• Advertisement

NH AFL-CIO Scholarship Essay Series: It Is Time To Raise The Minimum Wage

Today’s essay comes from Rishi Patel.  Some of you may remember Rishi from last years essay contest where Rishi won for his essay on immigration reform.  Rishi’s mother Naina,is an IBEW member from local #1505.  Rishi is attending Bentley University this fall. 

It Is Time To Raise The Minimum Wage

By Rishi Patel (titled by NHLN editor) 

Rishi PatelIn early January, Mark MacKenzie, the President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, said that by increasing the minimum wage, New Hampshire will be “sending a strong message that we are not going to allow people to live below the poverty line.” MacKenzie is able to point out that regardless of how many people are affected, even if it is few, the state must make sure that people are able to bring food on the table and keep a roof above their head. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 only earns $15,080 yearly, which is “$4,000 less than the poverty-level income for a family of three.” People earning the minimum wage are not the only ones that will be benefitting from the reform. If the minimum wage is raised up to $8.25 and eventually $9.00, everyone will in turn benefit from it. The state will enhance its economy as there will be more money flowing through it. There are many people who challenge this view by stating that only teens will be affected, or small business will not be able to handle the increases in the salary expenses. Yet these statements are either false or assume that the minimum wage is not going to impact the market at all. Since these statements are flawed and increasing the minimum wage can strengthen the position of the state, the minimum wage should be increased.

A major way in which increasing the minimum wage will strengthen the position of the state is by raising the standard of living in the state. Standard of living is the “degree of wealth and material comfort available to a person or community.” In other words, it is the measure of how well people are able to live. If the people who earn the least amount of money are able to earn more, the standard of living for New Hampshire will go up. This is beneficial because everyone will be able to pay “$19,157 per year” towards personal expenses. That figure is the amount of money needed for a person in Concord to afford “basic necessities such as food, housing, or medical care.” In other words, people will be able to pay for the basic needs and have more economic security. Economically, state aid programs such as Medicaid would be relieved. Even though only “4.2%” of the people in New Hampshire are earning minimum wage or lower, it does not mean that state cannot improve and strengthen its position. New Hampshire does not experience exacerbated poverty when compared to other states, but the end goal for the state government is not to be in a better position than other states, but to be the best possible position for its people. Thus, even though a small number of people will be relieved from being under the poverty line, it does not change the fact that people of the state will be more likely to live a comfortable and fulfilling life.

Additionally, increasing the minimum wage will strengthen the position of the state because there will be a consequent increase the “demand for the goods and services sold by businesses operating in the Granite State.” According to “researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago[who were] looking back over a 23 year period concluded that, for every dollar minimum wages had climbed in the past, consumer spending among affected low-wage households grew by $700 in the quarters immediately following the increase.” This means that the “4.2%” of people who would be under the poverty line would end up spending $700 dollars more per quarter. This is not just 4.2% of people but also all the “low wage” households. All of this additional money will strengthen the economy, and more importantly strengthen the position and economic health of the state.

It is clear that by creating more economic security and increasing the amount of money that will flow through the state, increasing the minimum wage will strengthen the position of the state. Still, people tend to think that increasing the minimum wage will not strengthen the position of the state. People with these thoughts tend to oppose with the same arguments. They claim that the increase in wages will only affect teens, or that small business will not be able to handle the pressure of paying more to employees. Yet these statements tend to be flawed.

Most people who say that it will only affect teens fail to realize the fact that raising the minimum wage will increase the economic security for everyone. They also do not realize that it will increase the amount of money that flows through the state. According to the United States Department of Labor, “88 percent of those who would benefit from a federal minimum wage increase are age 20 or older, and 55 percent are women.” Not only are most people who are paid minimum wage not teens, but they are also women and people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Another argument that is normally made against raising the minimum wage is that small business owners will find it difficult to pay their way while possessing a healthy the bottom line. Yet, these people need to know that small business owners are not against the idea. In actuality, more seem to support it. According to the United State Department of Labor, “Small business owners believe that a higher minimum wage would benefit business in important ways: 58% say raising the minimum wage would increase consumer purchasing power. 56% say raising the minimum wage would help the economy. In addition, 53% agree that with a higher minimum wage, businesses would benefit from lower employee turnover, increased productivity and customer satisfaction.” Increasing the purchasing power will strengthen the position of people and the state itself. More importantly, a lower employee turnover ratio means that people will start performing better as they feel more valued.

Raising the minimum wage will leave the employees feeling more valuable, while it leaves customers feeling more satisfied with services and products; it will greatly affect all of the people in the state, and will harness a stronger economy within the state. Since it has the ability to influence the life of NH constituents in such a positive manner and since it is the state is responsible for the wellbeing of its constituents and betterment of the state economy, minimum wage ought to be raised. There is no doubting this vital decision.

 

 

 

 

References

http://www.dol.gov/minwage/mythbuster.htm

http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/4071768-95/wage-minimum-hampshire-workers

http://www.bls.gov/ro1/nhminwage.pdf

NH AFL-CIO Scholarship Essay Series: Stuck in the Crossfire

Today’s essay comes from Adriana Smith. The following essay took 3rd place in the annual scholarship contest.  Adriana’s mother Deb is a member of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) local 230.  Adriana is attending Weaton College this fall.  

