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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

Frank Edelblut Is Unqualified For Commissioner Of Education Send A Letter To Exec Council

Frank Edelblut, Image from Girard At Large FLIKR

If you agree that Frank Edelblut is unqualified and the wrong choice for Commissioner of Education please send a message to the New Hampshire Executive Council before they vote on his confirmation on January 31st.

Click here to send your letter to the NH Executive Council.

The next Commissioner of Education should be qualified and should be a strong advocate for the over 180,000 students currently enrolled in New Hampshire public schools.

One-term State Rep. Frank Edelblut lacks the necessary qualifications to lead the Department of Education. He has no background in education. He home schooled his seven children but has no experience with public schools. He has never once served on a local school board. The state law is very clear: the commissioner must be qualified “by reason of education and experience.”

Edelblut is an advocate for “school choice” allowing public funds to go to private schools, charter schools, religious schools, and those who choose to home school. In his only term as a State Representative, Edelblut voted for school choice legislation that opponents warned would take away funds from already underfunded public schools and give them to for-profit private and religious schools.

If you agree that Frank Edelblut is unqualified and the wrong choice for Commissioner of Education please send a message to the New Hampshire Executive Council before they vote on his confirmation on January 31st.

If you are able to join us to testify in person or hold a sign the day of the vote, email Zandra@GraniteStateProgress.org.

Click here to send your letter to the NH Executive Council.


A word of caution for New Hampshire educators: There is a good chance that Frank Edelblut will be confirmed as the current Executive Council has 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats. This does not mean you should not take action to oppose Edelblut’s nomination but please be mindful of how this public opposition to Edelblut could affect your professional career in the future.

If you would rather make your opposition to Edelblut anonymously please send your letter to Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky directly at P.O. Box 1181, Concord 03302. Remember letters must be received by January 30th to be entered into the record on January 31st.

Trump Signs Executive Order To Withdraw From TPP, Wants To Renegotiate NAFTA

Today, President Trump signed an Executive Order to withdraw from the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.  As of right now, we are unsure of what the order says as it has yet to be released by the White House.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who made his opposition to the TPP a cornerstone in his campaign for President, was “glad” to see the TPP go down in flames.

“I am glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone. For the last 30 years, we have had a series of trade deals – including the North American Free Trade Agreement, permanent normal trade relations with China and others – which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a ‘race to the bottom’ which has lowered wages for American workers. Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO called this an “important first step” in building a “fair and just global economy.”

“Last year, a powerful coalition of labor, environmental, consumer, public health and allied groups came together to stop the TPP. Today’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from TPP and seeking a reopening of NAFTA is an important first step toward a trade policy that works for working people. While these are necessary actions, they aren’t enough. They are just the first in a series of necessary policy changes required to build a fair and just global economy. We will continue our relentless campaign to create new trade and economic rules that end special privileges for foreign investors and Big Pharma, protect our planet’s precious natural resources and ensure fair pay, safe conditions and a voice in the workplace for all workers.” 

The Hill is also reporting that President Trump plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and has “dispatched his son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner to Calgary on Tuesday to begin talks with the cabinet of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.”

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich was quick to point out on facebook that Trump’s feudal attempt to renegotiate NAFTA is only a distraction from the Republican attacks on working people.

“Trump stirs up symbolic controversies as diversions from what he and the Republicans are really up to.

Take NAFTA for example. He’s gearing up to “renegotiate” it, whatever that means. Expect lots of angry talk on both sides of our southern border.

But NAFTA’s a hill of beans relative Trump’s and the Republican’s pending repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That will directly hurt millions of working Americans. But Trump wants to distract attention.

Same with Obama’s overtime rule, now hung up in the courts, which Trump is going to axe. It have delivered $12 billion of wage gains over the next decade to American workers.

Ditto labor unions. Trump’s Republicans are busily killing off unions with so-called “right-to-work” laws. The result is less bargaining power for workers to get better wages. But Trump doesn’t want to talk about labor unions. He’d rather beat up on Mexico.

And keep a careful watch on Medicare and Social Security, which have been in Paul Ryan’s cross-hairs for years. We don’t even know what Trump and the Republicans are planning for them, but whatever it is, average working people will take the brunt.”

So the question now becomes will withdrawing and renegotiating the TPP and possibly renegotiating NAFTA really help working people or will it be another chance for Trump and his billionaire buddies to cash in on unbalanced trade agreements?  Only time will tell.

