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Mayor-Elect Joyce Craig Announces Inaugural Plans

MANCHESTER – Mayor-elect Joyce Craig today announced details of plans for her inauguration as Manchester’s 48th Mayor. 

Craig will take the oath of office as Mayor of Manchester on Tuesday, January 2nd at the Radisson Hotel located at 700 Elm Street, Manchester. The inaugural ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. and will include the swearing in of other city officials, including Aldermen, School Board Members and Ward Officials. John Clayton, Executive Director of the Manchester Historic Society, will serve as master of ceremonies. The event is free and members of the public are encouraged to attend.

Following the inauguration, Mayor Joyce Craig will preside over meetings of the Aldermanic Board and School Board at City Hall.

Mayor-elect Craig also announced the formation of her Inaugural Committee, which is working to organize and plan the inauguration. The committee will be co-chaired by Elizabeth Hitchcock, Paul LeBlanc, Arthur Gatzoulis, and State Representative Mary Heath, all of Manchester.

Liz Purdy will serve as a senior advisor to the Inaugural Committee. Purdy has experience running Gubernatorial Inaugural activities for both Governor John Lynch and Senator Maggie Hassan.

The Inaugural Committee will host the Inaugural Ball on Saturday, January 13th at the Radisson in Manchester.

To keep the public informed about inaugural activities, Craig has launched a new website www.craiginaugural.com, which also provides online ticketing for the inaugural ball.

GAO Report Confirms Dangers in Poultry Processing Plants

USDA Multimedia by Lance Cheung.

As Chicken Council Pushes for Fewer Regulations, Investigation Reveals Lax Enforcement of Existing Rules

Earlier this year, the National Chicken Council petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eliminate the processing line speed limits imposed on poultry processing plants.  This request sparked outrage from Mark Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) who represents workers inside these processing plants.

“With the health and safety of over 250,000 thousand hard-working poultry workers in mind, 70,000 of whom are members of our union family, we write to urge you to reject a petition submitted by the National Chicken Council (NCC) to run food processing lines with no speed limits,” wrote Perrone in a letter to Acting Deputy Undersecretary Rottenberg. “For the sake of keeping hard-working families safe – whether they’re preparing, buying, or eating chicken – the USDA must reject this petition.”

“According to U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) data, in 2015 the meat and poultry industry had the 8th-highest number of severe injury reports of all industries. In 2016, we reported that workers in meat and poultry slaughter and processing plants continue to face hazardous conditions, including sharp knives used in close quarters, slippery floors, and chemical exposures. In the 2016 report, we found that additional data are needed to address these hazardous conditions and recommended that DOL improve its data on musculoskeletal disorders and sanitation workers in the meat and poultry industry,” wrote the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Today, GAO released their findings related to the health and safety of workers in poultry processing plants and the results show significant problems for workers in these facilities.

“The hard-working people who work in poultry plants have some of the most dangerous and physically demanding jobs in America,” said Perrone. “This report sadly confirms that many of these skilled professionals who keep our food safe are struggling to keep themselves safe at work. They have earned and deserve better.”

  • This GAO report confirms the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t consider worker safety when allowing new and dangerous chemicals to be used in poultry plants, and that OSHA can’t or won’t adequately protect poultry workers from injury.
  • The GAO also found a pattern of poultry companies repeatedly denying access to federal safety and health inspectors, leaving workers in at least 15 plants across the South working in potentially dangerous environments.
  • This report supports findings by Oxfam that poultry workers struggle to get adequate bathroom breaks, even to the point of endangering their health.
  • Other GAO reports in 2005 and 2016 also found significant problems with safety and health in the poultry industry.
  • In addition to worker risks, countries with higher line speeds have higher rates of foodborne contamination in poultry plants.

“The dangers endured by poultry workers that are highlighted in this report also underscore why a recent request by the National Chicken Council to increase line speeds defies common sense and is being clearly driven by greed. We urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take this report seriously and reject that request so that poultry workers and the food we all consume can be kept safe,” Perrone concluded.

 

Read the full GAO report here.

Republicans In The House Take Aim At NH Labor Laws

Republican legislators in the New Hampshire House of Representatives want to change the current labor laws to allow kids to work “any time” of the day or night, remove requirements to display wage and discrimination laws, and handicap the State Department of Labor.

State Rep. Laurie Sanborn (Bedford), introduced the self titled “Red Tape Reduction Act” (HB1762-FN) aimed at what she says is to “reduce the excessive and unnecessary documentation and regulatory (red tape) burdens.” She claims that these “burdens” are inhibiting employers from hiring and growing their businesses.

What it really does it make it easier for employers to screw over workers and reduces the penalties if they get caught.

Some of the “burdens” that Rep. Sanborn wants to eliminate:

  • Eliminate the requirement to pay a worker “two hours of pay” when they show up to work and their shift is canceled
  • Eliminated the employees right to refuse to take part in “tip sharing”
  • Allow 16-17 year olds to “work any hours” and eliminates the Department of Labor’s requirement to randomly inspect worksites with young workers
  • Make unpaid interns responsible for their own Workers Compensation Insurance
  • Create a new “volunteer” worker category where an employee can “volunteer to learn” while working, without pay for up to 6 months
  • Remove the requirement to display safety, wage, hour, and discrimination laws in highly visible or “conspicuous” space
  • Removes the requirement that all wages and payment schedule changes must be made in writing
  • Changes the rules about employers providing uniforms and apparel with the “company logo” to be used in the work environment. (First uniform is free but employee may be required to pay for additional uniforms.)
  • Eliminate the Department of Labor’s rulemaking authority regarding wages and child labor laws; all relevant rulemaking changes must go through the legislature
  • Eliminate need for employers to file a “written safety plan, joint loss management committee, and safety summary form”
  • Expands the Department of Labor’s ability to waive fines, offers a 30 grace period on violations to avoid fines, and eliminates a number of mandatory fines for things like: “failure to pay a worker on time”, “failure to pay a worker in full”, and “requiring an employee to perform any illegal activities under threat of job loss.”

Of all of these the most egregious is the changes to child labor law allowing 16-17 year olds to work “any hours” of the day and night.   These are high school kids. Should they be working overnight shifts at the local mini-mart or working till midnight at the local fast food joint? No. These hour restrictions were put in place to ensure that children do not work too much or too late because it would have a detrimental affect on their education.

Under this new bill it would be the employee’s responsibility to know all of the laws concerning wages, overtime, discrimination, and safety regulations yet the employer is no longer required to display them. Does anyone actually think a 16 year old in their first job knows anything about child labor laws?

There have also been a couple of bills to increase the minimum wage with a caveat for 16-17 year old workers. These young workers would be allowed to work a sub-minimum wage or “training wage”. Rep. Sanborn’s proposed legislation coupled with the proposed “training wage” would allow employers to hire 16-17 year olds to work any time at a rate below the state’s minimum wage. How many low-wage workers would lose their jobs only to be replaced by 16-17 year olds earning “training” wages?

The bill has a number of co-sponsors, including Laurie’s husband, and first Congressional District Candidate, Sen. Andy Sanborn. The Sanborn’s have used their small business, The Draft bar and grill, to justify their votes against raising the minimum wage and eliminating the tipped minimum wage.  In 2014, in a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Andy Sanborn called a minimum wage increase to $9.00 an hour a “job killer” but failed to mention how much a minimum wage increase would impact his personal business.

These proposed changes would also force reductions in the Department of Labor’s annual budget. The Department of Labor estimates that the proposed changes would have cost the state over $500,000 dollars in fines paid over the last three years. They also noted that the new regulations would require a “follow up inspection” which would “decrease in worker efficiency” and decrease the number of worksites inspected each year.

New Hampshire already has one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country. There are lots of jobs available but many of our young adult workers are leaving New Hampshire in search of better wages in other states. Repealing these regulations will do nothing to help spur growth in our economy but it will allow employers to cheat worker without any fear of penalty.

Honestly does anyone really believe that removing the requirement to display wage and discrimination laws will somehow create jobs? Are they really expanding jobs and boosting the economy by hiring unpaid interns and “volunteer” workers?

This race to the bottom must end. We need in strengthen our labor laws not destroy them. We need to empower the Department of Labor to inflict harsher penalties on employers who violate the law not lessen worksite inspections and eliminate fines. This would be a step back for the hard working people of the Granite State if this somehow makes it through.


Full copy of the proposed legislation below

HB1762

Leo W Gerard: Republican Tax Plan — Make America Grieve Again

A giant sucking sound, louder than a freight train, noisier than a tornado, shriller than Ross Perot yelling, “I told you so,” blasted across the nation Thursday as Republicans in the U.S. House passed their tax plan.

It was the terrible sound of jobs swept out of this country. When Perot ran for president, he said the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would siphon off American jobs. And he was right. It did.

PHOTO BY STEVE DIETZ, UNIONPIX.COM

But this is much, much bigger.

House Republicans approved a scam exempting corporations from all taxes on their foreign operations. Under the GOP proposal, corporations like Carrier and Rexnord can benefit from protections provided by American patents, courts and armed forces, while moving their factories from the United States to Mexico. Or to other low-wage, high-polluting countries like China. Or to countries that charge little or no corporate tax. Once there, instead of paying the new, super-low 20 percent corporate rate Republicans propose for U.S-based producers, the expat factories will pay no taxes to the United States. Nothing. Not a cent.

Rather than Making America Great Again, Congressional Republicans plan to Make America Grieve Again as even more family-supporting factory jobs get shipped offshore to take advantage of the new tax rate of zip.

The math behind that job transfer is simple. Continue manufacturing in the United States and pay a corporate income tax dramatically lowered from 35 to 20 percent. Or move to a ridiculously low-tax country like Switzerland, Montenegro or Paraguay, and pay a measly 9 percent to that nation and nothing to the United States.

With the proposed corporate tax gift from Republicans, CEOs could uproot factories in places like Illinois, Indiana and Western Pennsylvania and ship them to brand new facilities in Bermuda, Palau or Turks & Caicos, where the corporate tax rate is zero. The corporation would pay no taxes on profits to the country hosting the factory and nothing to the United States, which hosts the headquarters.

Republicans contend such corporations will bring those foreign profits back to the United States and invest here. Why would CEOs do that when any American plant they invest in would be billed taxes on profits while the same factory located in certain other countries would pay nothing?

Why would they do that when they didn’t before?

Right now, corporations are sitting on $2.6 trillion in overseas profits. They have not invested that money in U.S. research, factories or jobs because they don’t want to pay the current 35 percent tax rate that would be charged when those profits are returned to the country.

To lure that money back, Republicans propose to give corporations a tax holiday, cutting the rate to between 5 and 12 percent for repatriating the $2.6 billion. The GOP insists corporations will take advantage of that tax deal to bring those billions home and invest in American production. But they won’t. The proof is that they didn’t last time.

Congress gave corporations a tax holiday in 2004 during which CEOs could return foreign profits to the United States and pay a mere 5 percent tax on them in exchange for investment in U.S. research, factories and jobs.

CEOs brought back the money and grabbed that 5 percent rate, alright. But they didn’t use the repatriated cash to conduct research, build factories or create jobs. Just the opposite.

A study by the Democratic staff of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that the 15 corporations that benefited most from the tax holiday turned around and cut more than 20,000 jobs and diminished their pace of research spending.

Labeling the 2004 tax holiday a failed policy, the report cautions against repeating it, saying it cost the U.S. Treasury $3.3 billion in lost revenues over 10 years and led to U.S. corporations sending more funds offshore.

“There is no evidence that the previous repatriation tax giveaway put Americans to work, and substantial evidence that it instead grew executive paychecks, propped up stock prices, and drew more money and jobs offshore,” said former Michigan Senator Carl Levin, then-chairman of the subcommittee, when the report was released in 2011.

So the contention that corporations now would invest in U.S. research, factories and jobs because Republicans plan to give them another tax holiday is about as solid as smoke — the stuff emitted from American factories pre-NAFTA and now flowing from mills moved to Mexico. The same goes for the contention that corporations will invest in U.S. research, factories and jobs with completely untaxed foreign profits.

In fact, suspending taxes on foreign profits would create a perverse incentive for corporations to make it overseas instead of making it in America. But Republicans intend to do it anyway.

Republicans say they must cater to the tax demands of corporations because other countries – Germany and Ireland, for example – offer corporations low rates. And those same Republicans contend they must cease charging American corporations taxes on their foreign operations because other countries have stopped.

That describes a race to the bottom. Pretty soon, corporations won’t pay any taxes at all, anywhere to anyone. They’ll provide nothing toward the roads they use to transport their products, the school systems that educate their workers, the Army Corps of Engineers that protects factories from floods.

If countries don’t work together to stop corporations from playing one against the other, workers will get stuck with all of the costs. That’s what’s happening under the GOP tax scam. The tax changes were supposed to benefit middle-class workers. But they do not.

An analysis of the Senate tax plan, released this week by the Joint Committee on Taxation, which is the official nonpartisan review agency serving Congress, showed the scam would give large tax cuts to corporations and millionaires while raising the levies charged to families earning $10,000 to $75,000 – that’s low-income and middle-class families.

White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said this week, “The most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan.” Of course they are. Those 1 percenters and their corporations get all the breaks.

To help pay for big fat tax cuts for millionaires and zeroed-out taxes for corporations, Republicans plan to slash programs crucial to workers – like Medicare and Medicaid – and vital deductions, like those for property taxes and student loan interest.

Just like NAFTA, this GOP tax scheme is a scam, a bait-and-switch ruse. Workers pay more and get less – fewer government services and far fewer job opportunities. This time, their jobs won’t just be going south of the border. They’ll be shipped anyplace in the world touting the lowest tax rates.

Northern Pass Advocates Angry Over ‘Dark Money’ In Local Fight. Well Get In Line

This weekend the Union Leader published ‘No names, please: Mystery money out to kill Northern Pass’ highlighting how Northern Pass advocates are upset over ‘Protect the Granite State‘ use of money from unknown donors to push back against Northern Pass.

“Protect the Granite State is spreading false and misleading information about the project,” said Eversource spokesman Martin Murray. “Because their funders are secret, there is no one to hold accountable. Regardless of your opinion on Northern Pass, it should be concerning that an anonymous group has invested so much money into misleading the public as it attempts to stymie a clean energy project and influence New Hampshire energy policy.”

Though Eversource may not like it, “Donald Kreis, head of New Hampshire’s Office of the Consumer Advocate, says Protect the Granite State (PTGS) is within its rights to protect the identity of its donors.”

“The organization is a 501(C)(4) whose donors choose to remain anonymous,” said Protect the Granite State spokesman Jim Merrill. And that’s about all Merrill and another PTGS operative will say. They declined to answer a list of questions submitted by the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News.

The article also clearly differentiates union political action funds and dark money C4’s.

There is money flowing from both sides as the adjudicatory hearings before a statewide planning board for big energy projects grind on toward a 2018 conclusion. Northern Pass partners have invested in promoting the project, as have supporters like the IBEW electrical workers union, but those sources are identified.

This article highlights what many of us have been saying for years. Since the Citizens United decision there has been a significant rise in “social welfare” programs (501(C)(4)) using unknown donors to influence political decisions.

From OpenSecrets

Take for example the ongoing fight to pass Right to Work in New Hampshire.  Every year this bill is submitted and every year the people of New Hampshire speak out against it and the bill dies.  Yet every time the bill gets submitted the National Right To Work Committee (NRTWC) spends money to lobby the legislature, take out advertisements to sway the public, and dump tens of thousands of dollars into campaign coffers.

But who is really behind the NRTWC?  There are many theories but NRTWC has every right to disclose who funds their PAC. The NRTWC raised over $25 million dollars to push Right to Work laws across the country.

Chart created by Center for Media & Democracy

Another example is Americans For Prosperity, a 501(C)(4) that was started with seed money from the Koch Brothers, was instrumental in building and funding the Tea Party movement.  Along with the NRTWC, AFP pushes for anti-worker legislation like Right to Work and to take away workers rights to collectively bargain.

AFP spent over $13 million in nine federal elections in 2016 and all of that money was spend attacking Democratic candidates.  AFP raised and spent $122 million dollars in 2012 elections most of it going to “communications, ads, and media” attacking President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game

The system has be rigged by those who are using their money to buy politicians and mislead the public for their own personal gains.  We do not need to know who is behind Protect the Granite State, we need to know who is behind all of these dark money groups. We need to know who is buying our political system.

We need to change the game and eliminate all of this outside, dark money.

NH Workforce Development Leaders Mark National Apprenticeship Week at Local Clean Energy Company

Brentwood, NH – On Thursday, November 16th, ReVision Energy hosted a special Apprentice Appreciation event with state leaders in business, labor, and education, as well as local solar apprentices, at the company’s Brentwood, New Hampshire office and warehouse. The event came just in time for the U.S. Department of Labor’s third annual National Apprenticeship Week, a nationwide effort to promote a highly-skilled workforce that can meet the talent needs of employers across a wide range of industries.

Representatives of the U.S. Department of Labor, NH Departments of Education and Veterans Affairs, Electrical Contractors Business Association, International Association of Electrical Inspectors Local 490, Lakes Region Community College, and Dover Career Technical Center attended to show their support for the local apprentices and encourage more young people and businesses to take advantage of apprenticeship opportunities. In addition to formal presentations, the public event included tours of the ReVision Energy office and warehouse, and refreshments.

“Like many organizations and businesses across the country, ReVision Energy has faced a shortage of skilled workers to power the clean energy transition and bring down electricity costs for everyone,” said James Hasselbeck, Operations Manager for ReVision Energy. “Our apprenticeship program is a direct response to that challenge and we are seeing first-hand the unique value that apprentices bring to our industry and the larger workforce.”

Hasselbeck added that ReVision Energy’s state-registered apprenticeship program combines on-the-job training and classroom-based instruction toward certification in a valuable trade as an electrician or plumber. All costs associated with training and certification are covered by the employer and apprentices earn a paycheck throughout their four-year training process.

Several of ReVision Energy’s current and former apprentices spoke at the event alongside local business and community leaders. Carley Williams, a solar installer, project manager, and current electrical apprentice, said she strives to set an example for others, especially women interested in trade careers.

“It’s very important for people to see that it’s possible,” Williams said, noting that oftentimes profitable and meaningful careers like solar installation and electrical work are not necessarily promoted as an option for women.

“Unfortunately, many women and men don’t realize that these apprenticeship opportunities are out there,” added Nathan Poland, ReVision Energy’s Electrical Coordinator and former apprentice. Poland noted that the average electrical apprentice completes his or her program with a certification, a job, no college debt, and an average starting salary of $50,000 a year. Many apprentices also attend college before or after their program, which puts them in an even stronger position to grow in their career.

The US Department of Labor (DOL) reports that for every dollar spent on apprenticeship, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity. They also enjoy better recruitment rates and reduced turnover as apprentices have the opportunity to advance in their field. For their part, apprentices receive a debt-free education in valuable skills, and have a much higher rate of finding a job immediately after graduating.

In 2016, DOL reported that NH had 2,071 active apprentices in 213 registered programs, which can be sponsored by the government, institutions, or private businesses. ReVision Energy currently has 12 apprentices and has had over 20 since the start of their program in 2012.

Lauren Smith, the State Director of the Office of Apprenticeship of the DOL, said that demand for the programs is increasing, and they are expanding even beyond trades. She noted the Community College System of NH recently received a federal grant to expand their apprenticeship programs and praised local businesses for hiring apprentices and providing the necessary mentorship and support.

“When I hear the stories tonight, I am excited to hear that [the apprenticeship programs] are working,” Smith concluded.

For Heather Iworsky, ReVision Energy’s Brentwood Branch Manager, apprenticeships are part of the company’s DNA. “We are a local business committed to providing good jobs, a fun atmosphere, and great culture, and we want to celebrate our apprentices and show people in the community that you can ‘stay, work, and play’ right here in New Hampshire,” Iworsky said.

Veterans Day 2017: Honoring Our Veterans

Today we stop and take a moment to honor the hundreds of thousands of men and women who stepped up and served to protect our nation by serving in the armed forces.

“On Veterans Day, the nation honors our Veterans and their unique role safeguarding our freedom as a people,” wrote Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary, David Shulkin. “Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln envisioned the honoring of our war dead, in what later became Memorial Day, and caring for the living of those who engaged our enemies on the battlefield on what today is Veterans Day.  That promise includes both the Veteran who walked a post, stood on the deck of a great ship, or flew in the skies, and the families who provided them so much support.”

Shulkin added, “On this day, we remember those who have sworn an oath to honor and defend this great nation.”

It is true that President Trump, Sec. Shulkin, and elected leaders from both parties have been working diligently to address some of the issues facing Veterans across the country. Most of their efforts have been focused on addressing VA healthcare and ensuring Veterans have access to care at VA hospitals.

However there are still other issues that need to be addressed.  As of January of 2016, the latest data available, there are still more than 39,000 homeless Veterans scattered across the country.  Veterans make up more than 10% of the overall homeless population and over 20% of the male homeless population.  They predominately live in large cities and the majority suffer from a disability, mental illness, or substance abuse problems.

The Trump administration also pushed for a 27% cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as ‘Food Stamps’.  SNAP help keep 42 million Americans from starving, of that an estimated 1.7 million are Veterans.  To make it worse, more than 23,000 active duty service members rely on food stamps to feed their families.  Reports also show that nearly 50% of children at Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Trump and his Republican allies have been attacking Veterans by attacking healthcare.  Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare and put an end to the Medicaid Expansion.  If Republicans had succeeded in gutting Medicaid Expansion an estimated 340,000 Veterans would likely lose their healthcare coverage. In 2015,  1.7 million Veterans relied on Medicaid for some portion of their healthcare.

“Veterans and their family members depend on Medicaid. Sometimes it supplements VA or other coverage; for many, it is their only source of coverage,” wrote VoteVets.og in May of this year. “Congressional actions such as capping and cutting Medicaid or ending or phasing out the Medicaid expansion would make it harder for veterans to get the health care they need.”

Lastly, Republicans have repeatedly blocked efforts to raise the federal minimum wage.  The Union Veterans Council (AFL-CIO) estimates that 16% of all Veterans in the workforce make less than $15 an hour. Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would boost the wages of more than 3.2 million Veterans alone.

While Trump and Congressional Republicans spend their days giving lip service to Veterans,  labor unions are actually doing something to help Veterans find meaningful employment and work their way into the middle class. Labor has been helping Veterans as far back as the Civil War.

The Building Trades Unions created apprentice programs specifically for Veterans called the Helmets to Hardhats program. In the last six years alone, the North American Building Trades have spent $1.2 billion dollars training Veterans to reenter the workforce after their time in the service.

Aside from training exiting service members before they leave the armed services, unions have also fought to preserve veterans preferences for hiring, opposed cuts to healthcare, continue to fight for a fully funded and fully staffed VA, and pushing for a higher minimum wage.

It is easy to see who truly honors and supports our nations Veterans and who is using them for political fodder.

House GOP Tax Plan Hurts Working Families

Today, the House Republicans released their new tax plan that would lower taxes for the ultra-wealthy and add trillions to the national debt. The plan would also drastically reduce the corporate tax rate while continuing to reward companies for offshoring American jobs.

“This tax bill is a job killer. It gives hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs and profits,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “No matter how it’s spun by Republican politicians, their tax bill is nothing but giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and millionaires, paid for on the backs of working families.”

“It’s shameless to propose cutting Medicaid, Medicare, education and infrastructure to pay for tax breaks for the 1%. History tells us, commonsense tells us and careful analysis of this tax bill tells us that these tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations will never trickle down to the rest of us. Real tax reform actually can put money back in the pockets of working people, but this is not that kind of plan,” Trumka added.

“The Republican tax plan is a handout to millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations that will raise taxes on working families and give corporations new incentives to send more U.S. jobs overseas,” stated Chris Shelton, President of the Communication Workers of America (CWA). “Republicans and White House staff have been working overtime to spin this deal as a ‘middle class tax cut.’ It’s not.”

Shelton explained just a few of the ways the new tax proposal will hurt CWA members and working families across the nation.

  • It limits the ability to deduct property taxes and completely eliminates the ability to deduct state and local taxes.
  • It gets rid of tax deductions that help families pay education expenses. It will tax directly the value of employer-provided education assistance that at least 10,000 CWA members use.
  • It restricts the amount of home mortgage interest that can be deducted, hurting CWA members and working people especially in areas like California, New York, New Jersey, and other states with high housing costs.
  • It wipes out the ability of families to deduct their medical expenses.
  • Any employer-provided child care benefit will be taxed, and assistance from employers to help CWA families adopt a child also will be taxed.

“We cannot allow tax cuts for the wealthy to harm millions of working families. CWA and our allies are fighting back against this massive transfer of dollars from working families to the richest 1 percent,” added Shelton.

David J Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) also spoke out against the new tax plan.

“The tax plan unveiled by House leadership would mostly benefit those who need the help the least: wealthy individuals and large corporations. While the plan would lower the tax rate for many middle-income families, most would end up having more of their income taxed. And the plan would actually raise taxes on our poorest citizens.”

“Too many American workers have been suffering from stagnant wages, rising costs for health care and other essentials, and an economic system that favors the millionaires and billionaires. This plan does nothing to help them,” he concluded.

The new plan angered the Alliance for Retired Americans, a national advocacy group for seniors.

“This is the latest cruel scheme. The tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are so massive that they plan to cut nearly $500 billion from Medicare and more than $1 trillion from Medicaid over the next 10 years to pay for them – but they will still add $1.5 trillion to the deficit,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans.

“Exacerbating the problems they are creating, the House and the Trump Administration would no longer allow Americans, including retirees, to deduct their medical expenses, including nursing home costs or out of pocket medical or dental expenses from their taxes.”

Even some on the right oppose this new tax proposal. The Concord Coalition, a self proclaimed “non-partisan, grassroots organization,” heavily funded by former Sec. of Commerce Peter G Peterson, spoke out against this new proposal calling it “fiscally irresponsible.”

“True tax reform should aim to grow the economy without growing the debt ” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “This plan would move U.S. fiscal policy in a dangerous direction, openly inviting higher deficits in the face of unsustainable debt.”

The federal debt recently passed the $20 trillion mark, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that under current law the government is on track to add more than $10 trillion to that in the next 10 years. This version of the tax plan will add at least another $1.5 trillion onto that projection.

“It is important that any changes made to this draft to accommodate interest group concerns and increase potential support be paid for by reducing tax cuts rather than increasing the number of budget gimmicks,” Bixby added.

Working people across the country should not be made to suffer to give the top 1% more tax breaks.

Former Sec. of Labor and respected economist Robert Reich said, “The proposed tax cuts are tiny and temporary. And some middle class Americans will actually get a tax increase.”

Reich calls this tax plan a “Trojan Horse” in this short video released today.

“Meanwhile, the top 1 percent will get a gigantic tax cut. The Tax Policy Center estimates that the current plan will save the bottom 80 percent between $50 and $450 in taxes per year, but that it saves each person in the top 1 percent an average of $129,000 a year. For people at the very top, like Trump himself, the tax cuts are humongous. And the corporations they own will also get a massive tax cut,” Reich added.

Working people have suffered through decades of stagnant wages, budget cuts to programs that help them and provide healthcare when they get old.  Enough is enough. We must stop this massive giveaway to the wealthy 1%.

BCTGM UNION: Nabisco Has A New CEO But The Fight Continues Against Outsourcing

Share with permission from Fight for American Jobs

Last year, Mondelez International chose to outsource some 600 jobs from its Chicago Nabisco bakery. In the same year, its CEO, Irene Rosenfeld, made $16.7 milllion.

Today, Rosenfeld officially steps down from her position and new Nabisco/Mondelez CEO Dirk Van de Puta begins his new job.

This company can change their CEO, but they can’t change the facts: Mondelez/Nabisco outsources good, family-sustaining jobs and exploits workers across borders and oceans.

The BCTGM together with Mondelez/Nabisco workers will continue to fight as we further promote the boycott of outsourced Nabisco products!

Help amplify this message: 

Tweets:

You can change a CEO, but you can’t change the facts. @MDLZ outsources jobs & exploits workers #ChecktheLabel #1u [click to tweet]

Different CEO, same fight! Don’t buy outsourced #nabisco products! @MDLZ #ChecktheLabel #1u [click to tweet]

CEO Irene Rosenfeld gone, but #Nabisco wrkrs still out of work & exploited across borders @MDLZ #ChecktheLabel #1u [click to tweet]

We will continue to #boycott outsourced #Nabisco snacks until worker exploitation ends! @MDLZ #ChecktheLabel #1u [click to tweet]

Will new @MDLZ CEO = new direction? #Nabisco fight continues… @Oreo #ChecktheLabel#1u [click to tweet]

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CLICK HERE to share “You can change a CEO but you can’t change the facts” graphic.

CLICK HERE to share “Time for a change” graphic.

Concerns About Workplace Safety Needs To Be Addressed At Amazon Warehouses

Two Deaths in September at Amazon Warehouses Show Need for Accountability as Company Chases Incentives for New HQ  

SAN DIEGO and WASHINGTON, DC – Two recent deaths within a single week at Amazon.com. warehouses in Pennsylvania and Indiana show the need for strict accountability in exchange for public subsidies, say workplace safety and economic development experts.

  1. Devan Michael Shoemaker, age 28, was killed on September 19th, when he was run over by a truck at an Amazon warehouse in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
  2. Phillip Terry, 59, was killed on September 24th, when his head was crushed by a forklift at an Amazon warehouse in Plainfield, Indiana.

Amazon is currently chasing a mammoth taxpayer-funded incentive package for its proposed “HQ2,” or second headquarters building, with an October 19th deadline for proposals from metro areas.

Including the recent deaths of Shoemaker and Terry, six workers have died in Amazon warehouses since 2013. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the company and temporary agencies it uses to staff its facilities on multiple occasions for safety violations.

“Getting consumer goods dropped right on your doorstep is nice, but who is paying the price?” asked Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). “There is a disturbing pattern of preventable deaths at Amazon. Two workers have been crushed to death by forklifts, one dragged into a conveyor belt, another crushed by a pallet loader and one run over by a truck. The company monitors every move of both permanent and temporary employees to meet intense demands for high-speed delivery. But is it paying enough attention to workplace safety?”

“Taxpayers should not subsidize low-road employers with dangerous working conditions, high turnover and poverty wages,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First. “Governments considering whether to bid for white-collar jobs at Amazon should first look at how the company and its temp agency subcontractors treat blue-collar workers.”

Amazon CEO and 17 percent owner Jeff Bezos is ranked the third richest person on earth, with a fortune worth over $80 billion. According to an analysis by Good Jobs First, the company has received a minimum of $1.1 billion in subsidies from U.S. taxpayers to build its warehouses and data centers since 2000. The actual figure is certainly higher, since more than a dozen cities and states have not disclosed the amount of taxpayer subsidies provided to Amazon.

There is little or no net job creation associated with these facilities. Amazon captures sales and revenue from retail competitors, resulting in large-scale layoffs from existing businesses. The Institute for Local Self Reliance estimates that as of 2015, Amazon’s operations have caused net loss of some 149,000 U.S. jobs.

Amazon’s projection of 50,000 jobs at its new second headquarters has set off an intense bidding war, with the state of New Jersey considering a $5 billion incentive package. The current largest corporate subsidy on record is an $8.7 billion giveaway to Boeing by the state of Washington in 2013, intended to secure aircraft production jobs. After receiving the tax breaks, however, Boeing reduced employment in the state by 12,000 jobs.

“Taxpayers need to watch their wallets,” said LeRoy. “Any tax giveaway must be measured against the increased costs – in transportation, housing, schools and other services – that will be induced by an influx of thousands of new workers.”

“When Amazon lobbies for lucrative tax breaks, it is asking the public to become partners in its business – to the tune of billions of dollars,” said Martinez. “If we’re partners, we have a right to demand the highest standards for workplace safety.”

In addition to the recent deaths of Devan Michael Shoemaker and Phillip Terry, other workers who have lost their lives while working at Amazon include:

  • Jeff Lockhart, 29, a temporary employee, found collapsed and dead from a cardiac event after an overnight shift at an Amazon warehouse in Chester, VA on January 19th, 2013.
  • Ronald Smith, 57, a temporary employee, killed after being dragged and crushed by a conveyor belt at an Amazon warehouse in Avenel, New Jersey on December 4th, 2013.
  • Jody Rhoads, 52, crushed and pinned to death by a pallet loader at an Amazon warehouse in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on June 1st, 2014. (This is the same facility where Shoemaker was killed in September).
  • Name unknown, crushed to death by a forklift at an Amazon warehouse in Fernley, NV on November 4th, 2014.

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org. Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

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