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4-15-15 AFT-NH Legislative Update: The Budget 

The State budget is now in the hands of the Senate Finance committee. They have set up several meeting with agency heads (see below for the schedule).

There have been many news articles stating that the Senate has several goals when putting together the budget:

  • uphold previous commitments, including using dedicated money for its intended purpose,
  • protecting the state’s most vulnerable citizens,
  • add money to the rainy day fund, and
  • improve the business climate, in part by reducing business taxes.


AFT-NH can agree with the first three goals, but as to the fourth we need to remember that by cutting business taxes there will be less revenue for the State. 

We know that in New Hampshire we have few revenue sources and we have a regressive tax system, meaning that citizens who have the least to spare pay the most. To read more on this click here. AFT-NH supports incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors.  All of this is vital to our shared economic success.

AFT-NH believes that the Senate should consider passing or including the following bills when putting their version of the budget together:

HOUSE BILL 634-FN-A;AN ACT
 relative to applying the interest and dividends tax to trusts, increasing exemptions, and extending the tax to capital gains; and relative to homeowners property tax relief.

Dramatic revenue shortfalls are having a devastating effect on funding for public services at the State and local levels. While our economy is now growing, the recent economic downturn, sometimes called the Great Recession, has limited our communities’ ability to provide the healthcare, schools, colleges, public safety and transportation that people take for granted in good years but that they increasingly rely on in bad times.

HB 634 will generate as much as $100 million in revenue each year once fully implemented, while providing approximately $25 million annually to cities and towns with the creation of a dedicated funding source for general revenue sharing. These are revenues which are much needed in New Hampshire. This revenue could also help to offset the increases in local property taxes that communities were forced to impose when the state no longer contributed its share to the NH retirement system for local government workers.

HB 551-FN, relative to preventing diversion of business income to tax havens.

Companies doing business in New Hampshire can still avoid paying tax by shifting income overseas to offshore tax havens–places such as the Cayman Islands that have very low or nonexistent taxes. Companies use a variety of strategies to accomplish this and our State loses millions every year in taxable corporate revenue.

To prevent overseas tax haven abuse, states can close the “water’s edge” loophole and require companies not only to report income in other states but also the income stored in tax havens as part of their combined reporting.

Tax reforms that close corporate tax loopholes are especially popular, commanding overwhelming support. Americans want to see corporations pay their fair share, rather than see cuts in education or major entitlement programs and this remains true across party lines.

Cracking down on tax haven abuse is a step toward fairness. Closing the corporate tax loopholes that simply help the rich get richer, while most Americans are paying more in state and local taxes, will tilt the playing field toward fairness.

The Senate Education Committee will be holding public hearings on:

HB 491:  relative to immunity for school personnel using reasonable force to protect a minor. This bill would permit a teacher or other person entrusted with the care or supervision of a minor or pupil to use reasonable force to end a disturbance, to maintain safety, or to remove the pupil or minor from the premises under certain circumstances.  AFT-NH will continue to support and advocate for this bill to pass.

HB 323: relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program.

AFT-NH believe in assessments that support teaching and learning, and align with curriculum rather than narrow it; that are developed through collaborative efforts, not picked off a shelf; that are focused on measuring growth and continuous development instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn; that rely on diverse, authentic and multiple indicators of student performance rather than filling in bubbles; and that provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools to improve, not just impose sanctions that undermine them.

Further, we believe that assessments designed to support teaching and learning must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing. Specifically, we call on the consortia currently developing assessments aligned to the standards to do their part in solving this by including the crucial voices of teachers in the development of these assessments. We know that collaboration with educators is necessary to ensure that high-quality instruction and content are given their proper emphasis.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

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UPCOMING HEARINGS 

Wednesday, April 15

10 am House in Session

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
9:00 a.m. Public Employee Labor Relations Board
9:30 a.m. Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food
10:00 a.m. Liquor Commission
10:30 a.m. Department of Corrections
11:30 a.m. University System
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Thursday, April 16

House FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB
9:30 a.m. Executive session on SB 5, relative to transfers into the revenue stabilization reserve account,

Friday, April 17

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Sen. Forrester (C), Sen. Little (VC), Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. D’Allesandro, Sen. Hosmer
AGENCY PRESENTATIONS ON THE BUDGET AS PASSED BY THE HOUSE
11:00 a.m. Department of Justice
12:00 p.m. BREAK
1:00 p.m. Judicial Branch
2:00 p.m. Judicial Council
2:30 p.m. Department of Information Technology
EXECUTIVE SESSION MAY FOLLOW

Tuesday, April 21

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:15 a.m. SB 242-L, relative to amending the budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting.

