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FairPoint Strike Becoming Major Election Issue in Northern New England on Campaign’s Final Weekend

Fairness at Fairpoint Vigil

Fairness at Fairpoint Vigil

Fight for good jobs by 2,000 FairPoint workers is impacting races in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont

With FairPoint poised to cut off workers’ health coverage on Halloween, the threat to region’s middle-class is a frightening reality pols can’t ignore

MANCHESTER, N.H.—In the final weekend before Tuesday’s election, the strike at FairPoint Communications has become a major issue in races across northern New England. The two-week-old strike by nearly 2,000 union workers has drawn candidates to the picket lines in all three states and factored in New Hampshire’s final gubernatorial debate.

“We’re not looking to get rich, we’re just looking to sustain our families.  We offered the company a compromise that would save them millions in health care costs, but they refused. We’ve got to stand up for our families and for good jobs.”

The dispute at FairPoint is set to get even more intense on Halloween, as the company has announced it will cut off striking workers’ health care coverage at midnight. With the strike—and the election campaign—heating up, following is an overview of the role the strike has played in the region’s races:

New Hampshire – In the Granite State debate on Wednesday, both gubernatorial candidates were asked about their stance on the FairPoint strike. Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan offered strong support for the strikers, saying “these are workers who for the last three years have been helping FairPoint recover from bankruptcy, working incredibly hard to get the company back on its feet.”

Hassan went on to say, “I’ll continue to urge this North Carolina company to think about New Hampshire-specific solutions and the New Hampshire workers who are really trying to come to the table and work with the company.”

Republican challenger Walt Havenstein initially hedged his response to the FairPoint question, saying “both sides are right.” But Havenstein went on to say of the workers that he “respected their right to negotiate.”

Vermont – On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch issued a letter to FairPoint CEO Paul H. Sunu noting that he’d “visited with those walking the picket line in Burlington” and heard their “passionate commitment to customer service.” Welch said, “I strongly urge you to return to the bargaining table in good faith and find common ground with the working men and women of your company.”

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, though not up for re-election, held a press conference with FairPoint strikers on Wednesday and criticized the telecom firm for “putting the interests of the multi-billion dollar hedge fund companies who own the company ahead of its workers and customers.”

MaineU.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree has made multiple visits to FairPoint picket lines, as have Democratic candidate for governor Mike Michaud, Senate candidate Shenna Bellows, and congressional candidate Emily Cain.

The FairPoint workers—members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T9 and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400—have been encouraged by the high profile attention the strike has received.

“It’s great to see that we’ve got so many allies in this fight,” said Todd Bedard, a FairPoint service technician in New Hampshire and a member of IBEW Local 2320. “The company’s move to cut off our health care coverage shows that they’re out to gut good jobs in northern New England. But we’ve been preparing for this fight, so we’ve got our money saved and our friends standing with us, so we’re not going away.”

“The stakes in this strike are becoming very clear,” said Nicole Johnston, a FairPoint customer service representative in Bangor, Maine, and a member of CWA Local 1400. “If a telecom company can cut benefits to the bone, then no middle-class worker is safe. I grew up in a phone company family, so these were the benefits that gave us a good life. But what am I going to do for my daughters if our health care goes away?”

“We’re not looking to get rich, we’re just looking to sustain our families,” said Mike Gauthier, a FairPoint service technician in Brattleboro, Vt., and a member of IBEW Local 2326. “We offered the company a compromise that would save them millions in health care costs, but they refused. We’ve got to stand up for our families and for good jobs.”

Contract talks at FairPoint began on April 25 when the company came to the table with proposals that would cost workers more than $700 million. The company sought to freeze pensions, dramatically raise health care costs, cut retiree health care, and institute a two-tier wage system that would pay new hires as little as minimum wage. In addition, the company sought to outsource union members’ work to out-of-state and foreign contractors.

Though the workers offered compromises worth more than $200 million in savings for the company, the company rejected every significant union proposal. The company declared an impasse on August 27 and imposed the terms and conditions of their proposals on the workers. The unions have charged the company with violating federal labor law and are seeking injunctive relief from the National Labor Relations Board.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

After Debate Denial, Walt Havenstein’s Campaign Admits: He Knew About Fraudster Raises

walt havenstein

After Being Confronted with Documents Proving His Company Authorized Raises for Consultants at Heart of Massive Taxpayer Fraud Scandal, Havenstein’s Campaign is Backtracking

walt havensteinManchester—Hassan Campaign Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs issued the following statement after failed CEO Walt Havenstein confirmed that he was not truthful in WMUR’s Granite State Debate.

