Expanded Gambling Is About Creating Jobs (Testimony by NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie)

NH AFL-CIO Logo

NH AFL-CIO LogoAs president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to workers and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now is the time for our elected leaders to step up to the plate and take real, immediate and concrete steps to create good new jobs for thousands of workers in our state.

This Committee and the entire New Hampshire House now have the opportunity to do just that. In fact, legislators have been presented with a bill, SB 366, that will guarantee the creation of a half-billion-dollar construction project, every penny of which would come from private investment.

SB 366 would create more than 2,000 jobs for New Hampshire construction workers and more than 1,000 good, permanent jobs. Furthermore, this bill will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax revenue for the state and our municipalities, allowing us to keep critical programs like education, public safety and infrastructure off the budgetary chopping block. Plus, polls show that a big majority – nearly 60 percent – of Granite Staters favor the approach SB 366 takes.

SB 366 would bring expanded casino gaming to New Hampshire. Now, I know some members of this committee personally don’t approve of gambling, and that’s certainly your prerogative. But we must come to terms with the fact that we are stuck in a situation where job growth continues to be sluggish and the state budget continually presents our elected officials with extremely difficult choices between cutting programs and finding needed revenue.

The fact is, New Hampshire will be experiencing the downside of casino gaming whether or not we build a new casino within our borders. Our state already has a $75 million-per-year casino industry under the guise of “charitable gaming,” and there will soon be several casinos just over the border in Massachusetts. Without SB 366, we’ll leave thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

SB 366 was amended in the Senate to include provisions drafted by the bipartisan, multi-agency Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority as part of last year’s state budget process. In consultation with independent experts, the authority reviewed best practices in the gaming industry across the country to develop a true New Hampshire solution for expanded gaming.

This bill was crafted specifically to address concerns lawmakers had with previous gaming proposals, concerns we shared in many cases. We believe that SB 366 includes a comprehensive regulatory structure and robust provisions to ensure that the jobs will go to New Hampshire workers.

Although we have always supported creating good jobs for Granite State workers, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO has never officially endorsed a casino proposal before. Our executive committee recently voted unanimously to fully endorse gaming legislation this year because we are convinced the current proposal represents what’s best for New Hampshire’s working families and for our state

Creating jobs shouldn’t just be a talking point or a political slogan. Growing our economy and putting people to work should be real, tangible goals for our elected leaders. SB 366 is legislation that would accomplish these goals, and I urge the committee to support it. Together we can help rebuild New Hampshire’s middle class by focusing on creating good jobs for workers in our state. Passing this bill will contribute to that cause.

Thank you for your consideration.

Mark MacKenzie
President of the NH AFL-CIO

Much Rejoicing As NH Senate Unanimously Passes Paycheck Fairness Bill

sylvia larsen

“This definitive, bipartisan action by the full Senate affirms that both Republicans and Democrats agree we must act to close the wage gap in New Hampshire,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen.

Senate Bill 207 has been cited by Senate and House Democrats as a top priority for the 2014 legislative session. All Senate Democrats have sponsored the legislation with House Speaker Terie Norelli serving as the leading House sponsor along with co-sponsors Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), Rep. MaryAnn Knowles (D-Hudson), and Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsboro).

sylvia larsen

Senator Sylvia Larsen

“The New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act will give the more than 60% of women working in today’s economy, as the primary or co-breadwinners for their families, the much needed tools they need to combat the wage gap,” stated Larsen.

“It’s distressing that, in the year 2014, women in New Hampshire, who are working full-time jobs, still earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. National studies have found that a pay gap exists between men and women in nearly every occupation. However, with this bipartisan, unanimous vote, we are sending a crystal clear message that the Legislature is on the side of all workers guaranteeing fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation.”

Senator Larsen concluded her statement by saying, “I look forward to a quick House action, so New Hampshire can renew our commitment to the fundamental principle of, an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay.”

“Today’s unanimous Senate vote to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act is an overwhelming, bipartisan affirmation of the principle that an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay,” stated Governor Maggie Hassan. “This common-sense measure to help eliminate the pay gap between women and men will strengthen our economy and the financial security of working families across our state. I applaud the Senate for today’s bipartisan vote and encourage the House to pass this critical legislation in order to help all of New Hampshire’s workers earn a fair and equal paycheck.”

“We commend members of the Senate for voting unanimously to remove a remaining barrier to pay equity in New Hampshire,” stated Mark MacKenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO. “Passing SB207 was the right thing to do for fairness and equality, and the right thing to do for the majority of Granite State working families who depend on women’s earnings to get by.”

“We commend the Senate’s unanimous adoption of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act,” stated Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “This law would give employees the tools they need to challenge wage gaps. Data shows that New Hampshire women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Coupled with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act already in law, these two acts can help to create a climate where wage discrimination is no longer tolerated.”

Along with the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate, community groups helped push legislators to pass this Paycheck Fairness bill.  Below are statements from some of the other organizations celebrating today’s vote.

Kary Jencks, Executive Director, NH Citizens Alliance for Action: “The Senate recognized today that ensuring equal pay for equal work is important to protecting New Hampshire working families.  A woman’s earnings, whether she is married or not, are crucial to family support. Closing the wage gap is the right action for New Hampshire to take for the economic security of Granite Staters.”

Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union: “We applaud the Senate’s bipartisan approval of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. In approving this critical legislation, the Senate has taken an important step towards eliminating unfair gender paycheck inequities in the state of New Hampshire.”

Dawn Andonellis, Public Policy Chair for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of New Hampshire: “We applaud the New Hampshire State Senate for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act in a bipartisan fashion and for taking this important step toward closing the wage gap and ending gender discrimination in the workplace. Moving this bill forward would give the women of New Hampshire a reason to actually celebrate Equal Pay Day on April 8. Finally, women are closer to achieving equal pay for equal work.”

Mary Jo Brown, Chair of the New Hampshire Women’s Initiative: “The New Hampshire Women’s Initiative applauds the Senate’s unanimous adoption of SB 207. SB 207 is a great step toward reducing the wage gap and promoting pay equity for all Granite Staters. The bill, which includes provisions towards paycheck transparency, honors NHWI’s agenda and findings from our 2013 statewide listening sessions with NH citizens. We are proud to thank Senator Larsen and her cosponsors for the bipartisan support of the bill. We are excited that the Senate has passed this important piece of legislation and look forward to working with the House.”

Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women’s Law Center: “This bipartisan vote reflects the simple fact that giving women tools to combat pay discrimination and close the wage gap is a common sense solution that everyone should be able to get behind.”

The NH Senate was realistically the only hurdle this bill faced in getting passed in New Hampshire.  The GOP controlled Senate was the only truly unknown in this bills likelihood of passing.  The bill will now moved to the Democrat controlled house, where I should pass with ease.  I expect the Governor could be signing this bill before May first.

 

NH Seniors Teach Frank Guina About Healthcare At His Local Listening Session

by Jennifer Kenny of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans
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DOVER, N.H. — With only two days advance notice, New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans members made time to attend former Congressman Frank Guinta’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “listening” session at the Dover Community Senior center.

Aside from his staff person, six people attended the session. Guinta did not seem surprised by the poor turnout. When asked by one attendee how to learn about these “listening” sessions in advance Guinta was not clear in his response.

Guinta’s account of this session on Facebook differs from the recollection of at least five of those present. Guinta says he “had a great time this morning talking with a group of seniors at the Dover Community Senior Center, the most recent stop on my health care listening tour. We discussed the effects that the Obama Administration’s proposed 3.55% cut to Medicare Advantage will have on their ability to receive the care they have come to expect, and the overall negative impacts of Obamacare.

In fact, when Guinta asked who in the room supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all audience members indicated their support.

At first Guinta tried to play the 3.55% cut to Medicare Advantage (MA): as a cut to Medicare. But a participant brought out the true fact that this is a reduction in payments to private insurance companies that sell Medicare Advantage plans, not to beneficiaries. Then the conversation quickly changed.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Advantage private insurance companies will receive a decrease in income from the federal government. The way it used to work: under a sweetheart deal with a prior administration, private insurance companies who engaged in the sale of Medicare Advantage plans received a monthly payment per customer from the federal government. This payment was in addition to any premiums that the customer paid to the private insurance company. Talk about your Government subsidy!

Under the new law the average payment to private insurance companies of $1000 per MA customer has been cut by 3.55%. In addition, companies selling Medicare Advantage plans are still paid a bonus based on federal guidelines. Medicare Advantage companies who choose to make a business decision to continue sales of their product line still receive a substantial subsidy per patient each calendar month but at the reduced rate of 3.55%.

Please read the bulleted item below. This is a concise explanation about the seldom spoken about practice of government enabling private business to profit from all Medicare customers.
The Department of Health and Human Services website, discussing “Overpayments to Big Insurance Companies and Strengthening Medicare Advantage,” says “Today, Medicare pays Medicare Advantage insurance companies over $1,000 more per person on average than is spent per person in Traditional Medicare. This results in increased premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries, including the 77% of beneficiaries who are not currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. The law levels the playing field by gradually eliminating this discrepancy. People enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan will still receive all guaranteed Medicare benefits, and the law provides bonus payments to Medicare Advantage plans that provide high quality care. Effective January 1, 2011. Learn more about Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.

It is disappointing that Frank Guinta’s account of the “listening” session is so misleading, and ignores the facts brought out by participants in the session.

Every Medicare customer needs to know that ObamaCare closes the part D “donut hole”, expands coverage for seniors who need help at home or are in nursing homes and increases access to preventive care. It also reforms Medicare advantage, the private insurance program that is costing the tax payers millions.

New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans members say that they continue to support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also known as ObamaCare because, after all, President Obama does care.

NH AFL-CIO Pres MacKenzie: Casino Bill Means Good Jobs And Serious Revenue

NH AFL-CIO Logo

As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now is the time for our elected leaders to step up to the plate and take real, immediate and concrete steps to create good new jobs for thousands of workers in our state.

The New Hampshire House will soon have the opportunity to do just that. In fact, our legislators will be presented with a bill, HB 1633, that will guarantee the creation of a half-billion-dollar construction project, every penny of which would come from private investment.

HB 1633 would create more than 2,000 jobs for New Hampshire construction workers and more than 1,000 good, permanent jobs. Furthermore, this bill will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax revenue for the state, allowing us to keep critical programs like education, public safety and infrastructure off the budgetary chopping block. Plus, polls show that a big majority – nearly 60 percent – of Granite Staters favor the approach HB 1633 takes.

HB 1633 would bring expanded casino gaming to New Hampshire. Now, I know some members of our Legislature don’t personally approve of gambling, and that’s their prerogative. But we must come to terms with the fact that we are stuck in a situation where job growth continues to be sluggish and the state budget continually presents our elected officials with extremely difficult choices between cutting programs and finding needed revenue.

The fact is, New Hampshire will be experiencing the downsides of casino gaming whether or not we build a new casino within our borders. Our state already has a $75 million-per-year casino industry under the guise of “charitable gaming,” and there will soon be several casinos just over the border in Massachusetts. Without HB 1633, we’ll leave thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

HB 1633 was drafted by a bipartisan, multiagency independent panel known as the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority as part of last year’s state budget process. In consultation with independent experts, the authority reviewed best practices in the gaming industry across the country to develop a true New Hampshire solution for expanded gaming.

This bill was crafted specifically to address concerns lawmakers had with last year’s gaming bill. As such, HB 1633 includes a comprehensive regulatory structure and robust provisions to ensure that the jobs will go to New Hampshire workers.

Although we have always supported creating good jobs for Granite State workers, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO has never officially endorsed a casino proposal before. Our executive committee recently voted unanimously to fully endorse HB 1633 because we are convinced this bill represents what’s best for New Hampshire’s working families and for our state.

We had questions about whether that was true of previous bills, but our concerns have been addressed in HB 1633.

Creating jobs shouldn’t just be a talking point or a political slogan. Growing our economy and putting people to work should be real, tangible goals for our elected leaders. HB 1633 is the only bill before the New Hampshire Legislature this year that would accomplish those goals, and I urge lawmakers to support it. Together we can help rebuild New Hampshire’s middle class by focusing on creating good jobs for workers in our state. Passing this bill will contribute to that cause.

New Hampshire Retirees hold Sen. Ayotte accountable

NH Alliance For Retired Americans Ayotte Protest

NH Alliance For Retired Americans Ayotte Protest

by Jennifer Kenny

MANCHESTER, NH — The voting record of Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte has drawn the ire of New Hampshire retirees.  Unable to secure an appointment with her, they are demanding that Social Security be improved by picketing in front of her Manchester and Nashua offices.

The retiree members of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans (NH ARA) have been  requesting to meet with Ayotte since the summer of 2013.  Initially this seemed like an easy ask.  Considering that the U. S. Senate designates multiple days for travel, in-district workshops, holiday and summer recess, the NH ARA members thought their request was reasonable.

Top that off with the fact that Ayotte holds a post on the prestigious U.S. Special Committee on Aging, and NH ARA represents over 13.000 retirees — a meeting just makes good sense.  After all, wouldn’t this type of meeting help her to better understand her constituency?

But stopping by her office, calling for an appointment, speaking with staff, requesting a meeting through mutual acquaintances, showing up at town hall meetings did not work.  Even holding signs in front of the Senator’s Manchester and Nashua offices in the summer heat and the winter cold and snow has not resulted in a meeting.

Ayotte apparently does not want to be held accountable for her votes on 49 health care related bills, most of which have to do with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The bills range from anti-choice measures, delaying portions of enacting the Affordable Care Act, and wiping out the law in whole or in part.

Ayotte is a co-sponsor of S. 1711 the State Health Care Choice Act which allows states to opt-out and limit required coverage.  The NH ARA wants to know why.  Does Ayotte want to reopen the dreaded donut hole that caused financial hardship to seniors and other Medicare recipients that rely on expensive prescription medications?

Perhaps she is not in favor of the clause that prevents insurance companies from arbitrarily canceling a customer’s policy when the customer becomes ill, or maybe it is the free preventative care wellness doctor appointments that she objects to.

The NH ARA is left guessing if Senator Ayotte would deny our grandchildren the right to remain on their parents health plan until they turn 26 years of age or perhaps the lifetime and yearly coverage limits that the insurance companies were allowed to  impose prior to the Affordable Care Act?

Maybe Ayotte objects to holding insurance companies accountable to their customers by proving 80% of the premium paid is used for the purpose of insurance and that only 20% of the premium is allowable for CEO pay and profits.   Considering her unwillingness to meet with the NH ARA, they may never know.

The retirees also want to learn how their Senator justifies raising the eligibility age for full retirement Social Security benefits, and why she hasn’t signed on to S 567.  This bill would establish a price index that reflects actual costs of items for Social Security recipients and insures Cost of Living increases  keep pace with inflation.

The occasional town hall meetings hosted by Ayotte are well scripted and controlled. She makes a slide show presentation and only takes questions that are pre-printed on index cards prior to the start of the meeting. Late comers are not allowed access to a card.

The NH ARA monitors legislation. These retirees have ideas and questions and remain hopeful that one of these days, Senator Ayotte will meet with them.  In  the meantime, they continue to show up with signs and keep asking for a meeting with the Senator at one of her many New Hampshire locations.

Ayotte is not up for re-election in 2014.  New Hampshire’s Democratic senior Senator Jeanne Shaheen is one of the 36 Senators up for election this year.  Shaheen’s race is one of the top targets by the Republican Party.  They want to grab control of the U. S. Senate and impose Ayotte’s agenda on our nation’s retirees and people.  New Hampshire retirees already have their walking shoes ready to make sure this does not happen.

Raise The Wage Coalition Calls For A Minimum Wage Increase

from http://standupfl.org/event/national-raise-the-wage-day/

Raise the Wage Coalition Demonstrates Strong Support for HB 1403, Increasing the Minimum Wage in New Hampshire

CONCORD, NH – New Hampshire elected officials, advocates, small business leaders, and community members hosted a press conference in the LOB Lobby this morning, Tuesday, February 11th to introduce HB 1403, raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire.

HB 1403 would raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage in two stages and provide for annual cost of living increases in the future.  It would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2015 and to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2016.  Beginning January 1, 2017, it would automatically increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage to account for inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index.

Three-quarters of Granite Staters – including majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats – support increasing the minimum wage to $9 per hour, according to the Granite State Poll released last week. HB 1403 would raise the wages of 76,000 New Hampshire workers in the first two years, stimulating the economy and increasing consumer demand. Elected officials, advocates, small business leaders, and community members spoke at the press conference immediately prior to testifying at the public hearing on HB 1403, where supporters of the bill outnumbered opponents 5 to 1.

Excerpts of statements are as follows:

Remarks by Prime House Sponsor, Rep. Sally Kelly

Seven years ago, as a freshman legislator, I began my service on the Labor Committee and I was proud to stand side-by-side with my Democratic and Republican colleagues as Governor Lynch signed minimum wage legislation into law.

It was the right time then and it is the right time now for both parties and both chambers to come together so New Hampshire citizens no longer have to say that every other New England state pays a higher minimum wage to its workers than we do.  As a state, we are so much better than that. As a retail executive, I am continually aware of the life of small business owners.  Today, our economy is on the rise and the timing for this moderate increase is just right.

Last week’s Granite State poll confirms that this legislation does just that; more than two-third of Granite Staters –76% – support increasing the New Hampshire minimum wage to $9 per hour. That includes 64% of Republicans, 70% of independents, and 91% of Democrats.

 

Remarks by Prime Senate Sponsor, Senator Sylvia B. Larsen

I am proud to be a co-sponsor of House Bill 1403, which would give New Hampshire working families a much needed raise. For the first time since World War II, wages have been declining in this country. Moms and Dads are working harder, but falling further behind. These are families who work hard and play by the rules. They should be able to afford to live with dignity and raise a family. All members of the Legislature talk about helping working families and growing the economy and this bill does just that.

Accelerating New Hampshire’s economic growth is only possible when individuals and working families are confident in their own financial situations. When that happens, their increased spending helps to grow our businesses and our economy. That’s why it’s vital that we restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage. By restoring and increasing the state’s minimum wage, we will help our economy by putting more money in the pockets of hard-working people of all ages. Increasing the minimum wage will go a long way to restoring hope in the American Dream, the faith that by working hard and playing by the rules, you will be able to responsibly support your family.

 

Remarks by Diana Lacey, President of State Employee’s Association, SEIU 1984

SEIU 1984 LogoEvery day, hundreds of state and municipal workers across New Hampshire talk with low-wage workers about the burden that working hard but living with poverty level wages brings upon their families. What they see rings true with the things that the late Nelson Mandela saw, and spoke of in a February 2005 speech on poverty in London’s Trafalgar Square. Mr. Mandela referenced the effects of poverty as being imprisoned, enslaved and chained in the prison of poverty.  His powerful words included this brief excerpt:

“They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”

We are one of the wealthiest states in this country and we simply must do our part to lift working people up out of poverty. Passage of this minimum wage bill is an important start.  This is the right bill, at the right time. In lifting up our workers, we will lift up all of New Hampshire. Doing so is an act of justice, and a path to freedom.

 

Remarks by The Rev. William E. Exner

A number of faith leaders gathered for prayer this morning, right across the street from the State House at St. Paul’s. We prayed for a livable minimum wage to be voted into law in the state of New Hampshire, and we prayed for our neighbors who work hard every day, yet whose present earnings keep them locked in poverty and constant need.

We prayed for people like the 43 year old woman with two children who works at a fast food restaurant in our state. The woman’s husband is working, but not full time as his work is seasonal. To help make ends meet, she works her first job from 8 am to 5 pm, then works her second job from 6 pm to 2 am. She and her husband work so hard but still struggle to afford the basics for their family, and to cover the cost of much needed car repairs.

As faith leaders, we are here to urge a change for the better. It’s a moral imperative. The Book of the Prophet Isaiah in the Bible sets the standard when it states, “Look, you are serving your own needs while you oppress all your workers.” The Bible goes on to insist that we become ‘repairers of this unjust breach’, that we become ‘restorers of streets to live in.’ Life without a livable minimum wage lands one on quite another road.  As people of faith we are concerned for our neighbors who are paid at levels that relegate them and their children to poverty. In this state work ought not have poverty as its reward.

 

Remarks by Laura Miller, former Owner of Imagination Village

Miller was the owner of a retail business for 12 years that employed 5 people. She is now a member of the management team of a larger independent retail business that employs 18.

We have always made it a priority to pay a living wage – recognizing that in order to retain employees that help you reach your business goals, you need to pay them decently and give them opportunities to balance work, family, school and community lives. It only makes sense that if your staff is getting what they need, they will be able to focus on doing their best job for you. I am here today to support House Bill 1403, especially the cost of living increment. It is long overdue that we increase the base wage in this country. It is unconscionable that you can work full time and still live below the poverty level.

Increasing the minimum wage reduces the need for government funding of assistance programs such as the earned income tax credit and food stamps, by shifting profits back down to the local level. It keeps money in the local economy as workers need these dollars for housing, food, gas and other consumables. And I know, as other small business leaders know, that increasing the minimum wage helps businesses retain employees. In turn, quality employees can develop within a business, increasing productivity and therefore providing increased value to the enterprise, whether large or small. Raising the minimum wage helps all – it helps workers, the community, and small businesses.

 

Remarks by President Mark S. MacKenzie, New Hampshire AFL-CIO

MacKenzie was unable to attend due to a funeral. His written remarks are below and were read by NH AFL-CIO campaign coordinator Judy Stadtman.

NH AFL-CIO LogoFor New Hampshire’s minimum wage workers, and for all of us, this is about justice and dignity, and the promise of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Thousands of our friends and neighbors struggle to support families while earning the minimum wage. These workers are frequently forced to forgo basics—food, housing, clothing—and far too many rely on public assistance to survive in this economy.

It’s a myth that minimum wage jobs are held by teenagers. Today, less than a quarter of minimum wage workers are teenagers. Most are breadwinners in their families and work full time.  The median age of a low wage worker is 34 years old.  And most minimum wage earners are women. The fact is that minimum and lower wage workers in our state don’t earn enough to support a family. The annual income for a full-time employee making the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is $15,080. Living below the poverty line, these families have little or no hope of providing for a better life for their children. Jobs should lift workers out of poverty, not trap them in poverty.

Passing this bill to raise employee wages would increase purchasing power, create more jobs and boost the New Hampshire economy. More than four out of five economists say the benefits of increasing the minimum wage would outweigh the costs. Further, a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research found raising the minimum wage would create jobs while causing no reduction in the availability of minimum wage jobs.

Raising the minimum wage is crucial to our future economic growth. Five of the six fastest growing sectors of the American economy are in low wage industries – home health aides; customer service representatives; food preparation and serving workers; personal care assistants and retail salespersons. To rebuild a strong middle class and create an economy of shared prosperity, we must pay fair wages in these growing sectors.

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HB 1403 was heard by the House Labor Committee. The bill can be found here: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2014/HB1403.html

About the Raise the Wage New Hampshire Coalition: The Raise the Wage coalition includes organizational members American Friends Service Committee, America Votes, Economic Justice Mission Group of the United Church of Christ-NH, Every Child Matters, Granite State Progress, Housing Action NH, Interfaith Voices for Humane Public Policy, National Education Association-New Hampshire, New Hampshire AFL-CIO, New Hampshire Child Advocacy Network, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, New Hampshire Kids Count, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, New Hampshire Women’s Initiative, State Employee’s Association of New Hampshire – SEIU Local 1984, and Women’s Fund of NH, in addition to elected officials, community advocates, and small business leaders.

Citation: UNH Survey Center, Granite State Poll, Winter 2014

http://cola.unh.edu/sites/cola.unh.edu/files/research_publications/gsp2014_winter_issues020614.pdf

 

Feb. 11th Is Your Chance To Help Raise The Minimum Wage In NH

from http://standupfl.org/event/national-raise-the-wage-day/

The fight over raising the minimum wage is heating up.  During President Obama’s State of the Union address he announced that he would use an executive order to mandate that all government contractors pay a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour.  This falls in line with the $10.10 per hour proposal that the President and Democrats have been pushing for months.

During the State of the Union called for more local legislation to push for a higher minimum wage since Congress in unable to pass the proposed increase.

Tonight, I ask more of America’s business leaders to follow John’s lead and do what you can to raise your employees’ wages. To every mayor, governor, and state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act.”

Now is your chance to help pass a minimum wage increase right here in New Hampshire.

from http://standupfl.org/event/national-raise-the-wage-day/

On February 11th the NH House Labor Committee will hear testimony for and against raising the minimum wage.  This is where you can help.  We need people to show up and talk with legislators about why it is important to raise the minimum wage.

The specifics of HB 1403 are to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 in 2015 and then to  $9.00 per hour in 2016.  The bill will also tie the NH minimum wage to inflation, which insures that workers will continue to see an increase as their cost of living increases.

Even if you are not comfortable testifying to the committee about raising the minimum wage, we still need your help.  Just being there to show your support is important.

There are multiple events going on Feb 11th as part of this consolidated push to pass HB 1403.  The Voices of Faith for Humane Public Policy and the NH Faith-Labor Dialogue Project are hosting an ‘Interfaith Prayer Breakfast Calling for the Dignity of All Workers’ at
Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, (21 Centre Street, Concord) at 8am.
(Please RSVP if you are planning to attend:
economicjustice.nhcucc@gmail.com)

After the interfaith service the NH AFL-CIO is holding a Raise the Wage Press Conference.  Those who support raising the minimum wage are encouraged to attend the press conference, which begins at 9:30 am in the Lobby of the Legislative Office Building.

Then at 10:30 everyone is encouraged to attend and sign in supporting the passage of HB 1403 at the public hearing (Room 305-307 in the Legislative Office Building). If you are interested in offering testimony for this bill, contact Kurt Ehrenberg, kurtehrenberg@nhaflcio.org for information and tips on delivering testimony.

Thousands of minimum wage workers need your help and your support to ensure the passage of HB 1403 to raise the minimum wage here in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire AFL-CIO Calls For Minimum Wage Hike As Part Of 2014 Legislative Agenda

NH AFL-CIO Logo

CONCORD – AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler joined New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie and progressive legislators in laying out the New Hampshire labor movement’s priorities for the 2014 legislative session.

This year, we are calling on our legislature to lift up working families and lift up New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie.

“By raising the minimum wage, establishing prevailing wages, paying men and women equal wages, and making sure that temporary workers, construction workers, and those paid by payroll card aren’t cheated out of their pay, we can ensure that every worker in New Hampshire takes home what they have rightfully earned and can support their families on their wages.”

Raising the minimum wage would help small businesses, President MacKenzie stated, citing a poll by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute released last year that found that a majority of small business owners, 67 percent, would back an effort to increase the minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour and to adjust it annually for inflation.

The plight of low-wage workers is in the spotlight like never before, Secretary-Treasurer Shuler said in her remarks. After a year marked by nationwide walk-outs at Walmart and strikes by fast food workers, workers in thirteen states saw increases in the minimum wage on January 1st of this year. Worker-based coalitions in eight other states are mounting ballot initiatives or legislative campaigns to raise the minimum wage.

Work in this country should be valued, rewarded, and respected,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “It is not a question of whether we can afford to reward hard work – we can’t afford not to. Income inequality is greater today than it’s been since the Great Depression. The rich have never been richer, while the middle class is falling further and further behind. Working people have to do better than that – and we can, starting with a proactive push to raise the minimum wage and pass a working family agenda in Concord.”

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO announced that it will be pursuing the following legislative priorities in 2014:

  • Minimum Wage Increase to $9/hour (HB 1174)Raises the state minimum wage to $8.25 an hour in January 2015; raises the state minimum wage to $9.00 an hour in January 2016 and thereafter raises the minimum wage annually based on increases in the Consumer Price Index.
  • Paycheck Fairness (HB 1188, SB 207)Defines the conditions in which employers may legitimately pay differential wages to men and women who perform equal work; prohibits employers from barring an employee from disclosing information about his or her wages, salary and paid benefits as a condition or employment; prohibits retaliation against an employee who discloses the amount of his or her wages.
  • Temporary Workers Rights (HB 1189)Increases transparency concerning employment conditions and compensation for temporary workers procured for worksite employers through a temporary staffing company; establishes record keeping and reporting requirements for temporary staffing companies; defines allowable fees charged to temporary workers by the staffing company in relation to employment; addresses workers compensation coverage requirements.
  • Personal Credit History Privacy (HB 1405, SB 295)Prohibits employers from requesting a personal credit history check as a condition of employment, with some exceptions for positions that involve substantive responsibility for managing business funds.
  • Payment by Payroll Card (HB 1404)Defines disclosure requirements and employer reporting obligations for payment of wages by payroll card; limits fees that can be charged to an employee for using his or her payroll card account.
  • Social Media Privacy (HB1407)Prohibits employers from requiring access to private social media account or other online communication accounts as a condition of employment. Does not prevent employers from monitoring or requesting access to business accounts.
  • State Prevailing Wage Law (HB 1592)New Hampshire is the only state in the Northeast without a current prevailing wage statute for state-funded public works projects. This bill aims to replace and modernize the NH prevailing wage law repealed in 1985 but limits covered projects to those funded only or substantially by state funds.
  • Certified Payroll Reporting Requirement (HB 1576)Requires contractors on state-funded construction projects to file certified payroll reports that include worker classifications and rates of pay with the government agency responsible for project administration.

Raising The Minimum Wage Would Lift Families Out Of Poverty (By NH AFL-CIO Pres Mark MacKenzie)

NH AFL-CIO Logo

NH AFL-CIO LogoWhen thinking about the minimum wage, it is easy to conjure up the outdated image of teenagers flipping burgers or making milkshakes at the neighborhood restaurant. Minimum wage jobs are seen as a rite of passage into adulthood, something to be left behind once young people graduate from school and settle into permanent jobs.

Yet for too many workers, these minimum wage jobs are permanent jobs. Every day, millions of Americans struggle to support families while earning the minimum wage. These workers are frequently forced to forgo basics — food, housing, clothing — or even rely on public assistance to make ends meet. As we approach the new year, legislation has been proposed on both the federal and state levels to increase the current $7.25 per hour minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and New Hampshire’s minimum to $9. The New Hampshire AFL-CIO supports these proposals as good economic policy and a much-needed boost to millions of families struggling to make ends meet.

As our economy struggles out of recession, many Americans have been forced to take jobs previously held only by teenagers or housewives looking to earn a little extra money. Today, less than a quarter of minimum-wage workers are teenagers. Most are breadwinners in their families, and 55 percent work full time. The median age of a low-wage worker is 34 years old. And 56 percent of all minimum-wage earners are women, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Even as the demographics of minimum-wage workers have shifted, their pay remains too low to support a family. The annual income for a full-time employee making the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is $15,080. Living below the poverty line, that is not enough to afford rent on a two-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire and all of the other 49 states, The New York Times has reported.

According to a study by researchers at the university of California-Berkeley, more than half (52 percent) of front-line fast-food workers must rely on at least one public assistance program to support their families. As a result, the fast-food-industry business model of low wages, non-existent benefits, and limited work hours costs taxpayers an average of nearly $7 billion every year, the National Employment Law Project reports. Jobs should lift workers out of poverty, not trap them in poverty.

If the federal minimum wage had kept up with inflation, today it would be about $10.75 an hour, instead of $7.25. If the minimum wage had kept up with productivity, it would be $18.75. If it had grown at the same rate as wages for the wealthiest 1 percent, it would be over $28 per hour.

Raising employee wages would increase purchasing power, create more jobs and lift the economy.

On the federal level, the benefits of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would incrementally increase the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015, are more than apparent. More than 30 million workers would be positively affected by this bill. It would boost consumer demand, generate $32 billion in new economic activity, and create 140,000 new full-time jobs, NELP has shown. The law would have a significant impact on the millions of children living in poverty in this country, as 23.3 percent of all children in the U.S. have a parent who would be helped by a raise in the minimum wage, according to Economic Policy Institute data.

More than four out of five economists say the benefits of increasing the minimum wage would outweigh the costs. Further, a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would create jobs while causing no reduction in the availability of minimum wage jobs.

Raising the minimum wage is crucial to our future economic growth. Five of the six fastest-growing sectors of the American economy are in low-wage industries — home health aides; customer service representatives; food preparation and serving workers; personal and home care aides and retail salespersons, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. To rebuild a strong middle class and create an economy of shared prosperity, our country must pay fair wages in these growing sectors.

More than 80 percent of the American public supports raising the wage to $10.10 an hour, and 74 percent say it should be a top priority for Congress. It is time for the actions of our elected representatives to reflect the wishes of their constituents. Only by ending this vicious cycle will we be able to help America achieve an economy that truly works for all Americans.

Mark S. MacKenzie is president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

Granite Staters Rally At Sen Ayotte’s Office In National Day Of Action To Protect Social Security

Ayotte Dec. 3, 2013

Ayotte Dec. 3, 2013Statement from New Alliance for Retired Americans President Lucy Edwards at the National Day of Action event in Nashua NH 

As the president of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans, a grassroots volunteer group of senior citizens representing 13,000 NH retirees, I am here today with others fighting to save our Social Security and Medicare benefits from any “grand bargain” between the President and Congress.  Right now in Washington DC, a committee of House and Senate members is trying to agree on a budget that could pass both houses of Congress and get the President’s signature.  Our junior Senator, Kelly Ayotte, is one of these members and that is why we are here today.

For many of us, including me, cuts to these earned benefits would mean the loss of our economic security in retirement.  Do not be fooled by those who tell you that there are no seniors in NH who are all or mostly dependent on Social Security for their income, or for whom turning Medicare into a voucher program to buy insurance on our own would most likely mean increased ill-health and even early death.  We’re out here today because we must be getting the word out. This is not some political game played in DC, this is very real and very frightening to many of us.

And let me say that I and my fellows worry about our children and grandchildren as well.  We are not “greedy geezers!”  When a politician says to me that any changes to the programs will not affect anyone over 55, the first people who pop into my mind are my daughters and their husbands!  When a politician says to me that raising the eligibility age for these programs would be fine because people are living longer, I think of all the people I know who have been without health insurance until now, and wonder if they will even be able to work til 65.

What we really need in this age of the 401(k) and “you’re on your own” retirement plans, and proposals such as the Chained CPI, is something like Senator Harkins’ bill, the Strengthen Social Security Act of 2013, which would fit a Consumer Price Index for us seniors to our true costs, including healthcare costs.  The Chained CPI would cut benefits now AND in the future, leaving us with shrinking incomes just at the time when we need the funds the most.

We are here to remind Senator Ayotte of this, and even more important, to remind our fellow citizens that we need to fight for our rights, including the right to a secure retirement.  Don’t let a “grand bargain” steal what we worked so hard for!

Thank you all for coming!

Lucy Edwards

(You can follow the NH Alliance for Retired Americans on twitter @NH_ARA and via their blog)