Thursday, April 23

House MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on
SB 242-L, relative to amendingthe budget in towns that have adopted official ballot voting.

Tuesday, May 5

House HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Rooms 205-207, LOB
10:00 a.m. Kids Count presentation.

AFT’s Weingarten: Walker Will Say and Do Anything to Attack Workers

WASHINGTON— Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Gov. Scott Walker’s signing of the so-called right-to-work bill in Wisconsin:

“During his campaign for governor, Scott Walker promised not to amp up his attacks on workers. But when he decided to run for president, he kicked that commitment to the curb. In the last two weeks, he has compared working people to ISIS, has celebrated President Reagan’s bust of the air traffic controller strike as a ‘significant foreign policy decision,’ and now has signed into law a bill that will drive down wages, destroy good jobs and break the backs of unions. By his actions and statements, Walker has revealed that his plan to win the Republican nomination is a willingness to say and do anything to attack and tear down workers. It’s cynical and sad, and will ultimately fail.

“Scott Walker fails the test of common decency and common sense. If you want good jobs, then you also must stand up for the workers who hold them. If you want a strong middle class, then you can’t take out the unions that built it. If you want higher wages, then workers need a voice.

“Governors of our nation, you have a decision to make. You can take your state the way of Wisconsin, where Gov. Walker’s attacks on workers and tax cuts for the wealthy have landed the state, which is ranked 32nd for business and 27th in economic climate, with a $2 billion deficit. Or you can look over to Minnesota, where Gov. Mark Dayton has stood with workers and raised taxes on the wealthy few. Minnesota has a $1 billion surplus and is ranked in the top 10 in the nation for business and economic climate.

“The workers of Wisconsin are resilient. They will continue to fight back and wait until they have a governor who will work with them, not work to break them.”

Laura Hainey (AFT-NH): Right To Work Weakens Collective Bargaining And Hurts All Workers

 

I am here today to ask that you defeat HB 402-FN: establishing the Franklin Partin right-to-work act.

aft sqaureAFT-NH represents 4,000 employees in NH, mostly public employees who work in your cities, towns and school districts. The members of AFT-NH are teachers, Para educators, secretaries, librarians, cafeteria staff, and custodial staff. Some of us are police officers who work to ensure safe and orderly communities. Our members work in higher education preparing new generations of citizens and leaders. And our members provide vital public services in towns all over New Hampshire. In short, AFT New Hampshire members ensure the safety and well-being of our fellow citizens and help build stronger communities throughout our state.

Keep in mind, a union cannot unilaterally require nonmembers to pay their fair share. The employer and the union must negotiate and agree that workers are required to pay their fair share for representation.

Right now, either private or public employers and employees can freely negotiate to make sure everyone who benefits from a union contract pays their fair share of the costs of obtaining and protecting those benefits. But a “Right To Work” (RTW) law would allow the government to interfere unfairly in the freedoms of private and public employers and restrict the right to negotiate with their employees. Employers should be free to negotiate contracts without government intrusion.

Despite its misleading name, this type of law does not guarantee anyone a job and it does not protect against unfair firing. It only weakens collective bargaining rights and limits workers’ freedom to demand respect, fair pay and safety on the job. It tilts the balance even more toward big corporations and further rigs the system at the expense of middle-class families.

We all know there is no evidence to suggest that passing a RTW bill will improve our economy or create jobs for NH’s working families. As a matter of fact, I know you’ve heard that RTW legislation creates more jobs, presumably because a state becomes more attractive to employers when unions are not present or are weakened. The research does not support this point of view.

The so called RTW proposal hurts everyone. By many measures, the quality of life is worse in states with so-called RTW laws. Wages are lower, poverty and lack of insurance are higher, education is weaker—even infant mortality and the likelihood of being killed on the job are higher.

Lower Wages and Incomes

  • The average worker in states with RTW laws makes $1,540 a year less when all other factors are removed than workers in other states.1
  • Median household income in states with these laws is $6,437 less than in other states ($46,402 vs. $52,839).2
  • In states with RTW laws, 26.7 percent of jobs are in low-wage occupations, compared with 19.5 percent of jobs in other states.3

Less Job-Based Health Insurance Coverage

  • People in states with RTW laws are more likely to be uninsured (16.8 percent, compared with 13.1 percent overall; among children, it’s 10.8 percent vs. 7.5 percent).4
  • They’re less likely to have job-based health insurance than people in other states (56.2 percent, compared with 60.1 percent).5
  • Only 50.7 percent of employers in states with these laws offer insurance coverage to their employees, compared with 55.2 percent in other states. That difference is even more significant among small employers (with fewer than 50 workers)—only 34.4 percent of them offer workers health insurance, compared with 41.7 percent of small employers in other states.6

Higher Poverty and Infant Mortality Rates

  • Poverty rates are higher in states with RTW laws (15.3 percent overall and 21.5 percent for children), compared with poverty rates of 13.1 percent overall and 18.1 percent for children in states without these laws.7
  • The infant mortality rate is 15 percent higher in states with these laws.8
  • Less Investment in Education
  • States with RTW laws spend $3,392 less per pupil on elementary and secondary education than other states, and students are less likely to be performing at their appropriate grade level in math and reading.9

Higher Rates of Death on the Job

  • The rate of workplace deaths is 36 percent higher in states with these laws, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.10

In closing, industries locate in a state for many reasons, but RTW laws are not among them. Factors like workforce productivity, availability of skilled workers, transportation, closeness to markets and materials, quality of life and proximity to research universities are the keys to economic growth. We need to create good jobs throughout the state, but an RTW law will not persuade companies to move here.

Please recommend ITL on HB 402-FN: establishing the Franklin Partin right-to-work act.

In Solidarity,

Laura Hainey

AFT-NH President

 

1 Economic Policy Institute, http://www.epi.org/publication/right-to-work-michigan-economy/.

2 U.S. Census Bureau, Table H-8. Median Household Income by State, www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/household/2010/H08_2010.xls.

3 CFED, Asset and Opportunity Scorecard, http://scorecard.assetsandopportunity.org/2012/measure/low-wage-jobs.

4 Kaiser Family Foundation, www.statehealthfacts.org.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Census Bureau, POV46: Poverty Status by State: 2010, related children under 18, www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032011/pov/new46_100125_04.htm;

Table 19. Percent of Persons in Poverty, by State: 2008, 2009 and 2010, www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/historical/hstpov19.xls.

8 Kaiser Family Foundation, www.statehealthfacts.org.

9 National Education Association, Rankings & Estimates–Rankings of the States 2011 and Estimates of School Statistics 2012, December 2011, www.nea.org/assets/docs/NEA_Rankings_And_Estimates_FINAL_20120209.pdf ;

CFED, Asset & Opportunity Scorecard, http://scorecard.assetsandopportunity.org/2012/measure/math-proficiency-8th-grade , and http://scorecard.assetsandopportunity.org/2012/measure/reading-proficiency-8th-grade .

10 AFL-CIO, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, April 2012, www.aflcio.org/Issues/Job-Safety/Death-on-the-Job-Report .

AFT-NH Legislative Update 2-16-15: The Governor’s Budget, Dividends Tax, And Right To Work

Things are moving at the State House. The governor presented her budget on Thursday, with the theme of:  “Responsible Budget Builds on Bipartisan Progress to Encourage Innovation, Expand Middle Class Opportunity, Support Job-Creating Businesses, and Attract and Retain More Young People”. This year there will be many hard decisions that will need to be made and they will not be easy ones.  

We know that in New Hampshire we have few revenue sources and we have a regressive tax system, meaning that citizens that have the least to spare pay the most. To read more on this click here. When reviewing bills AFT-NH keeps in mind that we support incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors.  All of this is vital to our shared economic success.

AFT-NH is supporting the following bills which will bring in necessary revenues while closing loop-holes in our current tax system:

  • HB 634-FN-A; relative to applying the interest and dividends tax to trusts, increasing exemptions, and extending the tax to capital gains; and relative to homeowners property tax relief and
  • HB 551-FN, relative to preventing diversion of business income to tax havens

The Governor’s presentation of her budget is the first step in a long process. The budget will now move to the House where they will hold hearings and recommend a budget for the full House to vote on. Once this is done it will be the Senate’s turn. During all of this I am sure there will be many closed door meetings to try to reach some agreement.  The final step is the Committee Of Conference, where the House, Senate and the Governor will work on a final recommendation to be voted on by both chambers. This final vote will take place in late June.

There have been many bills on Common Core And State Assessments.  Just like last year, AFT-NH understands that local school districts are in different stages of development with regards to Common Core and assessment.  Therefore, for any new standard to work we need to ensure that:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice,
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class,
  • Provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • Ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • Communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students,
  • Develop best practices and strategies along with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply,
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments,
  • Make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers,
  • Assessments need to be aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • Professional development and training in the Standards need to be offered,
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

To read AFT-NH the full statement on Common Core and state Assessments click here.

There were also several bill hearings on raising the minimum wage this past week. Here are a few facts gleaned from the hearings:   

Those earning minimum wage in NH who would benefit from an increase–

72% are not teens, they’re 20 or older

36% are 30 or older

59% are women

14% have children

32% work full time

New Hampshire workers cannot make ends meet on today’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

With a full-time schedule, minimum wage workers earn less than $300 a week. After buying groceries or paying the rent, there’s little or nothing left to buy other basic necessities like heat, clothing, or gas for the car.

The Granite State is consistently recognized as a top place to live, work, and raise a family. But for minimum wage workers, it’s a real struggle to get by, let alone afford the basics.

New Hampshire’s low-wage workers work hard, play by the rules, and deserve a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

The public agrees: the time to raise the minimum wage is now.

Poll after poll shows widespread support among the public for an increase in the minimum wage.

Public Policy polling results released January 15, 2014, found 60% of NH voters support increasing minimum wage to $10/hour, with only 29% opposed.

AFT-NH asks that the House Labor Committee make a recommendation to pass in increase in the minimum wage here in New Hampshire. It time we stand up and doing something that would benefit nearly 76,000 New Hampshire workers –or 12% of the labor force.

This coming week there are several hearing on the so called ‘Right To Work’.

The so called ‘Right to Work’ (RTW) proposal hurts everyone.  By many measures, the quality of life is worse in states with so-called “right to work” (RTW) laws. Wages are lower, poverty and lack of insurance are higher, education is weaker—even infant mortality and the likelihood of being killed on the job are higher.

We all know there is no evidence to suggest that passing a “Right To Work” bill will improve our economy or create jobs for NH’s working families. As a matter of fact, I know you’ve heard that Right to Work legislation creates more jobs, presumably because a state becomes more attractive to employers when unions are not present or are weakened. The research does not support this point of view.

RTW laws create a loophole in our labor laws that allows workers who decide not to be a part of a union to fully benefit from union representation—including higher wages, benefits, training, safety and protection from unfair discipline—without having to pay a single penny for it. That’s unfair to their co-workers who play by the rules and pay their fair share. And it weakens all workers’ ability to stand up for themselves and each other. That’s why these laws are called “right to work for less” laws.

We must also ask whether it the place of state government to tell private companies what they can and cannot agree to with a union?  Please take the time to consider the implications on the current working relationships in the workforce which for the most part have been productive and collegial. Why upset this balance?

AFT-NH will be asking the both chambers to defeat this and any legislation that either erodes or repeals NH’s collective bargaining laws for public employees.

In Solidarity,

Laura Hainey

AFT-NH President


Have you visited the AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”? Please do so today!
You can also follow us on Twitter at @8027aftnh.
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Upcoming hearings for the week of February 16, 2015

Tuesday, February 17

Senate COMMERCE, Room 100, SH

2:20 p.m. SB 107-FN, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union.

Senate EDUCATION, Room 103, LOB

9:00 a.m. SB 25-FN, relative to epinephrine administered in schools.

9:30 a.m. SB 152, requiring the state police to disclose the results of a criminal records check to school officials.

10:00 a.m. SB 190-FN, relative to payment of costs for career and technical education center programs and administration by the department of education, and establishing a tax credit against business profits taxes for donations to such centers.

10:30 a.m. SB 227, relative to calculating the cost of an adequate education.

11:00 a.m. SB 228-FN-L, relative to the maximum total education grant, adjustment of stabilization

Senate WAYS AND MEANS, Representatives’ Hall, SH

9:00 a.m. SB 113-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.

COMMERCE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS, Room 302, LOB

1:15 p.m. HB 596-FN-L, relative to health insurance plans of public employers.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, LOB

10:30 a.m. HB 568-FN, requiring a supervisory law enforcement officer to arrest a law enforcement officer when the supervisor knows that the law enforcement officer has committed a criminal offense.

