NH Health Protection Program, which will ensure that the nearly 48,000 Granite Staters currently on the program can continue to have affordable access to preventative and primary care in New Hampshire,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Granite State Progress Education Fund Executive Director. “Families struggling in low wage jobs or caught between tough times don’t need health concerns to further hold them back. Being able to see a doctor when you are sick or access preventative care means less time away from work and better health in the long run. We are pleased that the Senate vote had strong bi-partisan support, despite a handful of politicians who chose to stand in the way of New Hampshire families.”

“The next step is to address the underlying reasons why so many Granite Staters are in need of this program. Raising wages, tackling outdated workplace policies that discriminate against women and minorities, and empowering families to be able to take control of their reproductive health are all important pieces of the overall puzzle.,” added Rice-Hawkins.

NH Citizens Alliance Executive Director Kary Jencks added, “The biggest issue for reauthorization was the percentage of the total cost the State of New Hampshire was required to cover. Let’s pay our workers the worth of their jobs so that New Hampshire women and families don’t need these safety nets; saving our tax payer dollars and in turn allowing hardworking families greater financial security.”

Along with many other organizations, the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute has been very vocal in support of reauthorizing the NHHPP.

“New Hampshire has many fine traditions, but few can rival the bipartisanship and common-sense pragmatism that the Senate displayed today in reauthorizing the New Hampshire Health Protection Program,” said the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch. “Its vote today – in combination with earlier efforts by the House of Representatives — will ensure that more than 48,000 Granite Staters continue to have access to affordable health insurance for another two years.”

The NHHPP is specifically designed to provide healthcare to those who fall between the cracks in coverage. These are people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but make too little to qualify for healthcare subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

“Health Protection Program enrollees include many individuals who work in low wage jobs that keep the state economy moving, but that don’t pay enough to make ends meet. The program provides thousands of hard-working Granite Staters with access to the care they need to stay healthy and able to provide for their families,” added McLynch.

“NHFPI looks forward to working with the members of the upcoming study commission to identify ways to enhance the effectiveness of the Health Protection Program still further and to ensure that it remains a vital element of New Hampshire’s efforts to promote health and economic security for years to come,” concluded McLynch.

State Senators who stood with New Hampshire women and their families include the entire Democratic caucus and six Republicans: Senate President Chuck Morse (R), Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R), Sen. Jerry Little (R), Sen. Nancy Stiles (R), Sen. David Boutin (R), Sen. Sam Cataldo (R), Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn (D), Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D), Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D), Sen. Molly Kelly (D), Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D), Sen. David Pierce (D), Sen. Dan Feltes (D), Sen. Bette Lasky (D), Sen. Donna Soucy (D), and Sen David Watters (D).

State Senators who stood in the way of access to health care coverage for Granite State families are: Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R), Sen. Andy Sanborn (R), Sen. Gary Daniels (R), Sen. Kevin Avard (R), Sen. Sharon Carson (R), Sen. John Reagan (R), Sen. Regina Birdsell (R), and Sen. Russell Prescott (R).

“Jeanie Forrester’s vote to take away healthcare from nearly 50,000 Granite Staters is the latest example of her putting far-right ideology ahead of the lives of everyday people,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “Just as shameful, in a time when our state is facing an opioid crisis, she voted to take away substance abuse services from 6,000 people receiving treatment. This disgraceful vote is a perfect example of the right-wing extremism spewing from the Republican candidates for governor.”

Forrester isn’t the first Republican candidate for governor to try to kill Medicaid expansion. In October 2013, Chris Sununu was the only member of the Executive Council to vote against endorsing Gov. Hassan’s call for a special session to consider the recommendations of a commission that endorsed Medicaid expansion. Then, in July 2014, Sununu was one of two councilors to vote against a $292 million contract that would allow Medicaid expansion to begin September 1, 2014. He touted these efforts as recently as last month.

 

Read also the statement from NH Senate Democrats. 

Women Speak Out Against Trump And The NH GOP’s Continued Assault Of Women’s Reproductive Rights

Image by Gage Skidmore

Image by Gage Skidmore

As if the Donald Trump campaign could not get any worse, yesterday, Trump told MSNBC that women should receive “some form of punishment” for having an abortion.

