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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

Continued Growing Support For Public Schools By Parents In Newest Poll

Parents Agree: We Need More Investment In Public Schools Not More “Choice”

Today, the American Federation of Teachers released the results of a new nationwide poll of parents that shows growing support for expanding public schools. The poll also shows that parents want to see more investment in local public schools over more “choice” in schools.

The survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates for the AFT, consisted of interviews with 1,200 public school parents in major U.S. cities including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego and San Francisco.

“We wanted to know what parents are thinking,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten in a recent phone interview unveiling the poll. “These results match what I hear from parents and communities across the country.”

Weingarten continued, “There is zero ambiguity when it comes to what parents want for their children’s education: safe and welcoming, well-funded neighborhood public schools that help children develop their knowledge and skills and ensure equal opportunity for all kids. Parents deeply support the public schools their children attend and are happy with the job public schools are doing. And while we will never be satisfied until every public school is a place parents want to send their children, educators want to work, and kids are engaged and happy, these results confirm the sentiment we’ve seen in other recent polls that show support for public education continuing to rise.”

Parents believe in public schools. 73% of the parents polled stated that the public school their child attends provides them with a “good-to-excellent education.” Only 7% of the parents rated their schools as “not-so-good to poor.”

A good education system is the foundation for a strong economy and a healthy society. Parents understand that a strong educational foundation is the best way help their children succeed. The majority of parents polled agreed that, “public schools do more to expand opportunities for low income and minority students.” That is also why 79% of parents believe that their public school is helping their child to “reach their full potential.”

Over the past few decades, public schools have come under attack. Opponents use national standardized tests as the baseline for how well a school is functioning. Schools that did not preform well in these tests, see their budgets decreased and programs cut, which leads to lower test scores and poor performance in successive years.

The use of standardized testing has become the major driving factor in educational reform conversations.   However parents disagree with this notion. 61% of parents believe that “too much emphasis” is being placed on the results of standardized testing.

What is really concerning to parents is cuts to school budgets, increases in class sizes, and cuts to teachers and staff.

Contrary to what many right-wing politicians tell you, parents do not want more “choice” or “vouchers” to send children to private schools. Only 20% of the parents surveyed said we should open more charter schools and provide more vouchers to private schools. The overwhelming majority, 60% of parents strongly agreed “we should focus on ensuring that every child has access to a good public school in their community.”

“This poll confirms what we are hearing from parents and educators here in Florida,” said Christine Bramuchi, Co-Founder and Director of Operations of the Alliance for Public Schools. “Even with a robust charter and voucher program here in Florida, parents overwhelming support their local public schools.”

According to the poll, parents are unified in what they believe is best for their children.

  • 93-94% of parents say they want to reduce class sizes especially in early grades, extra resources for struggling neighborhood schools, and to expand career vocational or technical training.
  • 90-91% of parents say they want curriculums that include music and arts, health and nutrition services through local schools, and to hold charter schools accountable for their performance like public schools.
  • 84-89% or parents say they want more afterschool programs, expanded mentoring programs, high quality preschool for 3 and 4 year olds, additional pay for teachers who work in hard to staff schools. They agree that public schools should be a “community hub” where students and their families can partake in extra enrichment programs.
  • 68% oppose taking money from public schools to increase spending on charter schools and voucher programs.

Weingarten explained that the results of this poll are definitive and that the parents are saying loud and clear, “Stop defunding our schools.”

It is also very clear whom parents trust when it comes to the education of their children, teachers.   By a 79-21% margin, parents agree that teachers have the right ideas when it comes to public schools. Less than half of the parents trust their governor, their local mayor or town official, or their state legislatures when it comes to their children’s education.

Rounding out the bottom of the list, with a dismal 33% support, is President Donald Trump and his Secretary of Education, Besty DeVos.

DeVos is wildly unpopular with parents. Nearly 75% of the parents polled knew about DeVos and her position as Secretary of Education. Of those familiar with DeVos, 44% disapproved of her job performance as Secretary of Education while only 23% actually approved of her performance.

