• Advertisement

Women Honored On “Equal Pay Day”

Yesterday, April 4th, was Equal Pay Day, the day when women finally earn as much as their male counterparts did in the previous year.

“Pay discrimination undermines our country’s fundamental principles of equality. As long as millions of American women continue to only earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, we have to keep fighting,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Equal Pay Day is an important reminder that, despite recent progress, we still have a long way to go to end pay discrimination. A recent study projected that the wage gap in New Hampshire will close in 2079. Waiting 62 years to close the wage gap is just unacceptable, hurting Granite State women, their families and our economy. It’s time to make equal pay for equal work a reality.”

In the U.S. Senate, Senator Maggie Hassan joined Senator Shaheen and 40 other Senators in reintroducing the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963, guaranteeing that women can challenge wage discrimination and hold employers accountable. Despite making up half of the workforce in the country, women still make only 80 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by a man. The gap widens for women of color: African-American women only earn 63 cents on the dollar and Hispanic only earn 54 cents, on average, compared to white men. 

“It’s long past time for women to earn an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work,” Senator Hassan said. “Wage discrimination is unacceptable and it strains the financial security of thousands of Granite State families and threatens our economic well-being in New Hampshire. I am proud to reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act to help ensure that all hard-working Granite Staters and Americans can earn a fair pay check and have the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead.” 

The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen and close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by holding employers accountable for discriminatory practices, ending the practice of pay secrecy, easing workers’ ability to individually or jointly challenge pay discrimination, and strengthening the available remedies for wronged employees.

In the U.S House, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter today co-introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act and highlighted the gender pay gap on Equal Pay Day. 

“Working women are America’s mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives. We’re America’s factory and office workers, health care professionals and scientists, business executives and teachers,” said Shea-Porter. “Women are working everywhere, but in America, in 2017, women still make only 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. Equal pay for equal work is a fairness issue and an economic issue: New Hampshire families rely on women’s wages to make ends meet, and when women are paid less than men for the same work, it affects the whole family.”

Compared to national figures, the disparity in New Hampshire is even greater – the state ranks 47th in the nation for paycheck fairness, according to the National Women’s Law Center, with women in New Hampshire losing an average of $534,120 over a 40-year career due to the gender pay gap.

One key way to start closing the pay gap is for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which Shea-Porter has co-introduced in each of her four terms. The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the 1963 Equal Pay Act, close loopholes in the law, and provide effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal pay for equal work.

Shea-Porter is a strong advocate for issues that are important to women and families. She co-introduced the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which became law on Jan. 29, 2009 and ensured that Americans subjected to unlawful gender-based pay discrimination can effectively assert their rights under the federal anti-discrimination law. This February, Shea-Porter co-introduced the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, a bill to create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program and ensure that American workers no longer must choose between a paycheck and caring for a family member, and the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act, which would boost the tax break’s value and ensure it keeps up with the costs working parents face, including the quickly-rising cost of childcare.

“In 2017, it is simply unacceptable that women on average earn 80 cents to every dollar men earn,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “This is an injustice not only to women, but also to the many American families that count a woman as the primary or co-breadwinner. It’s long past time we correct this injustice, and I will continue my efforts in Congress to end the pay gap and ensure women receive the compensation they deserve.”

Since taking office, Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate for equal pay for women.  She is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help reduce wage disparities between men and women across the country. In addition, she authored a Women’s Economic Agenda, a plan for Congress to prioritize initiatives to reduce pay disparities based on gender and support Granite State women and their families. She has also hosted a series of roundtables to hear directly from women business owners and other professionals all across New Hampshire about what more Congress can do to help Granite State women succeed and receive fair pay in the workplace.

The women senators of the NH Senate Democratic Caucus also released a statement in recognition of Equal Pay Day: 

“Despite decades of research and advocacy, pay discrimination between male and female workers continues to undermine our nation’s fundamental principles of equality. Today, American women on average earn just 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. That disparity increases significantly for women of color. This isn’t just a women’s issue–it’s a family issue and an economic issue.”

“In fact, research conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research finds that ensuring equal pay for every woman in America would cut poverty among working women and their families by more than half and add an estimated $482 billion to the national economy. In New Hampshire, where women earn 76.4 cents for every dollar earned by men, recent studies of the wage gap anticipate that it will take 62 years for working women and men to reach pay parity in our state. And in that time, another generation of women will come and go without receiving just compensation for their contributions.”

“It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’re not willing to wait until 2079 to resolve the issue of equal pay for equal work. The women of this country and our state have waited long enough.”