Sen. Carson Joins Senate Democrats In Opposition To SB11, Right To Work

Today the NH Senate to the first step in making New Hampshire a Right to Work for less state.

In a 12-11 vote the Senate passed SB 11 a so-called “right to work” bill that would strip employers and unions of their rights to negotiate an agency fee provision in their contracts.

Republican Senator Sharon Carson was the only Republican to stand up for the working families in New Hampshire by opposing SB 11.  All of the Senate Democrats were in attendance and voted against the bill.  (Republican Senator Bob Guida, was absent from todays vote.)

“I’m disappointed that instead of focusing on legislation that expands opportunity and increases wages for everyone, Republicans are rushing to pass a divisive bill that makes it harder for people in New Hampshire to earn a living and support a family,” said Deputy Democratic Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester). “We know that in states with ‘Right to Work for Less’ laws, incomes stagnate or decrease and the standard of living declines.” 

“We should be proud of our state’s record of low unemployment and strong economic growth and we should not pass laws that interfere with the relationship between employers and their employees,” added Senator Soucy. “That’s why Democrats and Republicans have come together to defeat this flawed, right-wing proposal for decades – it’s simply wrong for New Hampshire, our workers, our businesses and our economy.”

Last week, over 100 people and community organization testified against SB 11 showing how it would reduce wages, lower safety within the workplace, reduce workers chances of having any type of retirement, and ultimately result in a loss of good paying NH jobs.  The year after passing Right to Work, Wisconsin lost over 10,000 jobs.

The leaders of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO and its Affiliates, the National Education Association of New Hampshire, the State Employees Association, the New Hampshire Carpenters, and the New Hampshire Teamsters released a joint statement following the Senate passage of so-called “Right-to-Work” legislation:

“Today the New Hampshire Senate passed the so-called “Right-to-Work” bill.  This bill is not about improving New Hampshire’s economy or increasing the freedoms of any worker in the Granite State. Instead it is an attack on all working families by special interests seeking to lower wages for everyone and undermine worker protections. This bill is designed to do one thing and one thing only:  limit employees’ ability to advocate on behalf of what’s best for their families and communities. 

This bill will silence the teachers who advocate on behalf of smaller class sizes for our children, the transportation employees who negotiate for the equipment they need to keep the roads clear after a blizzard and the police and firefighters who negotiate for the staffing levels they need to keep us safe. It would take away the voices of tradespeople like ironworkers, pipe-fitters and line workers who negotiate the safety standards that keep entire industries safe.

When working people aren’t able to have a voice in what’s best for our communities, we all lose.

New Hampshire deserves real solutions to real problems, not attempts to limit working people’s voice in their communities.  The legislature was elected to advocate for the best interests of all New Hampshire working families, and we urge them to remember that. As the bill moves to the House we’ll continue to do what we’ve always done: Stand with working families across the state to create a New Hampshire that works for everyone.”

 Along with a strong labor showing at the state house today, members of the New Hampshire Voices of Faith lobbied Senators as they entered the chamber. 

The working people of New Hampshire deserve better than to be steamrolled by out of state special interest groups pushing a bill that will not help New Hampshire workers in any way.

The so-called Right to Work bill will move to the NH House, where hopefully cooler heads will prevail and the bill will be killed.

Global Citizen Patriots: Citizenship Is More Than A Birthright

What does it mean to be a citizen? Webster’s defines it as “a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government…”

So again I will ask what does it mean to be a citizen?

Mac Regan explores this very question in his new book, ‘Global Citizen Patriots’. He challenges the idea that to be a true ‘citizen’ requires more than just birthright or naturalization.

According to Regan to be a true citizen one must: take part in our political process, have knowledge of our government and how it functions, take on the corruption within the two-party system, and be willing to stand up for what is best for the people.

“At present, our political debates have devolved into a state of sensationalistic reality television characterized by bias, misinformation, and a lack of civility,” Regan says. “Global Citizen Patriots suggests strategies to create reasoned debate and accountabilities designed to engage citizens and reward their participation.”

Regan floats the idea that citizenship must be earned by voting and engaging in our democracy. He also argues that citizenship should be taken from those who fail to do their part in our democracy. This idea would strip citizenship from half of the American population, as they did not vote in the last elections.

Is this what we need to do in order to get the attention of the millions of Americans who have failed in their duties as citizens?

