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US Department of Labor Rules in Favor of Workers in Job Corps Center Contracting Dispute            

                                                                           Manchester – The United States Department of Labor has ruled in favor of the New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council on a contracting dispute involving the Manchester Job Corps Center construction project. The Building Trades alleged in a 2015 complaint to US DOL’s Wage and Hour Division that project “wage determinations” had been improperly applied, allowing the project contractor to potentially pay workers less would have otherwise been required by the federal Davis Bacon Act, the law that sets wages for federally funded construction contracts. The Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation, and announced their ruling in favor of the Building Trades in a letter dated January 5, 2017 (attached).

The Manchester Job Corps Center was the subject of an intense debate over the utilization of a “Project Labor Agreement,” or PLA. PLAs are pre-hire collective bargaining agreements used for publicly and privately funded construction projects. Labor leaders and workers in New Hampshire advocated for a PLA to be used for the Job Corps Center construction project, making the case that a PLA would ensure construction workers would receive a fair wage with good benefits. The original Job Corps Center contract in 2009 included a PLA requirement, but after intensive lobbying by anti-union groups, then-Senator Kelly Ayotte and then-Representative Frank Guinta, the PLA requirement was removed.

“We feel vindicated, but we’re angry this had to happen,” said New Hampshire Building Trades President Steve Burk. “The Building Trades fought for years to try to ensure the Job Corps Center construction project benefited local workers. We knew that workers would get the short end of the stick when the project went forward without a Project Labor Agreement. As it turned out, wage protections were weakened after the PLA was removed, and it took this ruling to prove that.”

Employment law attorney and New Hampshire Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky had this to say: 

“This is an important ruling from the US Department of Labor that will have a positive impact on workers in the Granite State and across the country. This ruling makes clear that contractors on federally funded construction projects must pay the prevailing wage and may not game the DOL’s ‘wage determination’ to pay workers less than the law requires. The ruling underscores why the fight over a Project Labor Agreement for the Manchester Job Corps Center project was so important. A Project Labor Agreement would have protected the workers who built the Job Corps Center from an after-the-fact reclassification that enabled the contractor to pay the workers less than required and to pocket the difference. Project Labor Agreements also ensure that all contractors who bid for a job have an even playing field on which to compete.” 

The New Hampshire Building Trades is an organization of 16 New Hampshire labor unions, representing more than 2,000 New Hampshire workers in the construction industry.

Over 100 Food And Farm Groups Oppose Puzder For Labor Secretary

Image by Chris Potter ccpixs.com

Coalition urges senators to reject nominee, citing long track record of workers’ rights violations and conflicts of interest with role as CEO of CKE Restaurants

Washington, DC — Today, 105 food and agriculture organizations, representing more than 10 million people across the food system, sent a letter to Capitol Hill urging senators to oppose the confirmation of fast food CEO Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor. 

This clarion call from the nation’s farmers, food-system workers and public health advocates, led by Corporate Accountability International, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Friends of the Earth, and Real Food Media, comes on the heels of growing opposition and controversy surrounding Trump’s pick to head the Department of Labor. A recent Capital & Main investigation found that under Puzder’s watch as CEO, CKE Restaurants faced more federal employment discrimination lawsuits than any other major fast food chain. The corporation violated workers’ rights, including wage theft and failed to provide employees with overtime pay.

“Andrew Puzder is dangerous for working families and bad for our food system,” said Jose Oliva, co-director, Food Chain Workers Alliance. “The country needs a labor secretary who will protect working families, not corporate interests. Puzder’s track record as CEO of CKE Restaurants proves that he should be kept as far away from Washington as possible.”

The letter calls the nomination of Andrew Puzder a betrayal of the president’s promise to “improve the lives of working people” and urges senators to reject Puzder’s nomination. It expresses grave concern with the conflicts of interest between Puzder’s tenure at CKE Restaurants and the responsibilities of a labor secretary, including the fact that:

“Putting an outspoken critic of worker protections and a living wage in charge of the Department of Labor is straight out of an Orwellian nightmare,” said Kari Hamerschlag, deputy director of food and technology, Friends of the Earth. “The Senate must reject the nomination of Puzder if it cares at all about the basic rights of working people.”

Since Puzder’s nomination, advocacy groups have documented numerous workers’ rights violations under the watch of the former fast food CEO. For instance, research released by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United reveals a long history of labor violations at CKE Restaurants during Puzder’s tenure. Surveys from hundreds of CKE employees reveal that women working at CKE reported more than 1.5 times the rate of sexual harassment as reported for the industry overall.

“The choice of Andrew Puzder for secretary of labor is a dangerous one for this country’s working families,” said Sriram Madhusoodanan, Value [the] Meal campaign director, Corporate Accountability International. “If President Trump truly wants to ‘drain the swamp’, why is he nominating people like Puzder, who have played an outsized role creating the swamp in the first place?”

In January, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s workers joined the Fight for $15 in opposing Puzder’s nomination, taking part in actions in more than two dozen cities. Widespread opposition and questions surrounding Puzder’s company’s labor practices have prompted Congress to postpone the nomination hearing until February.

“Across the country, millions of people are demanding real change when it comes to our food system and the people who work in it,” said Anna Lappé, founder, Real Food Media. “Our Department of Labor must reflect those people — not corporate bottom lines. It is unacceptable to nominate someone who has such a callous attitude to the struggles of working families to head the labor department.”

The organizations signed onto the letter represent a broad cross-section of the food and labor movement, uniting groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists, Earthjustice, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Workers’ Center of Central New York, among many others. The unprecedented nature of this coalition underscores the unique threat Puzder faces to people advocating for environmental protection, workers’ rights, and healthy food.

The full letter, released today, is available here. Andrew Puzder’s senate confirmation hearing will begin on February 7, 2017.

Puzder Sign-on Letter

1-27-17 AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin: Right To Work, Minimum Wage, And Frank Edelblut

January 27, 2017

Yesterday was a warm, almost Spring-like day, always welcome in January. The gold of the State House dome shone brightly in the sunshine, and I even took the time to sit for a short while on a bench on the State House grounds. Inside, however, the legislative session is just beginning to warm up, with a short session of the House to deal with a few legislative items, following an intensive week of public hearings on proposed bills, as committees work hard to push legislation to the floor for debates and votes.

The most important news of the week was the scheduling of hearings on so-called ‘right to work’ legislation by the House Labor Committee. The hearings on both the Senate (SB 11) and House (HB 520) versions of ‘right to work’ (virtually identical and almost entirely plagiarized from sample legislation created by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC), will be held in Reps Hall on Wednesday, February 8, beginning at 10 am. The hearings are expected to draw hundreds to the Hall, and it is likely the testimony will last for hours. More information on attending and testifying will be forthcoming, but if you can, start planning to join the fun! Battle-lines are being drawn now on this issue, between those who advocate for the working people of New Hampshire and their workplace voice versus those who seek to eradicate any vestiges of worker rights. Our focus will turn to reaching out to the members of the NH House and asking them to oppose so-called Right to Work in any and all forms. Please be sure to visit the AFT-NH website at www.aft-nh.org and utilize the resources on the Defeat Right to Work page.

Interestingly, the House Labor Committee also conducted hearings this week on proposed legislation HB 115 to increase the minimum wage in NH, from its current $7.25/hour up to an eventual $12.00/hour. Any increase would be welcome and long overdue, but those who clamor for so-called ‘right to work’ are also those who oppose any increase in the minimum wage, preferring to redesign the New Hampshire Advantage as one built on low wages and severe limitations on working people’s voice and rights.

In the background, there is also the dangerous proposed bill (HB 438) to ban payroll deduction of union dues by public employers, a strategy employed in Wisconsin to eviscerate public sector unions by making it very difficult for them to collect any member dues. This is actually the most severe threat facing organized labor and all working people in NH. Once unions are gone, can we expect employers to suddenly shower us with generous raises, expanded benefits, and kindly treatment? Remember, when employers exercise unilateral control over the workplace, it is not a recipe for happiness and harmony. Power seeks more power is the old axiom, and absolute power seeks more power absolutely.

Amongst the hundreds of bills now before the various committees of the House and Senate, a few stand out. There are over a half-dozen bills aiming to further reduce pensions or even nearly destroy the NHRS system, breaking every promise made to state, county, municipal, educational, and public safety employees. In a bright note, a bill to require the State to pay 15% of the annual cost of the NHRS survived its first committee test, but faces rough waters in the House. The State used to pay 35% of the costs of the NHRS, but now contributes nothing, a classic example of “downshifting” costs onto local taxpayers, so this bill would at least begin to right that wrong. AFT-NH remains an active partner and participant in the NH Retirement Security Coalition. It will take the combined effort of employee groups, stakeholders and members to protect the NH Retirement System as we know it.

There are also a number of bills to increase funding for charter schools, free them from property taxes, and further siphon off monies for public schools. Once again, there is a bright spot—the proposal to fund full-day kindergarten. The bill has had its public hearing in front of the House Education Committee, which is expected to act on it on February 8. Governor Chris Sununu loudly proclaimed his support for full-day kindergarten during his gubernatorial campaign, so it will be interesting to see if his support translates into Republican votes for it in the House.

In closing, I have two requests of you. First, I hope some of you can attend the January 31 public hearing on the nomination of businessman Frank Edelblut as Commissioner of Education. AFT-NH has already posted a “lesson plan” on Mr. Edelblut, and your testimony, whether in person or in writing, may help sway the Executive Council, which must approve his nomination. You can email the Executive Council members directly at gcweb@nh.gov. Second, please “Wear Red for Public Ed” on January 31. Let’s show our pride in public education! Dress in red, have your colleagues dress in red, take photos and send them to us for posting on-line. Be proud and say it loud, to paraphrase James Brown, and let’s celebrate one of America’s greatest accomplishments and contributions to the world—the idea of free, broad-based public education.

Your outreach to the legislators does make a difference and we are hearing back that you are contacting them. It matters. Please keep contacting them! We know when we act in unity, we can make a real difference.

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

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.

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