“It’s striking that the agenda being pushed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to defund public education and divert resources to vouchers and other privatization schemes—even when they are cloaked as ‘choice’—is completely at odds with parents’ educational priorities. This is true across every race, political persuasion and area of the country. These results should serve as a clarion call to policymakers to stop defunding our schools and instead deliver on the priorities parents want, to reclaim the promise of public education for all children,” Weingarten added.

The results are the latest in a series of polls released this summer and fall on people’s priorities for public education. Gallup released a survey last week showing support for public schools was up by 7 points compared with 2012. PDK’s annual poll showed deep support for public schools and investments in wraparound services, such as mental health services and after-school programs, and resources to prepare students for successful lives and careers; it also showed strong opposition to funding vouchers for religious schools. And an Education Next poll showed public support for charter schools fell by 12 percentage points over the past year.


All of the data and polling results can be found at AFT.org

Stop Lying About Non Existent Voter Fraud In New Hampshire

“Voter fraud is rampant in New Hampshire elections.  Busloads of people are coming from Massachusetts to vote in our elections.”  

Trump said it. Governor Chris Sununu said it. Right wing advocates said it. So it must be true, right?

No.  Nationally over the past 16 years there has only been 35 cases of voter fraud out of the more than one billion ballots cast. This includes the four cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election.

Of course right-wing extremists need a new way to suppress voter turnout and disenfranchise voters in the hopes that their new Voter ID laws and “domicile” mandates will keep left leaning voters from the ballot box.

This week, Trump’s Voting Integrity commission will be meeting in New Hampshire on Tuesday September 12th.  Prior to his visit to NH, Kris Kobach posted an Op-Ed in Breitbart claiming that Senator Maggie Hassan only won because thousands of people with out-of-state licenses voted in the NH election.

Kobach is doing three things with this statement:

  1. He is perpetuating the lie that “busloads of out-of-state voters” are coming to NH to vote.
  2. Trying to make a case against “same-day voter registration,”  a right-wing priority item for years.
  3. Showing his complete ignorance to our voting laws.

A litany of people from both sides of the aisle have pushed back on this claim that “busloads of out-of-state voters” voted in the election, including: Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewindowski, Former NHGOP Chair Fergus Cullen, Former NH Attorney General Tom Rath, NH Assistant Attorney General Brian Buonamano, and even New Hampshire’s own Secretary of State, Bill Gardner denied these claims.

Claims of voter fraud have also been debunked by PolitifactFactCheck.orgWashington PostNew York Times, and the Boston Globe.

The right-wing has been working hard for decades to make it harder for people to vote.  They have been eyeing same-day voter registration for many years.  There is no denying that thousands of Granite Staters use this to register on voting day.  Typically these are young people who move a lot or are not generally involved in politics until major elections, like the Presidential election.

Of course these people tend to vote democratic and that is why the right-wing has been pushing to eliminate it.  If we had an easier way like, motor-voter registration or online voter registrations, there would more than likely be a significant drop in same-day voter registration. This would also greatly reduce the long lines in polling places that can dissuade eligible voters from casting their ballots.

Kobach clearly does not understand our voting laws.  In fact, he is confusing people about what is legal and what is “voter fraud.”  There is no legal requirement for a voter to have a NH drivers license or to register your car to vote in New Hampshire.

Dean Spilioties, civic scholar in the School of Arts and Sciences at Southern New Hampshire University, explained to NH Public Radio exactly how NH’s voting laws are written.

“Under the law, you can be domiciled here for purposes of voting but be a resident of another state… Where the out-of-state licenses were typically used is typically places like Durham, Hanover, Manchester. So those folks, if you’re a college student, you know, from an out-of-state – enrolled in a New Hampshire university or college, you are perfectly within the law to register to vote on election day or whenever with your out-of-state driver’s license and there’s no requirement that you then upgrade that license to a New Hampshire license at any time.”

NHPR’s News Director Dan Barrick agreed with Spilioties and added, “So there’s absolutely no evidence that, of those 5,000 plus people who voted with an out-of-state license… cast illegal ballots. There’s absolutely no evidence of that at all. And any implication is just really irresponsible.”

The Washington Post followed up on Kobach’s statement and spoke with NH college students who legally voted with an out-of-state drivers license.