“Citizenship is the most important job in an effective democracy and it should have accountabilities, rewards and penalties that ensure that the job is well done. But citizens are created not born,” Regan writes in Global Citizen Patriots.

Regan wants to create a “citizens bill of responsibilities” to motivate and engage citizens beyond just military service, jury duty, and voting. He also states that creating strong Global Citizen Patriots begins by strengthening our education system, spending more time on government and politics, and testing student’s knowledge before granting them citizenship at age 18.

Immigrants must pass a rigorous testing of our political process, branches of government, and our history, before being granted citizenship. Why do we not require the same of our birthright citizens?

When 1,000 U.S. citizens were asked to take America’s official citizenship test, twenty-nine percent couldn’t name the vice president, seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War, and forty-four percent were unable to describe the Bill of Rights. With such an ill-informed and disinterested populace, it’s no wonder that our representative form of government is falling short.

Taking Back Our Government From Corruption And Special Interest Groups

Millions of Americans are outraged at Congress and our entire political process as they continue to fail the American people. These elected leaders continue to push their partisan agendas instead of doing what is best for the American people.

Our government is failing to what “we the people” want and are beholden to the special interests that fund their never-ending campaigns. We need leaders not lackey’s, Regan argues.

A reoccurring theme in the book is that we must make sacrifices in the short term to make substantive gains in the future. We need representatives who listen to “we the people” and who are willing to do whatever it takes, no matter the cost.

Take for example the idea of raising taxes to rebuild our nations roads and bridges, and to expand our national railroad system. A short-term loss that would create millions of jobs, make it easier for businesses to move their products throughout the country, and ultimately strengthen our economy in the future.

Regan also goes into great detail about the corruption of our elected leaders. Businesses buy politicians and in turn politicians reward businesses with government funds. This never-ending cycle is commonly referred to as “crony capitalism” and must be stopped. Ending crony capitalism begins with limiting, or completely eliminating, money in politics.

To create a stronger, healthy democracy we must take back our government from the crony capitalists. To do this Regan says we must become Global Citizen Patriots.

“Recognizing the challenges inherent in broad-based citizenship, the founding fathers of our democracy wisely set in place a system of representation designed to balance the expressed, and often short term, needs of various citizen constituencies with the broader, and longer term, goals of society,” Regan explains. “The question now is, can American citizens and their representatives live up to the legacy of America’s founders?”


Mac Regan spent 35 years as a consultant and executive for Mercer, a large multinational corporation, before attending the Graduate Master of Arts Program (GMAP) at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), where he expanded and improved his understanding of the U.S. from a global perspective. He has significant expertise in human capital management including role design, compensation and incentives, technical and emotional competencies, health care systems and financing, retirement programs, and labor productivity, which has been invaluable in helping to inform his new book, Global Citizen Patriots.

In addition to providing concrete strategies to address the crisis of a disengaged and angry citizenry, Global Citizen Patriots offers insight into:

  • How to make elected representatives more accountable to “we the people” and ensure that they do their jobs
  • Why we need to pay our congressional representatives more and what’s in it for citizens
  • Why only America qualifies as the essential global leader and ways we can better fulfill this role
  • Why periodic evaluation and discussion of America’s values is essential to compromise and change

Global Citizen Patriots is available on Amazon.com.

For more information, visit www.GlobalCitizenPatriots.com and connect with the author on Facebook and LinkedIn

 

Preparing For The Fight Ahead By Learning From Dr. King

Tomorrow is Dr. Martin Luther King Day. The day we all celebrate the man who led the civil rights movement and pushed for equality between blacks and whites. He fought against discrimination, injustice, and against poverty. He fought for voting rights, for unions, and for all working people.

The things he fought for and against may seem very different but in truth, they are all connected.

How could blacks in the South effect change in Washington without the ability to vote? How could they make their voices heard on issues facing this country without the ability to vote?

What was the plan to combat poverty? By giving them the chance to form unions and bargain for better wages. How could they ensure pay equity between blacks and whites? Through strong labor agreements that ensured, regardless of the color of their skin, all workers were paid equally for doing the same job.

It is all connected and Dr. King understood better than anyone else.

Now, we have a President-Elect and a Congress that wants to take us back to the 1950s. Together they are working to roll back voting rights, making it harder for people to vote, specifically low-income people of color.

They want to roll back workers rights, making it harder for them to form unions. They push anti-union legislation to repeal workers rights to collectively bargain for wages and benefits. They continue to oppose raising the minimum wage, forcing millions of Americans to work two or three jobs just to survive.