“Failed CEO Walt Havenstein has confirmed that he was not truthful in WMUR’s Granite State Debate. Havenstein vehemently denied – multiple times – on television that he gave the fraudsters at the heart of the massive CityTime scandal a raise. But after being confronted with documents that prove his company authorized raises for the people responsible for a taxpayer-funded project that went more than $500 million over budget due to massive fraud, Havenstein is now backtracking.”

“Havenstein’s shifting responses and attempts to duck responsibility for the bad management, thousands of jobs shed, and massive fraud under his watch as CEO of SAIC reinforce that he puts his own interests first no matter who gets hurt, and that he shouldn’t be allowed to run New Hampshire.”

BACKGROUND:

In WMUR’s Granite State Debate, Havenstein denied SAIC gave fraudsters at heart of CityTime scandal a 5% raise. [WMUR, 10/29/14]

But later, his campaign said, “Havenstein was aware of the raises and let them proceed because he did not want to take any action that could jeopardize the federal investigation.” [AP, 10/30/14]

Claremont Mayor: Scott Brown Doesn’t Care About Sullivan County or New Hampshire

2014-10-30 Scott Brown

CLAREMONT – Claremont Mayor James Nielsen released the following statement after Scott Brown showed he is clueless about Sullivan County during last night’s debate:

“This goes far beyond an awkward moment in a debate.  It’s about the next six years, and whether people in Sullivan and every other corner of this state will have a senator who knows and cares about their lives and their communities.

“Scott Brown proved that not only can he not find us on a map but also that he doesn’t care about us at all. Scott Brown is wrong for New Hampshire, Scott Brown is for Scott Brown.”

Debate Exchange of the Night

2014-10-30 Scott Brown

SCOTT BROWN HAS NO IDEA
WHERE SULLIVAN COUNTY IS LOCATED


WATCH:
Scott Brown Cluelessly Fumbles New Hampshire Specific Question
Jeanne Shaheen Takes Him to School On Her Record of Putting New Hampshire First

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXDK8nQF0xw

Shaheen Campaign Responds to More Attacks from Scott Brown’s Wall Street Allies

Scott Brown in 2010
Image by Wiki Commons
Scott Brown in 2010 Image by Wiki Commons

Scott Brown in 2010
Image by Wiki Commons

Manchester – The Shaheen Campaign today released the following statement responding to the latest attacks from “Ending Spending,” a Wall Street front group that has funneled millions of dollars into New Hampshire in an attempt to buy Scott Brown a Senate seat:

“Jeanne Shaheen is the only candidate in this race with a record of making a difference for New Hampshire families. Scott Brown’s out-of-state Wall Street allies are trying to buy him a Senate seat with more attack ads so he can get back to protecting special interests, just like he did when he lived in Massachusetts. This ad is just more proof that Scott Brown is for the big corporations and Wall Street, not New Hampshire.”

Earlier attack ads from “Ending Spending” were widely discredited because of their dishonest claims that were labeled “false” and “scandalous.”

One attack ad was so false that a television station in Boston pulled it off the air.

Want to know more about this group that calls itself “Ending Spending”?  Read the USA Today analysis “Mega-influence: These 42 dominate super PAC donations” here.

Failed CEO Walt Havenstein Must Come Clean with Granite Staters

Cash Bribe Politician Money

Did He Let SAIC Give a 5% Raise to Consultants at Heart of Massive $500 Million Fraud Scandal?

Either Havenstein Was Deliberately Dishonest in WMUR Debate or He Didn’t Realize His Company Gave a Raise to The Fraudsters at Heart of CityTime Scandal with Project Already $500 Million Over Budget — Either Way, It Proves Again Why He Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Run New Hampshire

Cash Bribe Politician MoneyManchester, NH – In last night’s WMUR debate, failed CEO Walt Havenstein tried to deny the fact that SAIC gave a five-percent across-the-board raise to those at the center of the massive CityTime fraud scandal more than a year into his tenure as CEO. But with public documents confirming the facts, Havenstein must level with Granite Staters about whether he was deliberately dishonest in WMUR’s debate or he didn’t realize his company gave a raise to the fraudsters at the heart of the CityTime scandal with the project already $500 million over budget.

“Failed CEO Walt Havenstein must immediately come clean with Granite Staters about why SAIC gave the consultants at the heart of the massive CityTime fraud scandal a 5% across-the-board raise more than a year into his tenure,” said Hassan Campaign Press Secretary Aaron Jacobs. “Either Havenstein was deliberately dishonest with Granite Staters during last night’s debate, or he was completely clueless about his company giving an across-the-board raise to the fraudsters at the heart of the CityTime scandal. But either way, it simply proves once again why New Hampshire can’t afford to let him mismanage the state.”

“Even if Havenstein was unaware of the massive fraud scheme that took place under his watch as CEO, it’s still beyond belief that he would allow his company to hand out raises to those responsible for a project going $500 million over budget on the taxpayers’ dime. What’s worse, his refusal to take responsibility shows he puts his own interests first, no matter who gets hurt,” added Jacobs.

BACKGROUND

During Walt Havenstein’s time as CEO of SAIC, the U.S. Department of Justice discovered that his company was involved in a massive, $500 million fraud scheme against taxpayers.

Despite Havenstein’s claims that he took action and held people accountable, the New York Daily News reported that, “In early December 2010, only weeks before federal agents launched the first arrests in the scandal, the city’s Office of Payroll Administration permitted SAIC to give 5% across-the-board pay increases to all consultants supplied by Technodyne.” [NY Daily News, 11/21/13]

The employees and owners of the TechnoDyne consulting firm were at the heart of the massive CityTime fraud scheme. Before the U.S. Department of Justice discovered the scheme, SAIC employees funneled $400 million in taxpayer dollars to TechnoDyne. [US DOJ Press Release, 6/20/11]

The across-the-board pay increase for all TechnoDyne consultants came over a year after Havenstein became CEO of SAIC on September 21, 2009. At the time of the raise, the CityTime project was already hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. [NY Times, 12/15/10]

See here for public documents showing that SAIC gave a five-percent raise to the TechnoDyne consultants on December 9, 2010, just six days before the U.S. Department of Justice’s first round of arrests in the case.

Fact-Checking Walt Havenstein

walt havenstein

walt havensteinFACT CHECK: New Hampshire ALREADY has one of the BEST “Business Tax Climates” in the Nation

Fact: Despite Walt Havenstein’s misleading claims, the very study his campaign has cited – the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index – shows that New Hampshire’s business tax climate ranks 7th best in the country (and number one in New England).

The Council on State Taxation (COST) also tallied “all of the taxes paid by businesses in a given state, not just corporate income taxes, but property, sales, and personal income taxes as well” and found “that figure was 4.2 percent in FY 2012, markedly lower than the national average of 4.8 percent and less than 38 other states.” [NHFPI, 8/6/14]

FACT CHECK: So-Called “Right to Work”

Fact: Despite Havenstein’s claims, so-called “right to work” really means “right to work for less.”

The Economic Policy Institute’s report, “’Right-to-Work’ Wrong for New Hampshire,” explains that “Contrary to what RTW backers have claimed, the scientific analysis of right-to-work laws shows that they lower wages and benefits for both union and nonunion workers alike without exhibiting any positive impact on job growth.”

(Read NHLN coverage of Right to Work (for Less) here and here.)

FACT CHECK: Havenstein’s Misleading and Dishonest Budget Attacks

Fact: Governor Hassan has repeatedly pledged that she would veto an income or sales tax if one were to reach her desk.

Walt Havenstein’s false attack ignores that agencies are required by law “to submit both a maintenance budget that includes the cost of existing services going forward and a budget that incorporates new costs such as additional personnel or new legislatively mandated programs or technology.” [Union Leader, 10/14/14]

Havenstein’s misleading attack also ignores that Governor Hassan told state agencies their budget requests are non-starters, and already instructed agencies to submit lower proposals. [Union Leader, 8/7/14]

FACT CHECK: Havenstein’s Highway Fund Plan Cuts Troopers, Ignores Constitution

Fact: Walt Havenstein’s plan to cut the Department of Safety’s funding would take troopers off the road and make New Hampshire’s highways less safe.

The New Hampshire Constitution says that the highway funds shall be used for “the construction, reconstruction and maintenance of public highways within this state, including the supervision of traffic thereon.”  [NH Constitution, Part Second, Article 6-a]  The reference to the “supervision of traffic” allows highway funds to be given to the Department of Safety to fund state troopers.

In her bipartisan budget, Governor Hassan worked to maintain New Hampshire’s status as one of the safest states in the nation by putting more troopers on the road. By cutting the Department of Safety’s highway funding, Havenstein would reverse this effort and pull troopers off New Hampshire’s highways.

FACT CHECK: Havenstein’s Failed Record as CEO of SAIC

Fact: Failed CEO Walt Havenstein drove SAIC into the ground, the company lost millions, shed thousands of jobs, and saw its stock value nose-dive.

Despite Havenstein’s attempts to duck responsibility for the company’s performance during his disastrous tenure, the Nashua Telegraph pointed out that, “there’s little to dispute the company’s stock and job loss performance.”

Speaking of the strategy Havenstein put in place at SAIC to push for big government contracts, the Washington Post added, “The company struggled under the strategy, watching its profit and revenue decline.”

FACT CHECK: Over a Year Into Havenstein’s Tenure as CEO, SAIC Gave a 5% Raise to Consultants at Heart of Massive CityTime Fraud Scandal

Fact: During Walt Havenstein’s time as CEO of SAIC, the U.S. Department of Justice discovered that his company was involved in a massive, $500 million fraud scheme against taxpayers.

Despite Havenstein’s claims that he took action and held people accountable, the New York Daily News reported that, “In early December 2010, only weeks before federal agents launched the first arrests in the scandal, the city’s Office of Payroll Administration permitted SAIC to give 5% across-the-board pay increases to all consultants supplied by Technodyne.” [NY Daily News, 11/21/13]

The employees and owners of the TechnoDyne consulting firm were at the heart of the massive CityTime fraud scheme. Before the U.S. Department of Justice discovered the scheme, SAIC employees funneled $400 million in taxpayer dollars to TechnoDyne. [US DOJ Press Release, 6/20/11]

The across-the-board pay increase for all TechnoDyne consultants came over a year after Havenstein became CEO of SAIC on September 21, 2009. At the time of the raise, the CityTime project was already hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. [NY Times, 12/15/10]

See here for public documents showing that SAIC gave a five-percent raise to the TechnoDyne consultants on December 9, 2010, just six days before the U.S. Department of Justice’s first round of arrests in the case.

 

At Manchester Small Business, Shaheen Highlights Her Record Of Putting New Hampshire Jobs First

Shaheen-021109-18432- 0009

Shaheen Continues ‘GOTV-New Hampshire Tour”, Contrasting Her Record With Scott Brown’s Pro-Outsourcing Agenda

Shaheen-021109-18432- 0009Manchester – Senator Jeanne Shaheen continued her “GOTV-New Hampshire Tour” this morning at Dyn in Manchester, where she discussed how her record of supporting New Hampshire small businesses stands in stark contrast to Scott Brown’s record supporting out-of-state corporate interests, including companies that outsource American jobs. The Senator also held a Q and A with Dyn employees.

“New Hampshire deserves a Senator who is going to stand up for our small businesses, not someone who fights for corporate interests at the expense of the middle class,” said Shaheen. “I’ve fought to close special tax loopholes for companies that outsource American jobs and instead led the fight to pass legislation that cut taxes for our small businesses because I know that’s how we ought to be supporting our economy here in New Hampshire.”

“Scott Brown’s record is clear. He championed billions in tax giveaways to Big Oil companies, special breaks for Wall Street banks, and even voted for tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. That’s just further proof that he’s not for New Hampshire,” Shaheen added.

Jeanne Shaheen has been a champion for New Hampshire small businesses. She led the fight to pass the Small Business Jobs Act, which cut taxes for small businesses, increased businesses’ access to credit, and helped companies export their products overseas. That legislation has helped countless New Hampshire businesses grow and create jobs but as a Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown voted against it.

Meanwhile, Scott Brown supported special breaks for Big Oil, Wall Street and companies that offshore American jobs. Since losing in Massachusetts, Brown has made over a quarter million dollars as a board member of a company that touts outsourcing American jobs to China and Mexico as part of its business plan. Legal documents dated just two days before Brown entered the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire bear Brown’s signature endorsing the company’s outsourcing strategy.

Shea-Porter Endorsed by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

ARA -Carol Shea Porter Endorsement 4

Organization Chooses Shea-Porter Over Guinta for November 4th Election

MANCHESTER—The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), a nonpartisan organization representing millions of members nationwide, has endorsed Carol Shea-Porter for re-election to Congress in New Hampshire’s First District.