Stuck in the Crossfire

by Adriana Smith

 

Ariana SmithGrowing up, my dad had always bounced around from job to job. When I was ten, he was working at a small bar down in Massachusetts, so my younger brother and I rarely got to see him. However, when an opportunity presented itself to start working at an Italian chain restaurant located near my brother and I, he jumped at the job, and the chance to see his kids more often. The pay was $3.10 an hour plus tips. For some, that pay scale may seem like an opportunity to make unlimited tips, and bring in bundles of cash at the end of every shift. However, my father was a middle aged man, put on almost every lunch shift. For those that have never worked in the food industry, lunch shifts are more difficult to receive living tips on, because the meals are significantly less expensive. A smaller bill means a smaller tip, which means a leaner pay check. My dad was lucky, if by the end of the week he broke even with minimum wage. Although my dad did his best to keep his head above water from week to week, my brother and I could feel the financial strain while living with him.

My dad found an apartment nearby, with a high cost of rent, with no utilities included. Desperate to be able to stay near his kids and with next to no options, he signed the lease. While my brother and I were both grateful to see our father more, there were sacrifices. You can imagine, that living the life of a waiter’s daughter is not glamorous. However, the conditions which we lived in some weeks, went beyond the limits of just being dowdy or drab. Mid-winter there would be no heat because he couldn’t afford to fill the oil tank. Every night as the cold crept in, I would curl under my heated blanket, tucking my knees under my chin. In the mornings, I would rush to take a shower as quickly as possible to get out of the frigid water, my hair freezing every day on the way to school. Meals were not enticing, we ate “Toastie O’s” (brand name Cheerios were too expensive) for breakfast every day, and some nights even for dinner. However, there was always food on the table. It wasn’t until recently that he confessed to me he would go days without eating, if my brother and I weren’t around, simply because he couldn’t afford to keep himself fed. We had fallen well below the poverty line, despite my dad working forty hours or more a week. However, that sombering fact had never truly hit me as a young child. It never occurred to me that my dad worked a full time job, and was barely able to feed his family. But now, as a socially aware student heading off to college, I see the atrocity in this fact.

Minimum wage has always been a source of debate, from raising it, to lowering it, to cutting it all together. It is one of the issues that currently divides our country, and is passionately spoken about by both sides. In 2013 part of Obama’s platform was to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by the end of 2016, which is almost a forty percent pay increase. But what would this pay increase actually do to our country? The conservatives say the job market would collapse and inflation would soar, the liberals say it would stimulate the economy and pull countless families out of poverty. The truth lies somewhere in between. So let’s focus on the negative first, jobs would be lost. Increased wages means some companies would have to let employees go because they cannot afford them. NPR reports that the predicted job loss is 500,000 people, or about .3 percent of the work force. However, that number is uncertain because our economy as a whole is unpredictable. The actual number of potential jobs lost ranges anywhere from zero to a million, as studies showed outcomes falling within that range. Another worry about wage increase is not only that jobs would be lost, but jobs that will not be created. Considering that the average business owner in New Hampshire would now have to pay their employees almost forty percent more, this could keep them from opening new positions in the company out of cost effectiveness. Thus, not only are jobs cut, jobs are not being made.

However, not every effect on the economy would be negative. A person working forty hours a week, every week, getting paid minimum wage, makes $15,080 a year before taxes. A person working the same schedule, at the same job, with the wage increase, makes $21,008 before taxes. When you only make $15,000 a year, an extra $6,000 is life changing. Low income families will finally have spending power. They will no longer have to choose between food and heat in the winter, or worry about where their next meal will come from. The pay increase would be enough to pull 900,000 people above the poverty line. By being pulled above the poverty line, the families would no longer have a need for government subsidies, meaning it will save the average tax payer money. And with the increased demand in the market, jobs would be created for production. Not only that, but the increased wages could help companies become more efficient as well. Instead of cutting employees or positions, CEO’s and bosses could instead ask for increased effort in their labor, instead of going through the costly and morale breaking process of firing people.

However, what is lost in this debate is human compassion. When the argument becomes so black and white, we lose sight of who is truly being affected by this decision – struggling families. Struggling families, with children who don’t know why they went to bed cold, or why they are having cereal for the eighth night in a row. So another child never has to question why it’s happening to them, I fully support a minimum wage increase in the state of New Hampshire.

 

NH AFL-CIO Scholarship Essay Series: Raising the NH Minimum Wage Would Strengthen The NH Advantage

Today’s essay comes from Robert Dudgeon who is attending Northern Essex Comm. College perusing a degree in political science. Robert’s mother, Tracy, is a member of the Professional Firefighters of NH Local #4104.  Robert took First Place in the NH AFL-CIO Scholarship contest.