They want to undue all of the progress we have made since Dr. King.

In a few days our nation will inaugurate President Trump, who was whole-heartedly supported by white nationalists and the Ku Klux Klan. The same people that Dr. King fought against before the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.

President-elect Trump wants to re-establish legal discrimination but not solely on the color of their skin but by the religion they choose to believe in because it is different than theirs.

Trump campaigned on the idea of creating a Muslim registry to identify all of the Muslims living in the United States, regardless of their citizenship.   Hitler did the same thing to the Jews in Europe before putting them into concentration camps. Our own government did the same thing to the Japanese-Americans, before placing them in camps after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

These nationalist hate groups want to do the same thing to the Muslims. History shows us that it all began with a registry.

We are in for some very dark days ahead. The attacks on workers have already begun. The attacks on people of color are still ongoing and getting worse as Trump’s administration takes shape.

As Dr. King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Some of you have seen this hatred before. Some of you may even have the scars to prove it. George Santayana once said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

We must learn from the past, from the teachings of Dr. King and other civil rights activists.

Using the tools that Dr. King showed us over a half-century ago we will stand together, arm-in-arm and refused to be moved. We will fight, together as one, against the hatred and discrimination that is coming down the road.

As Dr. King said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

Seniors Group And NH Congressional Delegation United Against ACA Repeal

The Alliance for Retired Americans join with Congresswomen Shea-Porter and Kuster in opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

This week, Republicans in the US House took the first bold step to strip millions of Americans of their healthcare by repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Repealing the signature healthcare law would have significant impacts on all working people and seniors. Americans would see a massive jump in prescription drug prices as the ACA closed the “donut hole” in Medicare. People with pre-existing condition could once again be discriminated against leaving them unable to acquire any insurance at all. Families would no longer be able to cover their children up to age 25 and preventative care for women would no longer be covered.

Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, released the following:

“With today’s vote, 227 members of the House of Representatives started the process of eliminating many valuable and affordable health care benefits that American retirees rely on.

From free wellness checks and preventive screenings to lowering prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, to eliminating pre-existing conditions and limiting what older Americans not yet eligible for Medicare can be charged for insurance, the ACA has made health care better and more affordable for millions.

Depending on the actions of the House Committees that will take the next steps, all of these benefits are now in jeopardy.

The burden for developing a replacement plan that improves health care and keeps it affordable is on these members. Retirees are watching and will loudly defend the guaranteed Medicare and Medicaid health care benefits they have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

The price for health care in America is likely to rise quickly, to the detriment of millions of workers and retirees.”

The New Hampshire Congressional delegation is united in opposition to repealing the ACA.

“Today’s vote by House Republicans sets in motion a dangerous and irresponsible plan to strip health care coverage from millions of Americans, including 118,000 people in New Hampshire,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “They broke their promise to American families – there is no replacement. New Hampshire families deserve better: Congress should work to build on the progress we’ve made so far, making health care more accessible and more affordable, instead of going back to the days before the ACA, when thousands of Granite Staters were locked out of coverage.”

“I am also profoundly disappointed that the Republican leadership in the House rejected my attempt to protect seniors and those with disabilities. Speaker Ryan is using procedural gimmicks to force repeal legislation through the House and destroy what we have accomplished: coverage for people with preexisting conditions, Medicaid expansion, adequate coverage for women and seniors, and no-cost preventive health care screenings and services. Protections for millions of Americans are being jeopardized for political purposes,” Shea-Porter added.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would strip coverage from 118,000 people in New Hampshire, and 13,000 people in the state could lose their jobs.

In New Hampshire, the ACA:

  • Requires insurance providers to cover the 600,000 New Hampshire residents with preexisting conditions
  • Lowered the uninsured rate by 43%
  • Saved seniors an average of $1,047 on prescriptions
  • Provided substance abuse treatment services for 7,500 people
  • Covered 9,000 young adults on their parents’ health insurance

Shea-Porter offered her own amendment to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. Shea-Porter’s amendment stated that nothing in the Budget Resolution should allow for the denial of care based on patient age or disability.

Unfortunately, the Rules Committee refused to allow the House to vote on this common-sense proposal to protect our seniors and those with disabilities.

Shea-Porter has been a fierce advocate for keeping and improving the health care law. She successfully led the fight to close the Medicare Part D doughnut hole and save seniors thousands on prescription drug costs. While the House has voted repeatedly to destroy the law’s critical protections for all Americans, Shea-Porter has consistently voted to improve the law instead.

“It’s disappointing that Republicans in Congress have moved ahead with efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without regard for the negative impact it will have on millions of Americans and thousands of Granite Staters,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I’ve expressed my willingness to work across the aisle to make improvements to the law and foster a system that works for everyone. In the past, I have joined my Republican colleagues to make changes to the ACA, and I firmly believe that is the course we should follow.

“If the ACA is repealed, seniors on Medicare would see the costs of their prescription drugs increase. The Republican budget would also defund Planned Parenthood, reducing access to healthcare for thousands of Granite State women. In New Hampshire, one-in-ten of our friends and neighbors are benefiting from the ACA, and Medicaid expansion has improved access to mental health and addiction recovery services. Young adults are able to stay on their families’ plans and those with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage. We simply can’t jeopardize this progress,” Kuster added.

Kuster joined 30 of her colleagues in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, offering to be constructive partners in improving the law.

The repeal process is far from over and the fight has only begun.  We must stand united against that assault on working people and the Republicans plan to strip vital healthcare options from millions of Americans.

The Media Are Not The Only Ones Who Believe Trump Should Release His Taxes And Divest From His Company

By now, you have probably already heard about the train wreck that was President-Elect Trump’s first press conference as the President-Elect and his first press conference since July of last year as a nominee.

During the press conference a few key issues were supposed to be resolved mainly dealing with the President-Elect’s business and his potential conflicts of interest.

Trump has continued to say that the President cannot have conflicts of interest and that he will do whatever is necessary to resolve any potential conflicts that stem from his business. Part of the problem is that we do not even know what those conflicts are because we have not seen his tax returns to see what investments he holds or has direct dealings with that could be impacted by decisions made by the federal government.

Trump announced that his sons would be taking over the family business while he is President but will not be divesting from the company in any way.

“President-elect Trump’s planned arrangement with the Trump Organization falls far short of what’s necessary to avoid conflicts of interest and Emoluments Clause violations that will dog his administration and severely undermine the public’s faith in government,” said Common Cause Vice President for Policy & Litigation Paul S. Ryan. “Common Cause has called on President-elect Trump to divest from the Trump Organization and put his wealth into a blind trust managed independently from him. Instead, he’s decided to retain full ownership of the Trump Organization and have two of his sons run it—no divestment and no independence.”

“These are the same two sons who recently had their name attached to an inauguration fundraiser that promised access to their father for those willing to pay $1 million dollars. The event was cancelled but the precedent was troubling,” Ryan continued.

Common Cause describes themselves as “a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.”

“It is clear from President-Elect Trump’s statement and answers today that he will not fully separate himself from his business transactions and potential conflicts of interest. He also has no intention of disclosing his financial interests, as past presidents have done. His response to these legitimate questions was simply ‘trust me.’ Our democracy and the American people deserve better,” said NH Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.

Shea-Porter has cosponsored legislation to hold President-Elect Trump accountable and to investigate the Russian interference in the U.S. elections to remedy this dangerous situation. H.R. 371, the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act, and H.R. 356, which would establish a bipartisan commission on the Russian interference in our elections, will protect our democracy and ensure that the President-Elect cannot enrich himself and his family while conducting the official business of the United States. Congresswoman Shea-Porter has also cosponsored H.J.Res. 26, which would deny Congressional consent for President-Elect Trump to accept any present, Emolument, Office, or Title of any kind from a foreign leader or government.

“The legislation I have cosponsored would apply the ethical standards, norms, and precedents that have been developed over decades to our incoming administration, which refuses to follow them. I urge Speaker Ryan to put these measures to a vote and pass them with the urgency these critical issues demand,” continued Shea-Porter.

“The American public must now demand complete transparency of the Trump Organization and President-elect Trump’s finances. Such transparency is America’s only hope for protecting itself against conflicts of interest and Emoluments Clause violations—and holding President-elect Trump accountable for his promises to avoid conflicts and violations of the constitution,” Ryan added.

During the campaign Trump confirmed he would release his taxes after the election however now that he is the President-Elect he is stating that it is only the media who wants to see his tax returns.   This is simply not true.

Paul S. Ryan stated that Common Cause’s 700,000 members are also demanding to see his tax returns.

“The President-elect must take additional steps immediately to safeguard the integrity of the office of the President. To begin with, Trump must release his taxes and quit hiding the facts and the potential conflicts from the American people. At today’s press conference, when asked to release his tax returns, the President-elect rejected the request and claimed that the ‘only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters.’ Common Cause’s more than 700,000 members and supporters care about the President-elect’s tax returns and additional financial disclosure. We demand it.”

What exactly is he hiding by not releasing his taxes? Is he hiding the fact that he has failed to pay anything in taxes for the last few years due to loopholes in our tax laws? Is he hiding the fact that he and his company have been doing business with foreign governments that are currently under sanction from the US Government? Is he hiding the fact that he will gain massive amounts of wealth from simple policy changes he can make as President?

We do not know because he is hiding it all from us.

It is time to come clean and do what he promised to do: release his taxes, fully divest from his company and put all of his assets in a blind trust.

Right To Work Is Still Wrong For New Hampshire Working Families

The working people of New Hampshire are once again under attack from the greedy corporate special interests that want to line their pockets by taking more money from the hard working Granite Staters.

The New Hampshire legislature is once again considering the so-called Right To Work law that has been proven to lower wages, increased healthcare costs, increase poverty rates and reduce workers access to a retirement plan.

The corporate special interests, who have been pushing this harmful and confusing legislation in New Hampshire for the last forty years, only care about one thing: how much more money can they take from you.

Research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that workers in Right to Work states, make on average $5,000 less per year. Lower wages means more profits in the hands of greedy CEOs and less money in the hands of hard working Granite Staters struggling to pay their bills.

The corporate lobbyists will tell you that ‘everyone should have the right to work,’ but the so-called Right to Work law has nothing to do with getting a job. Passing Right to Work will not magically make new companies appear out of thin air.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin echoed these claims as he forced a Right to Work law through the Wisconsin Legislature. He promised that by passing Right to Work, Wisconsin would create tens of thousands of new jobs.

However, after passing Right to Work in March of 2015, Wisconsin ended up loosing more than 10,000 jobs by the end of the year. This is vastly different than Wisconsin’s neighboring state of Minnesota whose pro-worker progressives agenda, created more than 12,000 jobs in the last quarter of 2015 and was ranked the “Top State for Business in 2015.”

The corporate lobbyists will try to tell you that Right to Work laws are about “freedom from greedy union bosses.”

Are they talking about those same “greedy unions” who helped usher in workplace safety regulations, vacation time, retirement benefits, and the weekend itself? If the corporations had their way, our manufacturing facilities would be filled with twelve year olds, working fourteen hours a day, six days a week for pennies a day.

These special interests will also try to tell you that by passing Right to Work it will give workers the freedom to choose if they want to join a union or not. What they neglect to tell you is that it is already illegal to force someone to join a union. What Right to Work does do is allow people to freeload off the union’s contracts.

The only freedom gained from pushing a Right to Work law in New Hampshire is the corporation’s freedom to pay workers less and take away your rights as workers.

Why are these corporate special interests so determined to pass this unnecessary legislation? New Hampshire already has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Conversely seven of the top ten states in unemployment are Right to Work states.

What exactly will we gain by passing this irrelevant legislation? It does nothing to help workers or struggling middle class families.

Right to Work laws are a thinly veiled affront on the hard working middle class by big business and corporate special interests. That’s why the National Right To Work Committee spends more than $11 million dollars a year lobbying to push this confusing, contentious legislation in state house’s all across the country.

Right to Work is bad for working people and wrong for New Hampshire.

Shame On Salerno Protective Services: Follow Up To ‘Concord’s First Baby Story’

For those who did not read the original story, “Concord’s First Baby Of The Year Highlights The Need For Paid Sick And Family Leave,” it was the story of Lamar Austin who was terminated on New Years Day for choosing to be with his wife as she delivered their child.

The Concord Monitor did a follow up story on Lamar this morning: “Companies can fire employees for most reasons, including missing a shift due to birth of baby boy.”

The follow up story sheds a lot of light on Lamar’s situation and in my personal opinion it does not make his termination any better.

Lamar was a “probationary” employee with Salerno Protective Services and was only hired a month ago for a 90 day trial.  The trial for the part-time security job required Lamar to be on-call 24/7. How bad are our labor laws that a person can be “on call” 24/7 for 90 days and still be classified as a “part time” employee? But that is a completely different issue.

As part of their mission statement posted on the front page of their website, Salerno states:

“We will make a very strong commitment to our people, as they are ultimately responsible for our success. We seek to create and maintain an environment where every employee is rewarded according to their contribution to the success of our collective efforts.”

Yes, the company that just fired a man for being there for his wife while she delivered their child, boasts about how they are “committed” to their people.

Lamar missed work on Friday and Saturday because his wife was in labor, and at 1 am on New Years Day he received the group text from his employer that he was terminated.

Andru Volinsky, a lawyer and the Concord area’s next Executive Councilor told the Monitor it may be legal to fire Lamar, but not humane:

“Legal niceties aside, this company could have acted more humanely.”

Supporting employees is the “cost of running a good business,” Volinsky said. However, that support doesn’t often come willingly from employers.

“We’ve seen over the years that there are many good employers that act fairly and some that act unfairly, but it’s only when the employees are organized and act collectively that they are able to negotiate for protections that include paid family leave.”

The story also talks about Lamar’s time in the Army,  a few of his other jobs, and how he still relies on support from his church and local charity groups. Might have something to do with the NH’s low minimum wage, but again I digress.

This update really shows how horrible some of the state’s labor laws are.  Being an “at will” state means that you can pretty much be fired for anything, at anytime, with no recourse.  When added with the fact that NH does not require any paid sick or family leave, if you choose to stay home with a sick child, that could be your last day of work.  The system is rigged for the benefit of the employer without any regard for the workers.

Lamar said would like a job in the “trades,” possibly an electrician.  Hopefully he finds his way to IBEW 490 in Concord and puts in for an apprenticeship.  I hope Lamar also looks into the Helmets to Hardhats program that helps Veterans find work in the building trades.

I truly hope that Lamar finds a better job now that hundreds if thousands of people are talking about his story.

Concord’s First Baby Of The Year Highlights The Need For Paid Sick And Family Leave

Image by shira gal on Flickr CC

This morning the Concord Monitor ran the usual ‘First Baby of the New Year‘ article.  Overall the article is cute and joyful however there was one reoccurring theme that really irritated me.

Lamar Austin had to choose whether to go to work or to go to the hospital with is wife, Lindsay.

His nine-months-pregnant wife, Lindsay, was in her second day of early labor, but his boss was telling him if he didn’t show up for his shift as a part-time security guard in Manchester, he would lose his job,” Leah Willingham wrote in the Monitor.

Yes, you read that correctly.  His boss threatened to fire him if he did not show up for work even though he was going to the hospital to be there for the birth of his child and to be there for his wife.

After weighing his options, Lamar came to the realization, family comes first.

I thought, ‘Family comes before anything else.I’m not going to turn my back on them for a job.

Personally I think Lamar made the right decision.  Having three children of my own, I remember being in the hospital operating room with wife, when each of my children were born.  I could not imagine not being there for my wife as she undergoes surgery or missing that special moment of holding my children for the first time.

However, Lamar’s employer (unnamed in the article) did not care about his wife going into labor and I am assuming that they offer no paid sick or family leave because as the happy couple headed off to Concord Hospital, Lamar received a text from his boss saying, “He was officially terminated.”

That is right, Lamar was fired for choosing to be with his wife as she went to the hospital to deliver their child.

This is outrageous.  I only wish I knew who his employer was so I could shame them by name but sadly this is probably more common than any of us realize.

Without any paid sick or family leave more and more working people must make a choice and risk loosing their jobs to be there for the birth of their child, to stay home when they are sick, or to stay home when their children are sick.

A 2015 survey showed that, “51 percent of food workers go to work “always” or “frequently” when they’re sick.”

Would you like the fries or the flu with your steak tonight?

Lamar’s situation is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to paid sick and family leave.  “According to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, sick employees at the office cost the national economy $160 billion in lost productivity every year.” (HuffPo)

We can make our workplaces better, more efficient, and healthier by ensuring that all workers have paid sick and family leave.  We need to protect all workers so they do not have to choose between losing their job and missing the birth of their child or staying home when they come down with the flu.


UPDATE 1-4-17:

The Monitor did a follow up story on Lamar this morning: “Companies can fire employees for most reasons, including missing a shift due to birth of baby boy.”

You can read the NH Labor News follow up at this link.

 


Paid sick and family leave will definitely be coming up in the NH Legislative session. Stay tuned to find out how you can help get this legislation through the NH Legislature.

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