Senators Push Legislation To Increase Child Care Tax Credit

Shaheen, Gillibrand, Schatz Introduce ‘Right Start’ Bill to Expand Child Care Tax Credit for Working Families

 The Right Start Child Care and Education Act would make child care more affordable, strengthening the economy 

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Right Start Child Care and Education Act, legislation that would expand the child care tax credit and provide other assistance to help families afford child care. The legislation would expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), which was first enacted in 1976 to help working families pay for child care. The tax credit does not reflect the current costs of child care, which have risen since the CDCTC was first enacted and can exceed $10,000 annually. In New Hampshire, the cost of child care is nearly $12,000 for a single child. 

“The rising costs of child care is a real burden on families in New Hampshire and across the country, and the Right Start Child Care and Education Act would provide much-needed relief for parents working to make ends meet,” said Senator Shaheen. “Making child care more affordable will help parents, especially working mothers, re-join the workforce, and strengthen our economy.”

“This bill would help reduce the enormous financial burden that comes from paying for child care,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Child care is essential for many families with new babies and young children, but in some states, including New York, it costs as much as college tuition. This legislation would go a long way toward making child care more affordable for families, and I will continue urging all of my colleagues to support it in the new Congress.” 

“Increasing the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit will provide much-needed assistance for working families,” said Senator Schatz. “In Hawai‘i, child care can cost more than $10,000 per year, and nationally costs are rising. This tax credit will help provide economic security for families and allow parents to go back to work.” 

The Right Start Child Care and Education Act would increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, making it equal to 35 to 50 percent of eligible expenses, up significantly from the current range of 20 to 35 percent, and increase the maximum eligible expenses from $3,000 per child to $6,000 per child. The bill would also improve assistance for lower-income families by making the credit refundable, and make it easier for employers to provide working parents with childcare by increasing the tax credit for employer-provided childcare.  It also aims to improve the availability of high-quality child care by adding a new tax credit for college graduates who become childcare professionals. 

The Right Start Child Care and Education Act was introduced in the 113th Congress, and again in the 114th Congress, by fmr. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and co-sponsored by Senators Shaheen, Gillibrand and Schatz.

Social Security COLA Falls Short for Seniors

social securty 1Small cost-of-living increase triggers huge Medicare Part B premium hike for many retirees

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. is calling on Congress to pass emergency legislation to prevent massive increases in Medicare Part B premiums for millions of retirees next year.

The government today announced a 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for federal retirees and Social Security recipients. The COLA is based on the year-over-year change in the prices for goods and services purchased by hourly and clerical workers.

This small COLA has inadvertently triggered a massive increase in Medicare Part B premiums for the 30 percent of beneficiaries who do not currently receive Social Security benefits.

Premiums for Medicare Part B are expected to increase 23 percent next year, from $121 a month to $149 a month. A so-called “hold harmless” provision prevents Medicare Part B premiums from increasing by more than the dollar increase in an individual’s Social Security payment. But for the 16 million retirees who don’t receive Social Security, including 1.6 million federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System, the full increase must be paid unless Congress acts.

“Congress must act now to prevent a massive increase in Medicare Part B premiums for this group of retirees,” Cox said. “Although most seniors would be protected, this group will have to pay more solely because of the uniqueness of their pension system.”

Congress last year extended the hold harmless provision to cover all Medicare Part B beneficiaries when there is no cost-of-living adjustment. However, this provision does not apply when there is a small COLA, as there will be in 2017.

Even without the increase in Medicare Part B premiums, retirees will have to tighten their belts to account for next year’s miniscule cost-of-living adjustment. Retirees already are facing a 6.2% increase in their health insurance premiums next year.

“Prices for many items that seniors must purchase are rising faster than the overall inflation rate,” Cox said. “Forcing this group of retirees to shoulder such a huge cost burden will have a devastating impact on their already modest living standards.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans have been pushing to increase Social Security benefits and change the way cost of living is calculated.

“The Alliance for Retired Americans is deeply disappointed by the announcement today that there will be a miniscule 0.3% benefit increase for millions of Social Security beneficiaries in 2017,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “For the average retiree, that means just a $5.00 per month increase, not enough to keep up with the cost of their prescription medications. This follows a 0% COLA in 2016. Most retirees are going to continue to have a hard time paying for basic necessities.”

“That’s why Congress must expand earned Social Security benefits and change the formula used to calculate future COLAs to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).  The CPI-E would base the calculation on what seniors actually spend their money on. That list includes items such as health care and housing, which account for most retirees’ spending,” Fiesta added. 

The AFL-CIO was “disappointed” with this COLA announcement.

“A weak increase that amounts to a mere $5.00 more a month for the average retired worker is a disappointment for the millions who rely on Social Security to stay afloat during retirement,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Protecting our seniors against inflation is one of the many obligations we have to retired Americans. The 2017 adjustment falls short of that goal because it fails to reflect seniors’ extraordinary expenses.”

 “The 2017 COLA not only fails to keep pace with seniors’ high health care and prescription drug costs, it also means millions of retirees, including many retired public employees, will be hit hard because the law fails to protect them against large Medicare Part B premium increases when inflation is low. State Medicaid budgets that cover Medicare premiums for low-income seniors similarly will be affected. We urge Congress to step in and limit the coming financial blow to thousands of vulnerable retirees and state budgets,” Trumka added.

Yo, Wharton! Tax Cuts DON’T “Create Jobs” !!!

Photo by mSeatttle via Flickr Creative Commons license

Photo by mSeatttle via Flickr Creative Commons license

Just how bizarre can this election get?

Yesterday, the Wharton School of Business released its predictions about the long-term effects of Donald Trump’s tax plan.  Their report uses something called “dynamic scoring” – which is an economic model that assumes tax cuts will create jobs.  (You remember that old saying about the word “assume.”)

Somebody call the fact-checkers.  That assumption should have been thoroughly debunked by now.

Remember, that assumption was the basis of the 2001 Bush tax cuts.  (Remember how those tax cuts were supposed to be “temporary”?)  That’s when thinktanks started using this “dynamic scoring” model, courtesy of the Heritage Foundation.  Those particular tax cuts were supposed to generate 1.6 million new jobs by 2011.  They were supposed generate enough federal revenue to pay back the entire federal debt.  They were supposed to save Social Security and Medicare.  (You can read the 2001 Heritage Foundation report here.)

Instead, those tax cuts sent the federal deficit soaring – and that’s when Alan Greenspan suggested cutting Social Security to pay for them.  (Remember, most of those tax cuts benefitted rich taxpayers.  But Greenspan wanted to cut our benefits – benefits we have pay for, with each paycheck – to make those tax cuts permanent.)

Now, here comes Trump.  And he wants to give the rich the GREATEST TAX CUT EVER – an average $1.1 million tax cut.  Each.  (Nevermind that he’s going to raise taxes on single mothers and families with lots of children.)

And Wharton says those tax cuts are going to magically “create jobs.”  (Nevermind that tax cuts haven’t ever
“created jobs” in the past.  Wharton’s dynamic scoring model says things will be different, this time.)

Let’s get real.  The folks who have been getting tax cuts haven’t been spending their extra money creating jobs.  They’ve been spending their extra money playing the stock market.  Wall Street keeps hitting record highs, and all that money had to come from somewhere.

It’s really hard to track what individual billionaires spend on the stock market.  But corporations have been getting tax cuts, too – and their spending is easier to find.  I added it all up a few days ago… and in 2015, corporations spent $5.5 trillion on the stock market, buying shares of their own or other companies.

$5.5 trillion, in one year.  It’s hard to wrap your head around that number, so let’s think of it in some other ways…

  • It could have been used to create 70 million jobs, at the median wage
  • It’s more than 25% of the federal debt
  • It’s more than six times what Social Security paid out in benefits last year

And they spent it buying stock from other stockholders.

So… apparently, that’s what happens when we give corporations tax cuts.  They pass the extra money along to “investors.”  They don’t create jobs with it.

The reality is, corporations don’t create jobs out of the goodness of their heart… they create jobs when they need to.  When the workforce they have can’t keep up with the demand for their business.

Notice that word: demand.  Capitalist economies only grow when there is increased demand.

And that means if government keeps taking money out of the pockets of consumers (single mothers, families with lots of children) and giving it to investors (GREATEST TAX CUT EVER), our economy is going to keep shrinking.

Nevermind what Wharton’s fancy-schmantsy dynamic scoring model might imagine.


BTW, it just so happens that Trump is a Wharton alumnus.  But I didn’t see that fact included in any of the press coverage of Wharton’s economic prediction.

Presidential Race: Different Tax Policies Would Have HUGE Effects On Working People

Underneath all the headlines about emails and wandering hands, there are some very important policy differences between the two presidential candidates.  Let’s start with tax policies.