11:00 a.m. HB 669-FN-L, requiring law enforcement agencies to report on the receipt of certain equipment and grants from the federal government and on the deployment of tactical teams.

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB

10:00 a.m. Executive session on

HB 116, relative to the renomination of teachers,

HB 124, relative to the implementation of new college and career readiness standards,

HB 126, establishing a commission to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school,

HB 142, relative to student social media policies by education institutions,

HB 206, relative to non-academic surveys or questionnaires given to students,

HB237, requiring vocational education centers to prioritize science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curricula as a condition for funding,

HB 243, changing the definitions of “focus school” and “priority school” in the school performance and accountability law,

HB 253, relative to the requirements for filing a charter school application,

HB 283, requiring school districts to establish a policy permitting a pupil’s parent or legal guardian to observe his or her classes, and

HB 302, requiring a public hearing prior to the submission of a grant application by the department of education.

2:30 p.m. HA 1, for the removal of certain state officials in the department of education.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB

11:00 a.m. HB 488, relative to an abusive work environment and the health and safety of public employees.

FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB

Budget presentations as follows:

2:45 p.m. Department of Education

FINANCE – (DIVISION II),Room 209, LOB

11:15 a.m. Work session on HB 651-FN-L, transferring the portion of special education costs directly related to health issues to the department of health and human services.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB

In Representatives Hall

1:00 p.m. HB 402-FN, establishing the Franklin Partin right-to-work act.

WAYS & MEANS, Room 202, LOB

10:30 a.m. HB 386-FN-A, reducing the rate of the business profits tax.

Wednesday, February 18

10 am House in session

Thursday, February 19

10 am Senate in session

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB

9:30 a.m. HB 604, relative to the use of mixed use school buses by special education pupils.

10:00 a.m. HB 519, establishing a committee to study department of education policies affecting dyslexic students.

10:30 a.m. HB 471, relative to the powers of the state board of education and the duties of school boards.

11:15 a.m. HB 507, relative to teacher personally identifiable data.

1:00 p.m. HB 520, establishing privacy protections for student online personal information.

1:45 p.m. HB 527, establishing guidelines for school districts relative to the use of school resource officers.

2:15 p.m. HB 375, relative to providing information about effective forms of child discipline to parents.

2:45 p.m. HB 555, relative to participation of chartered public school students in school district cocurricular activities.

3:15 p.m. HB 578-FN, relative to state board of education compliance with unfunded federal education mandates.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 206, LOB

10:00 a.m. HB 600-FN, relative to paid sick leave for employees.

10:45 a.m. HB 658-FN, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union.

Friday, February 20

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB

9:30 a.m. HB 603, relative to student exemptions from assessments, questionnaires, or surveys.

9:55 a.m. HB 566-FN-L, relative to consolidation of school administrative units.

10:20 a.m. HB 611-FN, requiring legislative approval of all agreements, contracts, grants, or waivers involving the department of education or the state board of education.

10:45 a.m. HB 610, relative to a school board vote on the reassignment of a pupil.

11:10 a.m. HB 474, relative to grounds for denial of a chartered public school application.

11:35 a.m. HB 424, relative to the accessibility of assessment materials.

1:00 p.m. Executive session on

HB 322, relative to protection of personally identifiable data by the department of education,

HB 323, relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program,

HB 332, relative to school district policy regarding objectionable course material,

HB346, relative to criminal history records checks for school employees and volunteers,

HB 375, relative to providing information about effective forms of child discipline to parents,

HB 424, relative to the accessibility of assessment materials, HB 507, relative to teacher personally identifiable data,

HB 520, establishing privacy protections for student online personal information, and

HB 527, establishing guidelines for school districts relative to the use of school resource officers.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB

9:00 a.m. HB 551-FN, relative to preventing diversion of business income to tax havens.

10:00 a.m. HB 630-FN-A, establishing the New Hampshire video lottery.

11:00 a.m. HB 680-FN-L, relative to establishing the rate for and the collection of  the education property tax and establishing a homestead exemption from the education property tax.

AFT President Randi Weingarten on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

“Unions give workers the voice they need, and public education gives our children the opportunity they deserve.” 

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten’s statement on President Obama’s State of the Union address:

“Tonight, the president invoked our shared values, reminding us what unites us as a nation. He asked us to turn the page, to ensure shared prosperity, to pave the road to middle-class economics so that all who want a chance to succeed get that chance. He affirmed that every child in every neighborhood matters. And he reinforced that unions give workers the voice they need, and public education gives our children the opportunity they deserve.

