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Preparing For The Fight Ahead By Learning From Dr. King

Tomorrow is Dr. Martin Luther King Day. The day we all celebrate the man who led the civil rights movement and pushed for equality between blacks and whites. He fought against discrimination, injustice, and against poverty. He fought for voting rights, for unions, and for all working people.

The things he fought for and against may seem very different but in truth, they are all connected.

How could blacks in the South effect change in Washington without the ability to vote? How could they make their voices heard on issues facing this country without the ability to vote?

What was the plan to combat poverty? By giving them the chance to form unions and bargain for better wages. How could they ensure pay equity between blacks and whites? Through strong labor agreements that ensured, regardless of the color of their skin, all workers were paid equally for doing the same job.

It is all connected and Dr. King understood better than anyone else.

Now, we have a President-Elect and a Congress that wants to take us back to the 1950s. Together they are working to roll back voting rights, making it harder for people to vote, specifically low-income people of color.

They want to roll back workers rights, making it harder for them to form unions. They push anti-union legislation to repeal workers rights to collectively bargain for wages and benefits. They continue to oppose raising the minimum wage, forcing millions of Americans to work two or three jobs just to survive.

They want to undue all of the progress we have made since Dr. King.

In a few days our nation will inaugurate President Trump, who was whole-heartedly supported by white nationalists and the Ku Klux Klan. The same people that Dr. King fought against before the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.

President-elect Trump wants to re-establish legal discrimination but not solely on the color of their skin but by the religion they choose to believe in because it is different than theirs.

Trump campaigned on the idea of creating a Muslim registry to identify all of the Muslims living in the United States, regardless of their citizenship.   Hitler did the same thing to the Jews in Europe before putting them into concentration camps. Our own government did the same thing to the Japanese-Americans, before placing them in camps after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

These nationalist hate groups want to do the same thing to the Muslims. History shows us that it all began with a registry.

We are in for some very dark days ahead. The attacks on workers have already begun. The attacks on people of color are still ongoing and getting worse as Trump’s administration takes shape.

As Dr. King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Some of you have seen this hatred before. Some of you may even have the scars to prove it. George Santayana once said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

We must learn from the past, from the teachings of Dr. King and other civil rights activists.

Using the tools that Dr. King showed us over a half-century ago we will stand together, arm-in-arm and refused to be moved. We will fight, together as one, against the hatred and discrimination that is coming down the road.

As Dr. King said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

Investing in NH’s Future Conference Examines Key Areas Essential to Sustaining a Strong Workforce

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute’s fourth annual budget and policy conference, “Investing in New Hampshire’s Future: Strategies to Maintain a Strong Workforce and a Vibrant Economy,” was held Friday, January 13 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, NH. More than 175 Granite State leaders gathered for the event, which featured a broad range of speakers addressing issues that impact New Hampshire’s ability to sustain and expand its workforce in the coming years.

“There is shared recognition that New Hampshire must take steps to boost its workforce to sustain a vibrant economy in the years ahead,” said John Shea, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “It will take collaborative public-private partnerships, innovative solutions, and long-term vision to address this challenge and to build a strong foundation for the future.”

“We must be mindful that this need to boost the workforce exists across our economy and at all levels of the income spectrum,” added Shea. “We need to help ensure that residents of all ages have access to education and training that will prepare them for the job market as well as to health care, housing, transportation and child care that is affordable and accessible, enabling them to access employment opportunities.”

In his keynote address, Jeff Fuhrer, Executive Vice President and Senior Policy Advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, reviewed key economic trends from 2016 and outlined specific indicators that raise cause for concern.

“The economic challenges in New Hampshire mirror some national challenges,” added Fuhrer. “While overall statistics are good for the state, there are pockets of chronic poverty, unemployment, and substance misuse, which make it more difficult for area residents to achieve economic stability.”

The importance of a healthy and well educated workforce was emphasized throughout the day. Addressing the audience at the opening of the event, Amanda Grappone Osmer, Fourth Generation Steward of the Grappone Automotive Group, outlined how commitment to the health and well-being of employees has enabled the company to both attract and retain quality employees.

Access to health care for individuals and their family members is essential to ensuring economic stability for employees, and contributes to increased productivity in the workplace. The first session, moderated by Jo Porter, Director of the University of New Hampshire Institute of Health Policy and Practice, outlined the current landscape of the health insurance market in New Hampshire. Lori Shibinette, Deputy Commissioner, NH Department of Health and Human Services, provided an update on the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which currently covers 51,000 Granite Staters, including many part-time and seasonal workers with no other access to health care.

Providing perspective as a primary care physician, Dr. Vasuki Nagaraj, Medical Director for Lamprey Health Care – Nashua, outlined how access to health coverage has enabled his patients to address medical needs and remain part of the workforce. The importance of mental health and substance use disorder coverage was addressed by Suellen Griffin, President/CEO, West Central Behavioral Health – Lebanon, who noted the connection these benefits have to both supporting a healthy workforce and addressing the state’s current opioid crisis.

New Hampshire’s own W.S. Badger Company, a family owned business based in Gilsum, offers an array of health and wellness-related benefits that have helped the company to attract and sustain its workforce. Deirdre Fitzgerald, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, W.S. Badger Company, outlined the company’s various offerings, which include paid and extended family leave and subsidized childcare, among other programs.

The second session focused on education through the workforce pipeline, which begins with early childhood and continues through primary and secondary education to higher education and workforce training. Moderated by Katie Merrow, Vice President for Community Impact for the NH Charitable Foundation, the session featured a discussion of successful programs currently underway to help residents of all ages develop the skills they need for the modern job market. Panelists included Marjorie Droppa, Project Director of Impact Monadnock; Natasha Kolehmainen, Curriculum Director for the Pelham School District; Beth Doiron, Director of College Access and Dept. of Education Programs and Initiatives for the Community College System of NH; and Mike Baymiller, Vice President of Human Resources for Hypertherm, based in Hanover.

The final session examined housing, transportation, and child care, three areas of common concern in communities across the state. Moderated by Yvonne Goldsberry, President of the Endowment for Health, the session also included discussion of what makes a community an attractive place to live and work as well as efforts underway to make the state more welcoming to new immigrants, who are vital the future of the state’s workforce. Panelists included Ben Frost, Director of Legal and Public Affairs for NH Housing; Marti Stone Ilg, Executive Director, Lakes Region Child Care Services Inc.; Nathan Miller, Principal Transportation Planner, Southern NH Planning Commission; and Tracy Hatch, President/CEO, Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

Event sponsors and partners included: New Futures, Reaching Higher NH, Child and Family Services of New Hampshire, Full Circle Consulting, the Campaign for a Family Friendly-Economy, and the New Hampshire Business Review.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin: Taking Action Against Right To Work

January 13, 2017

On Tuesday, January 10, hundreds packed Reps Hall in the State House for the Senate Commerce Committee public hearing on SB 11, the proposed “right to work” legislation. From 1 pm into the evening, a long line of witnesses, including Senators, Representatives, labor leaders, and working people (union and non-union) spoke against so-called “right to work” legislation. They pointed out that it would bring no new economic investment to NH, would inject the State into the negotiations process, and was simply an attempt to financially cripple labor unions and thereby weaken their ability to better the working conditions and the lives of those they represent. And then, at the end of the day, without taking any time to consider evidence presented, the Committee voted 3-2, along strict party lines, to send SB 11 onto the Senate, with a recommendation of “ought to pass.”

The full Senate is expected to vote on SB 11 (“right to work”) next week, in its session on Thursday, January 19. So what have we learned?

First, all the talk by Republican leaders regarding bipartisanship and cooperation “across the aisle” was just that, talk. It is clear that their strategy is to try to “fast track” and ram SB 11 through the NH Legislature as quickly as possible. Logic and reason and careful consideration of the issue are not part of the plan, because these would only slow down their anti-union and anti-working families agenda.

Second, we also see that many NH legislators are quite willing to do the bidding of out-of-state lobbying groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, the National Right to Work Committee, and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). All three draw significant funding from corporate sources, and in the case of ALEC, they are the actual authors of much of SB 11. The sponsors of SB 11 don’t even do their own work; rather, they copied large swathes of ALEC’s model or suggested “right to work” legislation and pasted it directly into SB 11. So what we now have is anti-union and anti-working families legislation written by corporate interest groups being foisted upon New Hampshire with little to no reasoned consideration or careful examination. This is the “selling” of New Hampshire. Perhaps this is what Gov. Sununu meant in his inauguration speech when he announced “New Hampshire is open for business.”

Two other major anti-labor bills also came forward this week. One, HB 520, is simply another version of ‘right-to-work,’ introduced in the NH House to be taken up in case the Senate version, SB 11, fails. The other bill is HB 438, which would bar all public employers from agreeing to payroll deduction of union dues, thereby making it much more difficult for unions to collect dues from members. This latter bill was part of Governor Scott Walker’s assault on public-sector labor unions in Wisconsin and has proven highly successful. There are no arguments here about freedom or rights—this is a straightforward effort to effectively destroy public sector unions, your unions. If anyone had doubts as to the intentions of our opponents, those doubts should now be erased. Their goal is clear—destruction of organized labor in New Hampshire.

What is there to do? Email your Senator or even better, call your Senator. Tell them who you are, that you are a union member, you oppose “right to work” and you want your senator to do so as well.

Who is your Senator? Go here to find out: Find Your Senator.

Need their email address or a phone number (office or home)? Go here and click on your Senator’s photo or use the email or office phone number listed on this page: Senator Contact Information

You need not be fancy or incredibly articulate—just a short message of who you are, what town you live in, and you want her/him to oppose right-to-work. And do it in the next few days, before they vote on January 19!

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

“Right To Work” And “Concealed Carry” Are The First Two Items In NH GOP Agenda

Republicans push a purely ideological, partisan, and divisive agenda today in the NH Senate.

Today, the Senate held public hearings on SB 11, the so-called “Right to Work for Less” legislation, and SB 12, which repeals NH’s concealed carry permitting law.  

A few hundred people gathered in Representatives Hall to share their opposition to the so-called “right to work” legislation.  Over 120 people spoke in opposition to SB 11 and testimony lasted for over five hours.  After the testimony ended, the committee quickly voted SB 11 as “ought to pass” along party lines (3-2).  

Labor unions spoke out against the quick vote “ought to pass” by the Senate committee.  Glenn Brackett, President of the NH AFL-CIO released the following statement:

“I am grateful to all of our brothers and sisters who traveled from towns and cities across the Granite State to stand in Solidarity with us as we voiced our opposition to SB11, another so-called ‘Right to Work’ bill that is now before the New Hampshire State Senate. I was disappointed that after listening to four hours of impassioned testimony, from over one hundred speakers, that three members of the committee immediately voted to pass SB11 without further discussion or research. I would like to thank Senator Donna Soucy, and Senator Bette Lasky for voting against this deceptive legislation and standing up for New Hampshire working families. We will need your support in the fight ahead.

Every two years, corporate special interest come to New Hampshire to try and pass ‘right to work for less’ legislation that would make life harder for New Hampshire working families. And every two years, concerned citizens, activists, union members and community leaders come together to fight for working families. In New Hampshire, bi-partisan support has defeated efforts to pass so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation for decades because these laws only weaken workers’ freedom to bargain for respect, fair pay and safety on the job. Fraudulently-labeled ‘Right to Work’ is theft by deception legislation, and it remains wrong for New Hampshire. 

If the legislature is seriously interested in creating jobs and bringing business to New Hampshire, they should focus on lowering the cost of energy, and investing in education and infrastructure. New Hampshire deserves real solutions to real problems, and not partisan politics. The legislature was elected to advocate for the best interests of all New Hampshire working families, and that is why they must protect our rights and stop any form of so-called ‘Right to Work.’”

Rich Gulla, President of the State Employees’ Association (SEIU Local 1984) released the following:

“I am disappointed the Commerce Committee decided on a 3-2 vote to send SB 11 to the full Senate ‘Ought to Pass’, despite the compelling testimony offered today in opposition of so-called Right to Work legislation. SB 11 is a tired, recycled bill that has been defeated time after time in New Hampshire with significant bi-partisan support. Yet, extreme conservative out of state special interest groups are pushing it once again.

NH legislatures, regardless of political party, have struck this type of legislation down repeatedly because they understand that Right to Work is Wrong for New Hampshire families and businesses.

It is wrong for NH families because studies show states with similar legislation have lower wages, less economic opportunity, and higher unemployment rates.

It is wrong for NH businesses because it is an overreach of government into private business affairs. In fact, the bill calls for fines and even jail time if businesses do not fully comply.

I urge our Senators to see beyond the misinformation and say no, again, to this recycled bill. It’s time to address issues that actually help NH families and businesses, such as resolving the opioid crisis, extending broadband services to all of NH, and addressing our skyrocketing energy costs.”

The NH Senate is expected to vote on SB 11 in January 19th. 

Democrats and advocacy groups were outraged over the purely ideological, partisan, and divisive agenda the Republicans are pushing.  

The first official vote of the new session was to repeal a 94 year old law requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon, bill that was vetoed by Governor Hassan last year and is opposed by the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police.  

“SB 12 is another attempt by the gun lobby to allow anyone in New Hampshire to legally carry a hidden, loaded handgun. Requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon has worked well for New Hampshire for more than 90 years,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “These licenses are very easy and quick to obtain and do not place an unreasonable burden on law abiding citizens. SB 12 is a radical piece of legislation that will jeopardize public safety. The common sense law we have in place now allows local police departments to deny a license when there is reason to believe a person is a danger to themselves or others. For example, if an individual in a community is a known domestic abuser but has yet to be indicted, or has a hot temper and a habit of getting into bar fights, New Hampshire thankfully provides our local police departments with the ability to reject their concealed carry application. With this vote, New Hampshire is opening the door to allow dangerous individuals with a track record of violence to legally carry hidden, loaded weapons.”

“Despite the claims by Governor Sununu and Republicans in the legislature last week, it’s clear that Republicans are focusing on an agenda that’s out of touch with New Hampshire’s working families,” said Sen. Donna Soucy, ranking Democratic member of the Senate Commerce Committee. “I’m disappointed that instead of focusing on areas that expand opportunity for everyone, Republicans are making it harder for people to earn a living, harder for people to support a family, and interfering with the relationship of employers and their employees.”

“In states with ‘Right to Work for Less’ laws, workers on average have a lower standard of living, bring home less in their paychecks, and go without health care coverage more frequently,” added Sen. Soucy. “That’s why Democrats and Republicans have rejected ‘Right to Work for Less’ for decades in New Hampshire and I’m surprised that Governor Sununu and Senate Republicans have chosen to fast-track this divisive policy. ‘Right to Work for Less’ is wrong for New Hampshire—it will reduce wages for workers, put the government between employers and employees, and cause unnecessary harm to New Hampshire’s working families.” 

“The partisan agenda being rammed through the Senate this week are not the priorities of New Hampshire families,” said Sen. Bette Lasky, Vice Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I’m deeply concerned that Governor Sununu and Senate Republicans have chosen to push divisive priorities right out of the gate this year rather than focusing on areas we can work together to expand economic opportunity for all our citizens.”

NH AFL-CIO President Brackett’s Statement On SB11 Hearing, “Right to Work (For Less)”

Statement From New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett
On First Legislative Hearing For SB11-FN, So-Called “Right to Work” Bill

Concord – New Hampshire AFL-CIO President, Glenn Brackett, released the following statement after the conclusion of the first hearing of the legislative session on a so-called “Right to Work” bill (SB11-FN): 

“I am grateful to all of our brothers and sisters who traveled from towns and cities across the Granite State to stand in Solidarity with us as we voiced our opposition to SB11, another so-called ‘Right to Work’ bill that is now before the New Hampshire State Senate. I was disappointed that after listening to four hours of impassioned testimony, from over one hundred speakers, that three members of the committee immediately voted to pass SB11 without further discussion or research. I would like to thank Senator Donna Soucy, and Senator Bette Lasky for voting against this deceptive legislation and standing up for New Hampshire working families. We will need your support in the fight ahead. 

Every two years, corporate special interest come to New Hampshire to try and pass ‘right to work for less’ legislation that would make life harder for New Hampshire working families. And every two years, concerned citizens, activists, union members and community leaders come together to fight for working families. In New Hampshire, bi-partisan support has defeated efforts to pass so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation for decades because these laws only weaken workers’ freedom to bargain for respect, fair pay and safety on the job. Fraudulently-labeled ‘Right to Work’ is theft by deception legislation, and it remains wrong for New Hampshire. 

If the legislature is seriously interested in creating jobs and bringing business to New Hampshire, they should focus on lowering the cost of energy, and investing in education and infrastructure. New Hampshire deserves real solutions to real problems, and not partisan politics. The legislature was elected to advocate for the best interests of all New Hampshire working families, and that is why they must protect our rights and stop any form of so-called ‘Right to Work.’” 

AFT-NH President Ley’s Testimony Against SB11, “Right to Work”

Testimony of Douglas Ley In Opposition to Senate Bill 11

I am president of AFT-NH, representing 4000 teachers, para-educators, school support staff, town and municipal employees, police officers and first responders. As such, I have been asked to present letters from a number of our local presidents regarding this proposed legislation and ask that you read these with care and consideration. I have letters from the Presidents of the Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers, Hudson Federation of Teachers, Newfound Teachers’ Union and Timberlane Teachers’ Association.

My own testimony shall be brief, to the point, and is rooted in my long-standing public opposition to so-called ‘right to work’ legislation as well as my membership in a private sector union local with agency fee. Within that local at Franklin Pierce University, over 90% of bargaining unit employees are full members of the union. One full-time employee and a small number of part-time employees opt for the lower agency fee or a third option provided within our contract, ‘charitable contribution.’

Our ‘agency fee’ is really a ‘recovery cost payment,’ which helps defray the cost of negotiation and the enforcement of our contract. We have a good relationship with our employer, but nevertheless, there are constant questions of contract interpretation as well as various personnel issues which arise each year, all of which require investments of time and resources to resolve, whether it be through local activity, working with our state federation, or even calling upon the resources of our national offices. Like us, our employer also incurs costs to negotiate and enforce our collective bargaining agreement. They recover their costs by incorporating them into the operating expenses of the University, charged against students and others using the University. All we ask is the continued ability to act in similar but more limited fashion, to have employees who benefit from the collective bargaining agreement contribute to defraying the costs of negotiation and implementation.

I have worked at FPU for 26 years, and during that entire span there has been an “agency fee” option. In keeping with Federal and NH statutes, no one is required to join the union, but all must contribute in some form as mandated by our collective bargaining agreement. In twenty-six years, I know of no individual who declined employment due to this requirement, and as stated earlier, virtually every eligible employee has joined the union. Management agreed to this provision many, many years ago and has never brought forward a proposal in negotiation to eliminate agency fee. Similarly, in my experience working for AFT-NH, I can state that approximately half of our locals have agency fee, and no employer has ever proposed eliminating it. It is a provision freely agreed to by the two signatory parties to a contract, and the contract is then duly ratified via democratic process by employees in the bargaining unit and the governing body of the public employer after approval by the legislative body. Therefore, it is an excellent illustration of local flexibility and local control, long-standing NH traditions. To pass this legislation will only further inject the State into what is a localized and in many cases, private relationship and process, setting the stage for possible further restrictions upon employers and the bargaining agents of employees.

In sum, “right to work” interferes with the freedom to negotiate and engage in collective bargaining and resolves a problem which does not exist. Statute already prohibits requiring union membership as a condition of employment, and every potential employee already has the right to decide to accept a job, with all the conditions and requirements laid out by the employer, which in this case, could include support for maintaining the mutually-agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement. I respectfully ask that this Committee honor that freedom and local control, by rejecting so-called “right to work” legislation.

Timberlane Teachers Association: “Right To Work” Is Disrespectful To Workers

January 8, 2017

 

Re: Written Testimony In Opposition to Senate Bill 11 

Dear Honorable Chairman Innis and Members of the Committee, 

Due to work obligations, I am unable to attend the hearing on Senate Bill 11. However, I would like my letter entered into the record.

I am a fourteen year teaching veteran at Timberlane Regional High School. I have proudly served my teachers’ union as a building representative, Vice President, and, currently, as President of the Timberlane Teachers Association, AFT #4796. I am proud to say that this union of professionals has worked tirelessly to improve working conditions and quality of life for our members. Our union is also an open shop: we do not charge an agency fee. This means that the hard work that our paying members provide benefit all professional employees in the Timberlane Regional School District. It is only because of the selfless efforts of the Timberlane Teachers Association that we have been able to provide a contract that respects the professionalism and work of our teachers as they prepare the next generation of civil servants, entrepreneurs, and leaders. The value of this important work is reflected in the contract that they work under. So-called “Right-to-Work” legislation, like SB 11, severely undermine the respect shown to these professionals and the work they are charged with doing.

Legislation, like SB 11, does not improve quality of life for employees and their families. It does not show the respect or value we, as a society, should be presenting these professionals with. Instead, it inserts the government into the private negotiations between the employee representatives and their employer. It is, at its heart, big government. It undermines trust that is built by years of cooperation and negotiation between employee unions and employers and results in poor-quality contracts for employees, if any contract at all.

So-called “Right-to-Work” legislation also hurts families and local economies. As we have seen made abundantly clear in states that have shortsightedly enacted such legislation, like Wisconsin, RtW laws result in lower pay for employees, fewer benefits, and a lower quality of life for citizens. When employee purchasing power is reduced or hampered by such conditions, it ultimately feeds into the local economy, resulting in depressed local markets and, eventually, a labor shortage, as RtW laws have never resulted in an influx of business to a state and as workers seek better conditions in states that respect and value them.

Finally, legislation like SB-11 are unnecessary in states like New Hampshire. Since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and state-level legislation, no employee is forced to join a union in New Hampshire. Membership is voluntary, already. Thus, the only reason for legislation like SB-11 is to undermine the good work of unions and erode away the hard fought improvements in quality of life achieved only because of the work of unions in America.

I ask that you vote Inexpedient to Legislate on Senate Bill 11 so we can move forward with a positive agenda for NH. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Ryan Neal Richman
President, Timberlane Teachers Association, AFT 4796

AFSC-NH’s Testimony Against SB 11, “Right To Work”

Statement on SB 11, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union

January 10, 2017 

I am Arnie Alpert, Co-Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Hampshire Program. I am also a member of UNITE-HERE Local 66L and the UNITE-HERE New England Joint Board. I am pleased to be able to appear before you today both as a union member and as a representative of my employer to urge your rejection of the so-called “right to work” bill.

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that turns 100 years old this year. Throughout almost our entire history, going back to 1922 when we provided humanitarian assistance to unemployed coal miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, we have assisted working people who have sought to better their lives and working conditions. In 1936, a year after President Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act, the AFSC Social-Industrial Section drafted a statement “on the attitude that the AFSC should take towards organized labor.” The statement noted, in part:

Collective bargaining by groups of workers with employers is therefore desirable in order that workers may meet management on something like equal terms when they bargain for rates of pay, conditions of work, and security of employment.

Since then, from the textile mills of North Carolina to the orange groves of Florida to the grape fields of California, to the maquiladora factories along the Mexican border, and in countless kitchens and construction sites, the AFSC has stood with people who have sought employment, living wages, and dignity on the job.

The ability of working people to attain a decent standard of living is threatened in our country and in our state. According to the NH Housing Finance Authority, the statewide median rent of a two-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire was $1206 in 2016. That means it takes an income of more than $48,000 a year to afford a typical apartment. That’s more than three times what a worker makes at the current minimum wage.

If the purpose of SB 11 was to provide jobs at decent wages so that working people could afford decent housing, we would be enthusiastic about it. But what is called “right to work” is not about ensuring that all people have the right to a decent job. To the contrary, it is about undermining the ability of working people to organize among themselves and bargain collectively with their employers.

By making it more difficult for workers to organize, “right to work” would force down the wage levels of all working people in New Hampshire. The ability to afford health care would be threatened. The ability to pay taxes to support schools would be diminished. The state’s housing crisis would intensify. More people would seek public assistance.

Over the years, in this country and around the world, the American Friends Service Committee has observed that strong unions help their members better their wages and working conditions, but also can be powerful advocates for human rights and a better standard of living for everyone.

If you are interested in reducing poverty and giving more people access to decent jobs, you should recommend this bill inexpedient to legislate.

Hudson Federation Of Teachers President’s Testimony Opposing SB 11 “Right To Work”

Honorable Daniel Innis, Chairman
Senate Commerce Committee
107 North Main Street
Concord NH 03301 

Re: Written Testimony In Opposition to Senate Bill 11

Dear Honorable Chairman Innis and Members of the Committee,

Due to work obligations, I am unable to attend the hearing on Senate Bill 11. However, I would like my letter entered into the record.

I have been an educator in New Hampshire for over fifteen years. Today’s educators face many challenges, as the expectations placed on teachers have increased to issues beyond the classroom over the past decade. We no longer just need to be concerned with curriculum and assessment; we now need to often act as surrogate parents. Without the protection of a union, teachers could be exposed to unrealistic expectations as districts struggle to solve cultural problems through the classroom.

Unions help towns be competitive when they are seeking qualified applicants. Unions provide employees with fair wages and benefits, which can’t be changed through the whim of temporary board members. Unions allow employees to have a voice, without the fear of repercussions, which creates an environment where the best solutions can be sought to create the best outcomes for students.

As president of the Hudson Federation of Teachers, we have over 98% of our members choosing to join the union. They understand what being a union member provides for them. No member is forced to join, but our members appreciate having supplemental insurance, members who negotiate contracts for them, and members who will represent them should they request it. Unions make working situations better for everyone.

With all the challenges facing New Hampshire, such as the opioid crisis, it seems that there are other issues that requires the time and energy of our legislators rather than fix something that is not broken.

I ask that you vote Inexpedient to Legislate on Senate Bill 11 so we can move forward with a positive agenda for NH. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Lavoie

President, Hudson Federation of Teachers Local 2263

Republican, Teacher, and Union President, Opposes So-Called Right To Work In NH

Written Testimony From  Richard (Alex) Luhtjarv, President, Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers, Opposing SB 11

Dear Senator Avard,

I am writing to you as my State Senator and asking you to vote no on SB 11. I am a Republican, but also the President of a local teachers’ union. While many may feel that those two positions are contradictory, I do not. The reasons why I am both are very similar – I feel the Republican party AND labor unions protect the value of hard work. I was taught that the key to lifelong success was giving it 110% in school and at work.

As a teacher, I pass on those values. However, in my 17 years as an educator, I have been a witness to many situations where quality teachers have been subjected to unfair decisions in which the union was their only defender. There is value in that service to defend hard work.

I have also been a part of three different negotiating teams and each time, we worked together with the district to negotiate fiscally responsible contracts with fair pay and benefits while trying to mitigate the burden on taxpayers. There is value in that service to reward families of workers who have dedicated their careers to helping their students become productive members of the community.

Right to work bills are shortsighted. Our union currently has 100% participation among the teachers of our district. All of our teachers have benefited from the services provided by their local union. We use dues to help support that local work in advocacy of member interests and through collective bargaining. We also use dues to contribute to local charities and organizations, such as the food pantry and local youth athletic association.

Right to work would undermine our ability to continue to be a positive presence in our community. I hope that as a fellow Republican, you will read this letter, and 1. Consider voting against SB 11, but 2. Realize that the stereotypes that exist about unions in 2017 are just not accurate.
Thank you for your time and consideration,

Richard (Alex) Luhtjarv

President, Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers

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