ARA -Carol Shea Porter Endorsement 4“As a former social worker, senior center director, and a caregiver to her parents, Carol knows how vital seniors’ earned benefits are, and she’s fighting to protect them. She will keep working to strengthen and defend these programs, and will always oppose Frank Guinta’s reckless plans to voucherize Medicare and cut Social Security,” said Shea-Porter spokeswoman Marjorie Connolly.

NCPSSM President Max Richtman said, “Our nation needs your continued leadership, vision and determination to fight for working families and older Americans. You earned the endorsement of the National Committee because you understand and support the critical roles that Social Security and Medicare play in the retirement and health security of our nation’s older citizens and their families.”

During the 2014 election cycle, Shea-Porter has earned endorsements from a number of senior advocacy groups, including the Alliance for Retired Americans and Senior Votes Count.

Full text of the NCPSSM Endorsement Letter:

Dear Congresswoman Shea-Porter:

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, on behalf of its millions of members and supporters, enthusiastically endorses your candidacy for re-election to the United States House of Representatives.

Our nation needs your continued leadership, vision and determination to fight for working families and older Americans. You earned the endorsement of the National Committee because you understand and support the critical roles that Social Security and Medicare play in the retirement and health security of our nation’s older citizens and their families. You are well-prepared to serve the needs of seniors and their families and will continue to make the preservation of Social Security and Medicare a priority in office.

You understand that renewed calls to privatize Social Security would undermine the nation’s most successful social insurance program. You appreciate that Social Security has not contributed to the nation’s debt and that its modest benefits are earned and should not be cut in order to reduce spending. You recognize fully that Medicare is crucial to the health of older Americans, many of whom cannot afford higher out-of-pocket costs that some in Congress are calling for as a way of reducing federal spending while doing nothing to restrain general health care inflation. You appreciate that steps already have been taken to extend the viability of Medicare, to close the prescription drug “donut hole,” to provide preventive services without copays and deductibles, and that these noteworthy improvements should not be repealed. National Committee members and supporters want you to protect and enhance Social Security and Medicare – the twin pillars necessary to a good qualify of life for Americans of all ages – in the United States House of Representatives.

There is no membership in the nation more aware or active politically than the men and women who proudly are associated with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. National Committee members know they can count on you!

Sincerely,

Max Richtman
President/CEO
Chairman, NCPSSM-PAC Board of Directors

Concord Police Patrolmen’s Association Endorses Governor Maggie Hassan for Her Strong Bipartisan Leadership to Keep Our Cities Safe

Fifth Public Safety Organization to Endorse Governor Hassan for Re-Election

Maggie HassanConcord—Citing her strong bipartisan leadership to solve problems and help keep our cities safe, the Concord Police Patrolmen’s Association endorsed Governor Maggie Hassan for re-election.

“Governor Hassan is the strong bipartisan leader our public safety officials need, and she has never wavered in her commitment to strengthening public safety in the City of Concord and throughout the state,” said CPPA President Brian Cook. “We’re proud to endorse Governor Hassan for re-election because she has proven that she not only understands the support we need to keep our communities safe, but she also knows how to work across party lines to get results.

“As Governor, I’ve seen on nearly a daily basis how hard our police officers work to protect our communities while treating the public with the respect and dignity they deserve,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Ensuring the safety of our citizens is the most important responsibility of state government, and it’s a great honor to have earned the support of the Concord Police Patrolmen’s Association again this year. Through our bipartisan budget, we’ve made critical investments in public safety, without a sales or income tax, and I will continue working to bring people together across party lines to help keep our communities safe.”

“Together, we’ve maintained drug task force teams, restored the CHINS program, and expanded access to substance and alcohol treatment coverage, and we can’t afford to let my opponent pull us backward. My opponent has proposed a ‘plan’ that would blow a $90 million hole in the budget to give more tax giveaways to big businesses, undermining our bipartisan progress to provide our public safety officials with the resources they need to keep our citizens safe,” added Governor Hassan.

Through her bipartisan budget, Governor Hassan fought to protect critical investments in public safety – without a sales or income tax. The Governor restored the CHINS program, invested in drug task force teams, funded the cold case unit, and launched Media Power Youth, a public-private initiative to increase media literacy and reduce and prevent youth violence.

The Governor also worked across party lines to strengthen community-based mental health services and pass a bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan that is providing coverage for mental health and substance use treatment to thousands of hard-working Granite Staters, strengthening the safety and well being of our communities.

The CPPA is the fifth public safety organization to endorse Governor Hassan for re-election, joining the New Hampshire Troopers’ Association, Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Police Association, and Manchester Police Patrolman’s Association.

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