“I was a student at Saint Anselm College in Manchester until I graduated this past May, and because I spent most of my time in the state I felt it was right I vote there instead of my native state of New York,” said Patrick Derenze, 22, who used his New York ID to vote.

New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner was tapped to be a part of Trump’s voting integrity commission, however many people are calling for him to leave the commission now as it has become evident that the commission is about finding evidence to prove the false statement that America has a voter fraud problem.

All four of New Hampshire’s elected Congressional Representatives are calling for Gardner to step down from the commission.

“Kris Kobach is deceiving the public in a desperate attempt to justify his sham Commission’s existence and back the President’s false claims – at the expense of our state and faith in our democratic process,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.  “I ask all public officials in New Hampshire to join me in condemning these dangerous lies, and I call on Secretary of State Gardner to immediately resign his seat on the Commission.”

“From the beginning, President Trump’s voter commission has been nothing more than a partisan sham to justify voter suppression laws,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “This latest absurd attempt to sow uncertainty in New Hampshire’s election results is consistent with Kris Kobach and the commission’s efforts to use deceptive data to question the integrity of our elections. Undermining confidence in our democratic process is irresponsible and dangerous. I urge New Hampshire Secretary of State Gardner to condemn this most recent claim and end his participation in President Trump’s voter commission.”

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan issued a joint statement calling for Gardner to resign his position on the commission.

“It has been clear since its inception that President Trump’s voting commission is an attempt to grossly mislead voters and lay the groundwork for broad-scale, politically motivated voter suppression. Now, the head of President Trump’s misguided commission is using deceiving and irrelevant data to rehash the same false claims that have been debunked time and again by independent analysis and members of both parties in New Hampshire. The law clearly states that college students and other New Hampshire residents can vote without a New Hampshire ID, and these false partisan claims are deliberately twisting the facts. Secretary Gardner’s association with this partisan commission risks tarnishing his long legacy of fighting for the New Hampshire Primary and promoting voter participation, and it would be in keeping with his distinguished record to immediately relinquish any role with this commission.”

Gardner told The Associated Press on Friday that he will not step down because, “it’s important to figure out why Americans are losing trust in the election process.”

The answer to that question is simple: Because people keep hearing lies from prominent officials, like our President and our Governor, who say massive voter fraud exists despite any real evidence of fraud.

This is the same tactic the right-wing has been using to deny climate change. They use one report that denies the science and claim that “the results are unclear” or “the facts are in dispute.”

The facts clearly show that voter fraud is not the problem in New Hampshire but yet Trump, Sununu and Kobach continue to make false claims that it does.

If you want to strengthen the “integrity” of our voting system then let’s make some real changes. Make voter registration automatic, so when you move or buy a new home, you will automatically be registered to vote.  Make in-person voting more that a one-day event.  Have early voting locations where people can vote prior to election day open on weekdays and weekends.  Even better, let’s move to a vote by mail system, where your ballot is automatically mailed to you and you can either mail it back, or drop it off at a specified location, prior to election day.

Oregon passed a motor voter law and conducted voting by mail and they had over 70% of the eligible voters return a ballot.  Considering the national average is 55%, it appears they have found a way to increase voter turnout and protect their voting process by expanding voting rights.


The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights will be hosting a rally on Tuesday, Sept 12th, from 8am-10am at St Anslem College, where Trump’s voting commission is scheduled to meet.  More information here

Labor Day 2017: Remembering All That Labor Has Done For America

New York Labor Parade 1882

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
Department of Labor, History of Labor Day

Today, we celebrate Labor Day: A day to honor all that the labor movement has done to help working people. Over the past 140 years, labor unions have fought and died to improve the working conditions and the lives of all workers.  Without labor unions we would not have things like weekends, vacations, retirement plans, and overtime.

It was also the labor movement that help to bring forth major social and economic changes like the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 & 2011, Social Security, and the Age Discrimination Act.  These are just of the dozens of laws that were proposed, pushed through, and ultimately passed with major help from labor unions.

Today, as was done in the first Labor Day parade in 1882, I will proudly march down main street flanked by my union brothers and sisters.  A smiling and waving reminder of all that labor has done for working people.

Some say the unions have become obsolete. They say that unions did a lot of good but we now have laws to protect us and that unions are no longer needed.

I say that could not be farther from the truth.

Yes, we have workplace safety protections and laws governed by OSHA, a program that unions helped to create, but every year politicians attack OSHA.  They slashed OSHA’s budget and told us that “industry” can regulate themselves.  The entire reason OSHA was created was because greedy corporate executives could not “regulate themselves” and put profits over the health and safety of their employees.

Even with OSHA, workers are still pushed to bend or outright break these safety regulations.  In 2016, OSHA sent out over 35,000 violations.  Failure to abide by fall protection regulations is once again at the top of the list with over 6,900 citations issued.

It is not just worker safety regulations that are rolling back. Just a few days ago the Republican led Legislature in Missouri pushed through a new law to lower the minimum wage in St Louis from $10 an hour to the state minimum of $7.70 an hour.  That’s right, the local city government raised the minimum wage and the state government passed a new law to make it illegal for cities within the state to raise the minimum wage in their area.  This new law is literally stealing $2.30 an hour from the hard working low-wage workers in St Louis.

Over the past few years, support for labor unions has continued to grow.  Working people are still suffering and struggling to pay their bills as wages have become stagnant.  Jobs are being shipped overseas and income inequality has grown to a point that rivals The Great Depression.  Working people are beginning  to realize the unions have been there fighting back all of this time and now labor unions’ approval rating exceeds 60%.  Support for unions has gained 13 points in the last ten years alone.

Personally, I am glad to see the labor movement doing more to get back to their roots, fighting for social and economic justice.  Labor unions are on the front lines of many of the major issues facing our country right now including:  Systemic racism, income inequality, climate change, access to the ballot box, LBGTQ rights, and women’s reproductive rights.

Every one of these issues affects the lives of working people and that is why labor unions are joining the fight. Should an employer be able to fire a worker for getting pregnant?  What are the health risks to all workers as the Trump administration rolls back environmental protections and allows companies to put more carbon into the air we breathe?  Should a worker be fired because they are gay or transgender?

These may not be what people think of as traditional union issues but are these any different from when labor helped push through an end to segregation?

So today,  as we celebrate Labor Day, let us remember all of the things that labor has done to help make America a better place for everyone.

New Report Shows Non-Union Workers Are Less Likely To Have Paid Time Off

New AFL-CIO Labor Day Report Finds Americans’ Freedom to Spend Time with Family Eroding

Majority Think Unions Key to More Benefits on the Job

The majority of people agree that unions are the key to more benefits at work according to a new poll released today by the AFL-CIO, the Economic Policy Institute and GQRR.  The poll shows some startling results that fewer workers are getting paid time off for holidays and vacations, resulting in less time with their families. The poll also shows strong support for labor unions and that people want the ability to join a union.

Over the last twenty years research has shown that Americans are working more and more every year.  Productivity has gone up exponentially while wages have remained relatively flat.  For some, workers are working longer because they are forced to work two or three jobs, others because their employers expect them to work from home on their weekends.  63% of a people reported that they are taking fewer vacations and have less time off than they ever did in the past.
As workers face longer and longer workdays spending time with their families is becoming harder as many do not have access to paid time off for holidays or vacations.  The report shows that overall 23% of the workforce do not have paid holidays and 24% do not have paid vacations.  Access to paid time off even harder in low wage jobs.  “Among the bottom 10% of earners, 59% do not have access to paid holidays, while among the top 10% of earners, 7% do not have access to paid holidays.”

Share of private-sector workers without paid holidays, by wage group, 2017.

The report shows that if you want to have paid vacations, paid holidays, and overtime when you do work a holiday, it pays to be a union member.

The report showed: “While 78% of all working people polled have Labor Day off, 85% of union members do. Furthermore, 66% of union members receive overtime for working on Labor Day, compared with 38% of nonunion members. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of union members enjoy access to paid vacation, compared with 68% of nonunion members. Finally, 75% of union members have access to paid sick leave, compared with only 64% of nonunion members.”

The majority of American workers credit labor unions for many of the benefits they receive.
“Union workers empowered by the freedom to negotiate with employers do better on every single economic benchmark,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Union workers earn substantially more money, union contracts help achieve equal pay and protection from discrimination, union workplaces are safer, and union workers have better access to health care and a pension.”

The report goes on to talk about how very few working people have access to paid family leave. This is paid time off to take your child to the doctor or stay home when they are ill. “Only a paltry 14% of private-sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employers.” the report stated.

This means that “37 million private-sector workers have no access to paid sick leave at all.”

Union Have Been Good for People by Raising Wages and Helping People Enter the Middle Class

Labor unions continue to push for more working people to have access to paid sick leave and family medical leave.  “Recently, in New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C., respectively, the AFL-CIO has played lead roles in the fights to expand access to paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for all working people. Elsewhere, individual unions have been at the forefront of new and ongoing fights in Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.”

These ongoing efforts have helped revitalize the labor movement.  The report found that “72% of Americans think unions help people enter the middle class.” They also understand the direct connection between unions and paid holidays and paid time off.

That is probably why 54% said that they would join a union today, IF they had the opportunity.

“This Labor Day, the AFL-CIO will continue to push for an economy that supports work-life balance and ensures every worker has the freedom to spend time with loved ones. Whether it’s strengthening the right to form a union and negotiate for paid time off, expanding paid leave nationwide or rewarding employers that do the right thing, we are committed to advancing commonsense solutions that allow more Americans to enjoy full and happy lives.”


Click here for the transcript of Richard Trumka talking to the Christian Science Monitor about the new report, “Laboring on Labor Day.”

The full “Laboring on Labor Day” report is included below.

17126_Report5-fin_1

Executive Councilors To Hold Public Hearings On Proposed 10 Year Transportation Plan

This is your chance to tell the Executive Council loud and clear that New Hampshire must expand passenger rail service.

The condition of our roads and bridges has been a red hot topic over the past few years.  Overall New Hampshire has hundreds of “red” listed bridges which means they are in dire need of repairs. Tens of thousands of miles of roads that new to be repaved.

What roads should the state prioritize in their 1o year infrastructure plan?

What about new projects like expanding the Everett Turnpike or widening Route 3 through Concord?What new projects should the prioritize in their next 10 year plan?

And the million dollar question: Will the State finally get on board with expanding commuter rail service to New Hampshire?  If so, how far should the rail line go? Nashua? Manchester? Concord?

Past reports showed that expanded rail service would create over 5,000 new permanent jobs boosting our local economy.

Over the next two months Executive Councilors will be holding in-district meetings to hear directly from the people on what they State should prioritize in their 10 year transportation plan.  This is your chance to tell your elected representative that you support expanded rail.

They are asking to hear from you and now is your chance to tell them exactly how you feel.  Below is a printable PDF of all the scheduled public hearings and the Executive Councilor for that district.

Be sure to share this message and invite all your friends and family to attend.  It is time we make our voices loud and clear. We want RAIL!

( For more information on the benefits of expanding rail, click here)

GACIT Public Notice and Schedule

A Dartmouth Professor Gets Unfairly Chastised By College For Comments About ANTIFA

Since the events in Charlottesville there has been a growing discussion about “ANTIFA,” the nearly 100 year old organization thats sole purpose to stop the threat of fascism worldwide.

ANTIFA, short for Anti-Fascism, is made up of thousands of dedicated members who are willing to stand up and if necessary fight back against the militant rise of fascism.  As white supremacists in Charlottesville began attacking non-violent counter protestors, ANTIFA members defended them.  Dr. Cornel West said “that he felt that the antifa saved his life” as he stood with faith leaders singing “this little light of mine.”

Dr. Mark Bray, a lecturer at Dartmouth University has quickly emerged as the expert on ANTIFA and has recently spoken on a number of cable news outlets and Sunday talk shows.

Bray who authored the book, “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook” has come under fire for his comments on Meet the Press this week.  As the Union Leader reports, “Bray argued that ‘when pushed, self-defense is a legitimate response to white supremacist and neo-Nazi violence.’”

Dr Bray’s comments were then twisted by a right-wing news agency called “Campus Reform.”

“Following an article on the website Campus Reform that accused Bray of ‘endors[ing] Antifa violence,’ he has been subject of death threats and targeted online harassment,” wrote the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) that represents educators at Dartmouth. “We have recently seen a surge in politically motivated, targeted harassment against academics, especially those in ethnic and gender studies.”

Dartmouth President Phillip Hanlon quickly chastised Bray’s comments in a statement:

“Recent statements made by Lecturer in History Mark Bray supporting violent protest do not represent the views of Dartmouth. As an institution, we condemn anything but civil discourse in the exchange of opinions and ideas. Dartmouth embraces free speech and open inquiry in all matters, and all on our campus enjoy the freedom to speak, write, listen and debate in pursuit of better learning and understanding; however, the endorsement of violence in any form is contrary to Dartmouth values.”

Since Hanlon made his statement over 100 faculty members at Dartmouth have called for him to retract the statement.

“We continue to call on college and university leaders to denounce the targeted online harassment of their faculty members and to more forthrightly defend academic freedom, including the freedom of faculty members to speak as private citizens, even when their comments may provoke controversy or outrage,” said Henry Reichman, first vice president of the AAUP and chair of Committee A on academic freedom.

Reichman is right, Dr. Bray has done nothing wrong.  He spoke as a private citizen about a book that he wrote.  He never called for violence against white supremacists but stated that “self-defense is a legitimate response to white supremacist and neo-Nazi violence.”

I want to be clear, I do not condone violence but there is a significant difference between self defense and starting a fight.  Some people are ready, willing and able to stand up against these fascist white supremacists and defend those people who cannot.


Below is an interview from Democracy Now that recaps Dr West’s experience in Charlottesville before Dr Bray explains what Antifa is.

(Video should begin at 1:35 mark.)

The Most Terrifying And Important Video About #Charlottesville You Need To See

The rise of the “alt-right” has brought with it a rise in white supremecy and neo-nazism.  One of the people in the middle of this push to mainstream nazism and “ethnic cleansing” is New Hampshire’s own Christopher Cantwell.

Cantwell moved to New Hampshire as part of the Libertarian “Free State Project,” though the people at “Free Keene (online)” are claiming he was never one of their bloggers.

Cantwell hosts a podcast called the “Radical Agenda” from his home in Keene, New Hampshire.  (I am not linking to his blog on purpose, if you are really interested in finding it you can google it.)

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Cantwell’s show:

“On his show and in mordant essays published on his website Christophercantwell.com, this 36-year-old self-proclaimed fascist – whose style borrows from such mainstream shock jocks as Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony — argues for an Anglo ethno state free of African-Americans, Jews and non-white immigrants, save, perhaps, for the occasional exception.

In Cantwell’s world, Blacks are prone to violence and have lower IQs; Jews spread communism and can’t be trusted; immigrants are outbreeding whites; and a race war is all but inevitable.”

Cantwell’s words are vile and disturbing to say the least.  His hateful rhetoric actually scares.  The worst part is that he is not alone.

As the “Unite the Right” rally happening, Vice News, traveled to Charlottesville and followed Cantwell from the torch rally Friday night to the chaos that ensued on Saturday.

This 20 minute video from vice news very hard to watch, but some things must be seen.  Vice does an amazing job of showing the people in this “Unite the Right” rally and that while they claim to be promoting “free speech” their fascist message of violence and ethnic cleansing shows they did not go to Charlottesville to speak, they came prepared for a war.

 

In the most ironic turn of events, as the National Guard descended on Charlottesville and violence exploded Cantwell posted a video where he is crying and begging the police to protect him.  After all of the hateful rhetoric he spews in the 20 minute Vice News story it is hard for anyone to sympathize with his predicament.

 

Fascism is wrong. The thought of “ethnic cleansing” is appalling.  Nazi’s walking freely in the streets is disturbing.  My grandfather volunteered to service in World War II to destroy Nazi’s and fight the fascist regime.

We need everyone to stand up against hate. We need more white people, like me, to stand up against racism.

We beat the nazis before and we will destroy them again.

NEA’s Vice President, Becky Pringle, Delivers A Powerful Speech At Netroots Nation

Becky Pringle, Vice President of NEA. Image from Netroots Nation Facebook. Photographer Kerry Maloney – TravelerBroads.Com

While attending the Netroots Nation convention in Atlanta this week I heard from many different speakers and I have to say one of my favorite speeches came from Becky Pringle, the Vice President of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor union in the country, with over 3 million members.

Her amazingly powerful speech called on the members of Netroots Nation to stand up and take action.

“It is you, who will engage and inspire; lift up and connect our collective voices to create the kind of schools and communities and country that reflect our hopes; our dreams; our possibilities.“

“We need you to stand in the gap for our children, when the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights refuses to protect their most basic of human and civil rights.”

She continued by showing how President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are working together to “decimate” our public school system.

“President Trump and Sec. DeVos made it very clear that their educational priority was to decimate our public schools, and destroy the dreams of those students who come to us with the greatest needs.”

She highlighted how the Trump/DeVos agenda attacks some of the most vulnerable children in our public school system. Together they slashed education funding by $10 billion dollars and repealed protections that provided a “safe learning environment for our trans students.”

“From jeopardizing Title IX protections to refusing to agree to not privatize the education of our students with special needs, to making the case for guns in the classroom to fight off the attack of the grizzly bears, Betsy DeVos demonstrated that she knew absolutely nothing about schools and kids and education.”

Once again she called on Netroots Nation to be bold and unafraid, to take a stand and to help fight to ensure that every child has healthcare, has strong civil rights protections, and to address the institutional racism.

“This is our time to demand what’s right, just like Mother Jones, that great labor organizer, who many called the most dangerous woman in America, because she proudly proclaimed: I’m not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I will tell the truth wherever I please.”

“Netroots Nation, let’s be the most dangerous collective voice in this country. Let’s tell the truth wherever we please.”

“It is us, who must stand and be a witness. We must use our collective power, and with righteous indignation demand justice for our children.”

You can see Ms. Pringle’s entire speech here or below thanks to Netroots Nation.

AFL-CIO Condemns Domestic Terrorism In Charlottesville

AFL-CIO President says, “Call it what it is: domestic terrorism rooted in bigotry.”

Image from Twitter

James Alex Fields Jr.

Yesterday, the world watched in horror as white supremacists and neo-Nazi hate groups clashed with a group of peaceful protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

The situation quickly escalated as James Alex Fields Jr a twenty year old man from Ohio, drove his car into a crowd of people.

Matt Korbon, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, told the Associated Press, that “several hundred counter-protesters were marching when “suddenly there was just this tire screeching sound.” A silver Dodge Challenger smashed into another car, then backed up, barreling through ‘a sea of people.'”

As Fields Jr. plowed into the group of protesters, Ryan Kelly of the Associated Press captured the moment as the peaceful protestors were literally thrown into the air.

Last night, TMZ posted Feilds Jr’s mugshot and reported that “he’s facing the second-degree murder charge, along with three counts of malicious wounding and one count of failing to stop at an accident that resulted in death.”

This morning, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, released the following statement:

Yesterday in Charlottesville, VA the nation and the world witnessed the hateful views and violent actions of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This racism and bigotry is the worst kind of evil in our world and does not represent the true values of America. The true values of our country, values like equality and solidarity, are what have always overcome the most abominable prejudices.

Any response must begin with our leaders, starting with President Trump, acknowledging this for what it is: domestic terrorism rooted in bigotry.

My heart goes out to the victims especially the family of those who lost their lives including a young woman named Heather Heyer and state Troopers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates.  I pray for everyone’s safety. The labor movement condemns this domestic terrorism and remains committed to eradicating the despicable causes of hatred and intolerance.

We must put an end to this rise if racism and bigotry that continues to grow throughout the country.  This is also a good time to start demanding that we remove this monuments that honor the failed insurrection of the Civil War.  This symbols of the hatred and slavery.

The Color of Change is has started a petition to “Confederate symbols from all places of honor in America.

“It is past time that we nationally stop the veneration of people who committed treason in the name of slavery!” Color of Change wrote.

Together we can show that bigotry and hatred have no place in our country and our communities.