“All workers deserve a pathway to a good job with a living wage—one that covers the cost of healthcare and child care, and allows them to pay down exorbitant student loans, save for their retirement, provide the basic necessities for their family, like food and housing, and still have a little left over. Working families see that the economy is getting better, but too many have yet to feel it. That must change, and the president raised many ideas tonight to change it. We need to ensure that all families can climb the ladder of opportunity. And to do that, we need our government to reinvest in public education and support our educators. The tools the president advanced tonight—providing free community college and greater access to early childhood education, raising the minimum wage, offering child care and paid sick leave to parents—all will help if they are enacted.

“The president summoned us all to come together, to think bigger, to aim higher. That’s what the teachers, nurses and public workers, those who are and want to be the middle class in America, do every day. This is our credo. We want to do what’s best for our communities and our country. We want to reclaim the promise of America.”

AFT’s Weingarten: New Model for Unionism Requires Organizing With Community for Economic Justice, Political Power, Workers’ Dignity

“We can no longer operate as if we’re in a factory. The knowledge era has arrived. As circumstances change, our nation changes,
the world changes and we too must change.”

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten today laid out a framework for a renewed American labor movement. She was joined by U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and others at an Albert Shanker Institute conference called “The American Labor Movement at a Crossroads.”

The labor movement is at a crossroads, Weingarten said, because of globalization, technological changes, diminished union density, and aggressive, well-funded legislative and judicial challenges by anti-union forces who understand the potential power of American labor.

“We can no longer operate as if we’re in a factory. The knowledge era has arrived. As circumstances change, our nation changes, the world changes and we too must change,” Weingarten said. “And make no mistake: This is on us. It’s our responsibility.”

Secretary Perez reminded the audience that the growth of the middle class was linked to a strong labor movement. “President Obama understands that the labor movement and prosperity go hand in hand,” he said.

Weingarten highlighted four areas of work that the AFT has rethought in significant ways:

  • engagement with community;
  • focus on the quality of the public services its members provide;
  • “internal” organizing and member mobilization; and
  • “external” organizing of the unorganized.

“We know that the enduring values of the American labor movement provide a strong foundation for a renewed American unionism that will give collective voice to working people in a 21st-century global knowledge economy,” Weingarten concluded.

Read the full speech here.

AFT’s Weingarten on White House Summit on Early Childhood Education

WASHINGTON –American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten participated in a panel today at the White House Summit on Early Childhood Education, where President Barack Obama announced more than $1 billion in public and private spending on early learning programs, including roughly $700 million in already appropriated federal funds.

Following is a statement from Weingarten on behalf of AFT, which represents more than 90,000 early childhood educators in every type of early learning setting across the country:

“Access to high-quality early childhood care and education is key to giving all children a running start. High-quality early learning not only helps to bridge the achievement gap for low-income children, but it’s also a strong economic investment in our nation’s future. As President Obama mentioned today, every dollar we invest in high-quality early childhood programs saves us up to eight dollars in the future.

“The most important determinant of a high-quality early learning program is the educator who nurtures, guides and educates our children. Right now, many early educators aren’t getting a living wage. Nearly half rely on public assistance, costing taxpayers $2.4 billion annually. That’s why it’s vital that we give the early child care workforce the resources, working conditions and wages they need to help put our nation’s early learners on a path to success.

“We are proud to work with the White House on this important effort, and we will continue our efforts to ensure that all children have access to high-quality early childhood education. As these public and private partners commit to invest in early childhood education today, we hope that they will invest in the educators who are giving our nation’s early learners a strong start on life.”

AFT’s Weingarten on Human Rights Day and Recent Events

AFT_Logo-2

WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, which the United Nations General Assembly adopted in 1948:

“The United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 66 years ago, yet we still have a long way to go before every community throughout the world affords all citizens respect, dignity and impartial justice. This has been made clear in recent months, from the abject disregard for life demonstrated by the murder of civilian hostages by terrorists in the Middle East, to the grand jury decisions to not find any culpability in the deaths of unarmed black men in Staten Island, N.Y., and Ferguson, Mo. The time to act for justice is now.

“Nations, cities and towns should use the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard for dignity, freedom and human rights of all men, women and children. We must work to fully realize the declaration so that all people from every corner of society are treated equally and with dignity and worth.”

