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Walt Havenstein’s Campaign Full Of Controversy And Has A Record of Failed Leadership

The battle lines for the corner office are now official. Walt Havenstein was overwhelmingly selected as the GOP candidate for Governor of New Hampshire.

Lets start with a few facts about Walt:

  • Walt is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, and served in the US Marines and Marine Corp reserves for a combined 28 years.
  • Walt was the CEO of BAE System, a government defense contractor.
  • Walt was also CEO of Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a science, engineering, and technology firm that worked closely with federal agencies like the NSA, the DOD, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Isn’t it strange that the same man – who has made massive amounts of wealth working for and contracting with the federal government – is now going around saying we need “limited government” and “fiscal responsibility”?

So far, that fundamental inconsistency hasn’t been discussed much. Havenstein’s background and campaign is too full of other controversies.

There were questions about Havenstein’s residency and eligibility to run for Governor of New Hampshire.

After retiring from BAE, Havenstien became the CEO of SAIC, based in Maryland. Havenstein moved to Maryland where he owned a home and used tax exemptions that are only available to Maryland residents. After deciding to run for office in New Hampshire, Havenstein fought to prove his eligibility with the NH Ballot Law Commission; and they sided with Havenstein. However, after Havenstein’s residency was confirmed by the State of New Hampshire, the State of Maryland came after Havenstein for tax fraud.

“Havenstein will be billed for several years of back taxes after officials in Maryland said he accepted tax breaks he shouldn’t have. In 2007, Havenstein signed a pair of affidavits pledging that his primary residence at the time was in Maryland, and for four years, he received tax credits known as the homestead exemption. But upon entering the race for governor, Havenstein asserted that he has always lived in New Hampshire, and the state Ballot Law Commission ruled in his favor. Revenue officials in Maryland told News 9 that Havenstein shouldn’t have accepted benefits in that state.” [WMUR, August 20, 2014]

Then there is Havenstein’s “economic plan” to spur growth and create 25,000 new jobs.

“My economic plan commits the state to helping create 25,000 jobs over 2.5 years by changing the culture in Concord to focus on the private sector. That’s the same approach I successfully took at BAE Systems, where we created 1,500 new high-tech jobs right here in New Hampshire” (Union Leader Op-Ed, Sept 3, 2014)

The funny thing is that Havenstein is trying to tap into the current economic growth that Governor Hassan spurred. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that between June 2013 and June 2014, New Hampshire created over 10,000 new jobs. Included in the 10,000 new jobs are 2,500 new jobs in the hospitality and leisure industry – strong signs that the New Hampshire economy is already rebounding.   The BLS also shows an increase of over 1,000 new jobs in manufacturing, which would be the closest calculator for “high tech” jobs in New Hampshire.

As CEO of BAE Systems, Havenstien did create jobs but he did it by using our tax dollars. In 2008, BAE was the 5th largest contractor with the federal government receiving over $15.2 Billion dollars. This is more than have of their 2008 revenue, and this does not include the revenue from the governments of the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.

Havenstein is attempting to portray himself as a leader by citing his work as the CEO of two massive corporations. What Havenstein is neglecting to tell you is that as the CEO of SAIC, Havenstein collected his $20 million dollar salary while the company shed thousands of jobs and the company’s stock plummeted 32%.

SAIC has had other problems, too. In Oakland, California SAIC came under fire for being selected to design a city-wide “surveillance hub” that some said would infringe on their civil liberties and violate their rights to privacy. Civil liberty issues aside, the people of Oakland took issue with SAIC being selected to design this “surveillance hub” due to the company’s history.

“In recent years, SAIC has been accused of defrauding municipal governments, bribing foreign officials, and delivering shoddy products. And when the company does deliver the goods at cost and on time, it’s often for militarized projects linked to human rights abuses. Among SAIC’s recent contracts: training the Egyptian military, operating drones used to kill foreign citizens, building and operating portions of the NSA’s internet spying system used on Americans, and more.” (East Bay Express, Aug. 2013)

What the East Bay Express was referring to: in 2011, SAIC was forced to remove three high-level executives for work relating to New York City’s “CityTime” employment timekeeping system.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has alleged that “a massive and elaborate scheme to defraud the city” corrupted the program, and it charged Gerard Denault, SAIC’s lead project manager on the program, with receiving at least $5 million in illegal kickbacks.” (Washington Post Oct. 2011)

The project was an attempt for the City of New York to move municipal employees from paper punch cards to new digital palm scanners.

“The project’s initial budget was $68 million. But after SAIC acquired the company that had won the competitive bidding process for the work, CityTime’s cost mushroomed to more than $740 million in ten years.” (East Bay Express, Aug. 2013)

U.S. Attorney Preet Bahara said, “virtually the entirety of the more than $600 million that was paid to SAIC was tainted directly or indirectly by fraud.” (NY Daily News, June 2011)

NYC Mayor Bloomberg called for SAIC to refund $600 million dollars to the city.

And just before SAIC agreed to pay a $500 million settlement to NYC, Havenstein announced that he would be retiring for “personal reasons”.

At least Havenstein knows when to jump off the sinking ship.

The Washington Post was very critical of Havenstein and his leadership of SAIC.

“The company struggled under the strategy, watching its profit and revenue decline.” (Washington Post, Aug. 2012)

What’s next for a failed CEO? Politics, of course!

The people of New Hampshire should look closely at Havenstein’s record of failed leadership.   Havenstein is not what we need in the corner office. We do not need a Governor who is good at padding his bank account while others get shafted.

Havenstein has already stated that he will repeal the bi-partisan Medicaid Expansion bill that opened access to healthcare for 50,000 Granite Staters. I wonder how Walt would feel if we took away his healthcare?

Havenstein is also vehemently opposed to raising the minimum wage.

“I’m not in favor of raising the minimum wage because, I’m not in favor of raising the minimum wage, period.” [Havenstein Interview with WBKB, 15:03 min]

Havenstein does not know what it is like to be one of the tens of thousands of struggling middle class Granite Staters. With millions in his pockets, he has never had to choose whether to buy food or pay the heating bill. The fact that he would not even consider an increase in the minimum wage shows just how out of touch Havenstein is with real Granite Staters.

WMUR TV Fabricates A Story Promoting Scott Brown, Attacking Billy Shaheen

Say goodbye to news coverage with integrity on WMUR TV.

Many NHLN readers already think WMUR TV has been biased toward Republican candidates and causes for years – but they have reached a new low.

This past weekend, WMUR TV decided to try to gain some ratings points by completely misrepresenting a quote from Senate candidate Scott Brown. Instead of just bending the facts to make a mediocre story more appealing, WMUR completely twisted them to build a news angle that didn’t actually exist.

Here’s what really happened: Last Wednesday, Scott Brown visited the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester. He met many voters, both supporters and opponents, as you would expect in any public campaign stop. Among the people he met was Manchester resident Wayne Alterisio. Wayne is a popular figure in the city and is the NH State Association of Letter Carrier State President.  Wayne and I have been friends for decades.

I don’t remember when I first told Wayne that Scott Brown and I went to high school together in Wakefield, MA. Actually, Scott and I were pretty good friends until Scott went off to college. We sort of lost touch after that. However, Wayne never forgot that Scott and I had once been good friends.

Last Wednesday, while Wayne was eating his breakfast in the Red Arrow Diner, Scott Brown walked in and they engaged in a conversation.

As Wayne told me later, Wayne greeted the candidate cordially, “Hi Senator Brown … I know a very good friend of yours, Bill Brickley.Wayne and Senator Brown then had a discussion on the Minimum Wage as that is a significant issue for many working class families.  As Senator Brown was ending their conversation, Brown said, “Say hi to Billy for me.

WMUR did not have their own camera crew following Senator Brown, so who knows where they got their information about what was said that day. But incredibly, in their coverage of the Red Arrow Diner visit, WMUR cited Senator Brown’s “Say hi to Billy” comment as a reference to Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s husband, William “Billy” Shaheen.

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people in New Hampshire named “Billy.” So what reason would WMUR TV have, to think that Senator Brown’s “Say Hi to Billy” comment referred to Senator Shaheen’s husband?

WMUR then built an entire segment around the comment. WMUR Political Director Josh McElveen was the reporter (or should I say creator?) of the story, making it even more egregious. The almost 3 minute piece has been widely circulated, both when it was originally shown and then when it was highlighted on weekend news recaps.

The only thing worse than a fake news story is a widespread fake news story.

WMUR did not see that the real new story in the conversation between Wayne and Senator Brown was growing income inequality and the stagnant Minimum Wage.

Evidently there isn’t much appetite for that. Instead, WMUR took a one-sentence remembrance, completely out of context, and pushed it to attack Senator Shaheen and her husband Billy.

It’s easy to connect this pro-Scott Brown coverage to the $74,545 that the Scott Brown campaign has paid WMUR this week for just one particular ad that is to be shown 148 times. I would imagine this saturation is already conveying Senator Brown’s message sufficiently. Feeling the need to manufacture fake anti-Shaheen “news” angles seems to me to hint at overkill.

Incidentally, WMUR is in a bitter dispute with its own 13 IBEW photographers, as the company continues to deny them pension benefits that are afforded to other WMUR employees. Since 2005, these 13 union employees have been singled out and denied pension benefits. This is unconscionable when you consider the fact that WMUR parent corporation Hearst has made $10 billion in revenue. They are the only 13 employees at the station denied these benefits.   This may be the reason that WMUR had to rely on a NECN video crew to get a news feed of Senator Brown’s Red Arrow visit that took place one mile from WMUR studios.

WMUR TV owes an apology for this fabrication.

The first victim of this malicious lie is NH Letter Carrier State President Wayne Alterisio. Wayne was falsely accused of being there on the instruction of Billy Shaheen. Wayne should be commended for being cordial to Senator Brown and for bringing up the minimum wage issue. Minimum Wage is directly related to the income inequality that has become one of our nation’s biggest problems. Though they disagreed on that subject, it was a respectful conversation.

Also due an apology is the campaign of Senator Jeanne Shaheen. She had absolutely nothing to do with Wayne choosing to have breakfast at the Red Arrow.

The biggest apology should go to the viewers and advertisers of WMUR.  Though the station portrays itself as a credible news organization, the actions related to this story show otherwise. Viewers and advertisers expect WMUR to report the news factually – and not act like tabloid journalism by completely fabricating news.  This wasn’t an accident or a typo. This was clear fabrication and WMUR TV must be held responsible.

Garcia’s Party Line Opposition To The ACA Leaves Unanswered Questions About Her Health Insurance

obamacare-playbookMarilinda Garcia, the Republican candidate for Congress in the Second District, says she’s adamantly opposed to the Affordable Care Act. But how is she getting her healthcare?

Garcia seemed to be stumped when a NHPR reporter question her about her own healthcare. He asked if she got healthcare through the Affordable Care Act exchange.

Garcia: “I… that’s my own issue.”
NHPR: “So you don’t want to say?”
Garcia: “No that’s fine, I don’t need to share everything.” 

NHPR: “Is it fair to say you are not getting your health care through Obamacare, through the (federal) exchange?”
Garcia: “I don’t need to talk about that. Thank you.”

This entire exchange completely puzzles me. This is a very simple question, asked of someone who has put herself in the public arena by running for a high-level federal office.

It should have been really easy for Garcia to answer – unless Garcia she’s trying to hide the truth. Did she have healthcare insurance at all before this interview? If she had insurance before, where was she getting her insurance from?

If someone were to ask me if I get healthcare from the ACA, the answer would be, “No, I get my health insurance through my employer.” Since Marilinda was nice enough to inform us that she only has a part time job giving harp lessons, we can be pretty sure she is not getting healthcare from her employer.

Garcia’s campaign was also nice enough to tell us that Garcia is in her early 30s and is still living at home with her parents. It is too bad she is not under 26 because then she could have stayed on her parents’ healthcare plan. (How old is her sister Bianca? I wonder if she is still their parents’ healthcare plan.)

Garcia is trying, and failing, to get people to believe that – at least during this campaign – she is buying insurance from a private company on a month-to-month basis, without going through the ACA exchange in any way. Even though her campaign admits she is eligible to use the ACA exchange.

I wonder how much Garcia’s monthly insurance costs?

Marilinda Garcia (Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)I also wonder how a harp teacher who only works part time can afford to purchase an individual policy directly from the insurer on a month-to-month basis. I can’t think of a more expensive way to buy insurance. Even the lowest-rated plans (with high deductibles and high out-of-pocket limits) cost about $350 a month.

Of course, if Marilinda gets elected, she will undoubtedly sign up for the federal healthcare plan, while she collects that $174,000-a-year Congressional paycheck.

“I want to represent those who have seen their situation go beyond the bounds of what they expected” when the law was implemented, Garcia told the Union Leader. “People were told they could keep their doctor. People were told they could keep their plans if they liked them. All of that was false.”

It’s easy for Garcia to spout negatives and toss around blame. In fact, Republicans in the US House of Representatives put together a step-by-step instruction manual on exactly how to do that. Read the House Republican Playbook here, and then try to figure out if Garcia is saying anything that wasn’t pre-scripted for her.

(Then, maybe you’ll want to consider whether scripting political attacks is a very good use of Congressional funds.)

I guess it is very easy for Garcia to blame Congresswoman Kuster and President Obama for passing healthcare reforms that have been in the works for decades. A healthcare plan that expanded access for millions of Americans. A healthcare plan that lowered premiums for tens of thousands of Granite Staters while mandating better coverage.

What happened to the “old plans” that Garcia is so nostalgic for? Those canceled policies didn’t meet the ACA’s minimum standards for health insurance. But instead of changing the policies to meet the requirements, insurers across the nation just canceled them.

Except here in New Hampshire. Here in the Granite State, Anthem is still renewing those out-of-compliance health care plans.

What happened to limit coverage? That’s private market forces at work. If you’ve been following New Hampshire health insurance for a while, maybe you remember Anthem’s contract dispute with Exeter Hospital and Core Physicians?

Anthem was not willing to negotiate or mediate, and in order to ensure uninterrupted access to high quality, local care for more than 20,000 patients who utilize the services of Exeter Hospital and Core Physicians, we had no choice but to accept Anthem’s demand for more favorable reimbursement rates.

“Although the $10 million in concessions Anthem has demanded will have a negative impact on the health care resources available to this community, we will strive to provide the very best health care services to the tens of thousands of patients we care for every year,” says Kevin Callahan, President and Chief Executive Officer.

Aren’t Republicans supposed to be in favor of market forces? But Garcia doesn’t the practical effects? (This sort of thing wouldn’t happen with Single-Payer.)

Or maybe Garcia finds it more provocative to blame the President and the incumbent Congresswoman, rather than Anthem corporate executives.

WellPoint is known as a company that lavishes money and stock on its CEOs. Braly’s predecessor, Larry Glasscock, once pulled down total disclosed annual compensation of almost $50 million. Most of that rich outlay was a stock and cash award, payable over three years, given after he ­orchestrated the 2004 merger of Anthem and WellPoint.

“Tea Party extremist Marilinda Garcia signed the Koch Brothers pledge calling to take away health care from tens of thousands of Granite State families, but refuses to say where she receives her own coverage,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Bryan Lesswing. “If Marilinda Garcia is going to make denying health coverage to hard-working Granite Staters a central part of her campaign, then voters deserve to know what she is hiding when it comes to her own health care.”

 

Sen. Shaheen Explains How She Is Working To Protect NH Jobs From Outsourcers Like Scott Brown

Jeanne Shaheen at AFLCIO

Ever since Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown announced that he was selling his house in Massachusetts and moving to his second house in New Hampshire, I knew he had big plans to run for the US Senate again.  I never liked Senator Brown when he was elected to the US Senate from Massachusetts, and I like him even less as he attempts to carpetbag his way into a Senate seat from New Hampshire.

He is a massive flip-flopper and is trying really hard to convince everyone that he is from New Hampshire, and that he truly represents the people of New Hampshire.

The facts are very different.  Just listen to Brown from just a little while back.

Senator Scott Brown only cares about Scott Brown, and Scott Brown’s bank account.

Brown is doing he best to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen who has shown her dedication to New Hampshire as a State Senator, and as our Governor.

Scott Brown moved up to New Hampshire and as we are slowly finding out, he came with serious baggage.  First it was announced that he involved with a Florida company that was trying scam people using Brown as their front man.  Thanks to Kevin Landrigan we learned that Brown is being paid $270,000 to be on the Board of Directors of Kadant, a company that has made huge profits by outsourcing our jobs.

Yes, the same person who wants to be our Senator, serves on the board of a company that ships our jobs overseas.  It is a little known fact that New Hampshire was one of the hardest hit by these types of corporations, as we lost the largest percentage of our manufacturing base to outsourcing.

I wanted to ask Senator Shaheen what she thought about this, and I thought I would get the chance, as she was schedule to speak at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.  I planned to get Senator Shaheen to answer my question after her speech.

I had my question all ready:

“Senator, recently it has come to light that Scott Brown is making over $270,000 as board member of Kadant, a company known for outsourcing US jobs.  What are you doing to protect Granite State jobs from these vultures who are shipping our good paying jobs overseas?”

Then I sat a listened to Senator Shaheen speak and as she finished, I crumbled up my paper and told myself, well I guess that answers that question!

Do you want to know what Senator Shaheen has done to protect Granite State jobs?

Do you want to know how Scott Brown voted against a bill that would remove incentives for corporations who outsource good paying Granite State jobs?

All you have to do is watch this short 11 minute video of her speech at the NH AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.

How And Why Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Has Dedicated Her Life To Helping People (VIDEO)

Carol Shea Porter 1

“The America dream is slipping away from the middle class,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter at the annual New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.

“Carol made the commitment to helping people” said Paul O’Connor, President of the Metal Trades Council at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, in his introduction of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.

Carol Shea porter 2There is no better advocate for working families in New Hampshire than Congresswoman Shea-Porter. She has stood up against right-wing attacks on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. She stood strong in her opposition to the “Ryan Plan” that would slash funding to programs like Head Start and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). She opposed the draconian cuts mandated by Sequestration that forced furloughs on federal workers throughout the country.

In Washington she spoke up for working families countless times by calling for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage. At the breakfast she explained how wage stagnation has hurt working families.

“What Americans want is a decent enough wage, they weren’t asking for 50% of the company, they just wanted to be fairly paid for their labor and they wanted to be able to take care of their families. They wanted to pay their mortgage or their rent, save for retirement, educate their children, and have a little money left over Friday night for pizza,” Shea-Porter said.

Rep. Shea-Porter and NH AFL-CIO Pres. MacKenzie

Rep. Shea-Porter and NH AFL-CIO Pres. MacKenzie

In contrast, one of Shea-Porter’s potential opponents, Brendan Kelly, actually said the minimum wage should be “a dollar and a half” in a recent GOP primary debate.

Shea-Porter went into great detail about how corporations like Walgreens (who have since reversed their decision) are moving to change their corporate citizenship, commonly called inversion, to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.

Working families in New Hampshire need a true leader like Congresswoman Shea-Porter in Washington. In a recent primary debate, all of Shea-Porter’s potential opponents called for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which has already drastically lowered the uninsured population of New Hampshire.

In the First Congressional District, the choice for New Hampshire is clear and after watching this video I think you will agree.

 

Watch Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter tell it like it is in her short speech at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.

Will Senator Sanders Run? After This Speech, I Hope So!

Bernie Sanders

There is a war out there and whether you know it or not, you are a part of it.  This is a war between a few ultra-wealthy families and the rest of us living here in America.

These ultra-wealthy 1%’ers have been buying elections and forcing policy changes that weaken our labor laws, weaken environmental protections, and most importantly take money from hard working Americans and put it into the pockets of Wall Street hedge fund managers.

What is a middle class worker supposed to do?

Every year we sit and watch, as our paychecks appear to shrink and our grocery bills get higher and higher.  Corporate run healthcare is costing us more and more, and yet our employers refuse to increase wages.  Effectively Corporate is slowly eating away at our take home pay.

We need someone who will fight back against Corporate America, the Koch brothers, and the Walton family greed.  We need someone who will fight to rebuild the middle class, and reach down to help those who are not there yet.

Who could that person be? Hillary Clinton? Maybe, well have to see. Elizabeth Warren? Love her, but we need her in the Senate right now.

Have no fear, Bernie Sanders is here!  

The truth is that nobody knows if Bernie Sanders is officially going to run for President or not, and trust me I tried to ask him at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast.  Even though I did not get a straight answer, after watching Senator Sanders speak there is no doubt in my mind he is running. And that makes me very happy!

As an avid political commentator, and devoted follower of politics, sadly I do not think Bernie will win the Democratic Party nomination.  That being said it is vitally important that Senator Sanders puts his name in the race, because he is going to ask the questions that absolutely nobody on the right will dare answer, and he is going to change the entire debate on the left, which may make Hillary a little uncomfortable.

The fact that Senator Sanders is even considering to run has many 1%’ers running scared. The more Bernie talks about running, the more speeches like this one, get pushed into the mainstream media.  The 1% does not want you to know that they are secretly creating policies that suppress your wages, and boost their profits.  The 1% does not want you to know that they have been working to break our unions, and repeal the minimum wage. The 1% does not want you to know that they are secretly changing our environmental laws to make it easier to pollute our planet.

“The problems we face today are probable more serious than at any time since the Great Depression” warned Sanders.  “From the bottom my heart, I believe these problems are solvable, but they will not be solved unless working people come together and have the courage to take on the greed and the selfishness that we are seeing all over this country.”

At one point Senator Sanders talked about how our entire tax structure is unbalanced and that we have to do something about the vast income inequality currently dividing our country.  This is effecting our communities as local budgets are getting tighter and tighter. Lack of revenue and budget cuts have forced teachers to be laid off.  Laying off teachers is the worst thing we can do if we are trying to build strong community.  Teachers are forced out while Wall Street hedge fund managers collect obscene amounts of money.

“24 of the most lucrative hedge fund managers made more money than 425,000 public school teachers. That makes sense to nobody I know,” Sanders said.

Senator Sander also talked about David Koch’s Libertarian agenda when he ran for Vice President in 1980.  All of the things that were too extreme for main stream Republicans in 1980 like, repealing the minimum wage, the repeal of Social Security, repealing campaign finance laws, the abolition of the USPS and the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid, are now the basis of the modern day TEA Party led Republican Party.

All of these policy changes favor those ultra-wealthy 1%’ers and basically screw the rest of us.  That is not what our founding fathers wanted when they created our democracy.

Senator Sanders said, “We live in a Democracy not an Oligarchy!”

I say RUN, Bernie, RUN!!!

 

Watch Senator Sanders entire speech at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast below. 

 

LABOR DAY 2014– An American Holiday We Should Celebrate by Raising the Minimum Wage (Not Wall Street Profits)

laborday

Labor Day isn’t just “the end of summer.”  What many Americans forget: Labor Day honors the sacrifices and accomplishments of our Labor Movement.

Yep, that’s right. Here in America, we have a national holiday honoring the Labor Movement.  Just like Presidents Day, Veterans Day and Christmas Day.  (But I betcha Fox News won’t be covering “the war on Labor Day.”)

Facts: Without labor unions, we would not have child labor laws.  Or a 40-hour work week, lunch and rest breaks, time-and-a-half pay for overtime.  We wouldn’t have worksite safety laws, or the government agencies that enforce them.  Employers wouldn’t provide paid vacation time, paid sick time, maternity leave, healthcare, or retirement benefits.

These gains aren’t just for union members.  Over the past 150 years, labor unions have pushed for better working conditions and better pay for all workers.

It is important to take time to look at all we have accomplished. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that we still have so much work to do.

The minimum wage in 2014 dollars.  Image from "The rise and fall of the minimum wage" (DailyKos Labor)

The minimum wage in 2014 dollars.
Image from “The rise and fall of the minimum wage” (DailyKos Labor)

All across our great nation, people are working 12-14 hours a day and yet they are still living in poverty.   For the past 40 years, workers’ wages have barely kept up with inflation, while corporate profits are reaching an all time high.  Corporate executives are now bringing home obscene amounts of money, while their workers are forced to live off of food stamps and welfare checks.

Where is all that money going?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is the highest it has ever been which means that Corporate America is doing just fine.  Corporations are bringing in record profits, yet workers are being laid off, and forced to take concessions in their take home pay.   Then why hasn’t that “trickled down” to all of the rest of us?  It is because all of that money is going directly to Wall Street.

Economist William Lazonick looked at the S&P 500 and found that 449 of those companies used 54% of their corporate profits – a total of $2.4 trillion dollars – to buy back their own stock and another 37% to pay dividends to their shareholders.  That means 91% of the company’s profits are going right back to the wealthy Wall Street investors and the CEOs who are predominantly paid in stock options.  By buying back the company’s stock they raise the value of their own stock, which translates into wealth for only a select few.

Despite the fact that many Americans do not know or understand how these corporations are funneling all of their money into Wall Street, Americans have begun to speak out against corporate greed in calling for a higher wages.

Hundreds of low wage fast food workers held impromptu strikes calling for living wage.  They are fighting for $15 dollars an hour, paid sick time, and the right to form a union.

The same thing is happening at Walmart and other retail giants, which have been raking in gobs of money in profits, at the same time they’re encouraging employees to donate food to help feed other associates.

It is sickening, and something has to change.

“President Bush signed the last minimum wage increase on May 25, 2007”

“President Bush signed the last minimum wage increase on May 25, 2007”

This constant pressure by workers is slowly starting to make its way into our state capitols and into Congress.  This year, Vermont legislators pushed a bill that would raise their state minimum wage to $10.50 per hour over the next four years, making VT the highest minimum wage in the country.  Ten other states and Washington D.C. have passed a minimum wage increase.

NPR recently reported that “new data released by the Department of Labor shows that raising the minimum wage in some states does not appear to have had a negative impact on job growth, contrary to what critics said would happen.”

At the local level, SEA-TAC a subset of Seattle pushed their minimum wage to $15.00 an hour, even though Washington’s minimum wage is already $9.32 per hour.   Washington continues to lead the nation in job creation at a rate of .8%, a full .3% above the national average.  Bloomberg News reports that restaurants and bars, the “most vulnerable” to higher wage costs, “expanded by 21%”.

Guess that’s what happens when corporations are forced to pay their employees higher wages, instead of paying their stockholders higher dividends.  The entire state economy grows because people have a little more to spend.

Washington is shining example of what could happen throughout America if Congress would start by lifting the minimum wage.

minwageArt.jgp_But a higher minimum wage is just one of the policies that working families need.  We also need stronger labor laws with updated penalties, and more aggressive enforcement of those laws.  Employers should not be able to steal from workers or maintain unsafe working conditions – figuring they won’t get caught, and even if they do get prosecuted, it’s cheaper to pay the fine than follow the law.

We need an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy 1%.

Our history has shown that when we Americans speak together as one, we can make changes that help everyone.  We have done it before and we will do it again.

This Labor Day, please stop and take a minute to join the millions of Americans who are calling on our elected leaders to remember who elected them (rather than who paid for their campaigns).

Wall Street’s economic recovery started back in 2009.  We need some of that “recovery” to make its way to Main Street.

(Click here to send a message to your elected leader asking them to raise the minimum wage)

Nashua Locals Hold “A Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming”

This week, I had the privilege of helping to organize and attend a great event in Nashua. The vigil was to show support for all of the refugees and immigrants coming to New Hampshire and many of our southern states.

Over the past few months, a group led by Jerry Delemus and the “912 project” have been traveling around our state, opposing immigration reform and using the thousands of child refugees as a backdrop to promote their hate-filled agenda.

After seeing their gathering on the Exit 6 overpass on one Saturday afternoon, I was personally outraged. Yes, there is a lot of political controversy surrounding the unaccompanied minors at the US border. But these children are not coming to America as immigrants – they are surrendering themselves to US Border agents as refugees from war torn countries, where oppressive governments and gangs are literally murdering children in the streets.

The sad fact is that some of these children are killed within a week of being deported back to their home country.

I connected with Representative Sylvia Gale (Nashua Ward 1) who gathered a group of immigration advocates to organize an event to show that real Granite Staters are not bigots using children for political purposes – but that, instead, we are a truly welcoming community.

 

The Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming

Vigil 8

At the vigil, guests were asked to leave their own message on the sign.

“Bring us your tired…Your poor…Your huddled masses yearning to be free”
— Emma Lazarus

These are the immortal words inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. For many immigrants, like my great-grandparents, the Statue of Liberty symbolizes that America is truly a welcoming country.   No matter where you come from, or why you chose to come here, the United States welcomes you to seek your own version of the American Dream.

Around 50-60 people gathered on the steps of Nashua’s City Hall, directly under the ever-waving State of New Hampshire flag, to let the people of Nashua’s bustling downtown area know that we are tolerant and welcoming.

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church

The plaza was filled with a variety of people including labor leaders, immigration activists, and elected representatives. Dozens of people came with their own hand-made signs with phases like, “No human is illegal” and “Immigration rights are civil rights”.

The vigil was opened with a prayer from Rev. Bertha Perkins of the New Fellowship Baptist Church.   She talked about how “God made us all in his own image” and that we are all humans.

Rep Sylvia Gale

Rep. Sylvia Gale

Rep Sylvia Gale gave a wonderful speech explaining why we need to show that New Hampshire and the United States are open and welcoming.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation.”

(Rep Gale’s full speech is included below)

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo

Eva Castillo of the Immigrant and Refugees Coalition and Janeth Orozco of Welcoming NH spoke about how we need to change the political messaging surrounding immigrants and refugees. Castillo said, “We are all human” and that “We should be open and welcoming of people and their cultures that have shaped our nation”.

Ray Ealey, a member of the New Fellowship Baptist Church, led the group in a rousing version of “We Shall Overcome.” All of the attendees gathered in a circle, held hands and sang out.

Rev. Tom Woodward gave the closing prayer and “Call to Action.”

While our elected leaders fight to overcome the gridlock in Washington D.C to pass meaningful immigration reform, we want everyone to know – despite what others may say – New Hampshire is a tolerant, welcoming community.

The differences in all of us are what make America the great nation it is today.

And New Hampshire has always welcomed people – no matter what color, what language, what religion, what circumstances – to come here and “Live Free.”

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Full Speech by Rep. Sylvia Gale

Thank you all for joining us this evening.   This event was conceived and came about as a result of the thoughts and actions of many of us who are gathered here, along with many others who are unable to join us.

We have been distressed and dismayed with the news of what has been happening at our nation’s southern most borders…..that of more than 60,000 children, many of them unaccompanied by any legal parent or guardian, making the dangerous and overwhelmingly difficult journey to find safety and comfort which can no longer be assured in their home countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

These children, some as young as 4 or 6, are literally fleeing for their lives and have been sent by their families with the last desperate hope of being reunited with other family members who may already be somewhere in the United States.   They and their families know that there is no guarantee that they will be able to stay here, but yet they come, fleeing for their very lives. 

No longer, as in the past, are they only fleeing to escape the devastating poverty in their home countries, but now they come seeking protection and safety from the unimaginable violence in their homes and schools, with murder rates raging out of control due to the seemingly unstoppable drug cartels that appear to have exerted their rampant violence into every aspect of civic and community existence in those countries. 

And, as news of this flood of young and desperate refugees has spread across this great nation, we have been further alarmed and dismayed by the reactions of some of our fellow countrymen and women who have raised signs and slogans steeped in racism and bigotry and have loudly shouted, “Not Welcome Here……GO HOME…..

We are here tonight to lend our voices, our messages, and our commitment to carry on a dialogue for PEACE through Understanding which needs to once again become loud enough so that all members of our community can hear it.

We will raise our voices so that all will know that here in Greater Nashua, here in the State of New Hampshire, and that all throughout this land we embrace and celebrate our differences. From Portland, Maine, to Maricopa County, Arizona, to Ferguson, Missouri, to Murietta, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to Miami, Florida, and beyond, from border to border, and from sea to shining sea, we are a Welcoming Community and we are a Tolerant Nation. 

We will drown out the voices of those who cling to hatred and bigotry, and we will continue to work…together…to achieve Peace through Understanding.

In order to honor all who have come before us, and all of those who have lost their lives struggling to find safety and freedom, we will now hold a time of silence for reflection, and to strengthen our resolve to do all that we can to exert our collective influence upon local, state, and national leaders to address the needs of not only these children, but of all of this nation’s newest arrivals……

(Moment of silence) 

To borrow from the poetic words of Emma Lazarus that are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, we say: “Give US your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free…..Here they should find safety and comfort, and be Welcomed…..

 

Granite Staters Ask Senator Ayotte To Take The Minimum Wage Challenge

Image from NH Alliance For Retired Americans

Image from NH Alliance For Retired Americans

This week members of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired American, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) challenged Senator Kelly Ayotte to live on minimum wage for a week.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour that leads many to make choices between feeding their families and filling their gas tanks. This is why millions of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

Senator Ayotte supported the GOP filibuster that blocked an “up and down” down of raising the minimum wage.

Activists argued that Senator Ayotte should spend a week in the shoes of a minimum wage worker by joining Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Tim Ryan, Barbara Lee, Mark Takano, and former Gov. Ted Strickland in taking the Minimum Wage Challenge and living on $77 for a week, the take home pay of a minimum wage worker.

“In 1992, my family and I fled our country, the former Yugoslavia, due to the civil war,” said Nina Mujakovic, small business owner. “Since 1998, my family and I have worked very hard to 77 dollars a weekgain back what we lost. We have obtained our American Dream and others need to have the opportunity to achieve theirs. An increase in minimum wage will help them along that path.”

Activist displayed what the reality of a $77.00 food basket looked like.

“Raising the minimum wage is a no-brainer in so many ways,” added Lucy Edward, a member of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Better incomes lead to a better standard of living, and better health, reducing health care costs. Better incomes lead to better funding for schools, leading to more educated young people who will again have better jobs and even start their own businesses. Raising the minimum wage, and other policies that support working families, are a positive feedback economic engine.”

At the event, Lucy Edwards highlighted how raising the minimum wage will help strengthen our Social Security system.

“Once you understand that the Social Security benefit is calculated on lifetime earnings, and that the Trust Fund is funded from current earnings, you can immediately see that if a person makes more money, not only do their benefits on retirement increase, but the amount they pay into the Social Security Trust Fund increases today. Raising the Federal minimum wage, passing the Paycheck Equity legislation through Congress, and funding projects that create jobs all bring immediate returns to the Trust Fund, extending its ability to pay full benefits into the future.”

You can read Lucy’s full statement at the NH Alliance For Retired Americans Blog.

Activists vowed to watch and wait to see if Senator Ayotte would accept the challenge to live on minimum wage for a week. They are hopeful that she will then understand the difficulty of getting by on $77 a week.

Will Senator Ayotte accept the Minimum Wage Challenge and take one week to see what it is like for the millions of Americans struggling to survive on the minimum wage?   Odds are against it, but with pressure from people like you, that could change.

Linda Tanner A Real Candidate For Working Families

One of the goals of the NH Labor News is to help Granite Staters get to know the candidates who are running for office in New Hampshire. We focus on candidates who support working families, particularly those candidates who are working to rebuild the middle class and strengthen our rights as workers.

This week’s focus is on State Senate District 8 candidate Linda Tanner.

Linda Tanner NH Senate Candidate District 8
Background Information for Rep. Linda Tanner

Linda is longtime community activist, teacher, and coach. Linda has dedicated her entire life to helping others and improving her community. For over 30 years as a teacher and coach at Kearsarge Regional High School, Linda worked tirelessly to help her students succeed in and out of the classroom. During her career at Kearsarge, she served as a Department Chair, worked with the School to Work program and developed a state championship tennis program. She was honored by the NH Interscholastic Athletic Association for her years of service and elected to the NH Coaches Hall of Fame for Girls Tennis. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education from East Stroudsburg University and her Masters from Dartmouth College. In 2012 she was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives from Sullivan County, District 9.

 

As a public school teacher, were you involved with your local union?

I was president of my local association, the Kearsarge Regional Education Association for three terms. I participated on many negotiation teams, worked with members on issues at the local level, and worked with management towards better working conditions. I am a lifetime member of the NEA NH and have their endorsement for this campaign.

 

As a former teacher, I am sure you have a lot to say about the current public education system. Can you give me two things you would like to see changed?  And are these changes that you can enact from the NH Senate?

Public education has been under attack by those who would privatize education, eliminate compulsory education, and eliminate teachers’ unions. I ran for my House seat because I wanted to stop these political maneuvers that were undermining what, I feel, is the most valuable institution for maintaining democracy.

I think there is a great deal we could do to promote and fund our public education system in New Hampshire. I definitely feel the move from the punitive No Child Left Behind to the Common Core is a move that will help students. The Common Core sets standards but does not dictate pedagogy, deals with progress instead of achievement or failure and is the right course towards improvement and consistency. Just like other programs, it needs to be tweaked and re-visited. I would like to see educators who are working in the schools as teachers have a larger input into programs and initiatives.

As a high school teacher, I worked with a school-to-work program for the average student to encourage them towards further education and give some basic instruction in job skills. I taught Health Occupations Co-op for several years. I feel this is a very valuable program that should be expanded to teach not only content but job skills such as being on time, being able to speak to people, shake hands, show respect for co-workers and your product.  Recently I visited the Job Corps Training facility in Vermont. We are currently building a facility in Manchester. This type of program, which targets low income youth, is vital to providing vocational training in a setting that also emphasizes those job skills. It gives an opportunity for young people to better their position and at the same time provide workers for key jobs in our State.

As a Senator I will work to help New Hampshire schools become a model system that supports innovation, is relevant to the world of work and careers, and maintains rigorous standards for all school children.

 

You are running for the NH Senate Seat in District 8 that is currently held by Sen. Bob Odell. In what ways are you similar or different from Sen. Odell?

I found my voting aligned in many areas with Senator Odell.  I voted to repeal the death penalty, expand Medicaid, and deal with the issues around the Medical Enhancement Tax. However, Senator Odell voted against returning the period for teachers to be fired without cause or hearing from 5 to 3 years, voted against medical marijuana, and voted for the repeal of automatic continuation requirement for public employees’ collective bargaining agreements. These are three examples of bills he opposed that I would have supported.

IMG_0067This Senate seat has been, under Senator Odell, a moderate vote in a 13 to 11 Republican majority. My election to the seat will balance the parties at 12 all, which would make a major shift – especially on Labor issues. Medicaid expansion has a clause that requires renewal during this next session. Both Republican candidates have stated that they will try to repeal the Medicaid expansion, fight ‘Obama Care,’ and make NH a ‘Right to Work State’ as a priority. If either of the candidates opposing me wins this seat: Medicaid will be repealed, leaving thousands without medical insurance; and ‘Right to Work” for less will be passed along with other legislation that will hurt working men and women.

 

The current minimum wage is $7.25 and the GOP-led legislature repealed the NH Minimum Wage law. What would you do as Senator to help push NH toward a real living wage? Last year, one proposal was to raise the state minimum wage over two years to $9.00/hour. Do you think $9.00 is the right number? Or do you think it should be $10.10 as the POTUS is pushing, or even higher? 

First, we need to reinstate a NH Minimum wage that was repealed under the Republican leadership of Speaker O’Brien. I served on the House Labor Committee in this past term. The bill that was introduced should be reintroduced in this next term. This bill offered modest increases over time and originally had a provision for further increases based on economic indicators. I think we need to have a bill that will pass both The House and Senate. I hope to be one of those Senators to move this piece of legislation forward.

Do you have any legislation that you would like to see or have ideas on proposing if you are elected?  

I want to defend against the so called ‘right to work’ bills. If those bills pass it will let non-union workers benefit from our hard work in negotiations without paying their fair share. It’s a union-busting tactic.

I want to ensure fairness in workers’ compensation laws for those hurt on the job – so if they can’t work, they will still be able to keep their homes and survive. At the same time, I want to see how we can reduce the rate for employers. I want to establish a minimum wage and increase it above the present $7.25 so everyone has the dignity of a decent wage. I want to protect workers from pay cards and title loans that are stripping away hard earned money with excessive fees and astronomical interest rates. I want to offer solutions for the current lack of affordable and accessible elderly and work force housing.

 

If you could pick one issue from your campaign to highlight, what issue would that be?  

I am a person who is running for this Senate seat not to be someone special or advance a radical agenda but to work on legislation that will help the working men and women of this State. I taught for 35 years in the NH public schools and over that time, you see the communities, the State, through the lives of your students. I know the successes, the struggles, and the heartbreaking issues many of our citizens face. I want to be their voice in the Legislature.

 

Why should the labor community support your campaign?  

I am a lifelong union member. As a teacher for 35 years and continuing through retirement, I have been a member of the National Education Association. During my years at Kearsarge Regional High School, I was President of my local for three terms. I served on many negotiations and collective bargaining teams working for high quality education, good working conditions, livable salaries and benefits.  I proudly served as a State Representative for Sullivan County and as a member of the House Labor Committee.  I have the experience, knowledge and the political will to help the working men and women our State.

 

What can people do to help your campaign?

I can’t win this election alone. The opposition is well-funded and as committed to winning this seat as we are. I need your help to win this election. I need your vote and I need you to talk with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to urge them to vote for me. Also, with this large, rural district, we need funds for mailings, ads, and signs. Any amount you can send to us will help us get our message out.

Please see our website lindatanner.org for more information

 

 

 

 

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