 

Raising the NH Minimum Wage Would Strengthen The NH Advantage

By Robert Dudgeon (titled by NHLN editor)

Why is the minimum wage important, one may ask? It’s only a starter wage, a law that doesn’t affect many workers, right? Think again. 20% of working teenagers, 19% of food-service workers, and 4.3% of all workers in the US (3.3 million people) earn the minimum wage, which is currently $7.25/ hour [1]. The minimum wage is a big deal. It is the lowest rate that a worker can sell their labor for, the law that shows people at the bottom of the economic ladder how much their labor is worth and saves them from working for pennies while they try to climb the ladder. Many critics of the minimum wage don’t understand how impossible it is to live on it. When told that it’s impossible to live on the minimum wage, those critics will start explaining how people are supposed to get more education to move up out of minimum wage jobs, while ignoring the fact that you can’t afford an education while earning the minimum wage. Finally, they will argue that raising the minimum wage will destroy all of the minimum wage jobs, while ignoring the fact that minimum wage jobs continue to exist after numerous minimum wage hikes since the original 25 cents/ hour in 1938. Since the current minimum wage is not a living wage, since working for the current minimum wage will not pay for your education, and since minimum wage hikes do not destroy jobs, I support enacting a NH State minimum wage that goes up in 3 steps ($8.20 in 2014, $9.15 in 2015, $10.10 in 2016) to $10.10/ hour by 2016 and is indexed to inflation to allow for future cost-of-living increases. My proposal is in line with a national campaign to raise the minimum wage, which is supported by President Obama and 600+ economists [2].

Considering the past minimum wage of $7.25/ hour, $10.10 sounds too high, but when compared to New Hampshire’s high cost of living, it’s just right. When one uses the MIT Living Calculator, a free online finance tool, to find the living cost in NH, the living wage needed to match the cost of living in NH is $9.68 for the whole state, with pricey areas such as Hillsborough County and Rockingham County costing $10.07 and $10.15 to live in [3]. The $9/ hour wage proposed by some moderates will just not make the cut, but $10.10 will allow low-income workers the chance to pay all of their bills on time.

Creating a state minimum wage will immediately make a huge difference for Granite State families on the brink of poverty. 77,000 workers making under $10.10/ hour and 36,000 workers who earn more than $10.10 would all see raises as a result of the new state minimum wage [4]. Those who make minimum wage working full-time will see an extra $114 dollars in their paycheck every week [my calculations], which would immediately be spent on gas, food, or other expenses that would otherwise be limited. 12% of New Hampshire children live in families with at least one parent who would earn more from the new state minimum wage [4], which means 1 out of 8 children will have better medical care, eat healthier food, and have a more stable family. 59% of the workers who would see raises are women, and 21% of all working women in New Hampshire would earn more money, which would make the state minimum wage a massive gain for womens’ equal pay [4]. 12% of all workers aged 55+ would get a pay raise, which makes the proposed state minimum wage an excellent way to contribute to comfortable retirements for our senior citizens [4]. 47% of the workers getting raises would be from families making less than $60,000/ year (low-income families), and 42% of all workers from families making less than $20,000/ year would get raises, making the new minimum wage a targeted method of eliminating extreme poverty [4]. The facts show that a $10.10 state minimum wage would improve the financial and personal well-being of traditionally insecure New Hampshire residents, including children in low-income families, the elderly, and women.

Everyone can agree that education is the key to a better job, more pay, and a happier life. Nearly every one of my fellow students was pushed to go to college after we graduated from Pinkerton Academy (Derry, NH), and since most of our parents couldn’t pay our tuition bills, we all found summer jobs and hoped that we could save up enough money to pay for college tuition like our parents and grandparents said they did. However, once the summer ended, most of friends (and myself) had to take on heavy student loans to pay for school when we found out that minimum wage paid nowhere near enough to finance a college education. If you’re a college student lucky enough to have a job at minimum wage for 40 hours/ week during the summer and 20 hours/ week during the school year, you earn ~ $9,500/ year [my calculations], which allows you to attend community college for your first 2 years, but not to attend UNH, which runs ~$16,500/ year for in-state tuition [5]. A couple of my friends couldn’t get parents to co-sign on loans, and they’re working menial jobs until they can afford college. The proposed state minimum wage law would make this situation more workable by increasing the pay for the aforementioned job to ~$13,300/ year, and by boosting pay for low-income families, could allow more low-income students to go straight to college while working to pay most of their bills. Parents could assist with extra funds for the last piece in the affordability puzzle. A whopping 84% of working teenagers would benefit directly or indirectly from the new wage, and the larger economy would benefit from more young people getting a college education without crushing student loan debt.

Finally, there is the question of how many jobs will be available after the proposed minimum wage hike is passed. Many opponents of minimum wage hikes like to predict that massive layoffs will commence once the pen hits the paper and that small businesses will become non-existent, just as they also predicted when child labor was banned, and when the 40-hour workweek was created, when  the EPA was created, and several other times. They simply ignore two large factors that will soften the blow of increased labor costs to businesses. First, increased consumer demand will result from the workers spending their new raises, which will increase business and give businesses enough extra money to retain their workers. The Economic Policy Institute, the only think tank that has done major research into the wage hike, predicts that New Hampshire will gain 400 full-time jobs from the increase demand created by the new state minimum wage. This is a very modest gain due to the fact that New Hampshire already has lower unemployment (4.4% in June 2014) than the rest of the country (6.2% in June 2014)[6]. Also, businesses will pay less in taxes to finance the government assistance programs that low-wage workers rely on when they pay them living wages.

That is the case for raising the minimum wage to $10.10. Nobody knows the exact reason that the federal minimum wage has stagnated. It could have been declining union membership rates that caused labor to lose political power. It could have been strong opponents crying wolf about proposed increases. Regardless of what the federal government will do, New Hampshire must act in its own self-interest and enact a state minimum wage to create a living wage for at-risk groups and families, to allow students the chance to work hard and improve their skills through college, and to create a better climate for business in the Granite State.

