A Vigil For Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming

Vigil

Vigil

Over the past several weeks there have been “visitors” to the Exit 6 overpass on Broad Street in Nashua holding signs and trying to gain support from passing motorists. Their Anti-Immigrant messages have been hateful, incendiary and ugly carrying non-welcoming sentiments and expressing strongly worded opposition to our newest community members.

Hate is not a message that solves problems. Bigotry and racism demean us all.

I think these folks must be “visitors” because Nashua and the surrounding area are Welcoming Communities, where we embrace and celebrate our differences.

In order that those hate-filled messages are not perceived by others as speaking for you or me, we are planning to hold a Vigil at Nashua City Hall on Thursday, August 28 from 5-6:30 pm. I hope that you will all be able to join us there, and bring with you messages of Acceptance, Welcoming, and Tolerance.

A Vigil for Tolerance, Acceptance and Welcoming

When: Thursday, August 28. 2014

Where: Nashua (NH) City Hall Plaza

Time: 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

For more information contact: Sylvia Gale (557-8417)

 

You can also RSVP to the NHLN Facebook Event here.

Think US Manufacturing Is In Trouble Now? Wait Till WALMART Jumps In

photo 0f 2007 Northcross Mall Wal-Mart protest by Kristin Hillery, via flikr
photo of 2007 Northcross Mall Wal-Mart protest by Kristin Hillery, via flikr

Photo by Kristin Hillery, via flikr

Hey, Richard Trumka! You didn’t need to be so darn diplomatic yesterday. My take: Wal-Mart getting into in US manufacturing is pretty much the LAST thing America’s economy needs right now.

Unless, of course, somebody’s had an attack of conscience and they’ve completely changed their business model.

Really quick, let’s look at Walmart’s business model:

The retailer has a clear policy for suppliers: On basic products that don’t change, the price Wal-Mart will pay, and will charge shoppers, must drop year after year.

Yep, it’s that old ratcheting-down thing. Works the same way as chained-CPI for Social Security benefits. Or, what’s been happening to the middle-class for the last 40 years. Death by a thousand cuts (also known as “creeping normality”). They take a little bit this year, and a little bit more next year, and a little bit more the year after that.  Wal-Mart’s business model:

Wal-Mart also clearly does not hesitate to use its power, magnifying the Darwinian forces already at work in modern global capitalism. …The Wal-Mart squeeze means vendors have to be as relentless and as microscopic as Wal-Mart is at managing their own costs. …Wal-Mart has also lulled shoppers into ignoring the difference between the price of something and the cost. Its unending focus on price underscores something that Americans are only starting to realize: Ever-cheaper prices have consequences.

Why would anybody in their right mind want to apply this business model to US manufacturing? (Other than, of course, the Walton family. But maybe having a bigger fortune than the bottom 42% of Americans, combined, isn’t enough for some people…?)

Isn’t it time to start ratcheting things UP again?

Mr. Trumka, please… save the diplomacy for elsewhere. We gotta stop this Race to the Bottom.

—–

made in prison labelAnd, oh yeah… something else about “Made in the USA.”

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve got a lot of prisons here in the US. And inmates work for really cheap wages.

That USA-grown organic produce sold at Walmart? Yep.

Stuff that gets returned to Walmart? Yep.

And that may just be the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to ALEC pushing “prison industries enhancement” laws for the past 20 years, there’s now lots and lots of stuff “Made in the USA” behind prison bars. And no way to tell how much of it ends up for sale on retail store shelves. Apparently, in some states, it’s legal to sell prison-made stuff in local stores… as long as it’s not transported across state lines.

Myself, I’m thinking it’s about time for another nationwide product-labeling campaign. So consumers will know exactly where in the USA these products are made.

H/T to the Teamsters for the really great graphic above… and to Dennis Trainor, Jr. and Acronym TV for the video below.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Walmart’s U.S. Manufacturing Summit

Image via WikiCommon

In response to Walmart’s U.S. Manufacturing Summit, which convenes today in Denver, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement:

“It’s about time Walmart figured out that America’s workers are the most qualified and the best skilled at getting the job done. For decades, Walmart has led the charge on outsourcing and a global race to the bottom.

But workers will not benefit from a Walmart-ification of our manufacturing sector. Jobs in the Walmart model won’t restore America’s middle class or build shared prosperity given the company’s obsession with low labor costs and undermining American labor standards. And the company’s ‘commitment’ to American manufacturing is meaningless unless it actually increases the proportion of its products that are American-made.

