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Shaheen And Hassan Push Back Against Hiring Freeze At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Shaheen Leads Bipartisan Congressional Letter Calling for Exemption of Federal Hiring Freeze for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard & Navy Shipyards Around the Country

**Recent executive order signed by President Trump has caused shipyards across the country to suspend hiring**

**In letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, senators urge him to “consider the impact of the Memorandum on the Navy, public shipyards and national security, and issue clear guidance to immediately exempt all Navy civilians from the hiring freeze” ** 

(Washington, DC) — Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), joined by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis calling for Department of Navy shipyard civilian employees to be exempt from the recent executive order signed by President Trump that freezes federal hiring. While the President’s executive order states that it does not apply to military personnel or positions considered essential to meet national security responsibilities, the uncertainty has caused shipyards across the country, including Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, to suspend all hiring. Senator Shaheen’s office has learned that several new hires have received letters indefinitely postponing their start date.

“We believe a hiring freeze may have a severe and adverse impact on the ability of the Navy and public shipyards to meet critical national security requirements and we urge you to immediately exempt all Department of Navy shipyard civilian employees,” the senators wrote. “The civilian men and women who support the Navy provide mission critical maintenance to ensure the Navy can meet security requirements around the world, and should thus be granted an exception.”   

The letter continues, “As you are aware, there is discussion regarding the requirements for a larger Navy to meet current and emerging threats… In order to maintain the current fleet and meet future maintenance requirements, we will need more civilians to maintain, repair and overhaul submarines, aircraft carriers and the entire naval fleet. These civilians frequently complete maintenance availabilities ahead of schedule and under budget saving taxpayer dollars and ensuring fleet readiness… A civilian hiring freeze at naval shipyards will severely impact this training pipeline resulting in maintenance delays and higher costs. The Presidential Memorandum states that the freeze is not intended to impact national security, however, freezing the hiring of civilian employees who will support critical fleet maintenance will directly undermine national security.” 

“We urge you to consider the impact of the Memorandum on the Navy, public shipyards and national security and issue clear guidance to immediately exempt all Navy shipyard civilians from the hiring freeze,” the letter concludes.

Full text of the senators’ letter is below.


January 26, 2017 

The Honorable James Mattis
U.S. Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Secretary Mattis: 

We write to express our concern regarding the Presidential Memorandum issued January 23, 2017 concerning a hiring freeze of Federal civilian employees.  We believe a hiring freeze may have a severe and adverse impact on the ability of the Navy and public shipyards to meet critical national security requirements and we urge you to immediately exempt all Department of Navy shipyard civilian employees. 

The Memorandum states that the freeze does not apply to “military personnel” or positions considered essential to meet national security responsibilities.  The civilian men and women who support the Navy provide mission critical maintenance to ensure the Navy can meet security requirements around the world, and should thus be granted an exception. 

Our request to exempt Department of Navy shipyard civilian employees from the Presidential Memorandum is not without precedent.  In his May 14, 2013, memorandum concerning sequestration-related furloughs, then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel exempted Navy shipyard employees because “it would be particularly difficult to make up delays in maintenance work on nuclear vessels and these vessels are critical mission success.”  Our public shipyards perform the same mission critical work today and require hiring discretion to meet their workforce needs so this work can be completed without delay.    

As you are aware, there is discussion regarding the requirements for a larger Navy to meet current and emerging threats.  The Navy has recommended increasing the size of the fleet to 355 ships, up from fewer than 280 ships today.  In order to maintain the current fleet and meet future maintenance requirements, we will need more civilians to maintain, repair and overhaul submarines, aircraft carriers and the entire naval fleet.  These civilians frequently complete maintenance availabilities ahead of schedule and under budget saving taxpayer dollars and ensuring fleet readiness.  The public shipyards are currently hiring hundreds of new employees who must complete years of training before they are able to maintain and repair naval vessels.  A civilian hiring freeze at naval shipyards will severely impact this training pipeline resulting in maintenance delays and higher costs.  The Presidential Memorandum states that the freeze is not intended to impact national security, however, freezing the hiring of civilian employees who will support critical fleet maintenance will directly undermine national security.  

We urge you to consider the impact of the Memorandum on the Navy, public shipyards and national security and issue clear guidance to immediately exempt all Navy shipyard civilians from the hiring freeze.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Frank Edelblut Is Unqualified For Commissioner Of Education Send A Letter To Exec Council

Frank Edelblut, Image from Girard At Large FLIKR

If you agree that Frank Edelblut is unqualified and the wrong choice for Commissioner of Education please send a message to the New Hampshire Executive Council before they vote on his confirmation on January 31st.

Click here to send your letter to the NH Executive Council.

The next Commissioner of Education should be qualified and should be a strong advocate for the over 180,000 students currently enrolled in New Hampshire public schools.

One-term State Rep. Frank Edelblut lacks the necessary qualifications to lead the Department of Education. He has no background in education. He home schooled his seven children but has no experience with public schools. He has never once served on a local school board. The state law is very clear: the commissioner must be qualified “by reason of education and experience.”

Edelblut is an advocate for “school choice” allowing public funds to go to private schools, charter schools, religious schools, and those who choose to home school. In his only term as a State Representative, Edelblut voted for school choice legislation that opponents warned would take away funds from already underfunded public schools and give them to for-profit private and religious schools.

If you agree that Frank Edelblut is unqualified and the wrong choice for Commissioner of Education please send a message to the New Hampshire Executive Council before they vote on his confirmation on January 31st.

If you are able to join us to testify in person or hold a sign the day of the vote, email Zandra@GraniteStateProgress.org.

Click here to send your letter to the NH Executive Council.


A word of caution for New Hampshire educators: There is a good chance that Frank Edelblut will be confirmed as the current Executive Council has 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats. This does not mean you should not take action to oppose Edelblut’s nomination but please be mindful of how this public opposition to Edelblut could affect your professional career in the future.

If you would rather make your opposition to Edelblut anonymously please send your letter to Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky directly at P.O. Box 1181, Concord 03302. Remember letters must be received by January 30th to be entered into the record on January 31st.

Introduction To HB115: Legislation To Establish And Raise The NH Minimum Wage

Yesterday, the NH House Labor Committee began discussions on establishing and raising the NH Minimum Wage, which currently defaults to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

State Representative Doug Ley is the prime sponsor of HB 115 to establish and raise the NH minimum wage.  Below is his testimony introducing the legislation and why it is important to working people to raise the minimum wage.


TESTIMONY INTRODUCING HB 115

“Establishing a state minimum wage and providing for adjustments to the minimum wage” 

Douglas Ley

NH House: Cheshire 9 (Dublin, Harrisville, Jaffrey, Roxbury)

The legislation presented today would re-establish a NH minimum wage exceeding that set by the Federal Government, which has remained at $7.25/hour since 2009.

The basic provisions of the bill as currently drawn would provide the following:

  1. increase the minimum hourly wage in NH to $9.50/hour on 1/1/2018
  2. increase the minimum hourly wage in NH to $12.00/hour on 1/1/2019
  3. annually adjust the minimum wage to match corresponding increases in Northeast CPI as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, beginning on 1/1/2020.
  4. raise the sub-minimum or tipped wage to 60% of the minimum wage.
  5. create a training wage of $1.00/hour less than minimum for those aged 16-17 years for three calendar months or upon reaching age 18, whichever comes first.

Thus, the proposed legislation aims to increase wages for those at the bottom of the NH wage scale, create a mechanism for systematic readjustment of the minimum wage, raise the tipped sub-minimum to better provide for those in the hospitality industry, and create a training wage to cover seasonal teen labor.

Having said all this, I want to make clear this is a platform, a starting place. While I believe the proposals being set forth today are both fair and beneficial to wage-earners, employers, and the State of NH, I am always willing to listen to and consider adjustments and amendments, in the conviction that any increase is a positive step for NH.

What is the context for this proposed legislation?

National:

  • 20 states besides NH adhere to the Federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.
  • 29 states now exceed the Federal minimum wage.
  •  3 of the 20 joining NH in adhering to the Federal minimum will be   breaking ranks over the next year:
    •  LA: $10.00/hour (1/1/2018)
    •  OK: $10.25/hour (7/1/17) & $10.75 (7/1/2018)
    •  VA: $11.00/hour (1/1/2018).

Thus, if NH remains unchanged, as of 1/1/2018, we will be one of 18 states still maintaining a minimum wage of $7.25, while 32 states will have higher minimums.

Regional:

  • NH is the only New England state still adhering to the Federal minimum of $7.25/hour.
  • CT:     $10.10 per hour
  • RI:       $9.60 per hour
  • MA:    $11.00 per hour
  • VT:      $10.00 per hour ($10.50 per hour on 1/1/2018)
  • ME:     $9.00 per hour ($11.00 per hour on 1/1/2018)

In addition, ME, VT and MA all tie future increases to the Northeast CPI as proposed in the legislation now before you.

New Hampshire:

            According to data provided by DES, in 2015 there were 389,000 resident hourly wage-earners in New Hampshire. Of those 389,000:

  • 16,000 earned at or below the minimum (4.1%)
    •   11,000 earned below the minimum (tipped wage)
    •   5,000 earned at the minimum

Even more interesting is the gender breakdown:

Sub-minimum:            2000 male        9000 female

Minimum:                   2000 male        3000 female

Sticking with DES data just a little further, if we look at those earning below $10.00/hour in 2015 (approx. 20% of the hourly wage earners):    Male: 26,000             Female: 50,000

Age: According to BusinessNH Magazine (6/2016): 72% of minimum wage earners are over age 20 (meaning approximately 4500 are age 19 or less); more than 1/3 are over age 30; 14% have children; approximately 33% are working full-time at minimum or sub-minimum.

Finally, the same issue of BusinessNH Magazine referenced a study of my county (Cheshire) using 2014 data which indicated some 15% of the county workforce were at or below $12.00 per hour, the wage proposed in this legislation for 1/1/2018.

Meaning: It is clear that adhering to the $7.25 minimum wage provides no competitive advantage to NH. To begin, some 2/3s of those at or below minimum are working in hospitality/restaurant industries, which are heavily locally-owned. We will not and have not seen a massive influx of restaurants and hotels into NH to take advantage of our low minimum wage; conversely, we will not see restaurants and hotels fleeing the State to avoid higher wages.  Claims that such enterprises cannot afford wage increases is simply belied by the ability of comparable businesses to survive and thrive in our neighboring states, all of which feature higher minimums.

It is also quite obvious that very few employers are even able to hire any longer at the minimum wage rate. Wal-Mart and Whole Foods, two examples cited in the aforementioned BuinessNH Magazine article, have average hourly wages now averaging between $13.38 and $15.81. My own son got his first job at MarketBasket a few years ago and started above the minimum wage. In other words, the minimum is increasingly confined to certain industries and certain regions of the State, likely where there are few alternatives, especially for those who lack transportation or the time and wherewithal to travel to better-paying jobs.

With the wage gap widening between NH and neighboring states, it is not unlikely that we are seeing some NH workers seeking employment out-of-state. For someone living in Nashua or Salem, the difference between $7.25/hour and $11.00/hour is substantial, and their choice to pursue employment beyond NH only exacerbates the difficulties NH employers face in trying to hire workers.

Finally, there are those who contend that raising the minimum will result in a loss of jobs. As reported in NH Business Review (11/10/16), when NH raised the minimum from $5.15 to $7.25 (increase of 41%) the Federal Reserve estimated a job loss to the State of less than 1500 jobs—quite minimal. Other studies have concluded that job losses when one state raises its minimum wage are not very significant and soon matched by job growth. We all know, however, that a rising tide lifts all boats, so an increase in the minimum wage will push up the wages of those in the bottom 15-20% among hourly wage-earners, with most of those earnings being spent quickly and locally, thereby fueling local economic growth within the State.

Conclusion: I believe there are many powerful and ethical arguments for raising the minimum wage and improving the economic and social situations of thousands of our citizens and the thousands more depending upon them. I am sure others can/will make those arguments and I agree with them. My focus, however, is on the economic benefits. It involves simply keeping up—the 1968 minimum wage had a buying power of $11.00 in today’s dollars, so clearly the minimum has slipped over the years. Even since 2009, changes in the Northeast CPI measure an erosion of 10.7% in buying power, meaning the minimum of $7.25 in 2009 is now worth $6.47 in 2009 dollars. Thus, those working at minimum have suffered wage decreases over the past seven years.

NH faces many economic challenges in the years ahead. Energy costs, a declining infrastructure, the exodus of 1000s of young people, all of this makes for difficult economic times ahead. Maintaining a low minimum wage provides no competitive advantage to NH in our regional economy, whereas increasing the minimum will infuse more spending into our State economy while bettering the lives of those who toil at the low-end of the wage spectrum. I know this Committee will keep all these points in mind as you consider this legislation, and I thank you for your kindness and patience today.

Professor, Small Business Owner, and Union Member’s Testimony Against Right To Work

The NH Senate has already passed SB11, mostly along party lines (Thank You Senator Carson for being the one Republican to oppose SB11).  Soon the NH House will begin debate on their version of the so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation.  Below is testimony from a small business owner and a proud UAW member opposing SB 11.


Testimony on SB 11 “Right to Work.” January 10, 2016

Here we go again. In predictable partisan moves, the New Hampshire Legislature is once again considering the deceptively named “right to work” bill.

I’m Tess George. I live in Nashua where I run a small business, offering communication, supervision and leadership training to businesses all over the state. I also teach part-time at the University of Massachusetts, where I am a proud union member of the UAW. That’s right – the UAW –it may surprise you to know that the UAW represents a large number of adjunct faculty and graduate students all across the country. At UML, I teach in the Manning School of Business and the Honors College. So, I am here today as someone with both a business background and as a union member.

One of the classes I teach is Critical Thinking. In critical thinking, when we’re considering a course of action, one of the first things students are taught is to clearly define the problem, and to study the implications of any suggested solution.

Proponents of this bill say that the problem is that people are forced to join a union and forced to pay union dues. The facts do not bear this out. No one is forced to join a union. However, unions are forced, by law, to represent everyone in their union, and everyone in the union shares in the benefits and wages won by collective bargaining. Those who don’t want to pay union dues pay an agency fee, that covers the union’s duty to represent them in grievances and in bargaining. In all my work as a trainer all across NH, I have not heard one business leader, HR specialist or worker talk about this as concern What leaders do worry about is finding enough talented, trained workers and maintaining a business climate that will attract and keep educated young workers.

It’s clear that its real intent and its probable effect will be to dis-empower and de-fund unions, so as to remove any resistance to the agenda of large multi-national corporations. These agendas are often not good for the New Hampshire economy and result in less economic freedom for the working citizens of New Hampshire.

So, this is a “solution” to a problem that doesn’t exist. It doesn’t make good business sense and it, in fact, will hurt the business climate in New Hampshire.

I urge you to vote “NO” on Senate Bill 11.

Tess George, Professor, UMass Manning School of Business, Small Business Owner, Union Member (UAW)

Dan Innis Emerges – As A Right-Wing Legislator From A Moderate District.

A person familiar with the man whose data-driven approach animated his work at UNH’s Paul School of Business could have been forgiven for being surprised by the approach taken by the Dan Innis since his election to the New Hampshire Senate in November. HIs approach to chairing the Commerce Committee in a packed Representatives’ Hall provides an example. In the face of data, anecdote, and personal testimonials, Innis seemed deaf to any criticism of controversial right-to-work legislation being heard by the committee. Impatient with testimony from over 100 labor leaders, small businessmen, and economists and eager to defend the endorsements of SB 11 by lobbyists and national right-wing activists, Innis seemed, not only to have his mind made up, but unwilling to listen to any facts that might change it.

Chairman Innis also used his new position to encourage his fellow senators to put any concerns which might have arisen during the four hours of public testimony that they had just heard out of their minds. With gavel in hand, Chairman Innis shut down debate among his colleagues after a mere hour and got the result he wanted. The committee recommended that the full Senate pass the Koch Bros. number one legislative priority for the states. Republican orthodoxy and right-wing ideology had overcome the opposition of a vast majority of attendees at the Senate hearing, with Sen. Innis’s support.

Sen. Innis’s unlikely emergence as a right-wing champion hasn’t been limited to his work as a committee chair. He also put his support behind legislation that allows anyone to carry a concealed weapon by sponsoring SB12. This bill, which was opposed by police chiefs and public safety advocates throughout the state, passed the Senate days after a freshman GOP legislator inadvertently dropped a gun on the floor during a House hearing on the measure.

A glance over the legislation Innis has sponsored this year further demonstrates that the hotelier and academic would NOT serve as a moderate Republican in the mode of Nancy Stiles, his GOP predecessor in District 24, but rather as an ideological, Tea Party legislator. Another example is a bill he is sponsoring entitled SB44, an act prohibiting the state from requiring implementation of Common Core standards. Common Core, a set of educational goals and measurements developed by state and local governments to make comparisons between school results clearer and to designed to measure both student learning and critical thinking skills, has become a favorite target of right-wingers from Glenn Beck (who wrote a sci-fi novel suggesting an enslaved future thanks to Common Core) to legislators and activists who fear that Common Core teaching leads to homosexuality.

These may merely be the efforts of a freshman legislator to court his party’s far-right base, but in a year with a new governor who seems equally susceptible to trends among the national right-wing, his votes have consequences. Seacoast voters would be well advised to ignore the Dan Innis who has carefully cultivated a reputation as a reasonable community leader and pay close attention the Dan Innis who is voting in Concord. They might not recognize him, but they should recognize the impact of the right-wing voting record he is compiling.

Trump Signs Executive Order To Withdraw From TPP, Wants To Renegotiate NAFTA

Today, President Trump signed an Executive Order to withdraw from the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.  As of right now, we are unsure of what the order says as it has yet to be released by the White House.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who made his opposition to the TPP a cornerstone in his campaign for President, was “glad” to see the TPP go down in flames.

“I am glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone. For the last 30 years, we have had a series of trade deals – including the North American Free Trade Agreement, permanent normal trade relations with China and others – which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a ‘race to the bottom’ which has lowered wages for American workers. Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.”

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO called this an “important first step” in building a “fair and just global economy.”

“Last year, a powerful coalition of labor, environmental, consumer, public health and allied groups came together to stop the TPP. Today’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from TPP and seeking a reopening of NAFTA is an important first step toward a trade policy that works for working people. While these are necessary actions, they aren’t enough. They are just the first in a series of necessary policy changes required to build a fair and just global economy. We will continue our relentless campaign to create new trade and economic rules that end special privileges for foreign investors and Big Pharma, protect our planet’s precious natural resources and ensure fair pay, safe conditions and a voice in the workplace for all workers.” 

The Hill is also reporting that President Trump plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and has “dispatched his son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner to Calgary on Tuesday to begin talks with the cabinet of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.”

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich was quick to point out on facebook that Trump’s feudal attempt to renegotiate NAFTA is only a distraction from the Republican attacks on working people.

“Trump stirs up symbolic controversies as diversions from what he and the Republicans are really up to.

Take NAFTA for example. He’s gearing up to “renegotiate” it, whatever that means. Expect lots of angry talk on both sides of our southern border.

But NAFTA’s a hill of beans relative Trump’s and the Republican’s pending repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That will directly hurt millions of working Americans. But Trump wants to distract attention.

Same with Obama’s overtime rule, now hung up in the courts, which Trump is going to axe. It have delivered $12 billion of wage gains over the next decade to American workers.

Ditto labor unions. Trump’s Republicans are busily killing off unions with so-called “right-to-work” laws. The result is less bargaining power for workers to get better wages. But Trump doesn’t want to talk about labor unions. He’d rather beat up on Mexico.

And keep a careful watch on Medicare and Social Security, which have been in Paul Ryan’s cross-hairs for years. We don’t even know what Trump and the Republicans are planning for them, but whatever it is, average working people will take the brunt.”

So the question now becomes will withdrawing and renegotiating the TPP and possibly renegotiating NAFTA really help working people or will it be another chance for Trump and his billionaire buddies to cash in on unbalanced trade agreements?  Only time will tell.

Sen. Carson Joins Senate Democrats In Opposition To SB11, Right To Work

Today the NH Senate to the first step in making New Hampshire a Right to Work for less state.

In a 12-11 vote the Senate passed SB 11 a so-called “right to work” bill that would strip employers and unions of their rights to negotiate an agency fee provision in their contracts.

Republican Senator Sharon Carson was the only Republican to stand up for the working families in New Hampshire by opposing SB 11.  All of the Senate Democrats were in attendance and voted against the bill.  (Republican Senator Bob Guida, was absent from todays vote.)

“I’m disappointed that instead of focusing on legislation that expands opportunity and increases wages for everyone, Republicans are rushing to pass a divisive bill that makes it harder for people in New Hampshire to earn a living and support a family,” said Deputy Democratic Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester). “We know that in states with ‘Right to Work for Less’ laws, incomes stagnate or decrease and the standard of living declines.” 

“We should be proud of our state’s record of low unemployment and strong economic growth and we should not pass laws that interfere with the relationship between employers and their employees,” added Senator Soucy. “That’s why Democrats and Republicans have come together to defeat this flawed, right-wing proposal for decades – it’s simply wrong for New Hampshire, our workers, our businesses and our economy.”

Last week, over 100 people and community organization testified against SB 11 showing how it would reduce wages, lower safety within the workplace, reduce workers chances of having any type of retirement, and ultimately result in a loss of good paying NH jobs.  The year after passing Right to Work, Wisconsin lost over 10,000 jobs.

The leaders of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO and its Affiliates, the National Education Association of New Hampshire, the State Employees Association, the New Hampshire Carpenters, and the New Hampshire Teamsters released a joint statement following the Senate passage of so-called “Right-to-Work” legislation:

“Today the New Hampshire Senate passed the so-called “Right-to-Work” bill.  This bill is not about improving New Hampshire’s economy or increasing the freedoms of any worker in the Granite State. Instead it is an attack on all working families by special interests seeking to lower wages for everyone and undermine worker protections. This bill is designed to do one thing and one thing only:  limit employees’ ability to advocate on behalf of what’s best for their families and communities. 

This bill will silence the teachers who advocate on behalf of smaller class sizes for our children, the transportation employees who negotiate for the equipment they need to keep the roads clear after a blizzard and the police and firefighters who negotiate for the staffing levels they need to keep us safe. It would take away the voices of tradespeople like ironworkers, pipe-fitters and line workers who negotiate the safety standards that keep entire industries safe.

When working people aren’t able to have a voice in what’s best for our communities, we all lose.

New Hampshire deserves real solutions to real problems, not attempts to limit working people’s voice in their communities.  The legislature was elected to advocate for the best interests of all New Hampshire working families, and we urge them to remember that. As the bill moves to the House we’ll continue to do what we’ve always done: Stand with working families across the state to create a New Hampshire that works for everyone.”

 Along with a strong labor showing at the state house today, members of the New Hampshire Voices of Faith lobbied Senators as they entered the chamber. 

The working people of New Hampshire deserve better than to be steamrolled by out of state special interest groups pushing a bill that will not help New Hampshire workers in any way.

The so-called Right to Work bill will move to the NH House, where hopefully cooler heads will prevail and the bill will be killed.

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

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