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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

Income Inequality Grows As CEO Pay Jumps 6 Percent To 347 The Average Worker

Image courtesy of the AFL-CIO

A new report and searchable database from the AFL-CIO’s Executive Pay Watch highlights the lavish compensation executives receive while workers wage remain stagnant.

Income inequality has become one of the largest economic issues facing America.  As workers wages remain stagnant, corporations continue to rake in massive profits and pay their executives lavish salaries.

According to the new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch, the average CEO of an S&P 500 company made $13.1 million per year in 2016 – 347 times more money than the average rank-and-file worker. CEO pay for major U.S. companies has risen nearly 6 percent, as income inequality and outsourcing of good-paying American jobs have increased.

“This year’s report provides further proof that the greed of corporate CEOs is driving America’s income inequality crisis,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Big corporations continually find ways to rig the economy in their favor and line their CEOs’ pockets at the expense of the workers who make their businesses run. Too often, corporations see workers as costs to be cut, rather than assets to be invested in. It’s shameful that CEOs can make tens of millions of dollars and still destroy the livelihoods of the hard-working people who make their companies profitable.”

The Executive PayWatch website showed that in 2016, the average production and nonsupervisory worker earned approximately $37,600 per year. When adjusted for inflation, the average wage has remained stagnant for 50 years.

Take for example, Raymond Barrette, CEO of White Mountain Insurance Group LTD of Hanover, NH.  Barrette raked in $8.1 million in salary and stock options.  That is 270 times the average rank and file worker.

Another example comes from Patrick T. Ryan, CEP of Press Ganey Holdings in Wakefield, Massachusetts. He collected a whopping $28.9 million in compensation, 769 times the average worker.

The report allows viewers to search their comprehensive database of CEO pay by industry or state.

Screenshot from Executive Pay Watch

The PayWatch site also highlights U.S. corporations that don’t pay taxes on their offshore profits. By “permanently reinvesting” these profits overseas, they can forever defer paying federal income taxes and reinvesting back into the community.

According to the report, Massachusetts based General Electric is holding $82 billion in “Unrepatriated Profits” overseas in tax havens.  That is only one-third of the amount of money Apple is shielding overseas ($230 billion).

The report also highlights the growing trend of corporations offshoring good American jobs at the expense of hard working people.

“Avoiding corporate income taxes is one way CEOs boost their companies’ profits and thereby increase their own pay. This corporate tax avoidance reduces the amount of money that is available for public goods like roads and schools. As a result, our economy increasingly has become out of balance,” wrote the AFL-CIO in their report.

Image courtesy of the AFL-CIO

Mondelēz International, highlighted in this year’s PayWatch, represents one of the most egregious examples of CEO-to-worker pay inequality. The company, which makes Nabisco products, including Oreos, Chips Ahoy and Ritz Crackers, is leading the race to the bottom. Last year, it closed the Oreo cookie line at the iconic Nabisco factory in Chicago, sending 600 family-sustaining jobs to Mexico, where workers face poor labor and safety standards. Mondelēz CEO Irene Rosenfeld made more than $16.7 million in 2016 – about $8,000 per hour.

“Greedy CEOs are continuing to get rich off the backs of working people,” said Michael Smith, who was among hundreds of Nabisco workers from the South Side of Chicago laid off in March of 2016. “I loved working at Nabisco, and I took pride in the work I did to make a quality product. It’s not as if the company isn’t profitable. The Oreo alone brings in $2 billion in annual revenue, and the CEO makes more in a day than most of us made in a year. I just don’t understand the disrespectful attitude toward working people.”

While companies are continuing to put profits over people, working people are fighting back. The AFL-CIO has endorsed the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union (BCTGM) boycott of Nabisco products made in Mexico.

These corporations are just examples of the insatiable greed that has taken over Corporate America.  The never ending race to the bottom continues to punish worker, shipping their jobs overseas.  To begin to address the growing income inequality in America, we must first address the outrageous pay ratios between CEO’s and rank and file workers.

150 People A Day Die On The Job: AFL-CIO Releases Blistering New Report

(Washington, D.C.) In 2015, 150 workers died from preventable work-related injuries and illnesses every day in the United States, on average, according to a report released today by the AFL-CIO. 4,836 workers died due to workplace injuries, and another 50,000-60,000 died from occupational diseases. The number of immigrant workers killed on the job reached a nearly 10-year high.

“Corporate negligence and weak safety laws have resulted in tragedy for an astonishing and unacceptable number of working families,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Instead of working for stronger protections, too many Republican politicians in Washington, including the Trump administration, are trying to roll back commonsense regulations that enable workers to return home safely to their families. These are more than numbers; they are our brothers and sisters, and a reminder of the need to continue our fight for every worker to be safe on the job every day.”

The report, titled Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, marks the 26th year the AFL-CIO has reported on the state of safety and health protections for workers in the United States. The report shows the highest workplace fatality rates are in North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Nebraska and West Virginia.

According to the report, Latino workers have an 18% higher fatality rate than the national average. Deaths among Latino workers increased to 903, compared with 804 in 2014. Overall, 943 immigrant workers were killed on the job in 2015—the highest number since 2007.

The report also finds that construction, transportation and agriculture remain among the most dangerous sectors. 937 construction workers were killed in 2015—the highest in any sector. Older workers also are at high risk, with those 65 or older 2.5 times more likely to die on the job. Workplace violence continues to be a growing problem for workers, resulting in 703 deaths.

The report also highlights the fact that OSHA is underfunded and understaffed to handle the 8 million workplaces across the country.

  • There are only 1,838 inspectors (815 federal and 1,023 state) to inspect the 8 million workplaces under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s jurisdiction.
  • Federal OSHA has enough inspectors to inspect workplaces once every 159 years.
  • State OSHA plans have enough inspectors to inspect workplaces once every 99 years.
  • There is one inspector for every 76,402 workers.
  • The current OSHA budget amounts to $3.65 to protect the safety and health of each worker in America.

Not only is OSHA unable to keep up with growing number of workplaces, the penalties are too weak.

The federal penalty average for the death of a worker on the job is $6,500 dollars.  The state penalties are even worse. The state penalty average for the death of a worker on the job is only $2,500.  Serious OSHA violations carry an average penalty of $2,402 for federal and $1,747 from the state.

Instead of working to strengthen worker protections the Trump administration is rolling back regulations and slashing funding to the Department of Labor.

  • Executive Order 13771, issued Jan. 24, 2017, requires that for every new regulatory protection issued, two existing safeguards must be repealed.
  • Repeal of OSHA’s rule clarifying an employer’s obligation to keep accurate injury and illness records.
  • Repeal of a rule that would have required companies to disclose safety and health and labor violations in order to qualify for federal contracts.
  • Delay in the effective date of OSHA’s new beryllium standard and delay in the enforcement of OSHA’s silica standard in the construction industry. The delay in the silica rule will allow continued high exposures that will lead to 160 worker deaths.
  • Budget proposals to slash the Department of Labor’s budget by 21%, eliminate worker safety and health training programs, eliminate the Chemical Safety Board and cut the job safety research budget by $100 million.

After decades of work, OSHA has helped to save the lives of countless workers and yet there is so much more we can do.  We need the President to take strong and swift actions to strengthen OSHA protections, increase the penalties, hire additional inspectors, and address the growing problems facing workers today.

Read the AFL-CIO’s full report here

 

SB 3 Is Only About One Thing: Voter Suppression

Voter intimidation leads voter suppression and that leads to people losing their voice in our democracy.

The New Hampshire House is now considering a bill, SB 3, that was forced through the Senate, straight down party lines, would make it harder for people to vote.

For years the Republican Party has been pushing to “strengthen” our voting laws. By “strengthening” I mean they are trying to block typically Democratic voters from being able to exercise their Constitutional right to vote.

Research shows that in higher turnout elections Democrats do better. So Republicans will do anything to keep the voter turn out small in an effort to gain a political advantage.

First they passed the restrictive Voter ID law requiring every voter have a valid New Hampshire ID in order to vote.

Now they are working to change the “domicile” language to protect New Hampshire elections from they myth of voter fraud.

Much of this voter fraud debate has stemmed from the false accusations by Donald Trump, and echoed by Governor Chris Sununu, that “busloads” of voters are being brought into New Hampshire from Massachusetts to sway our elections. Trump, Sununu, and the entire NH Republican Party are using the sheer number of same-day voter registrations as the basis for their claim of voter fraud.

SB 3 requires new voters to show proof of their “domicile” by providing supporting documentation like a utility bill with their name and address on it.

This alone is difficult for college students who live in the dormitories, as their mailbox is not specific to where they reside on campus.

Does this minor detail enough to confuse a college student about their eligibility to vote? Is this enough to keep them from voting entirely?

Proponents of the bill say that all you need to do is sign the form and then return to the town hall with proper documentation within 10 days. If you fail to do this, you could be subject to fines or possible jail time. The town may even send someone to you home to verify your address. At one point the Senate wanted to send armed police officers to your house if you filed a domicile affidavit.

So why are so many people against this bill?

For starters, the GOP are attempting to solve a problem that does not exist. They are spreading wild accusations that out of staters coming to NH on Election Day to vote. Over the last decade there has only been 2 cases of voter fraud out of thousands and thousands of ballots cast.

They are trying to suppress the vote through intimidation and threat of jail time for those who register to vote on Election Day. Our domicile laws are pretty straight forward now: If you are domiciled in New Hampshire on Election Day you can vote in local elections. This means that students at UNH can claim NH as their domicile and vote in NH elections.

Republicans continue to say that they one want people to vote who “have a stake in the community.”   Are Republicans trying to say that a college student who lives in NH, attends school in NH, and works in NH for more than nine months of the year, does not have a stake in the community?

Both parties should be working on expanding access to the polls not restricting it. We should make it easier for people to register to vote by tying voter registrations to driver’s licenses and allowing people to register to vote online.   This alone could reduces long lines at polling places and is much easier to track that paper copies.

But because Republicans really only want to rig the system for their own gain, they refuse to make online registration available.

Intimidating voters and attempting to suppress the vote is the foundation of SB 3 and that is why our elected representatives must reject this harmful piece of legislation.

CNN Allow Man Convicted Of Election Fraud To Spread Lies About Busloads Of Out-of-state Voters In NH

Screenshot from CNN video

There is a major problem in the 24 hour news media world.  They need to actually start reporting news and stop letting random people spew baseless accusations, and outright lies on cable television.

Take for example the recent CNN interview with Trump supporters.  The interview was intended to be about how Trump supporters feel about how Trump is doing now that he is President.  However, it did not go that way at all.

CNN explains the interview (VIDEO available at this link):

Despite President Donald Trump’s lack of evidence for his claim that millions of votes were cast illegally in last year’s election, some of his supporters are standing by the conspiracy theory.

A CNN “New Day” panel featured a handful of die-hard Trump backers to assess their views on his performance more than two months into his presidency.

One New Hampshire Trump voter, William Baer, said he saw “busloads of people” coming into New Hampshire to vote illegally. He did not provide specific details or evidence, but said he thought they were either undocumented immigrants or US citizens coming from other states.

When further pressed by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Baer said he can’t cite the busloads he’s seen and where he’s seen them, but said he saw them on television.

Josh Youssef, another New Hampshire voter on the panel, said he wouldn’t characterize it as “busloads and busloads” of people, but rather said he saw cars with out-of-state license plates full of people coming to vote, though he couldn’t provide any more details about them.

By allowing both of these men to outright lie about this, completely fabricated story of “busloads of people” from out of state voting in New Hampshire, on television just continues to provide validity to this outright lie.  The other thing that CNN either did not know, or forgot to mention, is that Josh Youssef was actually convicted of “election fraud” for his actions during the 2012 elections.

Miscellany Blue reported on this in 2013:

“The state determined that Youssef violated RSA 666:6 “by creating a blog that lead viewers to believe that it was in fact Ed Mosca’s blog or gave the false impression that Ed Mosca endorsed” his campaign.”

Lies like the magical busload of out of state voters is fueling the NH Legislature to push for new legislation like SB 3 that would strip people of their legal right to vote.

“Republican State Sen. Regina Birdsell, who represents Derry, Windham, and Hampstead, argued that voter law must be re-examined, especially strengthening residency requirements. “Our same-day registration laws have been opened up to the point that it’s basically a highway between Massachusetts and our polling places as far as I’m concerned,” Birdsell said.” (Eagle Tribune, December 4, 2016)

Granite State Progress, a New Hampshire based advocacy group,  is calling on Governor Chris Sununu and Republican State Senate and House leaders to stop feeding Trump and Birdsell’s claims of magic buses of voters by denouncing SB 3.

“Governor Sununu is enabling Trump to make these baseless claims, while Senate Republicans passed SB 3 based on this same damaging rhetoric even though Senate President Chuck Morse readily admits there is no problem. Politicians shouldn’t pass bills that jeopardize fundamental voting rights because of propaganda or the rants of sore losers,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Sununu and Republican leaders in the Senate and House can prove they respect the integrity of New Hampshire’s elections by once and for all making it clear President Trump is off-base and that there is absolutely no wide-spread voter fraud here. Promoting SB 3 amounts to nothing more than feeding the hype and is a thinly veiled political attempt to target real Granite State voters who might vote differently than these politicians want.”

We all know that the only reason Republicans are pushing SB 3 and other voter suppression bills to make it harder for people to vote, lowering the overall vote count in the hopes of giving them an edge in elections.

We need our media outlets, like CNN, to spend less time talking with “so-called experts” and more time doing real investigative journalism. We need them to do more research on the people they are putting on screen and doing more to ensure their lies are not allowed to make it to air.

Former NEA-NH President and NH State Senator Scott McGilvray Has Passed Away

Image of Scott McGilvray, Professional Firefighters of NH President Dave Lang, and members of the Professional Firefighters of NH.

Just over a month ago, Scott McGilvray took a leave of absence from his position as President of NEA New Hampshire citing growing health concerns.

“In light of some recent health issues, I have requested and been granted leave from my duties as President of NEA-NH so that I can concentrate on getting well and serving my constituents in the State Senate. Last November, the people of District 16 entrusted me with the honor of representing them and the great responsibility of fighting for them in the State Senate. I intend to continue fulfilling my duties as Senator and keeping my commitment to my constituents while I am on leave from my job,” McGilvray stated.  

Today, we have learned that Scott McGilvray has passed away.  

At the moment we do not have any more details about his illness or his passing.   

After hearing the news, Megan Tuttle, Acting NEA-New Hampshire President, issued the following statement:

“NEA-New Hampshire is deeply saddened today by the passing of our President and friend Scott McGilvray. Scott made the lives of countless others better as a teacher, coach, mentor, friend and leader and he will be greatly missed. 

“He was a tireless advocate for students and educators across the state, dedicating his life fighting to assure every child had the opportunity to succeed. Scott McGilvray made New Hampshire a better place for children.”

AFT-NH President Douglas Ley released the following statement on the passing of labor leader and State Senator Scott McGilvray.

“AFT-NH is shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of State Senator Scott McGilvray. On behalf of AFT-NH members, we express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of Scott McGilvray, and to our colleagues at NEA-NH.”

“Scott dedicated his life to advocating for New Hampshire’s children, public education, educators and working families. He was a strong labor leader and his career was marked by public service at its finest culminating with his election to the NH State Senate this past fall.”

“The passing of Senator McGilvray is a great loss to public education, the labor movement and the entire state of New Hampshire. He was taken from us far too soon, and leaves a void that will be difficult to fill.”

In 2016, Scott took the leap and decided to run for State Senator in District 16 and won.  He was a great addition to the Senate with his years of knowledge and experience as an educator and as President of NEA-NH.  Scott was well received in the Senate by members of both parties.

After receiving the news of his passing, Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) and Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield) issued the following statements:

“It is with great sorrow that we learn of our fellow colleague Senator Scott McGilvray’s passing this morning. Both my wife Susan and I would like to extend our deepest, heartfelt sympathies, warm thoughts and prayers to Senator McGilvray’s wife Patti and his two daughters, Meaghan and Molly, as well as all of his family, friends and loved ones during this immensely difficult time,” said Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem). “Senator McGilvrary was well respected within in his community and has touched countless young lives through his dedication to education as well as coaching youth sports.”

“Losing a member of the Senate is always difficult and the loss of Senator McGilvrary so early in his career is especially sad. Each day in the Senate we all work hard to make our state better, and though his tenure serving Senate District 16 was far too brief, Senator McGilvray’s service to his community will certainly have a positive and memorable impact for many years to come,” said Morse.

“Scott’s time in the NH Senate, just as his life, was too brief. He devoted his life to teaching, coaching, and advocating for our children and he left an indelible impression with all he worked with. I was proud to serve with Scott in the New Hampshire Senate and saw firsthand his dedication to the people of his district and the people of New Hampshire. I join with all my Senate colleagues in expressing our deepest sympathies to his family, particularly his wife Patti and his daughters on their loss. New Hampshire has lost a great public servant and I know that Scott’s friends and family will be in all our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” said Senator Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield).

Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party released the following after receiving the news: 

“We are shocked and deeply saddened to hear of Senator Scott McGilvray’s passing. Senator McGilvray will be remembered for his deep dedication to education and for the young people and educators whose lives he has impacted so greatly over his 25 years as a social studies teacher and a football coach. He spent his last months serving his state and fighting for the people of New Hampshire and for that we are endlessly grateful. He will be dearly missed.”

 I am also saddened to hear of the news of Scott McGilvray’s passing today.  Over the years I have collaborated with Scott  in his capacity as President of NEA and helped push for his election to the NH Senate.  He was truly a good man, a strong labor leader, and an outspoken advocate for the children of New Hampshire.

I offer my sincere condolences to the McGilvray family.

(NOTE: at the time of publication no statement has been made by the family.  We will update this post with any new statements and information about possible donations in his honor as they come in.) 

Updated with additional statements.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins on the passing of State Senator Scott McGilvray:

“Granite State Progress is incredibly sad to learn of the passing of our colleague and friend Scott McGilvray. Our organization worked closely with Scott from his time as a local leader with the Manchester Education Association to his election as President of NEA-New Hampshire and then as a State Senator. Scott was always a thoughtful, collaboration-oriented leader who cared deeply about his students, his members, and his community. We are honored to have been able to work with him on so many important endeavors to make New Hampshire a better place for all families. Scott truly left a positive impact on the efforts he worked on and New Hampshire is better for it.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends today, and with the many people whose lives he touched as a dedicated educator, coach, and community leader.”

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen delivered the following statement after learning of the passing of New Hampshire State Senator Scott McGilvray:

“Billy and I were very saddened to learn of the passing of Scott McGilvray,” said Shaheen. “Scott’s devotion to public service grew out of his passion for students. Whether on the football field, in the classroom or in the New Hampshire Senate, Scott worked tirelessly to help New Hampshire’s children reach their full potential. Scott’s legacy will live on in the many Granite Staters whose lives he changed. I extend my deepest condolences to Scott’s wife Patti, his daughters and his family. My thoughts are with them as we all mourn his passing.”

Today, Senator Maggie Hassan released the following statement on the passing of New Hampshire State Senator Scott McGilvray:

“Countless students had a brighter future because they had Scott McGilvray in their corner as a teacher or as a football coach. Although his time in the State Senate was far too brief, Scott was already bringing the same energy and dedication to building a better future for young people across the Granite State. Scott embodied the spirit of civic engagement we are known for in New Hampshire, and the Manchester community and entire state are stronger because of his devotion to public service. I was proud to call him a friend, and Tom and I extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Patti, and his daughters, Meaghan and Molly.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter today released the following statement on the passing of State Senator and New Hampshire National Education Association President Scott McGilvray:

“I was deeply saddened to learn this morning of Senator Scott McGilvray’s passing. Senator McGilvray was a leader in our community and a fierce advocate for students and teachers. His wife Patti, his daughters Meaghan and Molly, and the countless Granite Staters whose lives he touched will be in my thoughts and prayers.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement on the passing of Senator Scott McGilvray:

“I’m deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Scott McGilvray. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to know and work with Scott. His determination and dedication to improving education in New Hampshire has left our state a better place for all of us. Scott touched the lives of countless young people in his decades as an educator and his legacy will live on in the hearts of those who knew him. My husband Brad and I extend our deepest condolences to Scott’s wife Patti and his daughters Meaghan and Molly at this very difficult time.”

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement:

“On behalf of the House Democratic Caucus, I express my deepest condolences to Senator McGilvray’s family during this difficult time. As an educator, labor leader, and coach, Senator McGilvray dedicated his life to public service and improving the lives of children. With the passing of Senator McGilvray, the state of New Hampshire has lost a great person, and great public servant, far too soon.”

US House Passes Bill To Arbitrarily Fire Workers At The VA, Bypassing The Union’s Due Process

Yesterday, in a largely party line vote of 237-178, the U.S. House passed, “H.R.1259 – VA Accountability First Act of 2017.” A bill that would allow the Secretary of the VA to arbitrarily fire workers without any due process. HR 1259 was written and sponsored by Tennessee Republican, Rep David Roe (R-TN-1) who also cosponsored legislation to revoke the Department of Labor’s new rule mandating employers keep records on all workplace injuries.

The Hill explains:

The bill would give the VA secretary expedited removal authority, meaning any employee fired by the secretary would be out of a job and off the department’s rolls that day.

…One point of conflict in the legislation was the elimination of the union grievance process available to represented employees as a means to appeal negative personnel actions. About 76 percent of VA’s workforce is represented by a union, and Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and author of the accountability bill, has complained the grievance process takes an average of 350 days to complete. The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 230,000 VA employees, called the legislation ‘a union-busting bill, plain and simple.

…A spokeswoman for Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the senator is still “exploring options” for a bill that can pass the Senate. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced companion legislation for Roe’s House-backed measure. Isakson himself said he is committed to working with his House colleagues and Democrats on his committee to move accountability legislation forward.

“I’m committed to moving legislation that gives Secretary Shulkin the tools to discipline bad employees,” Isakson said. “Accountability reform is a top priority.” The senator authored bipartisan legislation in the last Congress to expedite the firing process at VA, but it stalled in the Senate after clearing his committee.

This bill is designed to bypass the American Federation of Government Employees grievance procedures and weaken the union’s ability to represent workers.  David Cox Sr., National President of AFGE released the following after the bill passed the House.

“The House has passed a venomous piece of legislation from Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee that would undermine the government’s sacred obligation to serve our veterans by gutting frontline employees’ basic worker rights at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Make no mistake – this legislation is not about improving accountability at the VA, and it certainly won’t improve veterans’ access to quality care and earned benefits. This is part of an orchestrated attack on the rights of federal workers and employee unions that’s ripped from the playbook of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

“While we are deterred by the House’s action, we are not defeated. We will fight this bill when it goes before the Senate, and we will continue to make the case to lawmakers and the public that attacking the rights of working-class men and women at the VA and across government is counterproductive to our shared goal of providing the best service to the American taxpayers.”

The AFl-CIO was also displeased with the passage of this legislation calling it a “slap in the face” to the workers at the VA.

“Yesterday, instead of standing up for working families, 10 Democrats in Congress joined with Republicans in attacking workers at the VA. Their support of this anti-worker legislation is not only a slap in the face to the 120,000 VA employees who are themselves veterans, but a betrayal of the promise to treat all VA workers fairly,” said Bill Samuel, AFL-CIO Director of Government Affairs. 

Everyone agrees that the VA needs help.  They are understaffed, overloaded, and underfunded, but the ability to arbitrarily fire hard working people at the VA will do nothing to solve any of these problems.

The reforms Congress should be looking for would include ones like the amendment submitted by Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH01) to improve VA hiring of mental health professionals.

Congress must also accept that additional resources are necessary to hire more doctors and nurses at VA health centers and to reduce the delays many veterans face in getting the care they need.  This would include spending money to merge the DOD’s and the VA health records system.

Another major issue facing the VA is that 20 veterans commit suicide every day.  Many of these vets are suffering from PTSD and are unable to get the care they need. NH Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH-1), a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, is working with the newly appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin, to address this ongoing epidemic.

“The men and women who have served our nation in uniform cannot be cast aside once they have returned home,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “The suicide rate among veterans is a tragedy and it’s long past time we came together to address this challenge.”

“The president and I have made it clear that suicide prevention is one of our top priorities,” Secretary Shulkin said in a statement. “We know the rate of death by suicide among Veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a greater rate than Veterans who use VA care. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. We must and we will do all that we can to help former service members who may be at risk. When we say even one Veteran suicide is one too many, we mean it.”

So while 20 veterans a day commit suicide and the thousands that die every year awaiting care should be the top priority of the President and Congress, but instead they are choosing to attack the very workers who are trying to help fix this broken system and get care to those who desperately need it.

Trump’s Budget Is A Disaster

NH Elected Leaders Along With National Labor And
Environmental Leaders Respond To Trump’s Proposed Cuts.

President Trump unveiled his $1.1 trillion dollar budget for discretionary spending yesterday. Elected leaders, labor unions, environmental groups, and advocates for working people are outraged at the massive cuts.

The Hill reports:

The 54-page “America First” document, focused primarily on fiscal 2018, would boost the Defense Department and related programs at Energy by $54 billion, and Homeland Security by $2.8 billion. It would offset such increases by cutting the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by $10.1 billion (28 percent) and the Environmental Protection Agency by $2.6 billion (31 percent). The latter cut would eliminate approximately 3,200 positions, according to the document.

The agency-by-agency plans include eliminating dozens of grant programs at the Education and Commerce departments—many of them related to climate change. And Trump would eliminate the following agencies:

The African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“The Trump administration should immediately go back to the drawing board,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “This budget is a blueprint for undermining the health and well-being of Granite Staters and would be particularly devastating for seniors. It’s needless and cruel to drastically cut programs that so many people in New Hampshire depend on like Meals on Wheels and heating assistance. It also makes no sense to cut clean air and water programs, coastal protection, and economic development to struggling rural communities.

“President Trump’s budget is built for corporate special interests, not hard-working families and small businesses. The Trump budget makes indiscriminate cuts that will make it harder for entrepreneurs to grow job-creating small businesses, harder for children to access a high-quality public education, and harder for seniors to stay in their own homes and live independently,” said Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH).  “President Trump’s budget would undermine efforts to strengthen our health care workforce, making it more difficult to combat the heroin, fentanyl and opioid crisis. It would slash funding for life-saving medical research. And it would cripple our ability to fight climate change, which threatens New Hampshire’s economy and our way of life.”

“A budget is a moral document. As an American, I’m deeply concerned about the drastic cuts President Trump has proposed in this budget blueprint, which fail to reflect our shared morals and values. As your representative in Congress, I will fight to stop this budget, which would hurt New Hampshire in so many ways,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH01). “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I’m particularly concerned that this budget reflects an incomplete understanding of how we keep our nation safe. Since World War II, our international affairs budget has been key to maintaining stability around the globe, and cutting critical international aid and diplomatic funding would be disastrous for our national security.”

“Today’s budget would even eliminate programs that feed the hungry, including after-school nutrition assistance and Meals on Wheels. Contrary to the Administration’s outrageous statements at this afternoon’s press briefing, these programs do work, and cutting them is the exact opposite of ‘compassionate.’ I will not stand by while this Administration uses falsehoods to justify destroying vital support systems for our most vulnerable citizens. Today I will be sending the Trump administration just a few of the dozens of peer-reviewed studies that show Meals on Wheels improves seniors’ overall health and nutritional intake and reduces social isolation. This budget is yet one more example of President Trump turning his back on the very people he claimed he was there to help,” Shea-Porter added. 

“President Trump’s preliminary budget proposal is simply a disaster for our economy, environment, seniors, and hardworking families in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH02). “This budget proposal should raise red flags for anyone who wants to grow our middle class, create good paying jobs, protect human health and our environment, and fight climate change. We can’t turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made in recent years to get our economy pointed in the right direction and this budget is little more than a return to the same failed policies of the past. President Trump needs to seriously reconsider this approach and focus on crafting a budget proposal that benefits all Americans, not just those at the very top.”

Kuster also highlighted cuts to programs that directly impact New Hampshire working families.

“In New Hampshire, we know the serious impact toxic contamination can have on drinking water, public health, and quality of life. Slashing thirty one percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget will only make defending public health and our environment more difficult. Cutting the Department of Health and Human Services by thirteen percent will eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and harm programs like Meals on Wheels and home visits that our seniors and low-income families rely on.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO called this budget proposal “destructive and dangerous.”

“Working people in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin didn’t vote for a budget that slashes workforce training and fails to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. President Trump’s proposed budget attempts to balance the budget on the backs of working families. The $54 billion cut to programs that benefit working families is dangerous and destructive. Huge cuts to the departments of Labor, Education and Transportation will make workplaces less safe, put more children at risk and make improving our failing infrastructure much more difficult. The administration can and should do better.”

David Cox Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees warned that this budget would lead to massive layoffs. 

“This budget shirks our nation’s responsibility to care for its citizens and ensure the public’s health and safety, help our struggling neighbors secure better jobs and safe housing, and promote democracy around the world,” Cox stated. “The severity of the budget cuts proposed by President Trump could require mass layoffs of employees at federal departments and agencies, although the budget blueprint released by the White House does not detail how many federal employees could lose their jobs.

“This cuts, if implemented, would have devastating and lasting consequences on the nation. Every American should study the facts, reject the rhetoric, and decide for themselves if they share the bleak vision of America that President Trump is promoting,” Cox added. 

Ed Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), said these cuts take our transportation infrastructure in the wrong direction. 

“The austerity measures offered for transportation in the President’s budget blueprint go in the wrong direction and must be rejected. We cannot cut our way to a better and more modern transportation system. The President has rightfully called for a historic $1 trillion investment in our transportation system and infrastructure. But the budget released today does not advance that vision and instead would deal a severe blow to many key investment programs that are critical to our passenger and freight transportation network.”  

“This budget proposal makes it even more clear that Trump has no intention of protecting our communities or preserving our future,” said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. “Slashing the EPA’s funding only helps make fossil fuel executives richer while wrecking the climate and leaving workers and families by the wayside. What we really need is investment in a 100% renewable energy economy that creates jobs and curbs the climate crisis, and our movements will keep fighting until we get it.”

Republicans In The NH Senate Stick It To Low Income Workers Twice In One Day

Yesterday in a very busy day in the NH State Senate, Republicans voted on two bills that specifically effect low income families in New Hampshire.  They voted on an increase in the minimum wage and a bill to kick thousands off of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also referred to as food stamps.

The Senate rejected the minimum wage increase that would have raised the minimum wage to $12 over the next few years, right down party lines.  The bill would have raised the wages of over 100,000 people in the Granite State.  

“While 29 states and D.C. have increased their minimum wage in the last 4 years, Senate Republicans have voted to kill a New Hampshire increase for the fourth time, making us the only New England state that maintains a $7.25 hourly wage. I am disappointed that my Republican colleagues continue to turn their backs on working people. This is not only an economic issue, but a moral issue,” said Senator Donna Soucy (D-Manchester), Deputy Democratic Leader and sponsor of SB 83.

“This Republican logic that you can limit access to food assistance programs like SNAP while also voting to maintain a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour that is keeping working people in poverty fails to pass muster. People working full-time in New Hampshire should be able to earn enough to support themselves and their families.”

“Paying decent wages just makes good economic sense,” added Senator Soucy. “Volumes of research have shown that well-paid workers are better employees, better customers and are more likely to spend their dollars on necessities. The more workers feel financially secure in our state, the stronger and more robust our economy and the greater our ability to attract and retain skilled workers. While I’m disappointed our Republican colleagues continue to fail our workers, Senate Democrats will continue to push for an increase in our minimum wage and will continue fighting to expand opportunity for all.”

It is important to remember that some of the Republican senators are business owners that would be directly effected by an increase in the minimum wage.

In his opposition to raising the minimum wage last year, Senator  Andy Sanborn stated that raising the minimum wage is a “war on employers” but fails to mention that his vote against an increase is all about protecting his own self interest.

The Chairman of the NH Democratic Party, Ray Buckley, blasted the NH GOP for failing workers yet again.

“For four years, Governor Maggie Hassan worked to make our state number one in the nation for economic opportunity, with the lowest unemployment rate in the country. Building on that progress means making sure everyone with a job can provide for themselves and their family. For the second time in two weeks, Republicans have denied New Hampshire workers a raise by voting down a minimum wage.

By default, New Hampshire is tied for last in the country when it comes to paying its workers. The Granite State also has by far the lowest minimum wage in New England and that’s a legacy New Hampshire Republicans should be ashamed of. If Governor Sununu is truly committed to strengthening our economy and expanding opportunity, he should first make sure the people who live here are making enough to get by.”

“Raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour would come at the expense of entry level jobs,” said Senator Dan Innis as he argued against the increase.  Obviously Innis is mis-informed.  Study after study continues to show real life examples of how raising the minimum wage spurs economic growth, creating new jobs, and increases spending in the local community.

In January, Maine’s newly increased minimum wage went into effect and the results show what most economist routinely say, it will help create jobs.

“Average hourly earnings for private-sector Maine workers increased to $22.70 an hour and total employment increased to an all-time high, with a gain of more than 4,000 seasonally-adjusted jobs from December….Significant employment gains were seen among Maine’s restaurants and hotels, with the accommodation and food service sector gaining 700 jobs,” reported the Maine Beacon.

Then just to show how much Republicans care about low income workers they also voted to pass SB 7, a bill to change the eligibility of low income families to receive SNAP benefits.  

Senator Martha Fuller Clark was very disappointed in this partisan attack on low income families. 

“In the same day that we are discussing increased tax breaks for businesses and voting against the long overdue increase to the state’s minimum wage, Senate Republicans are passing legislation that prevents thousands of food insecure Granite Staters from accessing the SNAP benefits they so desperately need. I have to wonder – why are my Republican colleagues making it so hard for working families to succeed in New Hampshire?”

Senate Bill 7 restricts the Department of Health and Human Services from requesting or renewing a waiver of the federal work requirements for food stamp eligibility without legislative approval and requires that the department use the federal resource limits for food stamp eligibility for anyone denied a waiver. Food service providers, including the New Hampshire Food Bank, remain concerned that this legislation will have a significant, negative impact on the thousands of individuals who rely on SNAP to secure stable access to nutritious food. Moreover, significant research demonstrates that abuse of food assistance programs is extremely low. 

“139,730 people in New Hampshire are food insecure and 24% of those individuals are veterans. No one in our state should have to choose between paying their bills and buying food for their family,”  continued Fuller Clark. “This legislation puts vulnerable Granite Staters needlessly at risk and places an undue burden on municipalities and already strained food bank services. Democrats will continue to fight against these dangerous and misguided policies that put our state’s families at risk.”

Sarah Mattson Dustin is a staff advocate with The NH Legal Assistance, who testified against the proposed bill,  was also displeased with this vote and vows to continue fighting for low income families.

“NHLA and our allies who work on behalf of low-income New Hampshire families recognize the improvements the NH Senate made to SB 7 today. But this bill as amended still makes it harder for the food stamps program to continue serving low-income working families with kids. We will keep advocating for these essential benefits, which are 100 percent federally funded and a crucial tool in the fight against child hunger. We heard in the debate that New Hampshire’s senators received HUNDREDS of messages against the bill. That is a great sign that New Hampshire voters are engaged and committed to protecting our most vulnerable neighbors. There is still much work to be done, but we are deeply grateful to everyone who stood with us and with low-income working New Hampshire families.”

Opponents of SB 7 continued to point out the SNAP is a federally funded program and the State only pays a portion of the administrative costs.  The changes proposed would increase administrative costs at the state level while kicking more than 10,000 people off the program.

SB 7, submitted by Senator Kevin Avard (R-Nashua), was “word-for-word from The Foundation for Government Accountability, a Florida “welfare reform” think tank and member of the right-wing State Policy Network,” wrote Granite State Progress.  GSP also posted Avard’s “Tirade Against Poor Families, Food Stamps, and the Bible on YouTube.

Hard working, low-income workers just got completely screwed by the Republican led Senate who once again blocked an increase in the minimum wage and simultaneously making it hard for them to feed their families.

Good And Bad News On Senator Lasky’s Bills To Make The Voting Process Easier

This week the Senate held two votes on legislation submitted by Senator Bette Lasky to expand access and ease the voting process.

The first SB 113, which passed the Senate with a voice vote, would allow cities and towns to “conduct a trial of electronic poll book devices for voter registration and check-in for elections.” This would simplify check in procedures as the lists would continually be updated through an online database.

“I’m thrilled that the Senate has taken this pragmatic step forward in modernizing our election process. New Hampshire prides itself on a tradition of strong citizen participation in elections. But we also know that high voter turnout can create long lines at the polls. We must do everything we can to ensure that voting is accessible and efficient for everyone,” said Senator Lasky.

“This pilot program gives communities the opportunity to test electronic poll books in upcoming elections in the hope that this resource will help election workers process voters more quickly and ensure that busy Granite Staters have every opportunity to participate. The program also provides enhanced protections against fraud, and the increased efficiency provided by this technology also helps free up election workers to move more quickly through their post-election responsibilities.” 

Several states have successfully adopted the electronic poll book system. Proponents of the program cite the tool’s ability to help election workers access a statewide voter database to quickly look up and identify eligible voters, redirect individuals who are in the wrong polling location to the correct polling site, scan a driver’s license and sign in electronically, and reduce wait times at high traffic polling locations. Access to increased information also helps prevent against voter fraud.

The second, SB 194, was killed by Republicans in party line vote. The bill would have authorized online voter registration in New Hampshire. When tied with electronic poll books, voters could register online and then go vote without having to wait in long lines at the polling place.  Typically the longest line in a polling place is those registering to vote.   

“Making the process of registering to vote and casting your ballot more secure and accessible is something we should all be able to agree on,” said Lasky.Allowing our citizens to register to vote online would help make the process more efficient and increase the number of citizens exercising one of their most important rights. I remain confused as to why Republicans continue to block legislation that makes voting more accessible to the people of New Hampshire.” 

38 states have already implemented online voter registration. Research shows that the convenience of online voter registration greatly increases registration and participation.

This is only the first in a long line of proposed legislation that affects our voting process.  The Governor and Republican leadership are pushing for “stronger Voter ID” laws, which have been proven to lower turnout and disenfranchise voters.  They are also considering eliminating same day voter registration.  

Ending same day voter registration and blocking online voter registration could result in a drastic drop in voter participation, especially in Presidential election years.  Then again, maybe that is what Republicans want, as records show that higher turnout elections tend to favor Democrats.  

Why Senator Dan Innis Is Wrong In Opposition To Raising The Minimum Wage

Small Businesses want a higher minimum wage because it increases local spending and spurs economic growth.

Inflation from raising the minimum wage will be hardly noticeable to most people.

Here we go again. Senator Donna Soucy introduced a bill to raise the NH Minimum Wage to $12 an hour and Republicans are already trying to convince the people that raising the minimum wage is wrong.

Today Republican State Senator Dan Innis opined that we should let New Hampshire businesses raise wages and the government should not force an increase.

Innis talks about how raising the Minimum Wage hurts businesses and hurts Granite Staters who would be forced to pay higher prices for the increased cost in labor.

“Raising the minimum wage doesn’t transfer costs from wealthy businesses to the workers. It simply transfers costs to customers.”

Which is it Senator: Are the businesses going to absorb those costs or are the people of NH going to have to pay for them?

Don’t worry, I will tell you why both statements are wrong.

First lets start with the fact that the majority of minimum wage workers do not work for “small businesses,” they actually work for large multi-national corporations.

Nobody actually expects greedy corporations to absorb all of the costs of raising wages, even though all of them could. Most of these multi-national employers spend more money buying back their own stocks to artificially inflate their stock prices or paying out dividends to their shareholders. Both of these options push obscene amounts of money to the CEO’s and Executive Boards who are given millions of “stock options” as compensation every year.

Contrary to what Sen. Innis says small businesses actually support increasing the minimum wage.

“A July 2015 survey found that 3 out of 5 small business owners with employees support a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $12. The survey reports that small business owners say an increase ‘would immediately put more money in the pocket of low-wage workers who will then spend the money on things like housing, food, and gas. This boost in demand for goods and services will help stimulate the economy and help create opportunities,’” stated the Department of Labor in a recent blog post.

Even the Small Business Majority, a group run by small business owners who “focus on solving the biggest problems facing small businesses today,” have come out in support a national $12 hour minimum wage.

Increased labor cost will inevitably be pushed on to the consumers.

Oh the inflation! Milk prices will skyrocket, food prices will triple, restaurant prices will make going out to eat unaffordable….and so on and so on.

Yeah, we will hear all of that. The fact is that it is completely untrue.

Yes, there will be some minor inflation as a result of pushing wages up but it will hardly be noticeable.

Lets take Wal-Mart for example: If Wal-Mart raised their minimum wage to $12 an hour and passed all of the $3 billion in additional labor costs onto the consumer (instead of taking anything from their $12 billion in profits).

How much more do you think the average Wal-Mart shopper would be forced to pay? The answer is around $12.49 a year.

The average Wal-Mart shopper would end up paying less than $.50 cents per visit to ensure that all Wal-Mart employees made at least $12 an hour.   We are talking about $1 a month in additional costs. That increase will hardly break your wallet.

Lastly, can we finally stop promoting this lie that all minimum and low-wage workers are teenagers! The facts just do not support this and common sense proves it cannot possibly be true.

Think about it: when you buy a coffee on your way into work is it a teenager at the counter? Who is working the counter at McDonalds when you go to buy lunch?

Odds say that the answer to both question are that it is a woman over the age of 25.


Below is a snapshot of who in New Hampshire would be affected if we raised the minimum wage to $12 by 2020.  For example, 93,000 workers over the age of 20 would see a raise in wages, compared to the 22,000 below age 20.

(Data from EPI.org)

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