This initiative seems like an attempt to change the conversation from the need for Walmart to improve jobs for its 1.4 million retail workers in the United States. If Walmart is truly committed to rebuilding the American middle class, it can start with its own workers, most of whom make less than $25,000/year and struggle to make ends meet.

Walmart should use its two-day summit to prove the company is committed to real and substantive change and an end to corporate whitewashing.”

New Hampshire Professional Fire Fighters to Warm the Hearts of Children with New Winter Coats

b1f84edfa460528a66_22m6bxzgg

b1f84edfa460528a66_22m6bxzgg

Concord – This winter, the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire (PFFNH) are putting children first, pledging to cover over 4,000 of New Hampshire’s less fortunate children with brand-new coats. This initiative will ensure that 10% of the 43,000 NH children living in poverty will have a quality, warm coat to call their own. The initiative is in partnership with Operation Warm, a national non-profit dedicated to providing new winter coats to children in need. The statewide effort is part of a growing nationwide movement sparked by the collaboration of Operation Warm and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Fire Fighters have already begun fundraising in 19 of the 43 communities protected by the PFFNH. Each $34 donation provides another child with a brand-new coat. The goal is to reach 100 children in each community for a total of 4,300 happy, warm children. This is the first year the PFFNH is launching what will become an annual program they hope to grow each year.

“As Fire Fighters, this is what we do; we care about our communities both on and off the job. Some children in our communities need warm coats during the harsh winter months. We enter the homes of these children and witness firsthand the hardships faced by their families. Hopefully these coats will allow these kids an opportunity to focus on just being a kid,” said David Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire. Lang continued, “In an emergency Fire Fighters respond. We see this as a need for response and we are asking the community to help us by supporting this effort.”

The coats, made especially for this nation-wide program, are 100% American-made. The first known production to be brought back to the USA, this unique program is helping to rebuild an industry that has virtually died within the country.  As of now, the migration of coat manufacturing back to the USA has supported over 200 jobs.

Celebrate The 30th Annual Bread And Roses Heritage Festival

Bread and Roses Strikers

BRead and RosesThe 30th annual Bread and Roses Heritage Festival is a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, Massachusetts. It takes place in honor of the most significant event in Lawrence history: the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike.

The Festival offers a variety of music and dance performances, poetry and drama, ethnic food, walking and trolley tours, and a section for history and labor organizations. A newly introduced workshop series is kicking off in partnership with Qniversity, the Merrimack Valley Time Exchange, and the Center for Popular Economics. Returning for the 8th time is Lawrence History Live, our speakers’ tent with presentations on history and current labor and social justice issues.

We also host organizations representing the community and advocating for social justice. Lots of children’s activities in collaboration with the Lawrence High School’s Humanitarian Club: pony rides, jugglers, hula hooping, face painting, an obstacle course, bubble blowing, and more.

Bread and Roses is the only broadly multicultural festival in Lawrence, the Immigrant City. And it is the only festival in the East which celebrates Labor Day, in the most appropriate location, the site of the Bread and Roses Strike.

The festival is a one-day, free, ‘open air’ celebration for the whole family. Join us on September 1, 12-6 p.m.!

WHO: The Bread and Roses Heritage Committee
WHAT: Bread and Roses Heritage Festival
WHERE: Lawrence, MA, on the Campagnone Common, 200 Common St
WHEN: Labor Day, September 1, 2014, 12 – 6 p.m.

Contact:         Joshua Alba, Producer Email: alba.joshua@gmail.com
Festival Phone: 978-794-1655
www.breadandrosesheritage.org
Find us on Facebook under “Bread & Roses Heritage Festival”

Our Performers

Bread and Puppet Theater, famed activist theater for young and old
Hot Like Fire, award-winning, high energy, authentic Reggae from Boston
Rebel Diaz, a globe-trotting activist Hip-Hop group from the South Bronx
Ezekiel’s Wheels Klezmer Band, internationally-recognized, with contagious energy
Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band, Somerville’s activist street band
Sweet Willie D, a local favorite playing true America blues and soul
Branco and Friends – Jazz
SupNater & Steve Cool, a young Hip-Hop duo from Lawrence
Banda Joven, a local band playing Merengue Tipico from the Dominican Republic
Wilda Mendez, Latin Rock, singer/songwriter, with Dominican-Caribbean roots
Veronica Robles Cultural Center presents dancing traditions and costumes from Latin America
O’Shea-Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance—sharing their love for Irish dance and heritage
Voci Angelica, riveting arrangements of songs from every continent

UPDATED: Market Basket Lays Off Part Time Employees, Governor Hassan Responds

MarketBasketLogo-png

Governor Hassan’s Statement on Market Basket Layoffs of Part-Time Associates

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan today issued the following statement on reports that beginning next week Market Basket managers are being forced to cut or eliminate hours for part-time workers:

“We estimate nearly 8,000 people work part time at almost 30 Market Basket stores in New Hampshire. Market Basket is important to our state’s economy and plays a critical role in our communities for both employees and consumers, providing fair living wages to its employees and affordable products to its customers. I have been heartened by the support I have seen across New Hampshire for this New England tradition and by the value New Hampshire citizens place on their neighbors being treated and paid fairly.

“The reports about these reductions in hours are incredibly troubling, as many of these dedicated employees have been showing up for work and clearly value the company’s past, present and future. New Hampshire Employment Security has worked with store managers to ensure that affected employees know about available resources. Many employees, depending on their hours and individual circumstances, are likely eligible for unemployment benefits. We encourage employees to apply online for unemployment benefits, but I know that nothing can compare to the security of a job.

“While this may be a private business dispute, it is having a significant financial impact on New Hampshire – on our families, consumers, farmers and other vendors – and it will create new costs for the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund. I continue to urge Market Basket leadership to listen to the concerns of their employees and customers and reach a constructive resolution in order to keep these dedicated workers employed and reduce the impact on consumers.”

Market Basket employs nearly 9,500 people in total in New Hampshire.

#        #       #

UPDATE 3:15pm 

News from the Lowell Sun. Market Basket said, do not lay off, just do not assign hours to part time workers.

Thousands of part-time Market Basket employees will be laid off effective Sunday, according to an e-mail sent to store managers on Thursday morning — but CEO Felicia Thornton is now telling store managers to keep their employees.

“I have issued an immediate communication for all Store Directors. All Store Directors are to let their associates know that they are not laid off,” Thornton said in a statement emailed by the company Thursday afternoon. “All Store Directors as part of their normal responsibilities are able to and often do reduce hours but they need to make clear when doing so that the individuals are still employees of DSM.

Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/breakingnews/ci_26292375/update-all-market-basket-part-timers-laid-off#ixzz39jf3iKSI

No Strike Yet. IBEW And CWA Members Stand Ready To Strike Against FairPoint

Fairness at Fairpoint Vigil

Fairness at Fairpoint Vigil Last night FairPoint workers and labor supporters gathered to hold a “candle light vigil” for the IBEW and CWA contract.  In Manchester nearly 100 union members and labor supporters showed up.  We filled the street corner in front of the FairPoint building on Elm Street with people chanting and holding signs. 

We were all gathered to hear to the news from the IBEW/CWA negotiating team. Business Agent Glenn Brackett arrived around 11 pm and read the following statement: 

Statement by IBEW System Council T9 and CWA Local 1400
August 2, 2014

The Union and the Company have not reached a new collective bargaining agreement.

We will be working under the terms and conditions of the existing contract.

Your bargaining team is committed to continue negotiating until we reach a fair and equitable contract. 

This process has been long and grueling, and the company has been unresponsive to major proposals that the union has made. They have continued to be antagonistic and dismissive of all attempts to reach a fair and equitable agreement. 

We retain the right to strike and to do so without notice. Make no mistake this fight is not over and it is essential we continue to mobilize our membership.

As it stands right now, FairPoint workers will continue to work under the existing rules of their current contract.  They can go out on strike at any time, but have chosen to hold off on that for now.  

Kelly Upham-Torosian District VP for NH AFLCIO , Glenn Brackett is Business Manager IBEW, Mark MacKenzie NH AFLCIO President

Kelly Upham-Torosian District VP for NH AFLCIO , Glenn Brackett is Business Manager IBEW, Mark MacKenzie NH AFLCIO President

Stay strong brothers and sisters, we are all behind you.  

Call me if you choose to strike, I will happily walk the line with you.

UPDATED – 10:05 Am

Fairness at FairPoint just sent out this guidance for members to better understand what this current situation means.

The Union and the Company have not reached a new collective bargaining agreement. Therefore, the unions have decided to continue to work beyond expiration, without a contract, in order to fight for our bargaining objectives:

* Negotiations will continue. The bargaining committee is committed to continue negotiating until we reach a fair and equitable contract.

* Members will still earn a paycheck.

* Members will be working under the terms and conditions of the existing collective bargaining agreement. All benefits, including health care and pension, will remain in effect.

* The grievance procedure continues but arbitration may not. However, disciplinary actions can be negotiated at the bargaining table.

* Members have the right to participate in ”concerted activity.” This means that one person speaking for a group, or more than two people, can act “for mutual aid or protection.”

* The union still has the right to strike at any time.

Here are a few other pictures from last night.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Also Fairness At FairPoint posted great pictures from last nights “vigils” around New England.  Here is an example of one from Maine.

Organize The South To Change A Nation

Organize The South NN14

Organize The South NN14Organize The South

“The only way to win economic justice in America is to organize the South,” according to MaryBe McMillian, Secretary-Treasurer of the North Carolina AFL-CIO.

During this year’s Netroots Nation, one panel discussion focused on how labor and progressive organizations are building a movement to effect real social change in America.

Those of us in the labor movement often think of “organizing” as recruiting new members to join our union ranks. While organizing workers is a crucial part of “organizing the South”, the panel’s broader message is that we need to organize people to push for progressive values.

Reverend Dr. William Barber explained what these progressive values are in a recent speech at the AFT convention. He repeated them as he spoke at Netroots Nation:

  1. Rev Dr William Barber NN14Protecting workers and their rights to organize and form unions.
  2. Protecting women’s health and reproductive rights and the rights of the LBGT community.
  3. Protecting our Constitutional right to vote, making it easier for everyone to vote.
  4. Strengthening our public education system.
  5. Ensuring everyone has access to affordable healthcare.

For example, progressive organizations in North Carolina are coming together in weekly protest marches, in what they call “Moral Mondays.” McMillian explained “We have been successful in organizing multiple groups to participate in Moral Mondays because we are all under attack.”

“The South has always been ground zero for the civil rights movement,” Planned Parenthood Federation’s Carol McDonald told the Netroots Nation audience, before describing some of the most legislative “wins” that came from the Moral Mondays movement.

To effect real economic change throughout the United States, we have to stop the exploitation of workers in the South. “Organizing workers from Texas to North Carolina, we will change the South and in turn change the nation,” said McMillian.

UAW and VW

The UAW Fight For VW

In recent years, labor unions throughout the South have been working to organize workers like Will Branch, an employee at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga TN who was part of the panel discussion.

Inside the facility, UAW’s organizing efforts were welcomed by both workers and plant managers. In Germany, all of Volkswagen’s plants are unionized. They have “works councils” where labor leaders meet with mangers to discuss plans to make the plant more efficient, to make a better product, and how they can make sure that the needs of both sides are satisfied. This is exactly the type of labor-management relations that Volkswagen was trying to build in Chattanooga.

“With a local works council, workers would have a voice they can use to make Volkswagen stronger; in safety, job security and efficiency,” said Jonathan Walden, Volkswagen paint technician. “Global representation means Chattanooga workers may have a strong voice in seeking new products and bringing more jobs to Tennessee.”

Despite Volkswagen’s encouragement of the organizing efforts of the United Auto Workers, many of the local politicians were not so happy.

  • Misleading stories ran in the local media, hinting that if the workers voted for the union, their plant could be closed. (This of course was news to Volkswagen, who tried to reassure workers and their new community that they were here to stay.)
  • U.S. Senator Bob Corker made outrageous claims that VW would only expand their plant if workers rejected the union.
  • Tennessee’s Governor Bill Haslan offered $300 million dollars of taxpayer money, in the form of an “incentive” to Volkswagen, provided that the plant was not unionized.

“It’s essentially saying, ‘If you unionize, it’s going to hurt your economy. Why? Because I’m going to make sure it does,’” said Volkswagen worker Lauren Feinauer. “I hope people see it for the underhanded threat that it is.”

“Politicians subjected Volkswagen workers to a two-week barrage of anti-UAW propaganda, outright lies, distortions, and threats about the viability of their plant.  [T]heir allies… refused to reveal their funding sources and …openly republished the illicit threats in the media and among the Volkswagen workforce,” the UAW said in a written statement.

The union representation election process resulted in a National Labor Relations Board challenge, which was dropped the UAW and Volkswagen announced that they have created “UAW Local 42”, a new union local that will represent the workers at the newly created works council.

“What is best for the worker, is what is best for the company,” VW employee Will Branch told the Netroots Nation audience. “It is not the money that keeps America going, it is us, the workers.”

(That sentiment on full display in the Market Basket protests, here in New England.)

Raise Up NC (@MoralMonday Twitter)

Raise Up NC (@MoralMonday Twitter)

Workers Unite For A Living Wage

Throughout the country, workers have begun to take collective action to highlight the fact that they are being abused and underpaid.

For instance, “Raise Up for $15” is working to organize low wage workers, mostly in fast food restaurants, to push for a living wage.

Cherri Delesline has worked at McDonalds for nearly a decade to support her family. She told the crowd at Netroots Nation, “After ten years with McDonalds, I only make a little more than I did when I started.” Delesline went on to say, “Mangers at my store only make a little more than $8.00 an hour.”

Do the math. A minimum wage worker working full time only makes $15,500 a year. The federal poverty level for a family of four is $23,850. These workers are working full time – and are still living in poverty.

These fast food workers are calling for North Carolina – and the country – to “Rise Up” by paying workers a $15 per hour minimum. Raise Up has also been working to help these fast food workers in their efforts to form unions. However, these workers are not waiting for the NLRB to say they are officially represented by a union, they are going “old school.” They are speaking out collectively, holding wildcat strikes and walkouts, until store management listens to their demands.

Their fight for a living wage is only just beginning. These workers are taking a big risk by stepping out against their employer, but they also know it is the right thing to do.

UFCW Logo

Organizing For Human Rights

In North Carolina, it is not just fast food workers who are seeing the benefits of union representation. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) have been organizing at food processing plants throughout the state. They successfully organized the Smithfield Foods plant in 2008 after a decade-long campaign. Now they have turned their eyes to the Mountaire chicken processing plant, 20 miles down the road.

“Slaughterhouse work is particularly dangerous. A 2005 Government Accountability Office report states that poultry and slaughterhouse workers suffer on-the-job injuries and illnesses at a rate more than twice the national average,” wrote Aaron Lake Smith in an article for INDY Week.

The UFWC members from the Smithfield plant are using their free time to explain to the workers at the Mountaire plant just how much the union has changed their lives. But management at Mountaire is not taking this organizing drive sitting down. They are fighting back, using union busting firms and pushing the envelope of the legality of opposing workers’ right to organize. (Read the story of Isom, who is a present-day version of “Norma Rae”)

For more than a decade, the Farm Laborers Organizing Committee (FLCO-AFLCIO) has been locked in a heated battle with R.J. Reynolds over the slave-like treatment of workers who harvest their tobacco.

“While big tobacco corporations make billions, tobacco farm workers live in poverty, face racism, harassment, nicotine poisoning, lethal pesticides, miserable housing in labor camps and denial of basic human rights and labor protections,” the FLOC wrote on their website.

The FLOC has chalked up a few wins, with contract agreements with Campbell’s Soup, produce growers in Michigan and Ohio, and the 2004 contract agreement with the North Carolina Growers Association – but R.J. Reynolds still eludes them.

Some people say that, “once upon a time unions were needed to protect workers, but we have laws for that now.”

But listening to the workers in the fields, in the plants, and behind the counters, it is obvious that unions are needed now more than ever. These corporations are not just blatantly violating workers’ organizing rights, they are violating their rights as humans. The unions are helping show workers they do not have to stand for this type of treatment, and to notify the public and regulatory agencies when these corporations are violating the law.

The South will not change overnight, but after decades of struggle, unions in the South are slowly rising again.

Image Donkey Hotey on FLCKR

Image DonkeyHotey on FLCKR

Overcoming Obstacles

The Netroots Nation panel discussed some of the significantly high hurdles that will need to be overcome while “organizing the South.”

“There are lots of barriers to our organizing efforts here in the South, but cannot let that deter us,” said MaryBe McMillian (Sec-Tres of the NC AFL-CIO).

“The biggest barrier to the organizing efforts in The South are the right wing politicians,” said Will Branch (UAW Local 42). “These politicians would use their religious beliefs to push their agenda.”

Right-wing religious groups are another major obstacle. Groups like “Right To Life” are working against women’s health and reproductive rights, explained Carol McDonald.  Someone once told me, “if you’re gonna play ball in the South, you have to know the rules of the game” – and then he pointed to the Bible.

This is exactly why the Moral Mondays movement has gained such a strong foothold. Rev. Barber is showing people through passages in the Bible, and passages from our Constitution, that what these right-wing extremists are doing goes against our faith, and against our democracy.

Another of the major obstacles to overcome is race, with right-wing groups trying to pit one race against another, just like they try to pit the middle class family against the lower class family. “We are saying ‘NO’ to the race baiting by the right-wing politicians,” said MaryBe McMillian. “They are afraid of middle class white women standing with low income immigrant workers.”

McMillian talked about how they are using the diversity of the South to their organizing advantage. “African-American workers know the struggles of the new immigrant workers, and they are out educating others,” McMillian said.

“There is no need to fight each other, black, white, or brown, because we are all being mistreated by rich white men,” said Cherri Delesline, a McDonalds worker who was recently arrested when she marched on a McDonalds shareholders meeting demanding a living wage.

 

Bold and Progressive

To win back the South, we have to “be bold and think big,” said McMillian. “We need to unite people from all walks of life.”

McMillian was disappointed that some of the national labor unions and progressive organizations do not see the potential in organizing the South. “We will not only create a new south, but a new labor movement,” she said.

As they say at the closing of every Moral Monday event, “Forward Together, Not One Step Back!

 

 

Side note: MaryBe McMillian read an amazing poem called “Labor’s poem for a Moral March.” It is too long to include in this post, but here are the first few lines:


There’s too much corporate greed
And we have families to feed.

There are so few jobs, no decent wages.
Inequality tops the news pages.

Nashua Legislators Honored For Their Work On “Paycheck Fairness Bill”

Nashua Paycheck Fairness Legislators

Nashua Area Legislators Honored for Their Work to Secure Equal Pay in New Hampshire with Passage of NH Paycheck Fairness Act; Advocates Call for Congress to Follow New Hampshire’s Lead

Nashua Paycheck Fairness Legislators & Supporters New law provides all employees with tools to combat wage discrimination; appreciation event highlighted Nashua legislators who led way and called on Congress to follow

NASHUA, NH – Nashua area State Senators and Representatives were honored for their work to advance the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act during a ceremony at the Nashua City Hall Plaza on Thursday, July 31st.

Senator Peggy Gilmour, Senator Bette Lasky, and State Representatives Melanie Levesque, Sylvia Gale, Jan Schmidt, Mariellen MacKay, Cindy Rosenwald, Pamela Brown, David Cote, Marty Jack, Mary Gorman, Suzanne Vail, and Mary Ann Knowles all received certificates of appreciation during an event celebrating the passage of SB 207 and HB 1188, which combined to form the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. Governor Maggie Hassan signed the act into law earlier this month; the law officially takes effect starting January 1, 2015. All area State Senators and Representatives who supported the NH Paycheck Fairness Act were invited.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who worked full time earned, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar men earned. The figures are even worse for women of color: African American women earned only approximately 64 cents and Latinas only 54 cents for each dollar earned by a white male.

Statements from Elected Official Speakers:

Nashua Paycheck Fairness Legislators“The Paycheck Fairness Act will eliminate loopholes, increase transparency in wages, and ensure that all workers have the appropriate tools and resources to help them earn a fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation,” said State Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua), bill co-sponsor.

“This law builds on the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and provides stronger protections such as ensuring non-retaliation for employees who discuss their wages, and remedies to address pay inequity,” said State Senator Peggy Gilmour (D-Nashua), bill co-sponsor.

“On behalf of myself and my fellow legislators, I am honored to receive this token of appreciation for the long hours and hard work we put in to passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. No woman or her family should ever receive less than equal pay for equal work,” said State Rep. Mary Ann Knowles (D-Hudson), bill co-sponsor.

“This law will help protect all families. We know that when pay discrimination happens to anyone, that the individual, their spouse, and their children all suffer the ramifications of lower salaries, decreased benefits, and small retirements.  New Hampshire has taken an important step toward lessening that possibility,” said State Rep. Jan Schmidt (D-Nashua).

Statements from Event Host Organizations:

State Rep. Cindy Rosenwald Receives Certificate of Appreciation for Paycheck Fairness Work

State Rep. Cindy Rosenwald Receives Certificate of Appreciation for Paycheck Fairness Work (Left to right) Deidre Reynolds, Rep Rosenwald, Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Caitlin Rollo

“In America, we value hard work and initiative. The Paycheck Fairness Act honors that American tradition by taking steps to eliminate pay discrimination and inequality in the workplace. We appreciate the work of our local legislators to make this law a reality,” said OFA Volunteer State Coordinator Deidre Reynolds.

“Ensuring equal pay for equal work is integral to the economic security of individuals and families. On behalf of our coalition, we commend these legislators for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and for their continued efforts to build a New Hampshire that works for all of us,” said Kary Jencks, executive director of NH Citizens Alliance for Action.

While the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act passed with bi-partisan support, efforts at the federal level have stalled.

“New Hampshire passed a bipartisan paycheck fairness bill that will protect women and their families, now it’s time for Congress to follow our lead,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Everyone should support equal pay for equal work. We call on our entire Congressional delegation to take a strong stand in support of paycheck fairness.”

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster are all co-sponsors of the federal Paycheck Fairness Act. U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte voted against the Senate measure in April, blocking the bill from moving forward.

The AFL-CIO and SEIU Respond To Congressmen Ellison And Lewis’ Legislation To Make Unions A Civil Right

Image from Working America FB

Yesterday Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and John Lewis (D-GA) introduced legislation to make it easier for workers to organize and form unions.  They are making changes to the National Labor Relations Act the would make the formation of unions a civil right.

Here is a great introduction to the bill from the Washington Examiner:

“Ellison and Lewis’ legislation would dramatically expand the powers individual workers have under the act by allowing them to sue their employer in federal court under the Civil Rights Act.

The bill would also entitle workers filing lawsuits “to remedies like punitive and compensatory damages,” according to a Tuesday press release.

Currently most unfair labor practice complaints go through the National Labor Relations Board, which was created expressly for that purpose. Some labor disputes are handled by a second entity, the National Mediation Board. Big Labor has long complained the process is too slow.”

Read the full article.

After Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis introduced the “Employee Empowerment Act,” Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“This important piece of legislation introduced today by Representatives Ellison and Lewis is emblematic of their deep commitment to workers’ rights and steadfast opposition to discrimination and intimidation anywhere, particularly at the workplace. The bill gives employees whose labor rights are violated the same legal remedies as those whose civil rights are violated at the workplace.

“Too often, employees seeking to unite with their co-workers to demand better wages, benefits and workplace safety provisions face aggressive and often illegal anti-union campaigns coordinated by their employer. Intimidation, illegal firings, wrongful discipline and other tactics aimed at breaking workers’ will are commonplace when they seek to join together on the job.

“Along with Representatives Ellison and Lewis, we believe that workers have the right to stick together and that there are powerful interests dead set on stripping them of that right. In order for workers to be heard, it’s often necessary to band together so companies take them seriously. Too many employers try to prevent this so they can limit workers’ power. Collective bargaining enables employees unite as a group so they can speak with a more powerful voice.

“We thank Representatives Ellison and Lewis for their leadership and hope that House leadership will take up this bill without delay.”

After the announcement  AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement on Employee Empowerment Act:

Once again, Representatives Keith Ellison and John L. Lewis are leading in the fight to improve the lives of millions of hardworking Americans. The Employee Empowerment Act represents a crucial step towards ensuring that all workers are able to organize without the threat of retaliation and that workers will have full recourse available to them when employers interfere with their rights.

Eighty years ago, Congress made it the policy of the U.S. government to encourage the practice of collective bargaining – not just to tolerate it, but to expand it. Our economy was built on workers forming unions and engaging in collective bargaining. Further strengthening these rights is important to economic fairness. We need comprehensive changes to the law to strengthen workers’ collective bargaining rights, and the Employee Empowerment Act is an important piece of those reforms. By beefing up the remedies for workers who face discrimination or retaliation by their employers for trying to form or join a union, the bill strengthens worker protections and puts remedies under our labor laws on par with our civil rights laws. This helps better protect workers’ rights to organize and, when passed, will benefit workers and our entire economy.