 

Works Cited:

1. “Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2013.” BLS Reports (n.d.): n. pag. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mar. 2014. Web. 7 Aug. 2014.

2. “College Costs: Find out How Much College Costs.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2014. .

3. Cooper, David. “Raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $10.10 Would Lift Wages for Millions and Provide a Modest Economic Boost.” Economic Policy Institute. Economic Policy Institute, 19 Dec. 2013. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.epi.org/publication/raising-federal-minimum-wage-to-1010/>.

4. Glasmeier, Amy K. Counties and Places in New Hampshire. Living Wage Calculator. MIT, n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2014. .

5. “Local Area Unemployment Statistics Home Page.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2014. <http://www.bls.gov/lau/>.

6. “Over 600 Economists Sign Letter In Support of $10.10 Minimum Wage: Economist Statement on the Federal Minimum Wage.” Economic Policy Institute. Economic Policy Institute, Jan. 2014. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.

NH Alliance For Retired Americans Endorse Annie Kuster at Social Security Anniversary Celebration

Kuster and NHARA Endorsement 1Today, Alliance for Retired Americans members proudly endorsed Annie Kuster for re-election to the U.S. Congress from New Hampshire’s 2nd District at a celebration of Social Security’s 79th anniversary in Nashua.

“Annie Kuster is really a champion for seniors. She can be trusted to lead with our interests. Her views on keeping health care affordable and retirement secure are among the reasons that we stand behind Annie Kuster and her candidacy for U.S. Congress,” said Lucy Edwards, President of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans.

Annie Kuster’s strong positions on fighting Social Security and Medicare privatization and strengthening Social Security and Medicare confirm her commitment to improving the quality of life for older Americans. She understands that selling off our Medicare to the big insurance companies or turning our Social Security over to Wall Street would benefit few and harm many, including New Hampshire seniors.

“We need to make sure we elect representative s who support these essential safety net programs   we know retirees and their families can count on Anne Kuster,” added Edwards.

To commemorate Social Security’s birthday, activists also released a new report showing how important Social Security is to seniors in New Hampshire. To view the report, go to:

http://www.socialsecurityworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/NH2014.pdf

The Alliance for Retired Americans represents over 4.3 million retirees and community activists, including more than 13,000 members in New Hampshire.

NH Alliance For Retired Americans President Lucy Edwards remarks at the endorsement as prepared are below this image. 

 

 

Kuster and Lucy EdwardsWelcome to all of you, and thank you for coming!  My name is Lucy Edwards, and I serve as the President of the Executive Board of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans.

Every year, at this birthday time for Medicare and Social Security, I think about these wonderful programs and our New Hampshire retirees. It often seems that New Hampshire runs on volunteers, and like so many of our seniors, I am a volunteer, not only for our Alliance but also on my town’s planning board. This year most of our board went to a conference put on by the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, and heard the latest statistics on our population and our economy. We knew that New Hampshire had one of the oldest populations in the country but now it seems we are getting older even faster than previously thought.  As the board charged with planning our land use in the future we are asking ourselves, “How will we help our town deal with this changing demographic? What does this mean for economic development here?”  

One thing I am very sure of is that we will need Social Security and Medicare to be flourishing programs, so that we all can retire with dignity and security, and continue to be a vital part of our communities. Congresswoman Kuster is a champion for small business in New Hampshire, and our small businesses will not flourish without our retirees having income to spend.  Did you know that Social Security benefits totaled $4.1 billion in New Hampshire in 2013?  That’s a lot of local business, and seniors spend almost all their money locally. 

I’m sure we all understand that Medicare not only helps seniors stay healthy in retirement, but that without it the cost of healthcare would leave most of our seniors in poverty.  There will be no help for New Hampshire’s economy if something like the Ryan budget should pass Congress, with its vouchers for private insurance as a Medicare replacement.  Congresswoman Kuster has pledged her support for Social Security and Medicare and fought against cuts to these programs. She has also introduced the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act which would increase Social Security benefits for qualifying caregivers who spend more than 80 hours per month providing care to their loved ones.

We need to make sure we elect representatives in Congress who support these essential senior safety net programs. That’s why the Alliance for Retired Americans, a nation-wide group of over 4.2 million members, and our New Hampshire Alliance, with 14,000 members, endorse Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster for Congress in New Hampshire’s 2nd District.  We know retirees and their families can count on her!

Remember this: seniors should do their homework in November and vote in self-defense!

 

 

9-12-14 Remarks by Lucy Edwards, President New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans

Governor Hassan Creates Workers’ Compensation Commission

Issues Executive Order Bringing Together Experts to Recommend Reforms to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Medical Costs

Maggie HassanCONCORD – In order to help reduce workers’ compensation costs that are a burden on New Hampshire businesses and ensure that injured workers have access to high-quality care, Governor Maggie Hassan today issued an Executive Order creating the Commission to Recommend Reforms to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Medical Costs.

“Employers and workers have done their part to increase workplace safety, but New Hampshire has become one of the most expensive states in the nation for workers’ compensation, a burden on businesses across the state,” Governor Hassan said. “By bringing together business leaders and experts from insurance, health care and labor, the Commission to Recommend Reforms to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Medical Costs provides an opportunity for stakeholders to identify ways to reduce workers’ compensation medical costs and ensure that injured workers have access to quality care. With these reforms, our businesses will be able to re-invest these dollars in growing their companies, creating new jobs and keeping our economy moving in the right direction.”

Tasked with making recommendations to reform New Hampshire’s workers’ compensation system, the commission will review the data behind New Hampshire’s high workers’ compensation costs; analyze efforts by other states to successfully reduce workers’ compensation costs; review how other states ensure continued access to quality care for injured workers; and develop comprehensive reforms that will reduce costs and premiums and improve New Hampshire’s workers’ compensation system while ensuring that injured workers have access to quality care.

According to the Oregon Workers Compensation Rate Ranking Study, New Hampshire rose from the 14th-most expensive state for workers’ compensation coverage in the country in 2008 to the ninth-most expensive in 2012. In addition, data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance shows that workers’ compensation surgical procedures in New Hampshire are 83 percent more expensive than those in the region and more than twice as expensive as they are nationally. For more information on New Hampshire’s workers’ compensation costs, visit  http://www.nh.gov/insurance/media/pr/2014/documents/052214.pdf.

“New Hampshire is among the most expensive states for workers’ compensation, an unnecessary disadvantage for businesses that operate here,” said New Hampshire Insurance Department Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “I look forward to working with the commission to improve our workers’ compensation system by making recommendations to reduce costs and premiums while ensuring that workers have access to quality care.”

Commissioner Sevigny will be the chairman of the Commission to Recommend Reforms to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Medical Costs. He will be joined on the commission by New Hampshire Department of Labor Commissioner Jim Craig or a designee from the department, as well as a diverse group of experts representing workers, employers, insurance professionals and the health care sector.

The Commission’s final report is due to the Governor on December 1, 2014.

Other members of the commission are:

·         Brian Allen, Vice President of Government Affairs at HELIOS (formerly Progressive Medical/PMSI)

·         Donald F. Baldini, AVP and State Affairs Officer at Liberty Mutual Insurance

·         Pamela Bronson, Administrator at Access Sports Medicine & Orthopedics

·         Paul W. Chant of Cooper Cargill Chant

·         Tammy Denver, Director of Claims & Coverage Programs at NH Public Risk Management Exchange (Primex3)

·         Edward Dudley, Executive Vice President/CFO of Catholic Medical Center

·         Mark Erdody, Director of New England Claims for Cove Risk Services, LLC

·         Marc Lacroix, New Hampshire Physical Therapy Association and Director of Specialty Services at Concord Hospital

·         David Lang, President of Professional Firefighters of NH

·         Mark Mackenzie, President of NH AFL-CIO

·         Peter McNamara, President of NH Automobile Dealers Association

·         Dr. Gregory Soghikian of New Hampshire Orthopaedic Center

·         Ben Wilcox, President & General Manager of Cranmore Mountain Resort

The full text of the Governor’s Executive Order is attached and below.

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
BY HER EXCELLENCY
MARGARET WOOD HASSAN
EXECUTIVE ORDER 2014-7

An order establishing a Commission to Recommend Reforms to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Medical Costs 

WHEREAS, workers and employers across New Hampshire have partnered together to make their workplaces safer and to reduce on-the-job injuries;

WHEREAS, it is critical that injured workers have access to high-quality medical care and that we recognize medical practices often bear higher costs and administrative obligations when treating and assisting workers injured on the job;

WHEREAS,  while rates are expected to drop slightly in the coming year, New Hampshire was ranked the  ninth-most expensive state for workers’ compensation insurance in 2012, a change driven by increasing medical costs;

WHEREAS, according to a New Hampshire Department of Insurance review, medical costs in New Hampshire have grown to almost 75 percent of total workers’ compensation dollars spent in New Hampshire, compared to about 60 percent nationwide;

WHEREAS, the same review showed that on average workers’ compensation surgical procedures in New Hampshire are 83 percent more expensive than those in the region and more than twice as expensive as they are nationally;

WHEREAS, as an employer, state government pays significantly more for procedures covered by workers’ compensation coverage  compared to the same procedures covered through the state’s group medical coverage;

WHEREAS, higher workers’ compensation costs result in higher premiums that impact employers, workers and the economy by diverting resources that could be used for other priorities such as increased wages, new hires and investments in company infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, most other states have implemented strategies to successfully reduce medical costs for workers’ compensation;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, MARGARET WOOD HASSAN, GOVERNOR of the State of New Hampshire, by the authority vested in me pursuant to Part II, Article 41 of the New Hampshire Constitution, do hereby establish, effective September 4, 2014, a Commission to Recommend Reforms to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Medical Costs, which shall comprise the commissioners of Insurance and Labor, as well as individuals representing workers, employers, insurance professionals and health care. 

FURTHER, the Commissioner of the Department of Insurance shall serve as chair; 

FURTHER, the Commission shall:

  1. Review data and information explaining the basis for high workers’ compensation costs in New Hampshire; 
  2. Review laws, regulations and other efforts undertaken by other states to successfully reduce workers’ compensation medical costs and other workers’ compensation costs;
  3. Review laws, regulations and other efforts undertaken by other states to ensure continued access by injured workers to high-quality health care providers;
  4. Develop and recommend a comprehensive reform to reduce medical costs and premiums in New Hampshire’s workers’ compensation system while preserving access to health care for workers, and
  5. Make any other recommendations the Commission believes necessary to improve New Hampshire’s workers’ compensation system to reduce costs and premiums, improve the care to workers, and to help workers return to the job in a timely matter.

FINALLY, the Commission shall submit its final report to the Governor by December 1, 2014.

Given under my hand and seal at the Executive Chambers in Concord, this 4th day of September, in the year of Our Lord, two thousand and fourteen, and the independence of the United States of America, two hundred and thirty-nine.

______________Maggie Hassan_________________________

GOVERNOR OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

How And Why Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Has Dedicated Her Life To Helping People (VIDEO)

Carol Shea Porter 1

“The America dream is slipping away from the middle class,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter at the annual New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.

“Carol made the commitment to helping people” said Paul O’Connor, President of the Metal Trades Council at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, in his introduction of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.

Carol Shea porter 2There is no better advocate for working families in New Hampshire than Congresswoman Shea-Porter. She has stood up against right-wing attacks on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. She stood strong in her opposition to the “Ryan Plan” that would slash funding to programs like Head Start and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). She opposed the draconian cuts mandated by Sequestration that forced furloughs on federal workers throughout the country.

In Washington she spoke up for working families countless times by calling for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage. At the breakfast she explained how wage stagnation has hurt working families.

“What Americans want is a decent enough wage, they weren’t asking for 50% of the company, they just wanted to be fairly paid for their labor and they wanted to be able to take care of their families. They wanted to pay their mortgage or their rent, save for retirement, educate their children, and have a little money left over Friday night for pizza,” Shea-Porter said.

Rep. Shea-Porter and NH AFL-CIO Pres. MacKenzie

Rep. Shea-Porter and NH AFL-CIO Pres. MacKenzie

In contrast, one of Shea-Porter’s potential opponents, Brendan Kelly, actually said the minimum wage should be “a dollar and a half” in a recent GOP primary debate.

Shea-Porter went into great detail about how corporations like Walgreens (who have since reversed their decision) are moving to change their corporate citizenship, commonly called inversion, to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.

Working families in New Hampshire need a true leader like Congresswoman Shea-Porter in Washington. In a recent primary debate, all of Shea-Porter’s potential opponents called for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which has already drastically lowered the uninsured population of New Hampshire.

In the First Congressional District, the choice for New Hampshire is clear and after watching this video I think you will agree.

 

Watch Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter tell it like it is in her short speech at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.

Labor Unions Representing Tens of Thousands of New Hampshire Workers Endorse Jeanne Shaheen

Manchester — Just one day after Scott Brown declared he has no interest in promoting economic development here in our state, New Hampshire labor unions representing tens of thousands of Granite State workers including the NH AFL-CIO, SEIU, NEA, Teamsters, Iron Workers, Electrical Workers, Food and Commercial Workers, Postal Workers, and Laborers, endorsed New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen for reelection. In their endorsements, workers highlighted Shaheen’s commitment to creating good paying jobs and her record standing up for New Hampshire workers and their families. Meanwhile, Scott Brown has shown that he’s only looking out for one job, his own, after it was recently reported that he is collecting a hefty paycheck from a company that shipped jobs overseas. Yesterday, Brown declared he wasn’t going to work to create jobs in the Senate.

“I’m honored to have the support of so many New Hampshire workers and their families,” said Shaheen. “Every day in the U.S. Senate, my number one priority has always been to strengthen our economy and create good paying jobs here in New Hampshire so everyone who works hard can earn a decent living for their families. I’ll never stop fighting to increase the minimum wage, invest in our state’s roads and bridges, and close loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas. These are commonsense solutions that will make a real difference for people throughout New Hampshire.”

Jeanne Shaheen has fought to strengthen the state’s economy and create good paying jobs for New Hampshire workers. She reached across party lines to secure new funding to widen I-93 and rebuild the Portsmouth Memorial Bridge, both of which created jobs for workers across the state. Shaheen stood up to members of her own party to protect thousands of jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She also voted to close tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and is fighting to raise the minimum wage because it’s what’s right for New Hampshire families.

Scott Brown has opposed increasing the minimum wage and voted to support tax loopholes for companies that offshore American jobs. Recently, the Nashua Telegraph reported that Brown has made over a quarter million dollars as a board member of a company that touts outsourcing American jobs to China and Mexico as part of its business plan. Legal documents dated just two days before Brown entered the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire bear his signature endorsing the company’s outsourcing strategy.

“This election, we’re going door to door because there’s a real contrast in this race between someone running for New Hampshire working families and someone who’s in this race to line his own pockets,” said Mark Mackenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO. “While Jeanne Shaheen puts New Hampshire first, Scott Brown puts his bank account first, refusing to resign from the board of a company that offshored American jobs to increase its profits. We don’t stand for that here in New Hampshire.”

“As a former teacher herself, Jeanne Shaheen knows the importance of ensuring every child has access to an affordable, quality education,” said NH National Education Association President Scott McGilvray. “It’s an insult to working families that Scott Brown would sit on the Board of Directors of a company that sent American jobs to China and Mexico to increase its bottom line. What Scott Brown needs to understand is that the offshoring practices he endorsed don’t just hurt workers, they hurt communities and they hurt kids.”

“Senator Shaheen has shown time and time again she can reach across the aisle and get things done for the people of New Hampshire,” said Steven Burk, NH Business Agent and Political Liason for the Ironworkers. “She’s worked to create good paying jobs here in our state, including the rebuilding of the Portsmouth Memorial Bridge, which our workers were proud to be a part of. New Hampshire working people deserve a Senator who will stand up for them, fight to increase the minimum wage, and close loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas–not one who supports special interests and lines his own pockets while claiming to represent us.”

“Jeanne Shaheen understands that investing in New Hampshire’s infrastructure not only creates good paying jobs, but also strengthens our economy in the long run,” said New Hampshire Teamsters Secretary-Treasurer David Laughton. “Scott Brown is still cashing in from his role on the board of a company that shipped American jobs overseas. While he profits, working people suffer. Here in New Hampshire, we’re not going to tolerate that kind of behavior.”

“The bottom line is Jeanne Shaheen understands that people in New Hampshire have bills to pay, kids to send to college, and food to put on the table–all while trying to save for retirement,” said Diana Lacey, SEIU 1984 President. “Scott Brown didn’t just vote for tax breaks for companies that offshore American jobs, he sits on the board of one of those companies himself.”

“Senator Shaheen supported every postal worker in New Hampshire when she personally urged members of the Appropriations Committee to protect the USPS service standards, helping to preserve a vital public service,” said Dana Coletti, New Hampshire President of the American Postal Workers Union. “Jeanne Shaheen looks out for the people of New Hampshire and has always put the families of this state first.”

“As Governor and Senator, Jeanne Shaheen’s worked to create good paying jobs by investing in infrastructure and education right here in New Hampshire,” said Joe Bonfiglio, President of the Massachusetts & Northern New England Laborers’ District Council. “Scott Brown on the other hand seems to care more about the economies of China and Mexico. He’s made a quarter million dollars on the board of a company that shipped jobs overseas to increase profits. We need a Senator who prioritizes working people here in New Hampshire, and that Senator is Jeanne Shaheen.”

We’re proud to endorse Jeanne Shaheen for reelection to the United States Senate,” said Jim Carvalho, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445 Political Director. “She has a long record of fighting to create good paying jobs and looking out for working families here in New Hampshire. As a Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown voted to protect tax breaks for Big Oil, Wall Street and companies that ship jobs overseas. Now, he’s collecting money sitting on the board of a company that touts relying on low cost manufacturing jobs in China and Mexico as a part of its business plan. That’s not the representation our state deserves to have in the Senate.”

“Jeanne Shaheen is a Senator New Hampshire working people can trust. Her top priority has always been to create new jobs and she’s delivered for New Hampshire time and time again,” said Joe Casey, President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 490. “Scott Brown is in this race for nobody but Big Oil, Wall Street and himself. I can’t believe he’d vote for tax breaks for all these special interests but won’t support increasing the minimum wage so working people can support their families. Now he’s making money off of a company that shipped jobs overseas? We need to keep Jeanne Shaheen in the Senate.”

Granite Staters Ask Senator Ayotte To Take The Minimum Wage Challenge

Image from NH Alliance For Retired Americans

Image from NH Alliance For Retired Americans

This week members of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired American, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) challenged Senator Kelly Ayotte to live on minimum wage for a week.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour that leads many to make choices between feeding their families and filling their gas tanks. This is why millions of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

Senator Ayotte supported the GOP filibuster that blocked an “up and down” down of raising the minimum wage.

Activists argued that Senator Ayotte should spend a week in the shoes of a minimum wage worker by joining Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Tim Ryan, Barbara Lee, Mark Takano, and former Gov. Ted Strickland in taking the Minimum Wage Challenge and living on $77 for a week, the take home pay of a minimum wage worker.

“In 1992, my family and I fled our country, the former Yugoslavia, due to the civil war,” said Nina Mujakovic, small business owner. “Since 1998, my family and I have worked very hard to 77 dollars a weekgain back what we lost. We have obtained our American Dream and others need to have the opportunity to achieve theirs. An increase in minimum wage will help them along that path.”

Activist displayed what the reality of a $77.00 food basket looked like.

“Raising the minimum wage is a no-brainer in so many ways,” added Lucy Edward, a member of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Better incomes lead to a better standard of living, and better health, reducing health care costs. Better incomes lead to better funding for schools, leading to more educated young people who will again have better jobs and even start their own businesses. Raising the minimum wage, and other policies that support working families, are a positive feedback economic engine.”

At the event, Lucy Edwards highlighted how raising the minimum wage will help strengthen our Social Security system.

“Once you understand that the Social Security benefit is calculated on lifetime earnings, and that the Trust Fund is funded from current earnings, you can immediately see that if a person makes more money, not only do their benefits on retirement increase, but the amount they pay into the Social Security Trust Fund increases today. Raising the Federal minimum wage, passing the Paycheck Equity legislation through Congress, and funding projects that create jobs all bring immediate returns to the Trust Fund, extending its ability to pay full benefits into the future.”

You can read Lucy’s full statement at the NH Alliance For Retired Americans Blog.

Activists vowed to watch and wait to see if Senator Ayotte would accept the challenge to live on minimum wage for a week. They are hopeful that she will then understand the difficulty of getting by on $77 a week.

Will Senator Ayotte accept the Minimum Wage Challenge and take one week to see what it is like for the millions of Americans struggling to survive on the minimum wage?   Odds are against it, but with pressure from people like you, that could change.

When Will Senator Ayotte Start Listening To The People On Protecting Our Earned Benefits?

Editor’s Note: Below is a cross-post from the NH Alliance for Retired Americans who have been working over the last year to meet with and talk to Senator Ayotte.  I believe Sen. Ayotte’s office has met with them once, they are obviously not listening to what the people are saying.  When I wrote to Sen. Ayotte about protecting Social Security and Medicare, I got the exact same form letter that Lucy attached below. 

Image and rights from the  NHARA

Image from the NH ARA

Senator Ayotte, You Are Not Listening

Written by Lucy Edwards
President of the NH Alliance for Retired Americans
Posted on the NH ARA Blog

I received an e-mail letter from Senator Ayotte on the subject of Social Security and Medicare (or as she calls them, “entitlements.”) I would like to suggest to her that if she REALLY is interested in making sure that these earned benefit programs are available into the future, she consider some really simple solutions.

First, to fund the Social Security Trust Fund so that it can pay benefits indefinitely, we could do some combination of the following:

  • Raise the minimum wage.  If incomes are higher, payments into the trust fund are higher.
  • Raise the income cap.  If higher earners have to pay on more of their earnings, the payments into the trust fund will be higher.
  • Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. If women earn more, their payments into the trust fund will be higher.
  • Vote for infrastructure funding and other stimulus programs to raise the number of jobs and the pay for workers.  If more people are working, and making decent incomes, the payments into the trust fund will be higher.  AND life both today and in retirement will be much better for ALL Americans.

I would also remind her that the Affordable Care Act is already lowering the rate of growth of healthcare costs, including Medicare.  More preventative care, less spending on high cost procedures, correcting the overpayments for Medicare Advantage policies, and reining in fraud will help keep costs under control.  Don’t repeal the ACA!

We could also discuss the use of the national debt (for which Republican presidents are mostly responsible) as a straw man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man) but we will leave that for another discussion.

Here is her letter:

Thank you for contacting me regarding entitlement reform, particularly as it relates to Medicare and Social Security.  I appreciate hearing from you.

Our $17 trillion national debt threatens not only our economic prosperity but also our security and sovereignty.  I believe that it is my responsibility to analyze the underlying problems perpetuating the unsustainable growth in our federal debt and to make a real effort to solve them.  This includes evaluating all areas of the federal budget to determine where appropriate reductions can be made and making the necessary reforms to entitlement programs to ensure they are solvent for current and future generations.

Spending for major health and retirement programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, will increase in coming decades, putting greater pressure on the rest of the federal budget.  According to the Office of Management and Budget, in fiscal year (FY) 2013, 66 percent of all federal spending was on entitlement programs, net interest, and other social safety net programs.  Unless significant actions are taken to address these programs’ structural problems, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will grow to consume every dollar of revenue raised by the government.

I also understand the importance of these programs and am aware of how many Americans rely on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  As baby boomers continue to retire, health care costs and Social Security outlays will rise.

According to the most recent Medicare Trustees report, the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund has been running cash flow deficits since 2008.  The only thing keeping the program afloat financially is the sale of Treasury bonds in the Medicare Trust Fund – deficit spending.  According to the report, the Medicare HI Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2030.

In addition, the Social Security Trustees report that the Social Security program is now in a permanent cash flow deficit, meaning that as baby boomers retire, the Trust Funds are obligated to pay out more benefits than there are incoming payroll taxes.  This means that to pay benefits, the government must cut spending, raise taxes, or borrow more money from overseas to finance payments.  The Trustees estimate that the Social Security Trust Funds will have a shortfall of $9.6 trillion over the next 75 years and will be exhausted in 2033.  This means that in just 20 years beneficiaries would have to see a 23 percent benefit cut.

I believe we need to ensure the long-term viability of entitlement programs.  In strengthening entitlements, we should ensure that those in or near retirement will not be negatively impacted by any reforms.  However, the longer we put off reforming entitlements, the more difficult changes will be on those nearing retirement.  In order to strengthen entitlements, members of both parties will need to muster the political courage to stop putting off the tough decisions that need to be made in order to preserve these programs and protect the economic strength of our country.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me.  As your Senator, it is important for me to hear from you regarding the current issues affecting New Hampshire and our nation.  Please do not hesitate to be in touch again if I may be of further assistance.

Sincerely,
Kelly A. Ayotte
U. S. Senator

The NH AFL-CIO Make Endorsement Announcement for U.S. Senate, NH Governor, Congress

New Hampshire AFL-CIO endorses Shaheen, Hassan, Shea-Porter and Kuster in November elections

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO announced its top slate of candidates for the 2014 elections today, pledging to support the reelection bids of Senator Shaheen, Governor Hassan, and Congresswomen Shea-Porter and Kuster. The state’s largest labor federation is prepared to roll out an aggressive field campaign to turn out voters in support of these working family champions.

“As our economy recovers, we need leaders who will commit to creating economic opportunity for New Hampshire families,” said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie. “Governor Hassan has worked across party lines to support job creation for middle class families. Our representatives in Congress successfully protected thousands of jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard from furloughs under sequestration. This is the kind of bold leadership that will ensure that New Hampshire’s economic recovery will translate into more opportunities for working families.”

“Working people know how critical this election is. In the last year, we’ve seen what can happen in New Hampshire when we work together to solve big problems. Yet too many people are still struggling and living paycheck to paycheck. We need to protect the leaders who care about the struggles of working people, deliver on their promises to us, and are willing to work together to expand opportunity for all.”

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement