State Senate Candidate Joe Duarte Questioned Whether a Female Applicant for a Town Committee Could Fulfill Responsibilities Because She is a Mother

In 2007, Duarte participated in a discussion about whether a woman – who was the only candidate for a Zoning Board of Adjustments alternate position – could dedicate the necessary time because she is a mother

Joe Duarte

Joe Duarte

Concord, NH – During a Candia Selectman meeting on April 23, 2007, several selectmen – including Senate District 16 candidate Joe Duarte – debated whether an applicant for a vacant zoning board of adjustments alternate position could dedicate the necessary time to the position because she was the mother of a young child.

The applicant, Amanda Soares, was the only person to apply for the position. While some public officials in the room stated that the applicant’s personal family commitments weren’t up to the board to comment on – and that the question would likely not come up for a male applicant – Duarte persisted:

“Selectman Lazott stated he did not want to stretch her too thin. Selectman Duarte stated he was not on with the ZBA appointment because she was just appointed to the Planning Board as an alternate. Selectman Brennan stated he did not think the appointment was a big deal pointing out that he holds a full-time job and serves on many Boards and Committees. One Selectman noted that Selectman Brennan did not have a family and this requestor does.

Selectman Giffen reiterated that Mrs. Soares was extremely capable and that the ZBA meetings were typically short. Selectman Giffen advised he would not want to turn any volunteers down. Tax Collector Sanders mentioned she was aware that Mrs. Soares no longer had a daily commute to Massachusetts. Road Agent Lewis stated some months the ZBA does not meet. Selectman Giffen motioned to appoint Amanda Soares to the Zoning Board as an alternate member. Seconded by Selectman Brennan. Chairman Kelley stated he was still deciding because he was not sure about her time considering she has a small child. Selectman Brennan said the Board should let her make her own decisions regarding her time. Selectman Duarte stated attendance for two alternates for the Planning Board last year was poor and both had families. Ingrid Byrd of Depot Road wondered if the Board would be having the family discussion if the applicant was a man … Selectman Giffen mentioned that Mrs. Soares had perfect attendance when she was on the Solid Waste Committee and Conservation Commission. (Candia Selectmen, Approved Candia Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, April 23, 2007)

The vote was postponed, but during the same meeting Duarte seconded a motion to approve two men for a town committee with no discussion of whether they have domestic responsibilities at home.

“Selectman Giffen to make recommendations on members for a Town of Candia Website Committee: Selectman Giffen advised public notice was placed in the paper for Public Meeting held on 4/19/07 for the purpose of establishing a website Committee. Selectman Giffen stated only two individuals showed up to volunteer. Selectman Giffen motioned to appoint Joe Miele and Larry Twitchell as members of the Town’s website committee with one-year terms, term to expire 4/23/08 effective today’s date. Seconded by Selectman Duarte. All in favor. Motion carried.” (Candia Selectmen, Approved Candia Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, April 23, 2007)

In a follow-up meeting about the appointment, Duarte directly questioned the female applicant about her “full agenda” including other time commitments. Soares responded by saying her husband could be home to run the household in the evenings.

Selectman Duarte noted Mrs. Soares had a full agenda and asked her if she had enough time to devote to another Board. Mrs. Soares stated most of the meetings were held in the evenings when her husband is home and able to maintain the household … ZBA Chair Boyd Chivers pointed out that Mrs. Soares was the only person who expressed interest and did not know how the Board could turn her down. Secretary Chabot verified an advertisement was run for the position and Mrs. Soares was the only interested party. Selectman Giffen moved to accept the recommendation of the ZBA for the appointment of Amanda Soares as an alternate member with a term to expire on 10/28/08. Selectmen Lazott and Duarte indicated they were opposed. ZBA Chair Chivers noted the ZBA unanimously recommended her appointment.” (Candia Selectmen, Approved Candia Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, May 14, 2007)

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“It appears Joe Duarte judges women based on his own personal opinion of what her domestic roles and responsibilities should be, rather than letting a woman decide for herself. While other public officials pushed back, Duarte persisted in making this an issue of a woman’s assumed role in a household and at no time raised concerns about the sexist nature of the conversation. In fact, he asserted that it was relevant despite the candidate’s demonstrated commitment to other town committees and the fact that she was the only applicant for the position. Duarte, himself, was serving on multiple committees at the time.”

This is not the only time Duarte has stood in the way of women. In 2014 Duarte voted against the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act, an act to ensure women receive equal pay for an equal day’s work; and in 2012 he voted to allow any employer to deny coverage for contraception based on the employer’s own personal beliefs. (SB207, Roll Call #235, 5/14/2014; HB1546, Roll Call #117, 3/7/2012) Duarte also endorsed Donald Trump for President.

Note: Soares later went on to successfully complete 5 years of service on the Candia Board of Selectmen. She resigned in early 2015 when her family moved out of the area. (Candia Selectman, Candia’s Selectmen’s Public Meeting Minutes, 1.12.15)

Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

Social Security COLA Falls Short for Seniors

social securty 1Small cost-of-living increase triggers huge Medicare Part B premium hike for many retirees

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. is calling on Congress to pass emergency legislation to prevent massive increases in Medicare Part B premiums for millions of retirees next year.

The government today announced a 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for federal retirees and Social Security recipients. The COLA is based on the year-over-year change in the prices for goods and services purchased by hourly and clerical workers.

This small COLA has inadvertently triggered a massive increase in Medicare Part B premiums for the 30 percent of beneficiaries who do not currently receive Social Security benefits.

Premiums for Medicare Part B are expected to increase 23 percent next year, from $121 a month to $149 a month. A so-called “hold harmless” provision prevents Medicare Part B premiums from increasing by more than the dollar increase in an individual’s Social Security payment. But for the 16 million retirees who don’t receive Social Security, including 1.6 million federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System, the full increase must be paid unless Congress acts.

“Congress must act now to prevent a massive increase in Medicare Part B premiums for this group of retirees,” Cox said. “Although most seniors would be protected, this group will have to pay more solely because of the uniqueness of their pension system.”

Congress last year extended the hold harmless provision to cover all Medicare Part B beneficiaries when there is no cost-of-living adjustment. However, this provision does not apply when there is a small COLA, as there will be in 2017.

Even without the increase in Medicare Part B premiums, retirees will have to tighten their belts to account for next year’s miniscule cost-of-living adjustment. Retirees already are facing a 6.2% increase in their health insurance premiums next year.

“Prices for many items that seniors must purchase are rising faster than the overall inflation rate,” Cox said. “Forcing this group of retirees to shoulder such a huge cost burden will have a devastating impact on their already modest living standards.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans have been pushing to increase Social Security benefits and change the way cost of living is calculated.

“The Alliance for Retired Americans is deeply disappointed by the announcement today that there will be a miniscule 0.3% benefit increase for millions of Social Security beneficiaries in 2017,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “For the average retiree, that means just a $5.00 per month increase, not enough to keep up with the cost of their prescription medications. This follows a 0% COLA in 2016. Most retirees are going to continue to have a hard time paying for basic necessities.”

“That’s why Congress must expand earned Social Security benefits and change the formula used to calculate future COLAs to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).  The CPI-E would base the calculation on what seniors actually spend their money on. That list includes items such as health care and housing, which account for most retirees’ spending,” Fiesta added. 

The AFL-CIO was “disappointed” with this COLA announcement.

“A weak increase that amounts to a mere $5.00 more a month for the average retired worker is a disappointment for the millions who rely on Social Security to stay afloat during retirement,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Protecting our seniors against inflation is one of the many obligations we have to retired Americans. The 2017 adjustment falls short of that goal because it fails to reflect seniors’ extraordinary expenses.”

 “The 2017 COLA not only fails to keep pace with seniors’ high health care and prescription drug costs, it also means millions of retirees, including many retired public employees, will be hit hard because the law fails to protect them against large Medicare Part B premium increases when inflation is low. State Medicaid budgets that cover Medicare premiums for low-income seniors similarly will be affected. We urge Congress to step in and limit the coming financial blow to thousands of vulnerable retirees and state budgets,” Trumka added.

Hazardous Child Labor Is Still Legal In The U.S. And President Obama Needs To End It

Tobacco, Image by Steve Snodgrass

Tobacco, Image by Steve Snodgrass

Nearly 50 members of Congress ask President Obama to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco before leaving Oval Office 

Washington, DC—Nearly 50 Members of Congress asked President Obama to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco fields in a letter sent to the White House today. U.S. child labor law allows children as young as 12 to work unlimited hours in tobacco fields as long as they are not missing school. “Voluntary policies among tobacco companies have attempted to get children under 16 out of the fields, but it isn’t clear those policies are effective or why they permit 16- and 17-year-old children to do work that is hazardous and makes them ill,” said Sally Greenberg, co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC) and executive director of the National Consumers League.

“We believe that this work is too dangerous for workers under 18,” said Greenberg. “Children working in tobacco fields suffer regular bouts of nicotine poisoning, otherwise known as Green Tobacco Sickness. They are also subjected to dangerous pesticide residues and use razor-sharp tools. We believe tobacco work should be conducted by adults who are better able to deal with the risks, and kids who have to work or who want to work should be re-directed into safer jobs.”

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) authored the letter, which asks the President to designate tobacco work for children as “hazardous child labor” and by doing so, render it illegal. Cicilline has been a persistent advocate of protecting U.S. child tobacco workers since a Human Rights Watch report, “Tobacco’s Hidden Children—Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming,” found that nearly three out of four child tobacco workers interviewed suffered symptoms that correlated with nicotine poisoning.

“Laws that allow children to risk nicotine exposure while working in tobacco fields are hopelessly out of date and put children’s health in jeopardy. President Obama should act immediately to prohibit this hazardous work for children,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In August, the CLC sent a letter signed by 110 groups, representing tens of millions of Americans, to President Obama urging him to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco before he leaves office. The Administration has not responded to the request.

In 2012, under strong pressure from the farm lobby, the Obama Administration withdrew long-overdue occupational protections for child farmworkers that would have banned child labor in tobacco while providing several other life-saving protections.

“We call on President Obama to rectify this decision and protect child tobacco workers from the dangers of nicotine poisoning before another child farmworker becomes ill at work,” said Norma Flores López, chair of the CLC’s Domestic Issues Committee. “Children who work in tobacco fields often wear black plastic garbage bags on their torsos to try to avoid contact with nicotine-laden tobacco leafs. Imagine the heat they experience in broiling sun wearing those bags? How can we subject them to those conditions?”

Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have urged the Obama Administration to issue federal rules to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco.  

On May 5, the Federal Drug Administration announced new regulations prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to children. “We’ve agreed for many years that nicotine does not belong in the hands of children,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell. 

“Despite this concern, the Obama Administration has not yet taken appropriate steps to protect child tobacco workers from nicotine poisoning in the fields,” said HRW’s Becker.

In September, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, a global leader of the movement to end child labor and child slavery tweeted a plea for the President “as a fellow Nobel Prize laureate” to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco.

“The United State has adopted the global sustainable development goal of ending child labor in the next nine years, but refuses to take the important first step of ending hazardous child labor in our tobacco fields,” said Reid Maki, director of child labor advocacy for the National Consumers League and coordinator of the CLC. “How sincerely are we embracing this vital goal if we won’t ban hazardous work that most Americans would agree is too dangerous for children—work that has been already banned in India and Brazil?” 

About the Child Labor Coalition

The Child Labor Coalition, which has 38 member organizations, represents consumers, labor unions, educators, human rights and labor rights groups, child advocacy groups, and religious and women’s groups. It was established in 1989, and is co-chaired by the National Consumers League and the American Federation of Teachers. Its mission is to protect working youth and to promote legislation, programs, and initiatives to end child labor exploitation in the United States and abroad. The CLC’s website and membership list can be found at

[Leo W Gerard] Donald Trump: Valueless

Warren Buffett threw down the gauntlet to Donald Trump again last week. It happened after Trump lied about Buffett’s federal income tax payments on national TV.

During the second presidential debate on Oct. 9, Trump said Buffett “took a massive deduction,” suggesting it was the kind that the Republican nominee used for years to dodge income taxes.

The next morning, Buffett reported to the world that he paid federal taxes every year since 1944 when he was 13. He owed $7 then. Last year, he paid $1.8 million, about 16 percent of his $11.6 million income. He gave $2.858 billion to charity that year. Yes, that’s billion with a b.

By contrast, Trump’s “charitable” foundation is under investigation for self-dealing, and he is the first presidential candidate in 40 years to refuse to disclose any federal income tax information.

In August, Buffett, who is six times richer than Trump, challenged the Republican nominee to a tax throw down. The point of honor in that duel would be revealing their returns. Buffet pointed out that both men are under audit, so that would be no excuse to chicken out. Still, Trump begged off.

Image By DonkeyHotey on FLIKR

Image By DonkeyHotey on FLIKR

It’s not enough for a presidential candidate to boast before adoring crowds. It’s crucial that candidates both embody and demonstrate American values. Those standards don’t include lying or shirking taxes or bragging about sexual assault or creating a charity to pay a candidate’s own bills. Buffett demonstrates American values in both words and actions. Trump displays utter obliviousness to those values.

Trump claims he’s going to be the law-and-order president. But in the second presidential debate, he admitted he used a nearly $1 billion business loss to avoid paying federal income taxes for years.

That means he didn’t contribute to uniforms or cars or guns for FBI agents or offices for federal prosecutors or salaries for federal judges. He’s a $10 billionaire. But he didn’t participate. He didn’t help pay for law and order. Or for veterans’ hospitals or protective gear for military personnel, for that matter. Or border patrols. He’s all bluster, but no action when the dollars count.

Trump said “that’s smart,” when confronted with his tax shirking. To mill workers and waitresses and school teachers, whose federal taxes are deducted from every paycheck, it’s not smart. It’s cheating. It’s dishonorable. It’s unethical.

Like virtually all wealthy people, Warren Buffett paid less than half the highest marginal rate of 39.6 percent. His was lower because of deductions for charitable contributions and state income taxes.

Buffett has said repeatedly, however, that such a low rate for the wealthy is inappropriate. He thinks it should be 30 percent, no matter the deductions, for anyone earning more than $5 million. That’s called the Buffett Rule because he has so strongly espoused it.

By contrast, Trump wants to lower taxes on the wealthy.

Despite Buffett’s billions, he believes in a very basic American value, the meritocracy. He plans to give 99 percent of his $65 billion fortune to philanthropic causes during his lifetime. That means his three children will inherit precious little. He explained the philosophy behind that to Fortune magazine, saying he would give them, “enough money so that they would feel they could do anything but not so much that they could do nothing.”

Giving any child, as he put it, “a lifetime supply of food stamps just because they came out of the right womb” was harmful and an antisocial act. That is a man who opposes aristocracy.

By contrast, Trump would slash the current inheritance tax by more than half, an act that would sustain aristocracy in America, like the one Trump’s own fortune arose from.

Buffett started giving his money away in 2006. He pledged most of it to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Not long afterward, the three billionaires asked other wealthy Americans to pledge at least half of their fortunes to charity.

In a letter making that request, Buffett wrote, “The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends.”

He said living in America, luck and compound interest had brought him wealth, and he and his family felt gratitude for that. If they were to spend more than 1 percent of their fortune on themselves, he said, their happiness and well-being would not be enhanced. “In contrast, that remaining 99 percent can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others. That reality sets an obvious course for me and my family. Keep all we can conceivably need and distribute the rest to society, for its needs.”

That is an American value: help others pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Donald Trump did not pledge 50 percent of his fortune to charity. In fact, his relationship with charity is truly suspect. His namesake foundation is under investigation. A new report by the New York Daily News raises doubts about whether Trump ever paid the $10,000 he pledged to 9/11 funds. And it took public badgering on Twitter late in May by Washington Post investigative reporter David A. Fahrenthold to get Trump to finally pay to veterans’ groups the $1 million Trump had promised at a Jan. 28 nationally televised fundraiser.

Fahrenthold also found that what appears on its face to be Trump’s charitable group, the Donald Trump Foundation, may not really be much of a charity. It gave money improperly to a political candidate, then lied about it on an IRS document. It may have violated laws against self-dealing by using $258,000 in foundation money to settle lawsuits against Trump and to purchase two massive portraits of Trump and a Tim Tebow football helmet. And Trump failed to properly register the foundation after he stopped giving his own money to it in 2008 and used other people’s money to fund it.

That’s not very charitable.

After Trump boasted during the campaign that he donated millions, the Washington Post made a concerted effort to track down those gifts. It couldn’t find millions. It discovered that between 2006 and May of 2016 Trump gave less than $800,000. That would be less than $80,000 a year. From a guy who claims to be a billionaire.

That does not appear to be much of an effort to help Americans who were born with no spoon in their mouths.

Buffett urged the wealthy to join him in giving to charity to aid those who drew short straws in life. Donald Trump urged the wealthy to give to his charity to aid his ability to buy portraits of himself.

America expects more in its presidents.

Verizon Spends Billions To Buy AOL & Yahoo Then Cuts Thousands Of US Jobs


Verizon’s Greedy Corporate Businesss Model Is Exactly
What Is Wrong With Our Economy

Continuing our “What’s wrong with the economy” series using Verizon as a case study…

You can read about Verizon’s decision to lay off 4,800 American workers in yesterday’s NH Labor News.  (You might have missed it in the mainstream press, under all the election headlines.)  The cuts include seven call centers as well as some retail stores.

How is Verizon going to serve its customers, once all those call centers are closed?  The company “is offshoring customer service calls to numerous call centers in the Philippines, where workers are paid just $1.78 an hour and forced to work overtime without compensation.”  (Wow.  Not exactly a living wage.)

Guess what else was in the news yesterday.  Verizon’s agreement to buy Yahoo for $4.83 billion.  So…right now, Verizon is laying off thousands of American workers while it’s spending billions to acquire another company.  Does that make any sense to you?

And I’m feeling déjà vu.

Remember that Verizon workers had to strike, earlier this year, after working without a contract for eight months while the company demanded employee concessions?  That was at the same time Verizon was buying AOL for $4.4 billion.  Does that make any sense?  Why would a company that can afford to buy another company need draconian cuts to employee pensions, health care, and benefits for workers injured on the job?

And when Verizon “buys” another company, what, exactly, does it purchase?  AOL and Yahoo sell ads on the internet, they don’t have much in the way of bricks-and-mortar assets.  So, Verizon is spending billions of dollars to… buy another company’s stock.  After spending $5 billion to buy back its own stock.

Doing the math here?  Looks to me like… between 2015 and 2016, Verizon will spend a total of $14 billion on shares of corporate stock.  At the same time it is closing US call centers, laying off American workers and demanding concessions from its unions.  Money coming out of workers’ pockets, going into the pockets of stockholders.

While you’re getting mad, remember how Congress has structured our tax system.  Investment income is taxed at about half the rate of wage income; and it’s completely exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.  So the next time you hear a politician talking about how those systems are “going bankrupt”… ask them what would happen if they taxed investment income the same way they tax our wages.  I’m guessing it would fully fund Social Security and Medicare, as well pay down a good chunk of our federal debt.  But back to Verizon.

This is what’s wrong with our economy: CEOs and directors would rather purchase stock than pay workers. And so workers’ pay has been stagnant since the 1970s… even as our productivity has kept rising.

Meanwhile, the stockmarket is in the stratosphere.  And Verizon’s stock price keeps rising.

VZ stock chart

And Verizon’s corporate officers are doing just fine. (Read the rest of our Verizon series, starting here.)

And the Federal Trade Commission has already signed off on Verizon’s offer to purchase Yahoo … so it looks like Yahoo stockholders will be getting all those billions of dollars, while Verizon’s American workers face unemployment and its Philippines employees work unpaid overtime.

Because the folks who make corporate decisions would rather buy stock than pay workers.

Things weren’t always this way.  Once upon a time, it was illegal for corporations to repurchase their own stock.  But in 1982, the SEC created a regulatory “safe harbor” — and since that time, stock buybacks have skyrocketed.  Last year, corporations spent more than $650 million buying back their own stock.  All of that is money that could have been used for job creation or wage increases or facility expansion.  Sadly, some of that money came from the pockets of workers who were laid off, had their wages cut, or were forced to accept benefit cuts. (Read more about what Verizon “bought” with their 2015 $5 billion buyback program here.)

Once upon a time, corporate mergers and acquisitions were more closely regulated; but once the regulations were loosened again, mergers have risen to an all-time high.  Last year, corporations spent $5 Trillion buying up other corporations.  Again, that’s money which is not being used for job creation, wage increases or new plants and equipment.  And, again, some of that money came from the pockets of employees declared “redundant” when their company was acquired.  (Read more about AOL layoffs when Verizon acquired the company here.  Read more about Yahoo layoffs expected when Verizon acquires that company here.)

Source: Third Way

Source: Third Way

Do the math yourself. It adds up to more than $5.5 Trillion that corporations spent — just last year — buying stock rather than creating jobs.

And some folks wonder why our economy is in such a mess.

In N.H., Michelle Obama Breaks Silence on Trump

Image by Isaac Epstein Photography

Image by Isaac Epstein Photography

By Mary Helen Gillespie
Cross posted from In-Depth NH

MANCHESTER – An emotional Michelle Obama delivered a passionate tirade on Thursday against Donald J. Trump’s admissions of sexual misconduct instead of her standard campaign speech for Democratic nominee Hillary R. Clinton.

The audience — mothers and daughters, college sorority sisters, reproductive rights activists – relished the first lady’s eloquent support of an America where human rights as well as women’s rights prevail from the White House to their house.

In doing so, Obama did not mention the name of the Republican candidate for president, referring to him only in the third-person.

(Donna Packard courtesy photo) Claire Packard was all smiles at Thursday's Michelle Obama event at SNHU.

(Donna Packard courtesy photo)
Claire Packard was all smiles at Thursday’s Michelle Obama event at SNHU.

“A candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women. And I have to tell you…I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to the core,” Obama said, her voice at times quivering.

She spoke during a standing-room-only rally for Clinton held at the Southern New Hampshire University. But the 2,000-member audience, mostly females ranging in age from 2 months old to octogenarians, knew exactly who the first lady was referencing when she described his “hurtful, hateful language about women” as shocking and demeaning.

Obama, whose body language mirrored the tension in her voice, said she felt it would be disingenuous for her to ignore the revelations of the last week by giving her usual campaign speech in support of Clinton and Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.

“It now seems very clear this is not an isolated incident,” the first lady said, labeling Trump’s comments shameful and obscene.

“It is cruel, and the truth is, it hurts,” Obama said to mounting applause and cheers. “New Hampshire, this is not normal. This is disgraceful. No woman deserves to be treated this way. It is basic human decency.”

With the Nov. 8 general election 28 days away, polls show Clinton edging out Trump in the Granite State but with a margin of error that could swing the results either way.  Obama and N.H. Democrats — U.S. Senate hopeful Gov. Maggie Hassan, incumbent U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, former U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern – all urged the crowd to ring doorbells, staff phones and carry signs to ensure Clinton wins the state’s four electoral votes.

Women, especially suburban residents, first-time voters and members of minorities, are seen as key constituents not only for a Clinton victory but for Democrats to reclaim majorities in both houses of Congress. With Clinton in San Francisco Thursday for a fund-raiser, Trump battled additional allegations of inappropriate touching, calling the claims false. In what’s being decried as the nastiest, gnarliest presidential campaign in American history, women appear to be increasingly less impressed with a candidate’s gender and more concerned with ethics and values.

The New Hampshire audience, which included Planned Parenthood supporters in bright pink T-shirts, college students in jeans and middle-aged housewives in pearl earrings, roared in unison with Obama when she spoke the now-iconic sentence she first uttered at the Democratic National Convention in response to Republican jabs: “When they go low, we go high.”

Claire Packard, 84, of Enfield, woke up at 5 a.m. to attend the event, her first political rally. Her daughters Terri Tucker, 58, and Donna Packard, 61, joined her. Their early rising was well worth the effort, Claire Packard said.

“I loved it, it was better than TV,” she said, as her daughters nodded in agreement. “Michelle Obama’s awesome, she has class,’’ Tucker said.

Anne Fenn, 63, of Londonderry praised the first lady’s tactic of not mentioning Trump by name, saying it shows Obama speaks “with her heart and her intellect.”

“She didn’t want to give him any recognition or acknowledgement. He doesn’t deserve it,” said Fenn, who started her career as a political activist campaigning for John F. Kennedy when she was six years old. “I just never stopped.”

Kasey Salter will be voting in her first presidential election next month, and the 18-year-old SHNU freshman from East Hampstead, N.H., said she attended the rally to see for herself why Obama was supporting Clinton.

“I think I will vote for Hillary Clinton because while I don’t completely agree with everything she stands for, I do think everyone demands respect which Donald Trump has shown he’s unable to give,” the fashion-merchandising major said.

The lines started forming early outside the SNHU Athletic Complex, and soon snaked around the facility, up and down its hilly driveway. Lisa Costa, 56, of Andover stood patiently under cloudy gray skies for the doors to open. “It will be good to have something to listen to rather than all the sleaze on the other side,” she said.

Inside the media area, international and local journalists set up cameras and laptops while constantly checking their mobile phones for updates along the campaign trail. Jim Cole of the Associated Press has covered New Hampshire politics for 35 years. He described this election cycle to a student journalist as a “really long road,’ adding “I’ve not seen anything like this before.”

Two-year-old Ahmee Choi kept skipping under the media rope to wave her American flag and twirl her blue-sparkled skirt, much to the delight of the press and security details. While Obama did not reference the Republican candidate by name, Ahmee’s mother, Jonetta Choi, 37, did not mince words when asked why she made the trip from Northboro, Mass., with Ahmee and two-month-old Yumi in tow.

“Trump. He brought me here today,” Choi said, then offered Ahmee a bottle of juice to curb her sparkling twirls.

Matthew Krajcik and Ericka Broderick contributed to this report. They are student journalists participating in Southern New Hampshire University’s Election Pop-Up Newsroom Project. Mary Helen Gillespie is a freelance journalist and visiting lecturer in communications at Southern New Hampshire University.

Republicans In The U.S. House Push A New Union-Busting Bill As A Campaign Prop

Buckle up brother and sisters.  Republicans in the U.S. House are trying to pass legislation to steal away your right to due process. By eliminating due process, workers lose their collectively bargained protections against wrongful termination.

Rep. Todd Rokita

Rep. Todd Rokita

This week The Hill reported:

“Rep. Todd Rokita, R- Ind., introduced the Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency Act to turn all federal employees into at-will workers shortly before the House recessed so members could campaign in their home districts.”

That’s right. He wants to turn all federal workers into at-will employees giving them the right to fire workers “at will.”

“The at-will portion of the measure would only apply to new employees hired one year after its enactment, and allow agency heads to fire workers ‘without notice or right to appeal.’”

This would eviscerate federal workers current, collectively bargained, due process procedures that require evidence and third-party review, prior to termination.  Due process is just a form of checks and balance to ensure that workers are not being arbitrarily fired because the manager has an axe to grind.  It requires that management show documentation of poor performance or of unacceptable behavior.

The bill would also completely eliminate “official time” that allows both sides to work collaboratively to resolve issues.

“By passing a law to cut official time for government workers, Congress would eliminate the ability of federal employees to represent all of their coworkers (those who pay dues and those who don’t) while in an official duty status,” said AFGE in opposition to previous attacks on official time. 

“Official time gives workers the ability to resolve disputes efficiently so employees can get back to work. It protects whistleblowers from retaliation, and helps implement new technology and other innovations to solve workplace problems.”

divided-we-begThis is exactly what Republicans want.  They want to bust federal unions who have been organizing and growing over the last few years. If they can bust unions at the federal level, it will only be a matter of time before identical legislation is passed in our State House’s taking away the rights of all public employees.

Republicans will use this bill in their campaign speeches and rallies, while raking in donations from their anti-union, corporate campaign funders.

Remember it was President Reagan’s mass firing of 13,000 air traffic controllers that empowered the private industry to oppose unions and fire workers, instead of resolving contract disputes.

We do not need another federal lead assault on working people that will end with the destruction of all unions, public and private.



New ROC Video Shows Sub-Minimum Wage Is “An Enduring Legacy Of Slavery”

onefairwage Video tells the story of the slave history of the tipped minimum wage for restaurant workers.

New York, NY – Today, Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United and One Billion Rising released a new video called “The Time is Now…for #1FairWage,” featuring award winning actor, activist and V-Day Board member Thandie Newton, star of HBO’s upcoming series Westworld, and New York-based actor and ROC member, Chantal Georges. Director Sekou Luke is an independent artist who is a former restaurant worker and member of ROC. 

The video is a direct and artful attack on the racist history of the separate, lower wage for tipped workers in the U.S. Newton describes the subminimum wage as an economic system rooted in the nation’s history of slavery that subjected people of color to different standards of governing employment. This legacy persists to this day in the form of a $2.13 federal tipped minimum wage.

Newton said of her participation in this video, “I’m proud to be working with One Billion Rising and ROC to bring the nation’s attention to the racist history of the subminimum wage for tipped workers, which forces millions of workers– more than two-thirds of them women–to endure widespread abuse and exploitation. It’s an enduring legacy of slavery, and it has to stop now.”

The two-tiered system of a separate, lower minimum wage for tipped workers has left nearly 4.5 million working people across the country struggling to survive on poverty wages. The common misperception is that tipped workers are largely white men in their thirties, making six figures at a fine-dining establishment. To the contrary, they are overwhelmingly women and people of color, working at casual restaurants like Denny’s and The Olive Garden. Forced to rely on tips — and thus the whims of customers — to make ends meet, they disproportionately endure financial insecurity, sexual harassment, and discrimination.

Currently seven states — California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, Minnesota and Nevada — have eliminated the tipped minimum wage, establishing One Fair Wage for all workers, and they have watched their restaurant industries soar. Furthermore, The White House and Department of Justice support One Fair Wage, as does the Democratic Party, which has included the elimination of the subminimum wage system in their official platform.

This video is being released in conjuncture with the launch of the fifth year of One Billion Rising global campaign, which will focus on and give increased visibility to the exploitation of women and violence against women in the workplace, and build global solidarity to demand an end to violence in all forms. The campaign will feature actions, art, and events that highlight unprecedented forms of labor abuse women face, focusing on economic and sexual exploitation.

 “We are proud to partner with Thandie and ROC United in the creation of this video that we hope will illuminate the legacy of slavery which laid the groundwork for the exploitative wages and practices that women in the restaurant industry endure today.  We hope this video will inspire everyone and anyone who has ever been served by a waitress to Rise in Solidarity to end exploitation towards restaurant workers and to demand One Fair Wage,” stated Eve Ensler, playwright, activist, and Founder of V-Day and One Billion Rising.

“Once the best kept secret in the restaurant industry, the racist origins of tipping in America is a story that must be told,” said Saru Jayaraman, ROC United’s co-founder. “In post-slavery America, tipping was viewed as a demeaning practice fit only for former slaves, whom business owners resented having to pay. Nearly two hundred years later, that rationale and practice — that tipped workers should rely on customers rather than their employers for a living wage — continues to persist, aided and abetted by the lobbying efforts of powerful restaurant industry giants like the National Restaurant Association. We must end this despicable legacy once and for all. We’re excited to partner with Thandie Newton and One Billion Rising to bring this important story to the world.”

Watch the video here

#1FairWage #TheTimeIsNow #RiseInSolidarity

Western Kentucky Steelworker says Trump’s steel deal is more proof that ‘he’s just selling snake oil’


AFT Local 1360

Donald Trump (Jamelle Bouie FLIKR)

Donald Trump (Jamelle Bouie FLIKR)

Steelworker Jeff Wiggins of Reidland, Ky., isn’t surprised at the Newsweek story that says Donald Trump used Chinese steel and aluminum instead of American-made metal in at least two of his last three building projects.

“Not at all,” said Wiggins, 55, president of Steelworkers Local 9447 in Calvert City, Ky. “Trump is a two-faced, lying snake in the grass. How’s he going to make America great again when he’s using Chinese steel and Chinese aluminum to build his buildings?”

Wiggins’ disdain for Trump is also personal. The Gerdau Ameristeel plant where he’s worked for 33 years is slated to close next month, leaving more than 100 union members jobless.

The company is idling the mill because “the Chinese are flooding the market with cheap steel, and people like Donald Trump are buying it,” Wiggins said.

According to Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald, “Trump opted to purchase his steel and aluminum from Chinese manufacturers rather than United States corporations based in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.”   

Before Eichenwald’s article was published, Trump, at a Pennsylvania rally, promised, “We are going to protect our steel workers. We can’t let China take advantage of us any more.”

Trump predicted, “Pennsylvania steel will build this country like it built the Empire State Building many years ago. And Pennsylvania steel and the incredible steel workers will send new skyscrapers into the clouds.”

Eichenwald also wrote that “Plenty of blue-collar workers believe that, as president, Donald Trump would be ready to fight off U.S. trade adversaries and reinvigorate the country’s manufacturing industries through his commitment to the Rust Belt. What they likely don’t know is that Trump has been stiffing American steel workers on his own construction projects for years, choosing to deprive untold millions of dollars from four key electoral swing states and instead directing it to China—the country whose trade practices have helped decimate the once-powerful industrial center of the United States.”

Wiggins says he knows Trump has been shafting American workers for years. Also president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, he points out that clothing and many other products that Trump sells stateside are made in China and other low-wage countries.

“Why doesn’t he bring those jobs back? He’s just selling snake oil, and people are buying it.

 “He’s a guy who makes money off other people–tells them lies. How’s he going to bring manufacturing back when he’s buying stuff from over there? He’s going to do whatever is cheapest for him where he can make the most money. He doesn’t care about American jobs.”    

Steelworkers Blast Trump Over Use Of Cheap Chinese Steel

Union Launches Awareness and Education Campaign: Trump Betrayed USW Members, Families and Communities for Cheap Chinese Steel and Aluminum 

The United Steelworkers (USW) today launched an awareness campaign to educate union members after Kurt Eichenwald’s investigative report for Newsweek exposed Donald Trump’s use of Chinese steel and aluminum for several recent, high-profile construction projects.

In light of the report, which outlines how Trump purchased the steel and aluminum from China using shell companies in the British Virgin Islands to cover his tracks, USW International President Leo W. Gerard called the Republican candidate’s statements about foreign trade and the need to create and maintain jobs in America’s manufacturing sector “hypocritical” and “fundamentally dishonest.” 

“Trump desperately tries to appeal to Midwestern working class voters with promises to stand up for American workers and bring manufacturing jobs back to Ohio and Pennsylvania,” Gerard said, “but he sold out those very workers, their families and communities to save a few dollars on cheap building materials from Shanghai and Guang-Dong.”

“With 13,000 people laid off in the steel industry and another 6,000 out of work in Aluminum, Trump personally profited from his scheme to cheat American companies and workers out of hundreds of millions of dollars in sales that went to China instead,” Gerard said. “How can he make America great if he refuses to make anything in America?”

Hundreds of USW activists and volunteers are already spreading the message that Trump cannot be trusted to protect American jobs. The union also will continue to educate its members about the GOP candidate’s anti-union, anti-worker record – from supporting so-called “right-to-work” legislation to the way he’s refused to negotiate employees at his hotels and casinos.

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

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