Donald trump 5 (Gage skidmore Flikr)Donald Trump:

  • His plan would give highest-income taxpayers – those with incomes of more than $3.7 million – an average tax cut of $1.1 million.
  • About 8 million large families and single parents would see their taxes increase under his proposals.
  • His tax plan would add about $7.2 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.
  • His plan would cut taxes for hedge fund operators and other money managers by more than a third — allowing them to use a special 15% “pass-through” tax rate.

hillary clinton (WisPolitics.com FLIKR)Hillary Clinton:

  • Her plan would reduce taxes for low- and moderate-income households by an average of $100.
  • High-income taxpayers would see an average tax hike of $118,000.
  • Her tax plan would increase federal revenue by $1.4 trillion over the next decade (which could be used to lower the federal debt, or to offset spending).

Donald Trump is old enough to remember what happens when the rich get tax cuts:

  • Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cut: “Despite the tax cuts, business investment remained weak… The ballooning budget deficit forced Mr. Reagan to give ground” and taxes were raised again in 1986. And the deficit kept growing, until George H.W. Bush broke his “no new taxes” pledge in 1990.
  • George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut package was supposed to create enough new jobs to pay back the entire federal debt.  Instead, those tax cuts contributed to record-setting federal deficits.
  • Bush’s 2003 tax cut package didn’t fix the economy, either; and as the deficit kept rising, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan suggested reducing Social Security to pay for the cuts.
  • By 2006, even the US Treasury was saying that tax cuts for the rich don’t do much of anything… other than cut taxes for the rich.

But here we are, just three weeks from the election, and the mainstream media is focused on leaked emails and wandering hands… and there’s almost no mention of the fact that Trump wants to give the highest-income taxpayers an average $1.1 million tax break

There’s almost no mention of the fact that his proposal would add $7.2 trillion to the national debt.

There’s almost no mention of the fact that these sorts of tax cuts never, ever generate the kind of job growth that they’re supposed to.  (Why?  Maybe because corporate decision-makers keep spending their extra money on Wall Street rather than hiring workers.  Just last year alone, corporations spent more than $5.5 trillion buying shares of stock in their own or other companies.  That same amount of money could have created more than 70 million median-wage jobs.)

Three weeks out from the election, and almost no-one in the mainstream media is looking at how Trump’s “greatest tax cut ever!” would actually affect our country.  So if you think your friends might be interested in this, please use social media to share it.

The Tax Policy Center analysis of the presidential candidates’ tax policies is available here.

Verizon Spends Billions To Buy AOL & Yahoo Then Cuts Thousands Of US Jobs

2015-07-25_Mass_Rally_Stand_Up_To_Verizon

Verizon’s Greedy Corporate Businesss Model Is Exactly
What Is Wrong With Our Economy

Continuing our “What’s wrong with the economy” series using Verizon as a case study…

You can read about Verizon’s decision to lay off 4,800 American workers in yesterday’s NH Labor News.  (You might have missed it in the mainstream press, under all the election headlines.)  The cuts include seven call centers as well as some retail stores.

How is Verizon going to serve its customers, once all those call centers are closed?  The company “is offshoring customer service calls to numerous call centers in the Philippines, where workers are paid just $1.78 an hour and forced to work overtime without compensation.”  (Wow.  Not exactly a living wage.)

Guess what else was in the news yesterday.  Verizon’s agreement to buy Yahoo for $4.83 billion.  So…right now, Verizon is laying off thousands of American workers while it’s spending billions to acquire another company.  Does that make any sense to you?

And I’m feeling déjà vu.

Remember that Verizon workers had to strike, earlier this year, after working without a contract for eight months while the company demanded employee concessions?  That was at the same time Verizon was buying AOL for $4.4 billion.  Does that make any sense?  Why would a company that can afford to buy another company need draconian cuts to employee pensions, health care, and benefits for workers injured on the job?

And when Verizon “buys” another company, what, exactly, does it purchase?  AOL and Yahoo sell ads on the internet, they don’t have much in the way of bricks-and-mortar assets.  So, Verizon is spending billions of dollars to… buy another company’s stock.  After spending $5 billion to buy back its own stock.

Doing the math here?  Looks to me like… between 2015 and 2016, Verizon will spend a total of $14 billion on shares of corporate stock.  At the same time it is closing US call centers, laying off American workers and demanding concessions from its unions.  Money coming out of workers’ pockets, going into the pockets of stockholders.

While you’re getting mad, remember how Congress has structured our tax system.  Investment income is taxed at about half the rate of wage income; and it’s completely exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.  So the next time you hear a politician talking about how those systems are “going bankrupt”… ask them what would happen if they taxed investment income the same way they tax our wages.  I’m guessing it would fully fund Social Security and Medicare, as well pay down a good chunk of our federal debt.  But back to Verizon.

This is what’s wrong with our economy: CEOs and directors would rather purchase stock than pay workers. And so workers’ pay has been stagnant since the 1970s… even as our productivity has kept rising.