This is completely outrageous. He wants to punish women for having a safe and legal medical procedure.

After Trump’s comments, Cecile Richards responded to Trump directly via Twitter by saying: “[Donald Trump] is vocalizing the motivations of every politician who votes to restrict access to abortion. It’s about controlling women.”

“Women’s lives are not disposable. There’s nothing else to say, as Donald Trump’s remarks today have said it all,” Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Dawn Laguens said in an email alert sent last night.

Late last year, the NH Citizens Alliance and Granite State Progress combined forces to create the Stand With Women or Stand in the Way campaign to protect women’s reproductive rights as well as to fight for economic justice and pay equity.

Today, they spoke out against Donald Trump and his horrific remarks about punishing women for executing their constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion.

“Donald Trump’s tag line should be – “Let’s make America the Mid-Evil Ages”- Women and the hard working families and individuals of this great nation are already struggling against pay inequity, substandard wages, criminal labor and scheduling practices, and an economic and political system that favors corporate interest over real people,” said Kary Jencks Executive Director of the NH Citizens Alliance.  “Now, Trump wants to further stand in the way of the human rights of everyday Americans by placing women into iron maidens for exercising their very private constitutionally protected right to choose when to have a child.”

“Donald Trump’s belief that women who seek an abortion should be punished is shocking, but right in line with the extreme views on women’s health taken by far-right politicians up and down the ballot,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “Just last month in New Hampshire, a Republican State Representative said that women who were raped should have to prove it before being allowed to have an abortion.

“There were more than a dozen bills aimed at rolling back women’s reproductive health options and penalizing those who provide them, yet the legislators supporting those bills are nowhere to be seen when it comes to efforts to increase access to birth control or pass family-friendly workplace policies. This outdated mindset stands in the way of women, and it’s wrong regardless of whether you are a Presidential candidate or a local elected official,” added Rice-Hawkins.

Donald Trump’s comments yesterday that women who have abortions should be “punished” sparked national outrage, but not among New Hampshire’s Republican gubernatorial candidates Frank Edelblut, Ted Gatsas, Jeanie Forrester, and Chris Sununu, who are still completely silent on the issue.

“Donald Trump’s policy proposals to punish women, immigrants, and others are horrific and don’t represent the fabric of our nation nor the values of Granite Staters,” said NHDP Spokeswoman Holly Shulman.

“History will harshly judge the members of Trump’s own party who were too afraid or too politically calculating to speak up and stand up to him when the country needed it most. There’s a chance for New Hampshire Republicans like Edelblut, Gatsas, Forrester, and Sununu to put themselves on the right side of history today. They just need to speak up and lead,” continued Shulman.

Trump Sununu Campaign SignRepublicans across the country are attempting to legislate away a woman’s right to choose. Here in New Hampshire, Executive Councilor and gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu voted to strip all funding from Planned Parenthood after the highly doctored and completely false video of Planned Parenthood appeared.

It is obvious that Chris Sununu is confused about what it means to be pro-choice and pro-abortion.

In a Concord Monitor piece from February, Chris Sununu said he “identifies as pro-abortion rights.”

There’s just one problem: when Sununu had the opportunity to cast the deciding vote on funding Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire, he followed anti-choice ideology and stripped abortion rights, cancer screening, STD testing and access to low-cost birth control for thousands of Granite State women.

“For Sununu to call himself “pro-abortion rights” after taking away access to safe and legal abortions for thousands of Granite State woman is the height of hypocrisy,” added Shulman.

Women deserve elected leaders who will uphold their constitutional right to a safe a legal abortion not threats of punishment.

Labor Praises Supreme Court Ruling On ‘Friedrichs’ And Offer A Warning For The Future

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Today, the assault on working families came to an abrupt halt as we received news that the Supreme Court could not come to a decision in the Friedrichs v California Teachers Association. The court ended in a 4-4 tie. This means that the California Supreme Court decision to uphold agency fees will stand.

After the decision labor groups across the country rejoiced and applauded the decision that could have made it illegal to charge non union member an agency fee, essential pushing Right To Work nationwide without legislative approval.

“Today, working people have persevered in the face of another attack on our rights,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “All over the country working people are showing that we won’t allow wealthy special interests or their politicians to stand in our way to join collectively and make workplaces better all across America. In the face of these attacks we are more committed than ever to ensuring that everyone has the right to speak up together for a better life.”

“At the Supreme Court today, working people won a huge victory,” wrote Rudy Lopez, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice. “Fighting back against powerful anti-worker interests that spent millions of dollars and many years to manufacture a Supreme Court challenge of collective bargaining, workers stuck together and prevailed, defending the right of unions to collect dues to all who benefit from its membership.”

“But while today’s victory is a milestone for working people and their right to collectively bargain, the fight for worker justice is far from over,” added Lopez. “The Freidrichs case was a carefully planned campaign to break unions and decentralize worker power and the wealthy interests behind it are not going to simply give up because they lost today.”

“Today’s Friedrichs decision by the Supreme Court was a big win for anyone who believes in the promise of America,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Unions are about giving workers and their families a voice on the job and a fair shot to get ahead, and today’s decision enables those aspirations. And as the Center for Individual Rights’ legal maneuver this afternoon suggests, this decision, affirming four decades of precedent, was a blow to the right-wing special interests who are trying to rig the economy and our democracy in their own favor.”

“It’s no surprise that the Center for Individual Rights is continuing its assault on working people and the unions that represent them. By refusing to accept the court’s ruling and petitioning for a rehearing, they expose their agenda for what it is—a brazen political assault on working people. This Koch-backed think tank plotted to fast-track this case to the Supreme Court, and we know the wealthy few behind these efforts will continue doing everything they can to undermine the voice of working people in America,” added Weingarten.

Public sector workers will continue to benefit from the collective voice of union representation under a decision by the Supreme Court today that affirms nearly 40 years of constitutional law, the head of the largest federal employee union said today.

“The Supreme Court has kept in place a 1977 ruling that ensures public sector employee unions will be able to continue fighting for better pay, benefits, and working conditions for all represented workers, whether or not they choose to join the union,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

“When the union negotiates a contract for workers, everyone who’s covered by that contract takes home higher pay and benefits, has greater job security, enjoys improved health and safety standards, and gets help in settling workplace disputes. It is only fair that all employees share in the cost of securing those benefits,” added Cox.

“A decision by the Supreme Court to overturn its 1977 ruling would have made it grossly unfair to place the burden of paying for the level of representation that all employees need and deserve on only some public employees as opposed to asking each to pay a fair share,” concluded Cox.

“Today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association case safeguards, at least for now, the right of public workers to engage in meaningful collective bargaining,” wrote the Communication Workers of America.

CWA highlighted the connection between Friedrichs and the union busting, anti-worker firms that have been pushing Right to Work in states all across the country.

“The case had been financed by anti-worker and corporate education supporters who have been working for years to stifle the voices of teachers and other public workers and weaken their collective bargaining rights. It clearly shows how extreme the right-wing assault on workers and their right to bargain, whether public or private sector, has become,” stated CWA.

For many years now CWA has been on the front lines fighting to end the obstructionism in Washington, specifically the US Senate. They used the considerable influence and membership to help secure five members to the National Labor Relations Board as well as worked to change the “filibuster rule” that Senate Republicans used to block every major Presidential nominee in the past few years.

Now they are calling out the Senate and the same right-wing, anti-worker organizations that are holding up hearings to replace Justice Scalia in the Supreme Court.

“These same right-wing interests want to block any consideration of President Obama’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s time for senators to do their job and take up the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, not continue the “politics as usual” that ignores the voice of the American people,” CWA said.

There is no doubt this decision will have an impact on the upcoming elections as Republicans in the Senate are continuing to refuse to even meet with Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court’s 4-4 decision on the Friedrichs case is no doubt an important win for organized labor,” said International Union of Painters and Allied Trades General President Kenneth Rigmaiden.  “However, it should also serve as a significant wake up call for working families who are not convinced that their vote in the political process matters in this upcoming election.”

“Anti-union special interests succeeded in bringing their tactics to the Supreme Court in an effort to stop workers from deciding their collective fate on the job by a vote.  We won this one, but the fight is far from over.  It is time to get to work on putting pro-union candidates in local, state and federal offices.  The leaders we successfully fight for on the campaign trail will be our line of defense in Washington to keep our unions strong,” added Rigmaiden.

As Republicans continue to obstruct filling the vacant seat in the Supreme Court, this election is proving to be the most important in history. This election could be the difference between a progressive Justice like Merrick Garland or another right-wing ideolog like Justice Scalia. As more and more attacks to our collective bargaining rights make it to the Supreme Court confirming a nominee that will uphold our rights is of the utmost importance.

Connecticut Line Workers Win Significant Arbitration Against PSNH

High Voltage Line Workers (Luca Florio FLIKR CC 4.0)

High Voltage Line Workers (Luca Florio FLIKR CC 4.0)

Workers win arbitration case after being suspended for refusing to do work that put their health and safety at risk.

Some people claim that “unions are no longer necessary” because they have already done their job. Thanks to unions we have workplace protections and occupational safety requirements. Just because these laws are in place does not mean that employers actually abide by them.

During the week of Thanksgiving in 2014, most of New England was buried in snow and ice from a barrage of winter storms. One storm knocked out power for most of the southern part of New Hampshire.

Tens of thousands of Granite Staters spent the Thanksgiving holiday in their homes with no heat, hot water or electricity.

To help restore power as quickly as possible Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) sent out the call to line workers across the region. Workers from Connecticut Power and Light (IBEW Local 420) answered that call. Giving up on their own holiday plans they drove through the remnants of the storm to help restore power to the people of New Hampshire.

Once they arrived in New Hampshire they were informed of their duties and what they would need to do to get the power restored.

But there was a problem.

PSNH instructed the CT line workers to repair damaged 34.5k voltage lines throughout the area. The CT crew was not trained or equipped to handle these high voltage line repairs. When the workers objected the PSNH supervisor, Enos Stevens, told them, the lines would not be energized and they could just test the line for “potential with hot sticks.”

Again the workers objected as they were not trained nor equipped to handle these types of lines. Stevens responded by saying, “this is the work we are doing.”

After the workers objected, Stevens threatened the workers with disciplinary actions for failing to do their assigned tasks. Stevens said, “If you are not going to do the job, you are all going home.”

Instead of risking their own personal safety, seventeen of the workers continued to refuse the assigned tasks and were sent home. It was not until a few days later that the workers found out that they had all been suspended without pay for insubordination.

“[PSNH] had other work available but chose to send the workers home instead of sending them out to work on lower voltage lines,” said Frank Cirillo Business Agent for the IBEW local 420 in a recent phone interview. Cirillo estimated that only one of the ten possible tasks the workers could have been assigned would have required handling this 34.5k voltage lines. “They could have been utilized in other areas to help restore power to the people in New Hampshire, but instead were sent home.”

The union immediately filed grievances on behalf of the workers and took the case all the way to arbitration.

In his decision the arbitrator clearly stated that, “the Company did not have just cause to suspend the grievants for 5 days without pay.” He went on to say, “An employee is under no duty to obey an order which would endanger his life or health.”

All seventeen workers had their records expunged and were “made whole for all wages and benefits lost as a result of the suspension.”

After the arbitrator’s decision was made, Cirillo said, “This is an excellent decision.”

Cirillo said he was “not surprised by the decision,” but highlighted the importance of the arbitrator’s decision to uphold the workers safety concerns and that workers should not be forced to do a job that would put their safety at risk.

This case once again proves that even though we have mandatory safety requirements, employers choose to ignore them and risk the health and safety of workers. Without the support of their union behind them these worker would have been wrongfully disciplined or worse seriously injured on the job.

It is a fact that unions helped to pave the way for many of the safety regulations we have in place now, but without unions who will hold employers accountable for abiding by these safety regulations?

This is just one example of why unions are needed just as much today as they were a hundred years ago.

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