The AFT is working with Educational International and teacher unions in Egypt, Georgia, Honduras and Zimbabwe to provide educators with the information they need to be advocates for human rights in their classrooms and their communities. For more on this project, see www.tarc.ei-ie.org.

The AFT also has free human rights resources for the classroom, including lesson plans and other teaching materials, at www.teachhumanrights.com and www.sharemylesson.com.

University Of Oregon Graduate Workers Strike For Paid Sick Days

AFT, AFT-Oregon and Graduate Employees Union on the University of Oregon Graduate Employees’ Strike

EUGENE, Ore.—Statements from leaders of the American Federation of Teachers, AFT-Oregon and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation on the graduate workers’ strike at the University of Oregon, which is in its fourth day.

“We’re striking because when we have a child or get in an accident, we need legally guaranteed parental and sick leave,” said Jon LaRochelle, GTFF bargaining team member. “The university cannot continue to neglect its responsibility to the workers who make this university run and the students we serve.”

“Our graduate workers shouldn’t have to choose between their academic career and starting a family or taking care of their health,” said AFT-Oregon President David Rives. “As Oregonians, we know that adequate sick and parental leave are fundamental human rights for all workers. If the city of Eugene can require paid leave for every other employer in the city, why can’t the University of Oregon agree to provide the basic paid leave that graduate workers need?”

“We all get sick. We all have families. And we all deserve to take time off without risking our livelihoods or the health of our community,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “That’s why the graduate workers—an essential part of the University of Oregon—are fighting for paid sick leave. Other state workers have it. Workers in Eugene and Portland fought for it and won. And all workers deserve it. The university has an opportunity to do the right thing and give graduate workers the paid sick and parental leave they need. We stand with these workers and call on the administration to settle a fair contract.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten Is Arrested Protesting Eric Garner Decision — #ICantBreathe

As the editor of the New Hampshire Labor News I get dozens of emails every hour. Some are good and some are junk. Then there are mornings, like today, where I get an email that surprises me, and makes me feel proud at the same time.

Somewhere during the night I received an email from Kate Childs Graham a spokesperson for the American Federation of Teachers where she informed me that AFT President Randi Weingarten was arrested in New York City.

This evening in New York City, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was arrested in an act of civil disobedience while protesting the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case. Building on the long legacy of Jews fighting for justice, the action was organized by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. The organization honored Weingarten’s partner, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, earlier in the evening.”

At first I was shocked, but it did not take long for my surprise to pleasure. I though to myself, man I love this woman. I was immediately proud of Randi for bringing attention to the atrocity in the Eric Garner case.
For those who are unaware of the details of the Eric Garner case, Garner was allegedly selling illegal cigarettes when the police confronted him. After a few moments the police decided they needed to restrain Garner. One officer placed Garner in a chock hold – prohibited by the NYPD – and took Garner to the ground. The other five officers worked to restrain Garner as he called out “I can’t breathe”. Garner past away in a local hospital shortly after the event.
The Medical Examiner is ruled that Garner’s death a homicide yet a grand jury ruled that no charges would be brought up on the police officers involved.

The grand jury ruling sparked massive outrage throughout the country and rightfully so.

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers released the following statement:

“Eric Garner’s death was a tragedy that shocked the conscience of many New Yorkers. “We in the AFT family express our deep condolences to his family. Today, we share in the disappointment of many who question the outcome of the grand jury’s deliberations in this case.”

“On this difficult day, I was in New York, and like other New Yorkers I watched the video over and over and found it difficult to reconcile the grand jury’s decision and the evidence in the video. We must break the silence. That’s what this nonviolent protest by the Jewish community is all about.” 

“The AFT represents educators who tomorrow will be in schools with students. As United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said, “We must be ready to help them work through their emotions and the difficult issues that this decision raises for many of them.”

“We in the AFT are committed to a fair and just society. That is why we are joining Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand, and many in our congressional delegation, in calling for a U.S. Justice Department investigation. 

“While many are understandably angry at today’s decision, we remain mindful of the lessons of the civil rights movement that nonviolent protest is the best way to secure justice. In the coming days and weeks, we urge that that precept be carried out.”

We must face the facts that racial profiling and police brutality against African-American is wrong and something has to change.

I applaud, Randi for taking a stand for social justice, even if that means getting arrested.

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