40% Increase In Premiums Highlight Need For A Better Healthcare System

Below is the press release from the NH Department of Insurance explain the massive spike in healthcare premiums, specifically on those who get insurance through the ACA marketplace.  Below that is my opinion on what we can do to fix this problem. 


Federal Government Announces 2018 Rate Increases

CONCORD, NH – NH Department Of Insurance Press Release  The federal government today published information on proposed rate increases for New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange in 2018, showing that consumers in the individual market may face increases of more than forty percent.

“Today’s news about rates is alarming, especially for the 94,000 New Hampshire residents who obtain their insurance through the individual market, but unfortunately, it does not come as a surprise,” said Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “A number of factors have led to rate increases for 2018 in New Hampshire and across the country, most notably the continued uncertainty at the federal level. My staff and I have been actively engaged to identify options to lessen the impact on the thousands of families who rely on health insurance through the state exchange.”

The 2018 rate information released today by the federal government details proposed increases to benefit plans that are submitted by insurance companies operating on the exchange.  (The New Hampshire Insurance Department is prohibited by law from releasing rate information until Nov. 1.)  A benefit plan is a specific plan that a New Hampshire resident would select for enrollment, such as a bronze, silver, or gold level metal plan.

Three companies have announced their intentions to offer plans on the 2018 exchange in New Hampshire: Ambetter, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim. A fourth, Minuteman Health, also has proposed rate increases listed on the federal site, but those plans will not be available to consumers, as the company announced in June that it would stop offering plans in 2018.

The information published today by the federal government shows that some of the state’s insurers have submitted benefit plans for the individual market with substantial increases. The New Hampshire Insurance Department looks at premiums each year from a market-wide perspective, comparing the median premium for a silver-level plan covering a 40-year-old non-tobacco-user.  For 2017, the median premium at this level was $335; the median premium at this level for 2018 would be $479, based on the carriers’ initially proposed rates.  If these rates are ultimately approved, this would represent a 43% increase between next year’s and this year’s median premium in the individual market.

Today, the Department issued guidance permitting insurers to assume the federal government will not be funding Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs) in 2018.  In response, insurers might adjust silver level plan rates before the deadline for amending rate filings.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department has taken action in recent months to call policymakers’ and consumers’ attention to the impending rate increases and the possibility that companies might withdraw from the exchange in 2018. In June, the Legislature authorized the Department to create a market stabilization plan, and last month, the Department publicly shared its plan to reduce rates and promote stability in the individual market in 2018. Today, the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee authorized the Insurance Department to pursue federal waivers in support of a market stabilization plan, but without relying on an assessment of health insurance carriers.


A completely new healthcare system for all Americans

The above press release from the NH Department of Insurance shows that our current system of private insurance is unsustainable.  A 40% increase in one year. Seriously WTF?  What we do not even know yet is how much out of pocket costs will also increase next year.  Out of pocket expenses include co-pays, co-insurance deductibles, and prescription costs.  These can cost people thousands of dollars on top of their thousands of dollars in premiums.

There is no doubt that Republicans are going to blame Democrats and President Obama for this increase while Democrats will blame Republicans for failing pass meaningful changes to the ACA to stabilize the marketplace.

But while I blame both of them for failing to do what is best for America, the majority of the blame falls directly on the private insurance corporations.  They are raking in obscene profits, continually increasing premiums to maximize their profits.  Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield reported $1 Billion in profits during the first quarter of 2016. That is a 44% increase in profits.

The corporations are shelling out hundreds of millions to lobbyists and politicians to prevent them from passing meaningful legislation that would help solve our problems.  For example, Congress has failed to pass legislation allowing medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, which other countries do, saving them billions annually.  In 2016, the health products, insurance and pharmaceuticals industries spent a combined $400 million on their lobbying efforts.

Are you still surprised that Congress cannot pass meaningful healthcare reform?

This 40% increase combined with the insurance companies record breaking profits last year make it glaringly obvious that we need to move to a single payer system.  With a less than 2% overhead, Medicare is one of the most efficient programs in the government. With additional changes, like allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, the cost of healthcare would drop dramatically.

It is time for America to move to a national universal healthcare system. It is time for Medicare For All.

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