Meanwhile, the stockmarket is in the stratosphere.  And Verizon’s stock price keeps rising.

VZ stock chart

And Verizon’s corporate officers are doing just fine. (Read the rest of our Verizon series, starting here.)

And the Federal Trade Commission has already signed off on Verizon’s offer to purchase Yahoo … so it looks like Yahoo stockholders will be getting all those billions of dollars, while Verizon’s American workers face unemployment and its Philippines employees work unpaid overtime.

Because the folks who make corporate decisions would rather buy stock than pay workers.


Things weren’t always this way.  Once upon a time, it was illegal for corporations to repurchase their own stock.  But in 1982, the SEC created a regulatory “safe harbor” — and since that time, stock buybacks have skyrocketed.  Last year, corporations spent more than $650 million buying back their own stock.  All of that is money that could have been used for job creation or wage increases or facility expansion.  Sadly, some of that money came from the pockets of workers who were laid off, had their wages cut, or were forced to accept benefit cuts. (Read more about what Verizon “bought” with their 2015 $5 billion buyback program here.)

Once upon a time, corporate mergers and acquisitions were more closely regulated; but once the regulations were loosened again, mergers have risen to an all-time high.  Last year, corporations spent $5 Trillion buying up other corporations.  Again, that’s money which is not being used for job creation, wage increases or new plants and equipment.  And, again, some of that money came from the pockets of employees declared “redundant” when their company was acquired.  (Read more about AOL layoffs when Verizon acquired the company here.  Read more about Yahoo layoffs expected when Verizon acquires that company here.)

Source: Third Way

Source: Third Way


Do the math yourself. It adds up to more than $5.5 Trillion that corporations spent — just last year — buying stock rather than creating jobs.

And some folks wonder why our economy is in such a mess.

Legislative Committee Fails To Act On Governor Hassan’s “Gateway To Work” Program

Republicans Block The Proposal That Is Strongly Supported by New Hampshire’s Business Community 

CONCORD –Today, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal, which would have strengthened workforce development in our state and has strong support from the NH Business and Industry Association. An attempt to remove the proposal from the table was defeated by the Republican majority on the Fiscal Committee.

Announced in Governor Hassan’s State of the State Address earlier this year, Gateway to Work will use repurposed existing federal funds to help New Hampshire’s citizens succeed in the workforce through strengthening job training, creating new apprenticeship opportunities, helping remove the barriers that cause too many citizens to fail in the workplace, and helping young people in the Granite State get a leg up on their futures.

“As we educate our young people and build the highly skilled workforce of the future, innovative businesses looking to grow here in New Hampshire need more workers now,” Governor Hassan said at the Gateway to Work kickoff event in March. “We have an opportunity to better use the talent of our own people right here in New Hampshire, helping our businesses thrive while closing the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

“Through Gateway to Work, we can provide more of the workers our businesses need to thrive,” Governor Hassan said. “We can help give more of our families the opportunity to work their way to self-sufficiency and into the middle class. And we will do so using only existing federal funds, while achieving long-term savings for taxpayers by moving people off of public assistance,” added Hassan.  

The New Hampshire business community has continued to say that New Hampshire does not have enough skilled workers to fill the open jobs currently available now.  Recently the Washington Post highlighted New Hampshire’s growing need for skilled manufacturing workers as the majority of the workforce heads into retirement.

“While New Hampshire’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate is largely a good thing — it’s one of the nation’s lowest — it also means the labor pool is shallow. It’s created a squeeze for manufacturing companies in particular for two reasons: The industry’s workforce is aging at a faster than average rate, while fewer young workers have the proper skills — or interest — to fill the void of retiring workers,” wrote the Washington Post.

Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“New Hampshire’s continued economic growth depends on our ability to meet the workforce needs of our businesses. As we work to retain existing businesses and attract new ones, the number one concern that I consistently hear from employers is their need for skilled workers.

“Gateway to Work has strong support from the business community because it would move people off of public assistance into sustainable careers, saving taxpayer dollars and providing innovative businesses with the workers they need to grow and thrive. With a strengthening economy and an unemployment rate that is among the lowest in the nation, the business community is desperate for workers. I am disappointed by the Fiscal Committee’s repeated delays with transferring the existing federal funds to launch Gateway to Work, and I am concerned that Republicans on the committee are allowing politics to prevent us from moving forward with this common-sense initiative to fill jobs at growing companies and help close the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

After the vote, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), member of the Fiscal Committee, released the following statement: 

“I am frustrated and disappointed that the Joint Fiscal Committee played politics with our state’s economy today by voting against transferring TANF dollars to fund the innovative Gateway to Work program.  This program that has strong support from New Hampshire’s business community would have gone a long way towards strengthening our economy by providing potential employees with the skills and services they need to successfully gain employment.”  

“We hear constantly that with an improving economy, the most significant challenge our employers face today is finding skilled workers who are able to take jobs when offered. Gateway to Work targets potential employees who have barriers to employment such as reliable child care and transportation and helps lower those barriers to get them into the workforce. Every day that we delay implementation of this program, we leave both our unemployed constituents and our businesses behind.  We should be doing all we can to help Granite Staters escape poverty and move off of public assistance and towards self-sufficiency, and the vote by the Fiscal Committee today is a step in the wrong direction.” 

“Today’s action by the Republican majority forces our unemployed constituents to stay on public assistance programs instead of finding good employment and leaves our businesses without the workers they need to thrive and expand our economy.”

Representative Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord) issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“I am extremely disappointed that Republicans continue to obstruct the implementation of the Gateway to Work initiative. It is a common sense program critical to New Hampshire’s future and should be approved as quickly as possible.

The Gateway to Work initiative would help workers, businesses, and the economy as a whole by investing in job training, apprenticeship opportunities and other supports for hard-working Granite Staters. There is no reason to delay an initiative that benefits everyone: Gateway to Work would help workers to get good-paying jobs, help businesses utilize a skilled workforce, and reduce government spending by moving people off public assistance and into stable careers. Republicans need to stop playing politics with our state’s future and approve Gateway to Work.”

By continuing to block programs like the “Gateway to Work,”  Republicans in Concord are showing that they are less interested in doing what is best for working people and businesses in New Hampshire and more interested in chasing wild conspiracy theories from doctored videos and sticking to their partisan opposition to Governor Hassan.

Republicans routinely complain about having too many people “living off the system” on public assistance and yet oppose one of the strongest proposals to help people “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” by providing them with the skills necessary to find a lasting career that will help lift them out of poverty.

Nuns on the Bus Stop in Concord for Rally to “Mend the Gaps”

2016-07-22 Nuns on the Bus Sr Simone Campbell

Sr. Simone Campbell addresses the crowd, while some of the Nuns on the Bus take shelter from the heat under umbrellas.

About 125 Granite Staters braved today’s heat to meet Sister Simone Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus at a State House rally to “Mend the Gaps” between us that weaken society, including gaps in income, healthcare, housing and access to democracy.

Campbell and nearly 20 Catholic sisters from around the country are visiting 13 states and both major party conventions on a tour that began July 11.  The tour’s goal is “to bring a politics of inclusion to divided places, change the conversation to mending the vast economic and social divides in our country, and counter political incivility with our message of inclusion.  NETWORK’s 44 year-old faith-filled political message is an alternative to the anger, fear, and polarization of this election cycle.  We believe in faithful citizenship, which compels us to travel the country to listen to the lived experiences of people in their communities and hold elected officials accountable to the promises they have made to legislate for the common good.”

The sisters are caucusing with local advocates in Manchester tonight, and will hold a rally in Boston tomorrow starting at 10:00 am on the front lawn of Boston College High School, 150 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125.  The full tour schedule is available at www.nunsonthebus.org.

At today’s rally, the sisters distributed brochures comparing candidates’ positions on “Mending the Gaps.”  Download the brochure comparing Kelly Ayotte with Maggie Hassan here and the brochure comparing Hillary Clinton with Donald Trump here.

Granite Staters shared their stories about the growing gaps in our economy which are making the American dream unattainable for too many families.

  • Jazmine Langley and Olivia Zink of Open Democracy signed the Bus before it left Concord, on the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

    Jazmine Langley, a Democracy Fellow with Open Democracy/NH, spoke about the challenges facing her as a biracial woman. “I have seen oppression up close. I have witnessed the gaps woven into the fabric of our country that are very much racially and socioeconomically based. From drug addiction to poverty. From police brutality to mass imprisonment. From strict voter ID laws to felon disenfranchisement. Our elected representatives and ourselves need to be held accountable for mending this gap. Whether that is by trying to spark legal reform in getting big money out politics, registering more voters, or fighting voter suppression laws, doing non-profit work dedicated to some aspect of this issue, or just educating yourselves, families, friends, and children about the issue at hand – it all makes a difference. This is our democracy, so this is our fight!”  You can watch Jazmine’s speech here.

  • Amy Shaw, a mother of two living in Rochester spoke about the challenge of finding affordable childcare. “Even with both my husband and I working, we couldn’t afford to send our kids to daycare. I had to quit my job because my monthly income wasn’t going to cover my childcare costs.” Watch Amy’s remarks here.
  • Jen Cole, of Pittsfield, said “Low wages make it challenging to pay the bills week to week but nearly impossible when life throws you a curveball. My husband was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and could not work for several months. We had to survive off of my income and rely on family and friends to help us through what was already a difficult time. If someone is working full time they should be able to make ends meet and not have to fear they’ll lose everything if they get sick.”
  • Sister Eileen Brady, of Nashua, is a Social Worker and Advocate at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter. As a Sister of Mercy, she has been a staunch advocate for peace and justice for decades.  “The Sisters of Mercy have been trying to ‘Mend the Gaps’ since 1858,” Sister Eileen said.  She shared stories of people she has met through the Nashua Soup Kitchen, “My friends who have no place to live tonight.”  You can watch her remarks here.

“Pope Francis challenges all people to come together to work for the common good,” said Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, which launched the first Nuns on the Bus tour during the 2012 presidential campaign. “On our journey as Nuns on the Bus we will talk to those Pope Francis voters and, hopefully, inspire them to make mending the gaps the defining issue of the 2016 election.”

2016-07-22 Nuns on the Bus crowd2

Part of today’s crowd on the State House lawn.

“Every New Hampshire family deserves a fair shot at the American dream but rising costs, stagnant wages and unfair workplace policies are putting that dream out of reach for too many working people,” said Amanda Sears, director of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, a co-sponsor of the Concord rally.  “The visit from the Nuns on the Bus today highlights the need for family friendly policy solutions that lift workers and make our communities stronger.”

Today’s program was emceed by Gail Kenney of the United Church of Christ Economic Justice Mission Group.  Jack Bopp and Arnie Alpert led everyone in a rousing rendition of “We’re All Riding with the Nuns on The Bus.”  Opening prayers were offered by Rev. Gary M. Schulte, the Conference Minister of the New Hampshire Conference of the United Church of Christ, and Woullard Lett, president of the Manchester, NH branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Today’s rally was cosponsored by organizations including AFSC’s NH Program, NH Voices of Faith, Granite State Organizing Project, United Church of Christ Economic Justice Ministry, NH Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, NH Sisters of Mercy, and Stamp Stampede.

 

 

 

Governor Hassan’s Statement on June Unemployment Rate

Maggie-Hassan-Headshot-WebCONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan today issued the following statement on the announcement of the June unemployment data, which showed that the number of employed Granite Staters and the labor force continued to grow in June:

“As the number of employed residents and the labor force continued to grow in June, our unemployment rate still remains among the lowest in the nation. Despite these encouraging signs that indicate that our economy is moving in the right direction, we know that we still have more work to do to help all of our citizens access high-quality jobs and to support our innovative businesses who are looking for more skilled workers now.

“We must continue working together to build a stronger workforce with the skills and innovative thinking needed for success in the 21st century economy. This is why it’s more important now than ever to get Gateway to Work up and running as soon as possible. Gateway to Work will help us to develop and expand our workforce as our economy continues to strengthen, while at the same time closing the opportunity gap for our families. By strengthening job training, creating new partnerships between community colleges and businesses for apprenticeships and helping to remove the barriers that cause too many citizens to fail in the workplace, Gateway to Work will help us provide more of the workers our businesses need to thrive while helping our young people in the Granite State get a leg up on their futures.

“I remain committed to working with members from both parties to continue working together to support job-creating businesses, expand middle class opportunity and build a stronger, more innovative New Hampshire where all of our people who work hard have the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead.”

The AFL-CIO Pushes Back Against Pro-Business Democrats Trying To Change The New Overtime Threshold

Pay Check Everyone agrees that the current overtime threshold needs to be updated. The issue is, how quickly should this update take effect?

In May, the Department of Labor announced that they would be lifting the salary threshold for overtime from just over $23,660 a year to $47,476. This means that if you are a salaried employee who makes less than $47,476 dollars you will now be entitle to overtime (time and 1/2) for every hour worked in a week above 40.

“New overtime protections mark a major victory for working people that will improve the lives of millions of families across America,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO in a May press release. “We applaud the Obama Administration heeding the call for action to ensure working people get paid for all the hours we work. Taking this step to restore overtime is one of the many ways we are beginning to change the rules of our economy that are rigged in favor of Wall Street.”

“The fight for even stronger overtime protections and to raise wages for all working people continues. But today, millions of workers will receive a long overdue raise, healthier and more productive jobs, and more time to spend with our community and loved ones,” added Trumka. 

Congressman Kurt Schrader

Congressman Kurt Schrader

This week, Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5), Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-5), Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and Congressman Collin Peterson (MN-7) introduced legislation that will “initiate a reasonable three-year phase-in of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule.”

“The current overtime threshold is horribly outdated and needs to be raised as both employees and employers navigate our changing economy. This bill will do exactly that without disrupting the way businesses operate and employees are paid,” said Congressman Schrader. “Since the DOL’s immediate phase-in date was announced, we’ve heard from business owners and their employees who are worried about implementing this increase overnight. Without sufficient time to plan for the increase, cuts and demotions will become inevitable, and workers will actually end up making less than they made before. It’s long past time we strengthen overtime pay protections for American workers in a meaningful and effective way.”

“While I believe the time has come to increase the overtime threshold, the DOL rule would put businesses in a bind and potentially lead to job loss,” said Congressman Peterson. “Both businesses and constituents in my district have expressed concern about the impact of an immediate threshold increase. A three-year phase in will provide adequate time for business to adapt to the new standard while also ensuring workers are fairly compensated.”

Surprise, businesses do not want to have to pay workers more money.  How are businesses going to win the race to the bottom if President Obama and the DOL keep raising the floor?

The Schrader plan is to phase the overtime threshold  in slowly to decrease the impact on businesses. Schrader’s office explained this proposed legislation would work in their most recent press release.

“On December 1, 2016, the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act will immediately increase the threshold more than 50% to $35,984. Each year following, the salary threshold will be raised by $74 per week until December 1, 2019, when we reach the DOL’s proposed $47,476 threshold.”

The one thing that Schrader’s office neglected to mention is that the newly proposed legislation would also eliminate the automatic increases to the overtime threshold every three years.

The AFL-CIO quickly spoke out against this newly proposed legislation in a stern letter to all Representatives in the U.S. House.

July 14, 2016

Dear Representative:

            I am writing on behalf of the AFL-CIO to urge you to oppose legislation, introduced by Rep. Kurt Schrader, that would rob millions of workers of the overtime pay protection they have earned. The misnamed “Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act” would delay by three years the full implementation of the Labor Department’s new overtime regulations, originally scheduled to take effect in December, 2016.

            The Schrader bill would also eliminate the final rule’s mechanism that would automatically update the salary threshold every three years after implementation. As you know, workers have waited decades for an update to the salary threshold—it has only been updated once since the 1970s—in 2004 (when it was set too low). Having experienced decades of wage stagnation and uncompensated overtime, workers should not have to wait three more years for the protection the new regulations will provide.

            The current salary threshold for overtime pay would be over $57,000 if it had kept pace with inflation since 1975. Instead, effective December 1, 2016, the salary threshold below which salaried employees are automatically eligible for overtime pay will rise from $23,660 ($455 per week) to $47,476 ($913 per week). The Labor Department based this new threshold level on the 40th-percentile salary for workers in the lowest-wage Census region (currently the South). Because history demonstrates that it can take years for the regulatory process to adapt to changing labor markets, the rule also indexes the threshold to inflation. Once implemented, the threshold level will increase every three years, beginning in 2020.

            For approximately 12.5 million workers, this new regulation is the most effective way to raise wages, create jobs, and restore the 40-hour work week. The AFL-CIO urges you to oppose the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act and any legislation that would delay or weaken implementation of this important rule.

Sincerely,

William Samuel, Director
Government Affairs

Phasing in the new overtime rule by $74 dollars a week may be good for some businesses but it is definitely not good for workers. This proposed legislation would create confusion as to when workers would qualify for overtime leaving workers wide open for wage theft.

Aside from ensuring that workers are paid fairly for the hard work they are doing, this new overtime rule is intended to stimulate job growth. Rep. Schrader is worried about potential job losses from the new rule taking effect, yet the only businesses who would be effected by this rule have workers making less than $47,000 a year salary, who work more than 40 hours a week.  This means that businesses will have to choose:

  • Do they want to continue to pay their employee a low salary and pay them overtime for every hour above 40?
  • Do they want to raise the employee’s salary to $47,476, allowing the employee to work unlimited hours without having to pay them overtime?
  • Do they want to continue to pay their employee a low salary and then hire an additional employee to complete the extra work that needs to be done?

Either way workers are going to get a benefit. Either workers will get more money in their paycheck or more workers will receive paychecks.

This proposed legislation is bad for workers and will only continue the stagnation of our economy while leaving workers vulnerable to wage theft by their employers.  This legislation will do more harm than good and should be rejected.


For more information on who will benefit from the new overtime rule read our previous post from May 2016 or check out this handy info-graphic on the DOL overtime changes

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 199 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement