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NH House Republicans Push Through Their Immoral Reckless Budget

 

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Today hundreds of Granite Staters filled the State Capitol building holding signs and asking legislators to oppose these reckless cuts to the New Hampshire budget.  Labor leaders, community activists and concerned citizens delivered over 800 signed petitions opposing these reckless budget cuts.

“A budget is a statement of our priorities as a community and in that sense it is an expression of our values,” explained the Rev. Jonathan Hopkins, President of the NH Council of Churches and pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church. “Our faith leads us to pay attention to the common good, not just to the interests of individuals. Our faith calls for a budget that is fair and just.”

One area of the proposed budget cuts that drew outrage today were the cuts to social programs to help people overcome their additions to drugs and alcohol. Hundred gathered and participated in a “die in” on the State House steps. (Images above of the ‘die in’ courtesy of Steve Kloppenburg)

Their voices and concerns were ignored as the House Republicans pushed through their budget with devastating cuts to a variety of state programs.

“In amending the House Finance Committee-recommended budget that already hurt families, undermined business growth and took our economy backward, Republicans in the House of Representatives managed today to make a reckless budget even worse,” stated Governor Maggie Hassan. (Full Statement Here)

“To gain the support of Bill O’Brien and the Koch Brothers, House Republicans passed a budget today that is so extreme that even the Republican House Finance Chair admitted that our state would suffer if it were actually enacted,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

“The House did a fantastic job of making New Hampshire more free market and more competitive, and forth and for most it takes out all the tax increases,” said AFP State Director Greg Moore in an press conference last week.

During the debate on the House floor Representative William O’Brien, who pushed a similar budget cuts through the House in 2011 when he was Speaker, offered an amendment to raid the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” to find extra money to make their budget work.

“From raiding dedicated funds to downshifting costs onto local communities, the O’Brien-Jasper budget proves once again that New Hampshire Republicans can’t be taken seriously on fiscal responsibility,” said Buckley. “Possibly the most fiscally irresponsible action in the O’Brien-Jasper budget deal — and that’s saying something — is O’Brien’s floor amendment to empty the state’s rainy day fund.”

“As lawmakers entered the State House, today they were greeted by hundreds of protesters decrying the O’Brien-Jasper budget’s drastic cuts. But instead of listening to the outcry from every corner of the state, O’Brien and Jasper decided to wipe out the state’s rainy day fund and threaten a credit downgrade to make even deeper cuts, including cutting funding for community colleges, further cutting our already strained corrections system, and laying off nurses at New Hampshire hospital,” continued Buckley.

“Voters will not stand for the fiscally irresponsible Jasper-O’Brien budget that empties the state’s rainy day fund, raids dedicated funds, slashes critical economic priorities for small businesses and middle class families, and downshifts costs onto local property taxpayers,” concluded Buckley.

One of the budget tactics used by Republicans to fund their disastrous budget would reverse the pay increased negotiated by the State Employees Association. These are the same workers who are now facing the potential of massive layoffs.

“When I was a child growing up in NH, the state leaders were fiscally conservative and responsible,” said Richard Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “The legislature was primarily Republican and when need be, they would find ways to raise revenue for items our state’s citizens needed and there was a good balance between revenue and spending. That is no longer the case.”

The Tea Party extremists have taken over the House and refuse to raise revenues even though the state desperately needs it.

“The members of SEA/SEIU 1984 want our state to be a safe place for everyone to live, work, and prosper. The NH House budget does not promote these priorities – it disrupts them,” wrote the State Employees Association. “Even though they did not prevail, we salute the legislators who voted in favor of funding the state employees’ contract.”

“While today’s vote was gravely disappointing, we now look to the NH Senate to prepare a budget that is frugal yet reasonable and responsible,” concluded the SEA.

Community groups and fiscal watchdogs were quick to blast Republicans in the House for passing this budget that is guaranteed to harm our state and our economy.

“The House version of the budget is foolhardy and shortsighted. It unnecessarily pits important state priorities against one another rather than making real investments in our community, our infrastructure, and our people,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “It kicks the can down the road on identifying reasonable revenue sources that ensure the wealthy and corporations are paying their fair share, and it turns its back on programs that, if funded today, will save our state money in the long run.”

“The House budget pits vital public services against one another in an attempt to achieve a misguided sense of balance. This budget puts many of our state’s most vulnerable residents at risk, forcing cities and towns — and local taxpayers – to take on greater responsibilities and to face higher costs in the long run,” said New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch. (Full Statement Here)

Now we look to the New Hampshire Senate to see how they blend their two proposals together and craft the budget for the next two years. We already know that the Senate passed a business tax reduction that gives away millions to businesses while force deeper cuts to state agencies.

Will the Senate find a way to fix the cuts proposed by the House, or will they bend to the Tea Party extremists and force New Hampshire backwards?

 

Related article and recommended reading:

Republican Budget Cuts In New Hampshire Provoke Backlash From Clergy

 

The USW Strike & Safety–A Victory for All Workers!

United Steelworkers on Strike

By Matthew D’Amico

Recently there was an important victory for working people. After a six-weeks’ long strike, oil refinery workers at four plants, members of the United Steelworkers (USW), and Shell Oil came to an agreement on a potential contract. The union cited a number of reasons for striking. Of course wages and the cost of medical insurance were issues. But even more in dispute was the continuing practice by oil companies of reducing the number of men and women working at their refineries, which means that the remaining workers have to do the jobs of those let go and toil longer hours. This invariably leads to fatigue and jeopardizes the safety of both employees and the surrounding communities. In addition, the companies were also using some outside contractors who do not have the same training and skill levels of long-time union employees. All of this directly affects safety. While there continue to be strikes at some of the plants—including BP in Illinois, which has yet to meet the local union’s demands—the contract agreed to represents a major win for labor. Said USW International President Leo Gerard:

“We salute the solidarity exhibited by our membership. There was no way we would have won vast improvements in safety and staffing without it.”

Working at an oil refinery is difficult and frequently dangerous work. Persons work with heavy equipment and a natural resource, oil, which is volatile and highly flammable. An explosion at a BP refinery outside Houston in 2005 killed 15 workers and injured nearly 200. Regulators found BP responsible for knowingly violating safety protocols, and imposed millions in fines. Yet four years later,OSHA found 700 additional violations (NYT 10/30/09) and fined the company $87 million more for not correcting the violations that had caused the first explosion. In an article in Labor Notes by Stephanie Winslow there is this:

“‘We have a lot of forced overtime,said Dave Martin, vice president of the local striking the Marathon refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. That was one of the main issues in the Texas explosion: people working overtime and not making the right decisions.’”

As a political coordinator for a public employee union, I have seen the urgent importance of ensuring workplace safety for employees. The members I represent work in hospitals, courts, parks, and there have been many instances of men and women being injured or even killed on the job. When accidents happen, union health and safety specialists investigate to make sure job sites are made safer. However, there is an important difference between employment in the public sector versus the private sector: the basis of work in the public sector isn’t to make a profit. In these years, however, some state governments have beenprivatizing public services in order to help private businesses. Why this union-busting practice—which affects safety—is on the increase is explained by Aesthetic Realism, the education founded by philosopher and critic Eli Siegel.

In the 1970s, he showed in a series of groundbreaking lectures that our economy—which is based on contemptuously seeing the labor of people as a means of profit for a few—had failed because it’s unethical and inefficient. The evidence of the last decades has confirmed what Mr. Siegel explained. I’ve learned that today the only way our profit-based economy can function is by having people poorer and more desperate for work, and by attacking unions and undermining the gains for which they’ve fought so hard. These gains include the right to safety on the job.

Historically, employers have not given a damn about safe working conditions. This brutal way of seeing is explained by Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, in the journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known. Discussing a deadly 2010 coal mining explosion in West Virginia that killed 29 miners, Ms. Reiss writes: According to the New York Times, the company (Massey Energy) had a history of serious and significant safety violations.” Further, she explains:

The company ‘failed to correct’ [safety] problems for only one reason: it would have had to spend money to do so. Every cent a company spends on behalf of workers’ safety is a cent that can’t go into the pockets of the stockholders. In the…New York Times a miner is quoted commenting on why owners ignore safety laws: ‘If you take 30 minutes out of the day doing it right, that takes a lot out of the tonnage of the mine’…The profit system encourages the desire to let people work in conditions that could sicken them and kill them, because that way oneself will have more money.

“The history of industry shows that owners left to themselves have paid workers in a way that made for agonizing poverty. Unions changed that; and also insisted, to the owners’ intense opposition and chagrin, that safety measures be instituted. The United Mine Workers of America is eminent in the history of unions. American men and women in West Virginia and elsewhere fought hard and long and bravely, even gave their lives, so that mines could be unionized—so miners would not be impoverished and hungry; so there would be measures preventing mine collapses and explosions, and measures lessening the extent to which miners took into their lungs the coal dust that had sickened and killed so many.

“The Upper Big Branch mine, where the deadly explosion occurred, was a non-union mine. And that disaster in itself should be enough to have America see how needed and deeply beautiful unions are.

This safety is part of what the members of the United Steelworkers were fighting for as they went on strike at American oil refineries. The tentative contract agreed to stipulates that there will be a review of staffing and workload assignments, one of the main points the strikers were fighting for. Their very lives depend on their workplaces being safe.

Strikes, Unions, and the Victory of Ethics!

At one time strikes by organized labor were much more prevalent than today. However, in recent years, there have been increasing efforts to keep our profit economy going at the expense of working people. Unions today are under assault from big business working with state governments which provide huge tax breaks and other incentives to profit making corporations. A growing number of states are now “Right to Work,” which makes paying union dues voluntary. I agree with Ellen Reiss who, in issues ofThe Right Of, has been showing that we have come to a point in history where a profit economy can no longer function efficiently if workers are to be paid fairly, have health benefits, pensions, safe conditions—all things that unions stand for. People must be impoverished for profit economics to continue. The alternative is an economy, based not on selfishness, greed, and contempt, but on ethics, on giving people the justice they deserve.

The successful strike by the oil refinery workers is on behalf of that justice and shows that unions still have power. And that’s not all. There have been recent union victories which have gotten little media attention. At FairPoint Communications, members of CWA and IBEW who went on strike late last year in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, got a decent contract last month. Brooklyn Cablevision workers, members of CWA, after a three-year battle, signed a contract with the company—becoming the first employees there to have a union contract. And UAW, representing graduate students at New York University, reached a contract agreement this month. These victories illustrate the rightness of Eli Siegel’s statement: Ethics is a force like electricity, steam, the atom—and will have its way.

 

Originally posted on Unions Matter

FAITH LEADERS CALL UPON LAWMAKERS TO PASS ‘HUMANE BUDGET

Prayer Breakfast and Vigil April 1

Religious leaders from multiple faith traditions will conduct a prayer breakfast and prayer vigil on Wednesday, April 1, to express their shared belief that state budgets must promote the well-being and fair treatment of all people, especially those who are the most vulnerable and whose dignity is threatened by irresponsible public policy choices.

The breakfast and prayer service at St. Paul’s Church in Concord will take place at 8 AM, prior to the beginning of debate over the budget in the NH House of Representatives.

Following the breakfast, at about 9 AM, participants will leave St. Paul’s Church, cross Park Street to the State House, and assemble along the second floor hallways outside the chamber where the House of Representatives will consider the budget.

“A budget is a statement of our priorities as a community and in that sense it is an expression of our values,” explained the Rev. Jonathan Hopkins, President of the NH Council of Churches and pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church.  “Our faith leads us to pay attention to the common good, not just to the interests of individuals. Our faith calls for a budget that is fair and just,”

Participants in the prayer breakfast will include:

·         Most Rev. Peter Libasci, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester

·         Right Rev. Robert Hirschfeld, Bishop, Episcopal Church of New Hampshire

·         Rev. Jonathan Hopkins, President, NH Council of Churches

·         Rev. Gary Schulte, Conference Minister, United Church of Christ

·         Rev. Tim Roser, Associate to the Bishop, New England Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

·         Rev. Michael Leuchtenberger, President, Northern New England Chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association

·         Rabbi Robin Nafshi, Temple Beth Jacob, Concord

·         Lama Samten, Dharma Fellowship of New Hampshire

Other participants will include:

·         Clare Chapman, Executive Director, NH Council of Churches

·         Rev. Gail Kinney, Pastor, South Danbury United Church of Christ

·         Rev. John Gregory-Davis, Co-Pastor, Meriden Congregational Church

·         Rev. Jason Wells, Rector, Grace Episcopal Church, East Concord

·         Rev. Eric Jackson, Pastor, Smith Memorial Congregational Church, Hillsboro

·         Rev. Dr. Mary Westfall, Senior Pastor, Community Church, Durham

·         Rev. Peter Hey, Pastor, Wesley United Methodist Church, Concord

·         Mark Barker, Concord Quaker Meeting

·         Muslim representatives (invited), and many others.

The prayer breakfast and vigil represent a continuation of acts of witness conducted in recent weeks by NH Voices of Faith, an ad hoc movement of people from several faith traditions who care about social and economic justice. 

“We feel a deep obligations to come together in a sense of beloved community to help provide for the basic needs of our most vulnerable neighbors, to support and value the people who perform public service on our behalf, and to care for the natural environment,” said Rev. Gail Kinney, Pastor of the Danbury United Church of Christ and a leader of NH Voices of Faith.  “Through our actions we bear faithful witness to the need for policies that promote the well-being and fair treatment of all people, especially those among us who are most in need.”

American And Canadian Unions Come Together Over Proposed Trade Deals

AFL-CIO_Headquarters_by_Matthew_Bisanz2AFL-CIO and Canadian Labour Congress joint statement on promoting trade deals that work for people over profits

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), support and welcome trade and economic policies that create good, family-wage jobs, strengthen protection for internationally-recognized labor rights (including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining), protect our environment, and promote shared prosperity and a virtuous cycle of rising wages and rising demand.

Having lived through NAFTA and its progeny for 20 years, we also know the danger of destructive economic rules that expand the rights and privileges of multinational corporations at the expense of working families, communities, and the environment.  Neoliberal economic policies, including many of the rules enshrined in NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, have promoted a race to the bottom in terms of wages, labor rights, environmental protection, and public interest regulation.

That is why we join together today to announce our unrelenting support for different rules in three pending trade deals involving either the United States or Canada or both: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA), and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Of the rules tilted against labor and for global capital in these proposed agreements, one of the most egregious is investor-to-state dispute settlement, or ISDS.  ISDS provides extraordinary legal rights to foreign investors so that they can seek taxpayer reimbursement for losses to expected profits from laws, regulations, administrative decisions or virtually any other government measure.  The rights protected go far beyond traditional property rights and its private tribunals are staffed not by professional jurists sworn to promote the public interest, but by for-profit attorneys, many of whom represent investors when they are not sitting in judgment.

The U.S. and Canada first incorporated this separate but unequal system into a comprehensive trade deal in NAFTA, and today, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are each in the top eleven most-challenged nations under the ISDS system.  Such extreme rights to challenge democracy are not good for domestic businesses (which cannot use this private justice mechanism), not good for citizens (who may see popular policies withdrawn by governments in order to avoid adverse judgments), and not good for rule of law (which is undermined by the separate parallel system for foreign investors only).

We are pleased to reaffirm cross-border cooperation in the struggle for people and planet centered trade and will not cease in our efforts to promote good jobs, rising wages, strong social safety nets, state-of-the-art public services and infrastructure, and an end to corporate power grabs like ISDS in all pending trade and investment agreements.

Manchester Mayorial Race: Joyce Craig Announces Aldermanic Endorsements

Joyce Craig MayorAldermen Dan O’Neil, Pat Long, Bill Barry,
and Norm Gamache Endorse Craig for Mayor

MANCHESTER – Today, Joyce Craig announced that Alderman-at-Large Dan O’Neil and Aldermen Pat Long, Bill Barry and Norm Gamache have endorsed her campaign for Mayor of Manchester.

“I am proud to support Joyce’s campaign for Mayor because I know she shares my belief that it is time to move Manchester forward. To move Manchester forward, we need a Mayor who can bring people together to solve the problems facing the city that we all love. From the School Board to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Joyce has always worked hard and put the people of Manchester first. Manchester has many challenges – from our struggling schools to our failing roads to the problems of drug abuse and crime that our first responders are fighting every day – and we need a Mayor who will bring the community together to solve these problems. Manchester is a great place to live and work, and we need a Mayor who will put collaboration before confrontation. I know Joyce Craig is the right person to move Manchester forward and I am proud to support her campaign for Mayor,” said Alderman O’Neil.

“I have worked with Joyce Craig for many years and I know that she cares deeply for this city and I have no doubt that she is the right person to be our next Mayor. As the Ward 3 Alderman, I know Joyce understands that our residents and small businesses want a Mayor who can bring the community together to solve the problems – from pot holes to panhandlers – facing our downtown. Joyce Craig will be a Mayor who can move all of Manchester forward,” said Long.

“As two Aldermen who represent Manchester’s West Side, we know that Joyce is the right choice for all of Manchester. Joyce never lets politics stand in the way of what is right for the people of Manchester, especially West Side residents. Joyce led budget efforts that allowed the West Side library to remain open and to preserve city wide bus service, which is essential for many West Side residents. We have seen firsthand the great work that Joyce has done as an Alderman and we are confident that she is the right person to move Manchester forward as our next Mayor,” said Aldermen Barry and Gamache.

“I am honored to have the support of Chairman O’Neil and Aldermen Long, Barry and Gamache in my campaign for Mayor. The support of my colleagues means a lot to me and to our campaign to move Manchester forward. Aldermen O’Neil, Long, Barry and Gamache have long and admirable records of public service and I know the people of Manchester are grateful for their service. My Aldermanic colleagues and I share the belief that Manchester needs a Mayor who favors collaboration over confrontation, and I look forward to working with them to move Manchester forward,” said Craig.

GOP Led Legislatures And ALEC Are Working To Do Away With Unions

Right To Work in Wisconsin (FLIKR CC Blue Chedder)

Image by Blue Chedder

Dr. Thomas J. Mackell, Jr.

Dr. Thomas J. Mackell, Jr.

By Thomas J. Mackell, Jr., Ed.D.
Special Advisor to the President 
International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO

The move to alter the laws to make all states a Right to Work state is gaining momentum. State legislatures overloaded with conservative elected officials who have strong ties to the innocuously named American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are hell-bent on doing away with unions.

Recent successful legislative initiatives in Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin to enact Right to Work laws was humiliating to workers and their unions and, in the long run, will contribute dramatically to the suffering of workers and their families and there are another half-dozen states actually considering it.

The protagonists behind these campaigns emphasize that this trend bolsters individual rights. This is yet another example of symbol manipulation where words are supposed to provide comfort. This trend and the individual rights claim couldn’t be further from the truth.

It is hard to believe that there is an entire cadre of folks who are cheering on the sidelines and praising these accomplishments.

It is particularly egregious when the industrial history of these states was that they were strong, progressive fortresses for workers and their unions in their fight for economic justice.

The Holocaust survivor and great humanitarian Elie Wiesel once said: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.”

We should takes sides. However, there is a very strong and not so silent group of folks spearheaded by the billionaire Koch brothers who are the driving force with mega-bucks behind the campaign to change the United States in a very significant and destructive way.

Look at what campaigns they have initiated over the last couple of years since the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Citizens United lawsuit resulting in a whole new political fundraising initiate that will destroy this nation as we know it.  Their plan includes the following:

  • Create the Tea Party which is now on a roll
  • Buy the Republican Party
  • Arm the Tea Party
  • Turn each against all
  • Buy teachers to indoctrinate students in the Koch philosophy
  • Destroy the U.S. Postal Service
  • Alter the benefit programs for our war-torn veterans
  • Deport all illegal immigrants
  • Destroy Obamacare
  • Offer no minimum wage increases
  • Destroy Social Security
  • Reject new tax increases for the rich
  • Destroy Medicare and Medicaid
  • Support Right to Work legislation
  • Erase the Dodd-Frank regulations on financial institutions
  • Eradicate all Defined Benefit Pension Plans
  • Destroy unions
  • Fight global warming
  • Grind down all workers
  • Emasculate women’s rights
  • Purchase some Governors
  • Purchase Congress
  • Buy the Senate
  • Destroy the legacy of FDR
  • Annihilate the social welfare state
  • Take away the right to vote and End Democracy
  • Erode the American Dream

That is a pretty bold and frightening “to do list.”

We must fight this with all of our fibre. Life as we know will no longer exist. Society will be left with only the Princes and the Paupers.

Since we cannot match their capital strength, we have to be more creative and activistic in our initiatives.

Many international unions are committed to withholding political contributions from those who will support and vote for Fast Track, the new proposed trade deal. This is but one initiative.

The support for workers in this country by elected officials is fading. They have been purchased by the right wing billionaires.

We have to go well beyond political contributions and appeal to the peoples’ sense of justice and equity and their economic well-being.

In a recent quote by D. Taylor, International President of UNITE HERE union he said:

“Politics are important, but I think the most important thing is organizing workers and mobilizing workers. Mobilizing workers we represent, as well as those we don’t represent— because they’re both getting screwed.”

It is time for action. All of the groups that fight for social and economic justice must band together to fight the 1% and take up the fight to mobilize and protect what unions have won for workers over the last century. Our economic lives depend on it.

Take up the fight!

The Truth Behind Ohio Governor Kasich’s Story

Ohio Governor In New Hampshire To Share “Ohio Story”: Kasich Policies Have Decimated Local Communities and Attacked The Middle Class in Ohio

Governor John Kasich Caricature  (Image by DonkeyHotey)

Governor John Kasich Caricature
(Image by DonkeyHotey)

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Ohio Governor John Kasich arrived today in New Hampshire to share the “Ohio Story” and continue what has been a peculiar approach to a presidential campaign so far.  While in New Hampshire, Kasich is expected to tout Ohio’s recovery while attempting to show he is a bona fide conservative.

Unfortunately, the facts in Ohio don’t match up with Kasich’s political rhetoric.

The heart of Kasich’s approach in Ohio has been the same trickle-down policies that have consistently failed nationwide.

In order to give tax breaks to the wealthy, Kasich has raided local government and school funds year after year, resulting in lay-offs of teachers, firefighters and emergency services around the state, and local tax increases in the form of local municipal and school tax levies. He has also proposed tax increase after tax increase on lower income Ohioans in order to pay for his tax cuts for the wealthy.

“If John Kasich ran the nation the way he does Ohio, state governments would be forced to forfeit their money to Washington where the spending would then increase.  He would force states do the hard work of cutting costs, and then take the credit,” stated Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper.

Kasich has been testing the waters of a presidential run, but in a strange way–traveling to states like Wyoming and Arizona to grandstand on his widely discredited idea for a federal balanced budget Constitutional amendment.

“John Kasich should’ve checked the facts before coming to New Hampshire to tout his ‘Ohio story’ of putting special interests first while making middle class families pay the price,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley.

“Under Governor Maggie Hassan’s leadership, New Hampshire is moving in the right direction, with an unemployment rate that’s a full point lower than Ohio’s. Not to mention that New Hampshire’s median household income in 2013 was the highest in the nation, and more than $25,000 greater than Ohio’s. If John Kasich thought that Granite Staters would be impressed by his failed ‘Ohio story,’ he’s going to be sorely disappointed,” added Buckley.

Ohio Chairman Pepper added: “the Kasich trickle-down approach has kept Ohio’s recovery lagging behind other states’. The last thing our country needs is more of these same failed policies.”

Let us not forget how Governor Kasich attacked working families by ramming through a repeal of collective bargaining in Ohio.  Senate Bill 5 was an all out assault on organized labor in Ohio and Governor Kasich stood behind it the entire way.

In a ‘secret video’ Gov. Kasich thanks Koch Brothers union busting front group, the Americans for Prosperity for their support.

 

Working families prevailed in Ohio, despite Gov. Kasich his anti-worker agenda.  Labor and community activists joined together to gather 1.3 million signatures demanding a repeal of Senate Bill 5.  “There were so many signatures collected that it took a team of retired police officers and firefighters four hours to unload the 1,502 boxes carrying the petitions.

After a long and drawn out battle, Senate Bill 5 was overturned by the voters.

 

We already have one anti-union, anti-worker Governor attempting to run for President.  Now we have this guy too.

 

PETITION And VISIBILITY: Stop The Reckless Budget Cuts To NH Families

Reckless Budget Cuts

Right-wing activists in the New Hampshire House and Senate want to pay for generous corporate tax cuts by slashing health and safety programs that protect Granite State communities. The proposed cuts are politically-motivated and far exceed the moderate cost reductions needed to balance the state’s biennial budget. The deepest cuts would hurt the sick, the elderly, and the homeless, but it gets worse: the latest plan would force the Department of Transportation to lay-off over one-third the workforce that plows our highways and maintains our aging roads and bridges.

Why? It’s not because these reckless politicians care about creating jobs or reviving the “New Hampshire Advantage.” It’s not because they value New Hampshire families and communities. No: these hard-core ideologues are trying to score political points with their tea-party supporters and the shady special interest groups they hope will fund their next election campaign. And they are willing to gut critical health and safety programs and downshift costs onto homeowners and towns to make it happen.

“This backward proposal includes drastic cuts to the Department of Transportation, to critical services for seniors like Meals on Wheals, to substance misuse, to mental health, to developmental disabilities, to higher education, to travel and tourism promotion, to municipalities and more, all of which will hurt our economic future and lead to downshifting to local property-tax payers,” said Governor Maggie Hassan.

Please take action to STOP the reckless and unnecessary budget cuts proposed by the New Hampshire House & Senate by adding your name to our petition.

Petition text:

We call on members of the state House & Senate to pass a responsible, balanced budget that protects taxpayers without sacrificing the essential programs and services New Hampshire families and communities depend on for our health, safety, and quality of life.

Click here to add your name to the list.

Visibility To Protest Reckless Budget Cuts

It is expected that the New Hampshire House will vote on this disastrous budget on April 1st.  That is why we are planning being there to talk to them before they go to vote.

Join labor activists and community partners as we stand in opposition to these reckless budget cuts.

April 1st
9:00AM
Outside Reps Hall
State House, Concord

You can also join our Facebook Event to stay up to date and be notified if something changes. 

Please bring your own signs or use one of ours.  We want to line the hallways of the State House to show all of the Legislators that we are against these reckless budget cuts.

Join our new Facebook page! 

The American Friends Service Committee NH and the NH Council of Churches invite you to join them for a Prayer Breakfast before they host a Vigil inside the State House:

Prayer Breakfast at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church,
8:00 Am
21 Centre Street, Concord

State House Vigil,
State House second floor
9:30 Am

You can RSVP to their Facebook Event

Rand Wilson SEIU 888: A Smart Strategy to Defeat ‘Right to Work’

Without aggressive action, the right-to-work tsunami will sweep more states. "Just Cause for All" campaigns should be part of the strategy. Photo: Glenn Schmidt.

 Photo: Glenn Schmidt.

By Rand Wilson

Without aggressive action, the right-to-work tsunami will sweep more states.
“Just Cause for All” campaigns should be part of the strategy.

Wisconsin is now the 25th state to adopt a so-called “right-to-work” law, which allows workers to benefit from collective bargaining without having to pay for it.

It joins Michigan and Indiana, which both adopted right to work in 2012. Similar initiatives, or variants, are spreading to Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and West Virginia—and the National Right to Work Committee and the American Legislative Exchange Council probably have a well-developed list of additional targets.

Without aggressive action, the right-to-work tsunami will sweep more states. To defeat it, the first step is committing to fight back, rather than resigning ourselves to what some say is inevitable.

Everyone’s Interests

Rand Wilson speaking at Local 888 convention 2014

Rand Wilson speaking at Local 888 convention 2014

We’ll have to go beyond what we’ve mostly been saying so far, which is that right to work is “unfair” or “wrong.”

That argument certainly works for most union households and many of our community allies. But the real challenge is to convince a much broader public that a strong (and fairly-funded) labor movement is in their interest and worth preserving. Clearly most Americans aren’t yet convinced.

Many unions over the last few years have undertaken important campaigns along these lines. For example, teachers unions have positioned themselves as defenders of quality public education. Refinery workers have struck for public safety.

Nurses and health care unions have fought for safe staffing to improve the quality of care. And most notably, the Service Employees (SEIU) and others have waged the “Fight for $15” for fast food and other low-wage workers.

In its own way, each union is working hard to be a champion of the entire working class. Yet with the exception of SEIU’s Fight for $15, each is essentially focused on the issues of its core constituency at work. This still limits the public’s perception of labor.

Supporters of right to work cynically play on the resentment many workers feel about their declining standard of living. Absent a union contract, the vast majority have few, if any, ways to address it. To most, organizing looks impossible and politics looks broken.

Workers’ understandable frustration is fertile ground for the far right, which promises to improve the business climate and create more jobs by stripping union members of their power.

Thus, when we anticipate right to work’s next targets, the best defense should be a good offense—one that clearly positions labor as a force for the good of all workers.

‘Just Cause for All’

Here’s one approach that would put labor on the offensive: an initiative for a new law providing all workers with due process rights to challenge unjust discipline and discharge, “Just Cause for All.”

Such a law would take aim at the “at-will” employment standard covering most non-union workers in the U.S. At-will employees can be fired for any reason and at any time—without just cause.

While such a major expansion of workers’ rights as Just Cause for All would be unlikely to pass in most state legislatures—Montana did it in 1987, but it’s still the only one—it could become law in states that allow ballot initiatives.

A well-orchestrated attack on the at-will employment standard would force the extreme, anti-worker, and big business interests who back right to work to respond. If nothing else, imagine how competing initiatives would force a debate. On one side, extending due process protections and increased job security to all workers: a real right-to-work bill. On the other side, taking away fair share contributions for collective bargaining.

This strategy isn’t untested. When the Coors beer dynasty backed a right-to-work ballot initiative in Colorado in 2008, labor collected signatures for a counter-initiative, “Allowable Reasons for Employee Discharge or Suspension,” which would have overturned at-will employment. (Labor also supported a proposal that would have provided affordable health insurance to all employees and a measure to allow workers injured on the job to sue for damages in state courts.)

Fearing that the just cause proposal might pass, centrist business people offered a deal. In exchange for labor withdrawing its proposal, they provided financial support and manpower that helped labor defeat right to work in Colorado. (For more on this story, read “The 2008 Defeat of Right to Work in Colorado: Is it the End of Section 14(b)?” Raymond L. Hogler, Labor Law Journal, Spring 2009.)

While it’s unfortunate that the labor initiative didn’t go before Colorado voters, the result was still encouraging—and instructive. By championing the interests of all workers, labor split business and blunted the right-to-work effort.

To win back “fair-share” participation in the three new right-to-work states and stop further attacks, we’ll need well-planned campaigns that include grassroots mobilization, direct action, paid and earned media, and focused electoral work.

Just Cause for All campaigns should be part of the strategy. Even if we lose, campaigns for due process and job security for all will help shift the debate on right to work, leave the labor movement stronger—and make labor and its allies once again the champions of the “99%.”

Rand Wilson is policy and communications director at SEIU Local 888 in Boston.

This story was also published on LaborNotes.

Maureen Mann: Cuts To The Department Of Transportation

potholesBy Maureen Mann,
Former NH State Rep

Originally posted at http://bit.ly/1xmjt1S

In the past week, the Republican majority of the Finance Committee of the NH House voted to approve two major changes to the DOT. First, they have taken an innocuous bill about changing a name or address on a drivers license, and replaced the original content with removal of the DOT from the state budget. Second, members of the committee have approved a cut of $88 million from that budget. This is a projected 42 percent cut in funding which includes a $4.8 million cut in winter maintenance.

Cuts to the DOT budget mean a massive lose in federal funds coming to NH.  Most major DOT projects–Route 93, the Sarah Long Bridge in Portsmouth which carries nuclear waste from the Navy Yard, etc–are based on 80/20 funds [80% federal and 20% state]. This is money NH residents have paid in federal taxes which we get back in federal grants. Currently NH sees a return of about 77 cents on each dollar paid by NH residents. Without our part of the match we will see less return and there is a serious threat that projects in progress will stop.

Route 93 is a prime example. The federal and environmental permits for Route 93 expire in 2020. If the work is not completed by that date the project stops dead.  It will take years to acquire new permits and meanwhile our neighbors in VT, ME and MA have all budgeted for increased infrastructure spending.  When heavy duty contractors such as Pike and Continental leave NH we will not get them back until projects elsewhere are done. Meanwhile, residents, tourists and business drives will sit in construction for hours.

This is a state which claims to support business. Yet poor roads and construction on Route 93 are already creating a problem in attracting new business to NH. One of the first questions asked of those recruiting businesses to NH is when Route 93 will be completed. Studies show that what really attracts business is an educated workforce, dependable and adequate transportation infrastructure, and universal high speed internet access.

According to an article in the March 19 Union Leader, $68 million of the cuts is mostly in personnel; half of DOT regular employees will be laid off. What the article does not explain is that over 60 percent of DOT employees are private contractors.  The people who build and reconstruct our highways, plow our roads, clear our ditches and cut brush along highways will be unemployed.  Some are small independents and some are huge contractor. Is this how we treat those who have worked long hours to ensure public safety during the enormous and frequent storms of this winter?”

Downshifting to our towns is another affect of the cuts.  The 4.2 cent increase in the road toll last July, combined with the current DOT budget, insured not only the completion of Route 93 but included increased funding for the six state highway betterment districts and additional funding to cities and towns. Those local costs will be downshifted to our communities which will result in more pot holes and less repair and reconstruction. We will also see closure of welcome centers and rest areas, limits and reductions in paving, closing of red-lined bridges or offers to communities to take some over. Good thing the repeal of the road toll, sponsored by our local reps, failed by such an overwhelming vote.

This is just one example of the “cut spending” mantra not being the solution, but the problem.

(Consider supporting Maureen Mann for NH State Rep via Act Blue)

Fox Business News: http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2015/03/16/new-hampshire-transportation-officials-protest-41m-cut-proposed-by-house-budget/

Concord Monitor: http://mobile.concordmonitor.com/home/16134371-108/dot-warns-lawmakers-budget-cut-would-mean-loss-of-321-employees

WMUR: http://www.wmur.com/politics/dot-41-million-cut-would-make-roads-dangerous-result-in-layoffs/31836146?absolute=true&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=wmur9_politics

Concord Monitor: http://mobile.concordmonitor.com/home/16134371-108/dot-warns-lawmakers-budget-cut-would-mean-loss-of-321-employees

NH Labor News: http://nhlabornews.com/2015/03/nhdp-bill-obrien-budget-part-2-who-will-plow-our-roads/

Union Leader: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150318/NEWS0621/150318983/1010/news06

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