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The Battle Over The Democratic Party: The Establishment vs The Populist

Bernie Sanders (Michael Vadon FLIKR CC )

Bernie Sanders (Michael Vadon FLIKR CC )

Hillary Clinton is lining up endorsements at an unprecedented level before a single vote has been cast. This is being done to make it appear that the nomination is a foregone conclusion. This is the establishment’s way of marginalizing the populist message of Bernie Sanders.  They benefit from the status quo.

So we have a few more endorsements for Hillary Clinton this week.  Nate Silver ‘s 538 blog gives Hillary 447 Endorsement points while Bernie Sanders has only 2.  Both of Bernie’s endorsements were from congressman (Raul Grijalva-AZ, Keith Ellison-MN) while Hillary’s numerous  endorsements come from the vast Democrat party elite and those Democrats hoping to be part of the future elite. This is further indication of the choke-hold corporations and wealthy interests have over the very corporate-friendly Democratic Party. These politicians who have endorsed Hillary are in most cases just backing the most likely nominee for their own selfish political interests. This comes as no surprise to watchers of the political landscape.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2015 IAM National Staff Conference in New York, NY. (Photo: Bill Burke/Page One Photography)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2015 IAM National Staff Conference in New York, NY. (Photo: Bill Burke/Page One Photography)

Somewhat more surprising is the number of labor unions supporting Hillary Clinton over long time labor union friend Bernie Sanders. I am well aware unions have different issues that are important to their membership, so there can be no criticism if a union backs a certain candidate because of his/her stance on issues. However, when unions support someone primarily because the candidate is seen as “most electable,” then their endorsements can be questioned.

By all accounts, Lee Saunders is a champion of working people and he helped revitalize AFSCME Local 37 in NYC, which is one of the best locals regarding political activism in this country.  Knowing this, his statement regarding their endorsement of Hillary Clinton made me look twice.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders said members want a candidate committed to fixing the economy and raising incomes for hardworking individuals struggling to get by, as well as someone who supports strong unions.  “What we also heard was AFSCME members want the candidate who will be the most effective champion for working families and who will be able to deliver a victory in this critically important election,” he said in a statement. “AFSCME members believe that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

Are union leaders missing the point that this is a Primary, and they should be supporting candidates who most support the rights of working people, and not settle for the candidates most likely to win? They are not picking a horse at Churchill Downs.  There will be a general election in November 2016 and each union can again endorse the candidate they think is best for their members.

Hillary Clinton was a Board Member of  Walmart for six years and never once, according to tapes and recollection, spoke out against Walmart’s fervent anti-unions policies.  She sat silently as Clinton’s fellow board member John Tate frequently blasted unions. Tate was fond of repeating, as he did at a managers’ meeting in 2004 after his retirement, what he said was his favorite phrase: “Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living.” Most activists I know would have had to be removed from the room screaming if they were present to hear these words.

Clinton was outspoken on the board regarding Walmart’s token support for environmental and women’s rights but was silent the issue of  union rights.  The corporate-owned Democratic Party elite have no problem supporting token gestures towards women’s rights or gay rights, but they stare blankly when the issue of labor rights is mentioned. The elite are nervous about changing the economic equation for working people. The current version of the Democratic party has not been an enemy of labor unions like the Republican party is, but they also have not been our  friend.

Bernie Sanders With Verizon WorkersDemocrats have possibly the best champion of working people in our generation with Bernie Sanders as a serious candidate. Bernie speaks truth to power and calls out corporations and the wealthy for fleecing this country’s working people.  The privileged wealthy are benefiting from a tilted playing field as their wealth soars while working people struggle daily to just survive. This  income inequality not been seen since the Gilded Age. Bernie is drawing record crowds to his rallies and his popular support from ordinary Americans would be the dominant political news of the day if it wasn’t for the Trump circus.

SEIU Local 560 President Earl Sweet called the Vermont senator “the most honest man in Washington.”  “There’s no question about what Bernie believes because he has always meant what he said – and to many of us in the labor movement, that’s a breath of fresh air,” he said. “Sen. Sanders has always stood up for workers and the middle class, here in New Hampshire and across the country, which is why we’re proud to give him our enthusiastic endorsement.”

Democratic and union activist’s must ask themselves.  Which side are they on?


Leo W Gerard: One Percenters Stuff Their Pumpkin Pie Holes

This Thanksgiving, in dining rooms across America, the turkey will be smaller, the stuffing more meager, the pumpkin pie sliced thinner. Gratitude will be given. But roiling just below the surface, for far too many families, will be economic anxiety.

The vast majority of working Americans haven’t seen a real raise in 35 years.Meanwhile, every year, their health care costs rise. Their employers eliminate pensions. And their kids struggle with rising college or technical school tuition and debt. Workers worry whether they will ever be able to pay the bills.

By contrast, on the other side of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the richest 1 percent are supersizing their feasts. For example, three families will spend $45,000 – each – for Marie Antoinette-style meals, gold flakes and all, at the Old Homestead Steakhouse in New York City. That’s up by $10,000 from the restaurant’s Thanksgiving fare for eight last year. It’s more, for one meal, than the average American worker earns in a year.

The 1 percent can spend $45,000 for a Thanksgiving supper because they’re gobbling up virtually all of the income from workers’ productivity increases. And now they’ve launched a new assault on workers. It’s a lawsuit called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA). The 1 percent hopes it will prevent public service workers like teachers from joining together to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions. If the $45,000-Thanksgiving-dinner crew wins the case, they’ll go after private-sector labor organizations next. They intend to gorge themselves until there’s nothing left for workers.

This is what a $75-a-pound turkey struts like.

This is what a $75-a-pound turkey struts like.

The Marie Antoinette $45,000 Thanksgiving includes two turkeys. Because when would one, 20-pound free-range, organically raised bird at $75 a pound ever be enough?

The Friedrichs case is about power. Individual workers don’t bargain for raises with gigantic multinational corporations and government agencies. They beg.

But when workers band together and seek raises as a team, they gain for themselves the power necessary to negotiate. That’s intolerable to 1 percenters. And that’s why they’re backing the Friedrichs case – to seize that negotiating power from workers.

Defending their right to collectively bargain are public service workers ­– the likes of firemen, teachers, social workers and public health nurses. The labor organizations these workers belong to try to ensure that they receive living wages and decent retirement benefits.

But just as importantly, public service workers also use their collective voice to negotiate in the public interest, including improving response times for paramedics and lowering social worker caseloads to allow adequate time to investigate child abuse allegations.

Public school teachers, who spend an average of $500 a year out of their own pockets for classroom supplies, routinely bargain to secure the smaller class sizes that parents want, to protect the recess breaks that elementary students need and to preserve arts and music education.

In addition, significantly, a study last spring showed that more than half of teachers have used their own money to help students experiencing crises, to get them clothing or to feed them.

The Marie Antoinette $45,000 Thanksgiving includes gravy made with Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, which goes for $4,900 a bottle. Because when would $9 worth of cooking sherry ever be good enough?

The paychecks of all workers are on the line in the Friedrichs case because if the 1 percent succeeds in stripping rights from public service workers, it will go after those of everyone else.

This creates great economic risks, not just for union members, but for non-union workers and their children.

As it is now, a union member earns, on average, $200 more a week and receives better benefits than a worker who is not in a labor organization. If the 1 percenters succeed in robbing private sector as well as public service workers of their bargaining rights, then the wealthy will gain clout to eliminate that union advantage and eventually to suppress all wages.

When union members lose, all workers lose.  That’s because their ability to secure better wages pressures employers whose workers aren’t organized to raise their pay too. In addition, a study released earlier this year showed that the children of union members as well as the children of non-union members who live in high union density communities experience greater upward mobility.

That means entire communities benefit from the work of labor organizations. And entire communities would suffer if the 1 percent can weaken or destroy them.

The Marie Antoinette $45,000 Thanksgiving includes whipped sweet potatoes festooned with $1,600-an-ounce Royal Osetra caviar. Because when would the red-light-special, $115-an-ounce can of fish eggs ever be acceptable?

Providing the big bucks to push the Friedrichs case is the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), which is bankrolled by 1 percenters and right-wing organizations. Its name is significant. It wants to isolate workers, render them individuals rather than members of teams acting concertedly to win benefits for all.

The name of the group opposing CIR is noteworthy as well. It is America Works Together. It supports workers’ right to jointly seek advancement of all members of the group. Of course, labor organizations like the National Education Association (NEA), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and my union, the United Steelworkers (USW), are members of America Works Together.

But the coalition also includes civil rights, faith, legal and health organizations.Among them are the Alliance for a Just Society, Coalition on Human Needs, Interfaith Worker Justice and The Main Street Alliance.

America Works Together is an alliance of alliances advocating for the right of American workers to form alliances. It’s a symbol of the idea it supports – that community creates power.

The Marie Antoinette $45,000 Thanksgiving final course is pumpkin ice cream decked with 24-carat gold flakes and a $4,200 bottle of private reserve rum-infused eggnog sauce.

That’s dessert for the 1 percent.

The 99 percent is seeking just deserts before the U.S. Supreme Court so that workers will retain the right to organize and collectively bargain for wages that will enable them to provide not a garish Marie Antoinette meal but a simple Norman RockwellThanksgiving for their families.


LiUNA Endorses Hillary Clinton

LIUNA Banner

Washington, D.C. – Following a deliberative and democratic process to thoroughly consider the opinions and the views of LIUNA members; including a membership poll and a vote of the General Executive Board, Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA, made the following statement today on the endorsement of Secretary Clinton:

LIUNA is proud to endorse Secretary Clinton for President of the United States. The strong, proud and united members of LIUNA will be on the frontlines of the 2016 elections; on the streets, knocking on doors, making calls and encouraging family, friends, and neighbors to elect Hillary Clinton as the 45th President of the United States.

LIUNA members and leadership believe that Secretary Clinton is the right leader to move our country forward and the most qualified candidate to address the many challenges facing the United States.

LIUNA members are deeply concerned about the direction of our country and are looking for a real leader who will create good jobs, rebuild our country, and grow our economy. Secretary Clinton’s record proves that she is a tough and tested fighter for our nation and for working men and women.

LIUNA is eager to work with Secretary Clinton, as the next President of the United States, to help enact legislation and promote policies that provide long-term investment in America’s roads and bridges, and encourage a real all-of-the-above approach to energy development. We also look forward to working with Secretary Clinton on repeal of the so-called Cadillac tax, fair postal reform, and policies that protect pensions and support public employees.

After Secretary Clinton received the endorsement, Hillary Clinton relased the following statement:

“I am honored to have earned the endorsement of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, one of the fastest-growing and most diverse unions in the country.”

“Unions like LIUNA have helped build the great American middle class, and they are essential as we work to build the good-paying jobs and careers of the 21st century. It’s time to put more Americans to work modernizing our infrastructure—building roads and bridges, repairing leaky pipelines, upgrading our water systems, and hardening our energy system against the threats of cyberattack and climate change. As President, I will fight to increase investment in our infrastructure, including our energy infrastructure, and will protect the prevailing wage standards and project labor agreements that make construction careers middle-class careers.”

This Thanksgiving: How To Talk About The Economy Without Getting Into An Argument

man yelling with megaphone

Is your family one of those families… where Thanksgiving dinner always ends up in a political argument?

First thing to remember is that arguing won’t get you anywhere. Research shows that when the people you’re talking with hold strong beliefs, arguing with them only makes it harder for them to change those beliefs. And “when people’s confidence in their beliefs is shaken, they become stronger advocates for those beliefs. … when faced with doubt, people shout even louder.”

Political scientists call it the “backfire” effect – and if you’re an activist, you need to know about it (and remember it). Also remember that there are neurological differences between “Republican” and “Democratic” brains… and there are behavioral differences… although scientists are still trying to figure out exactly what those differences mean.

no_megaphoneSo what are you supposed to do? If you’re, say, sitting around the Thanksgiving table when Great Uncle Chester starts berating your college-graduate niece about the fact that she’s living at home rather than in her own apartment…?

Start by finding common ground. There’s always something to agree on, if you just look hard enough. Even if it’s just a gentle restatement of what the other person said. “Yes, Uncle Chester, we all agree that college graduates should be able to find jobs that allow them to support themselves.”

Then, add a little reality in there. “But that doesn’t seem to be happening in the current economy. There are a whole lot of twenty-somethings who are still living at home.”

Try to use personal examples rather than just facts. “I remember what my neighbor’s son went through, when he graduated two years ago. It took him 18 months to find a job, and even then he earned barely enough for him to make his student loan payments.”

When you talk about facts, try to frame them as a question, not a statement. “Don’t you think that the economy has changed from when you graduated college? Remember how working in a bank used to be a highly-respected job? Did you know that, these days, almost one-third of bank tellers need food stamps?”

Don’t push too hard. With Uncle Chester, you might not be able to persuade him of anything other than that he should stop berating your niece. (And if you push any further, the conversation might get loud and become a “nobody’s going to win this” argument.)

But continue the conversation, if your audience seems receptive. “Did you know that, these days, banks are paying billions of dollars to stockholders, rather than paying their tellers a decent wage?”

— — — —

no_megaphoneDo you have a second cousin Mildred who insists that “cutting taxes for job creators” is the answer to everything?

Find something you both agree on. “Nobody likes paying taxes.”

Add a personal story. “I remember when we got President Bush’s ‘tax refund checks’ back in 2001 and 2008. It was nice to get the money, but I didn’t invest it. I don’t know anybody who invested it. Most people either kept the money in the bank or used it to pay down debt.”

Then, a little reality. “Did you know that Congress has been cutting taxes on ‘job creators’ since Ronald Reagan was President? Back then, they used to call it ‘supply side economics.’ But it didn’t fix the economy; all it did was create a huge budget deficit. So after a few years President Reagan gave up on the idea and increased taxes again.”

Is Mildred still listening? If she looks interested, rather than angry, give her a few more facts. “Did you know that corporations are spending literally trillions of dollars buying back their own stock? Rather than building new factories or hiring new employees, they’re buying back shares of their own stock in order to keep stock prices high.”

Is she still listening? “And corporations are even borrowing money – bonds they will be paying back for decades – in order to give money to their stockholders now. So I don’t think CEOs would really invest money from tax cuts in ‘job creation.’ Don’t you think they would just pay it out to stockholders?”

Is she still listening? “I wonder what would happen to our tax rates, if corporations were paying taxes at the same rate they used to, before the SEC started allowing companies to buy back their own stock. Don’t you think that we might be paying less in taxes?”

— — — —

no_megaphoneDo you have a brother-in-law who isn’t bothered by increasing inequality? Who thinks CEOs actually deserve to receive 373 times as much as their employees are paid?

Then you ought to read this Pacific-Standard magazine article about a recent International Monetary Fund report.

And you can start the conversation with something like, “We all agree that economic growth is a good thing.”

Then add a little reality. “Did you know that income inequality actually hurts our country’s economic growth?”

Add a story. “Gosh, I wonder if this is why Macy’s is having such a hard time. None of my friends are planning to do their Christmas shopping there.   It seems like everybody is shopping discount stores or making their gifts, this year.”

Use questions. “How can the economy recover, if ordinary people don’t have money to spend? Did you know that one in ten American jobs is in retail? What’s going to happen to that sector of the economy if wages stay stagnant?  What’s going to happen to the rest of the economy?”

Know your audience, and either stop (before things get loud) or keep going. “Did you know that increasing the income share to the bottom 20% – even just by a tiny bit – helps the whole economy grow?”  “Do you think that’s why the economy grew more, back when income was a bit more equal?”

— — — —

no_megaphoneAnd if the conversation turns to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty… please be thoughtful and careful about what you say.

Personally, I’m tired of politicians pitting people against each other. And factory employees in Singapore are working to feed their families, just like we are.

The problem with the TPP isn’t overseas workers, it’s how much power the treaty would give to corporations. It’s how much power the treaty would give to big banks. It’s the idea of America giving up our right to enforce our laws, when those laws are inconvenient to multinational corporations. It’s the idea of turning over even more of our country’s sovereignty to international “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) tribunals.  Read more about how the TPP empowers corporations on the Public Citizen website.

So please, if you’re opposing the TPP, don’t talk about how overseas workers are taking “our” jobs. The real problem is how much it will benefit corporations.

The real problem is that corporate profits are at all-time highs… while labor’s share of that bounty is pretty close to its all-time low.

And the TPP is likely to make that problem worse, not better.

But that’s not the fault of the migrant workers in a Malaysian electronics factory.

— — — —

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope the conversation around your dinner table is a peaceful one.

— — — —

no_fearBut if the conversation turns to Paris and Syrian refugees, please be especially careful. Fear is one of the most basic human emotions… it’s also one of the most destructive… and one of the easiest to manipulate.

Journalist Naomi Klein is the author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” She’s done a lot of research into how corporatists use disasters to push through political change. Read her work about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina here.

“For more than three decades, [economist Milton] Friedman and his powerful followers had been perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock, then quickly making the ‘reforms’ permanent. In one of his most influential essays, Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism’s core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as the shock doctrine. He observed that ‘only a crisis— actual or perceived—produces real change.’ ”

I think of her work every time someone mentions the Bush tax cuts. Back in 2001, the federal government had a budget surplus; and in the first few weeks of September, the Washington Post did a poll that found 57% of Americans wanted the Bush tax cuts reversed, in order to preserve that surplus. Then 9/11 happened. And a decade and a half later, we still haven’t gotten tax rates restored to Clinton-era levels… and the federal debt has increased by $12.4 trillion.  (And we’re being told we need to cut Social Security, rather than restore the tax rates that President Bush cut even further “while citizens were still reeling from the shock” of 9/11.)

The Paris attacks renewed the atmosphere of fear that I remember after 9/11… and we’ve already seen how some politicians want to use that fear to change government policies. The good news is: my Facebook feed is full of people pushing back against these proposals, questioning them and using historical analogies to say “This is not what America stands for.” The bad news is: Facebook feeds are determined by an algorithm that tends to reinforce what people already believe.

So… when the conversation turns to Paris, and ISIS, remember the advice above.  Arguing isn’t going to help. You need to find some way to help the people you’re talking with step away from their fear, and step into the reality that their fear allows them to be manipulated. Find something to say that you both agree on – most people agree that refugees should be vetted before being resettled – and work from there.

If You Are Doing Any Type Of Campaign Organizing Beth’s Trainings Are A Must


Beth Becker of Becker Digital Strategies

Over the past six years I have been working with different unions and advocacy groups to spread their message across the vast reaches of the Internet. In fact I started the NH Labor News with the sole intent of showing the people of New Hampshire that Right To Work was wrong, to stand up and take action against the “Bully” O’Brien legislature.

From those humble beginnings, full of grammatical mistakes and typos, the NH Labor News has grown to over 3,000 Facebook fans, 6,000 twitter followers and has had over 650,000 website views.

Do you want to know how I did it? Do you want to build your organization’s digital empire to spread your message better? Do you want to use digital tricks to become a better organizer offline?


Becker Digital Strategies

Do what I did; take a class from Beth Becker.

Beth is goddess in the digital world. I could tell you all the places she has worked but this server does not have enough space. Lets just say that she has worked for everyone from a union local to Congressmen and literally everything in between.

Now Beth is taking her show on the road. Her first training class will be in Phoenix in early January.

I know what your thinking, I don’t live anywhere near Phoenix. That’s okay she will be in a city near you soon. Click here to sign up and receive updates about upcoming training classes.

(For those in NH specifically, Beth is already talking about coming up here for a week)

Right now Beth is traveling around giving two, 2-day classes.

The first class is an Introduction to Digital Space:

“This training will introduce organizers who aren’t comfortable or familiar with digital organizing to some of the basic strategies and best practices for email, data, social media and more.”

The second class is Social Media Strategy:

“We’ll dive into the pillars of building a social media strategy, best practices and case studies for a variety of platforms, content strategy, social advertising and analytics.”

If you work for a campaign, whether it is organizing bank tellers, paid family leave, or any political campaign these classes are a must and there is nobody better at teaching them than Beth Becker.

Sign up now to get email updates on upcoming classes.

Red Cross Encourages Donors To Give With Meaning This Holiday Season

American Red Cross LogoHelp save lives through blood and platelet donation, by hosting a blood drive 

MANCHESTER, NH — This holiday season, the American Red Cross urges individuals to give something that means something – a blood or platelet donation. This simple, potentially lifesaving act can give patients in need another holiday season with loved ones. 

“During the winter months and especially around the holidays, blood donations tend to decline,” said Mary Brant, external communications manager of the Red Cross Northern New England Blood Services Region. “Long holiday weekends, like Thanksgiving, pose an extra challenge when many donors are traveling to be with family and friends. The Red Cross encourages people to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets and give a meaningful gift to a patient this holiday season – the gift of life.” 

Blood donors with all types, especially O negative, B negative and A negative, are urged to give. Platelet donors and those with type AB blood are also continually needed. To encourage donations around Thanksgiving, those who come to give blood or platelets from Nov. 25-29 will receive a limited-edition Red Cross mixing spoon with recipes from celebrity chefs John Besh, Richard Blais, Rocco DiSpirito, Mike Isabella, Ellie Krieger and Ali Larter, while supplies last. 

How to donate blood

To make an appointment, download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donors can use RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from a computer or laptop. Visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass to get started.

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood drive hosts needed

This time of year, there are also fewer blood drives on the calendar. Many sponsoring groups postpone blood drives while people are busy with holiday activities, and severe weather may cause scheduled blood drives to be canceled. With fewer opportunities for donors to give, the Red Cross typically experiences a seasonal decline in blood donations.

Because more than 80 percent of blood donations are made at blood drives, organizations are needed to host blood drives this winter to help ensure a sufficient blood supply for patients in need. More information on hosting a blood drive is available at redcrossblood.org.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Iron Workers Endorse Hillary Clinton for President

 (image Keith Kissel FLIKR)

(image Keith Kissel FLIKR)

Washington, D.C. – The General Executive Council (GEC) of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers voted unanimously Friday, November 20 to endorse Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

Clinton now has the support of nearly 11 million union members across 14 different national unions who have endorsed her campaign.

“As President, I will fight every day to protect and expand workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively, to maintain prevailing wage and labor standards, and to retire with dignity after years of hard work. Because when workers are strong, families are strong—and when families are strong, America is strong,” said Secretary Hillary Clinton. 

The GEC reviewed the qualifications of each candidate for president while coming to its decision.  While the council felt that several other candidates align with ironworker values, none compare to Secretary Clinton when it comes to putting those beliefs into practice.  Clinton’s record of looking out for the jobs that union members rely on was the largest factor in the council’s decision.  Her support for workers’ rights, infrastructure investment and economic opportunity lines up with the union’s priorities for the next administration.  Secretary Clinton’s unmatched experience in government will enable her to deliver on her promises in ways the other candidates cannot.

“I am honored to have earned the endorsement of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Ironworkers,” said Clinton

Secretary Clinton’s readiness to take on the global challenges, threats and opportunities faced by our country also played a role in the union’s decision.  The Secretary was tested as soon as she entered the U.S. Senate by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  Then-Senator Clinton sponsored legislation to provide for the ironworkers and others who sacrificed their health rescuing victims and clearing rubble on “the Pile” in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia.

Between her time in the Senate and her service as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has more post-9/11 defense and foreign policy experience than all other serious presidential candidates, Republican and Democratic, combined.

“The Ironworkers have helped build the mighty American middle class for decades—oftentimes literally, creating good-paying jobs and careers with every bridge and building they work on. They have stood strong against repeated attacks on workers’ rights, as Republicans and their allies have sought to roll back the hard-won progress we’ve achieved for workers and their families. And in our country’s hour of need, after the barbaric attacks of 9/11, they worked tirelessly on ‘the Pile,’ putting in overtime to dismantle tons of wreckage—and, later, to build the soaring Freedom Tower,” stated Clinton

“I have always stood with organized labor, and I will be proud to stand with the Ironworkers as President. As a Senator, I fought to secure critical health care benefits for the brave first and second responders at Ground Zero, and urge Congress to reauthorize the Zadroga Act without delay,” concluded Clinton.

With many jobs connected to the energy and manufacturing sectors, ironworkers are directly affected by new regulations on greenhouse gases and other environmental issues.  In the union’s assessment, other candidates for president have either unconstructively denied climate change or shown a cavalier attitude towards jobs lost due to environmental regulation.  The union expects Clinton to take a balanced approach, protecting the public from pollution while keeping Americans at work building the economy.

The GEC encourages all union ironworkers to register to vote and bring their families to the polls in 2016.  Besides the president, voters across the United States will choose 12 governors, 34 senators, and countless state and local officials.  With right to work legislation on the march in states throughout the country, 2016 is a vital year for ironworkers to make their voices heard.

Climate Change on the Table: Impacts on Agriculture, Local Food and Vulnerable Communities

Speakers at Climate Change on the Table Press Event Nov 2015

Speakers at Climate Change on the Table Press Event Nov 2015

CONCORD, NH – A gathering of New Hampshire groups, experts, and businesses discussed the agriculture and farming challenges from extreme weather events, invasive plants, and other climate impacts. Impacts seen in the farming community and from consumers were presented with special emphasis on more vulnerable communities in the state who experience food access hardships. Lastly, Jane Presby, owner of Dimond Hill Farm in Concord, gave a tour of the farm to point out examples of impacts around her farm (pictures attached).

NASA scientists have reported that 2015 is expected to be the hottest year on record[1]. The summer, the months of October and September were hotter than any other on record. What does it mean to increase the world temperature by a half of a degree? We all have heard about the dire predictions for moose, public health, and extreme weather events. But we have not heard much about the ways climate changes will impact the food at the table and the availability of food.

Impacts on the farm: Jane Presby, Dimond Hill Farm , Concord, NH

“Climate change is creating new challenges for the sustainability of food production in our region, our country, and our world,” said Jane Presby of Dimond Hill Farm. “Education is fundamental to understanding these changes and to becoming conscious consumers.”  

Dimond Hill Greenhouse with Jane Presby

Dimond Hill Greenhouse with Jane Presby

Jane Presby, owner of the Dimond Hill Farm in Concord, NH, calls her farm “icon of times gone by and a beacon for the resurgence of small farms and locally grown meat, dairy and vegetable products that is sweeping New Hampshire and the region.” Dimond Hill Farm is a 7th generation 150-acre farm that grows and sells vegetables from the farm stand located in the big yellow barn a hill overlooking Concord.

Jane prioritizes a variety of techniques to address climate vulnerabilities to still produce healthy crop yields, like invasive insects or plants; unusual early frosts or high temperatures; and unpredictable rainy or drought conditions. She uses greenhouses to control watering and temperature conditions for the vegetables to adjust to the less predictable shifting climate trends. Despite here best efforts and planning, Jane and her crew still can’t predict everything. This year the traditional expected rains did not come in April and she completely lost her bean crop. No beans were grown and none were sold this year. She plans to expand her greenhouses in the coming years.

Jane encourages everyone to visit their local farm to meet the farmers and shop at the farm stand to get their food. Not only does it give you the freshest fruits, meats, and vegetables, you can see where your food comes from and help our local economy become stronger and independent. You can find Dimond Hill Farm on Route 202/9 between Concord and Hopkinton, NH or online at http://dimondhillfarm.com/.

Impacts in New Hampshire and the Northeast: Erin Lane, USDA Northeast Climate Hub

“In our synthesis of assessed vulnerabilities in northeastern agriculture and forestry, we found that perennial crops such as tree fruit are among the region’s most vulnerable products,” said Erin Lane, Director for Partnerships with the USDA Northeast Climate Hub. “When an extended warm period causes premature leaf-out or bloom, and is followed by hard frost, crop losses can be high. Other top threats to northeastern agriculture include extreme precipitation, drought, and pests. On the flip side, a longer growing season could provide opportunities in the northeast. Adaptation can mean both adjusting to and taking advantage of variable weather conditions. Some strategies include promoting soil health, protecting our farm systems from the extremes, and using weather data to support practical decision-making.”

New Hampshire is home to the US Department of Agriculture’s Northeast Climate Hub. The Climate Hub mission from its website is:

“to develop and deliver science-based, region-specific information and technologies, with USDA agencies and partners, to agricultural and natural resource managers that enable climate-informed decision-making, and to provide access to assistance to implement those decisions.  This is in alignment with the USDA mission to provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.”

The Northeast Climate Hub region includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and D.C. In June 2015, the Northeast Hub released the Northeast and Northern Forests Regional Climate Hub Assessment of Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies to provide a greater understanding about the climate shifting and the trends developing from the shifts. They found in New Hampshire three main trends affecting farmers:

  • Frosts after early spring hurt perennial crops. When an extended warm period causes premature leaf-out or bloom, and is followed by hard frost, crop losses can be high (which is what happened with apples in NH in 2012).
  • Extreme precipitation and wet springs are delaying planting and harvesting dates, causing flooding and soil compaction, damaging crop quality, and reducing vegetable yields.
  • Warmer temperatures on average cause more heat stress in livestock.

Dairy constitutes the most important agricultural activity in the Northeast, especially in New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont where milk is the leading agricultural commodity.  Given the economic importance of dairy to agriculture in the Northeast, the vulnerability of the industry is significant.  Warming daytime and nighttime temperatures, as are projected to occur during summer, will likely have adverse effects on milk production.  Heat stress also causes lower birthing rates and feed intake, again impacting milk production.

  •  A rise in minimum temperatures affect crop growth cycles causing earlier leaf out and flowering, longer growing seasons, and later senescence, which  may result in increases in production for heat tolerant crops and woody perennials but, shorter growing seasons for cool weather crops (e.g. potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage). Maple syrup season is coming earlier and is shorter. Weeds, pests and diseases are intensifying as ranges move northward.

Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies:

  •  Promote soil health using practices that protect soils from erosion (cover cropping and reducing tillage) while improving productivity and resilience to drought or extreme moisture.
  • Protect from extremes with hoop and high tunnel houses, ventilation systems, riparian buffers, expanded irrigation, and the shifting of production zones away from flood- and frost-prone areas.
  • Decision support tools provide better information faster to help managers improve practices such as: integrating pest management, shifting planting dates, adjusting feeding management, identifying and selecting better adapted varieties, breeds and cultivars.
  • Increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emission by retiring organic soils from cultivation and restoring forested wetlands, as well as improving manure management.

Impacts on the Most Vulnerable: Jessica Carson, Carsey School of Public Policy

“Recent estimates show that one in ten Granite Staters are food insecure, meaning that about 132,000 of our families, friends, and neighbors do not have access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle,” stated Jessica Carson, a Vulnerable Families Research Scientist at the Carsey School of Public Policy. “Households in poverty, headed by a person of color, with children, or in rural places are especially likely to be at risk for food insecurity, with nutritious foods often being less accessible and/or affordable for these groups. While the formal food safety net—food stamps, food pantries, school meals programs—go a long way, it is important to consider ways to continue improving the reach and efficacy of these programs to alleviate food insecurity.”

Research shows that one in ten New Hampshire households experienced food insecurity in the period between 2012 and 2014, meaning that 52,000 Granite State households did not have consistent access to enough nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life. Risks for food insecurity are not uniform across the state. Households with children, headed by a female householder, headed by a black or Hispanic householder, in a rural community, or living below 200% of the federal poverty line are especially vulnerable.

Whether people can afford food is a critical factor in food security, but a second key element is the availability of food, a particularly important issue for rural Granite Staters. That is, where population density is low, the availability of traditional food sources like grocery stores, convenience stores, and farmers markets are likely sparse, as are food safety net resources, like food pantries and food service programs. Research from the Carsey School of Public Policy shows that communities with the lowest risk for food insecurity are clustered in the Southeastern part of the state (e.g., Merrimack-Bedford area and the Portsmouth-Rye area), while some of the highest-risk areas include some of our most rural communities, like the Northwestern parts of Coös County (e.g., Stratford, Northumberland) and parts of Western NH (Claremont-Newport area). While some of our bigger cities, like Manchester and Nashua, have high poverty rates, their high population density means that grocery stores and food safety net resources are more readily available.

Indeed, food safety net resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), free and reduced price school meals, and food pantries can be important resources for Granite Staters in need. However, it’s important to always consider how these kinds of resources might be more effective. For instance, among those who do receive SNAP benefits, New Hampshire’s average benefits are among the lowest in the nation, inadequate for meeting food costs even for the USDA’s thriftiest meal plan. In addition, there is a disconnect between those who are eligible and those who actually participate in many programs. Only one-in-three poor seniors receive SNAP benefits, and only 52 percent of eligible households participate in the School Breakfast Program. Intensifying community outreach to increase awareness, guiding eligible persons through the enrollment process, and working to ensure programs are delivered in useful and convenient ways may all increase efficacy of the food safety net.

Section on State-Wide Efforts with NH Food Alliance: Jennifer Wilhelm, NH Food Alliance

“Local efforts are underway to improve the connection between our local farmers, producers, and consumers so that products can reach markets effectively and profitably,” said NH Food Alliance researcher Jennifer Wilhelm. “One goal of NH Food Alliance is to increase food access to help address hunger in New Hampshire. The Granite State Market Match program opened the door for SNAP recipients to redeem credits at local farmers markets across the state. Another goal is to help food producers to support local farmers, like the relationship between LaBelle Winery in Amherst, NH and Aylison’s Orchard in Walpole, NH.”

The NH Food Alliance is a growing network of people working together to build a food system that is good for people, businesses, communities, and the environment. Together with a diversity of stakeholders from all sectors of the food system, the NH Food Alliance is working to connect the good work already underway, and to advance Farm, Fish, and Food Enterprise Viability in New Hampshire.

NH Food Alliance is supporting and building the network of food system professionals, organizations, and businesses working within New Hampshire. By shining a light on successes, sharing information, and promoting learning innovation and great ideas can multiply across the state. We also make new connections between groups and individuals, generate new information and research, and coordinate advocacy around issues.

There are several great examples of work being done that supports enterprise viability and market development, improving both food access and increasing income for businesses.

  • Granite State Market Match program for SNAP recipients
  • Three River Farmers Alliance
  •  Local businesses buying local food: Throwback Brewery, LaBelle Winery, Concord Hospital

By working together to rethink our local food system, we not only support food entrepreneurs, but also improve food access for all New Hampshire residents, and reduce the distance food travels to our plates. NH Food Alliance information and reports can be found at http://www.nhfoodalliance.com/.

Individual Action: Catherine Corkery, NH Sierra Club

“New Hampshire is not immune to the impacts of climate – though at times the worst of the worst happens far from our communities. The effects of climate do not take holidays off; rather, during the holidays it amplifies the hardship,” stated Catherine Corkery of New Hampshire Sierra Club. “Supporting local farms, fisheries, and food producers creates demand for their products which promotes local solutions to climate impacts and hunger.” 

Climate research shows that the most vulnerable in our society will be often last to adapt and most severely burdened so it comes to bear in New Hampshire. With humility and generosity, deliberate action can help address local hunger and climate by promoting our local farms.

Our communities benefit by having farms nearby as open space, as local producers, and as economic drivers. We need farms for many more reasons. As the farmers attempt to address progressively less predictable weather, the cycle of crop failures and adaptation increase instability. When farmers are unable to grow their food efficiently, higher demand pushes food prices higher. More unsold food is left on the shelves resulting in hunger to those unable to buy food and hardship to the farmers who cannot sell their produce. Less viable farms mean fewer farms.

Another example of climate change impacting our local food and economy is the shrimp industry. The Gulf of Maine has warmed pretty steadily since 2004 with 2012 a record warm year at all depths. Though there has been some variability the overall trend has been a warming one for a decade or more now. A report prepared by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Technical Committee in October 2014 details the climate changes and harvesting trends.

The Northern shrimp industry was a $12 million dollar industry on average for the Gulf of Maine fisheries. The importance of the shrimp harvest cannot be overstated as shrimp fishing occurred during the winter months after lobstering decreases profitability. This winter will be the second year in a row for total closure. And the two previous seasons 2012 and 2013 were very bad as well causing the complete closure.

An incomplete list of suggestions to address hunger and climate at once is included.

Things You Can Do To Help Address Hunger as Climate Action

Please consider these alternatives regularly as good practice or in times of need:

1.   Shop at your local farms and farmers markets for the freshest vegetables, meats, and fruits. Most NH farmers markets accept SNAP coupons.

2.   Try a CSA subscription – Community Supported Agriculture programs provide weekly fresh food deliveries for you and your family while giving the farmer the security of regular clientele. There are often easy payment programs and you get a ton of food every week. Learn more about CSAs in NH at the NH Department of Agriculture,  http://agriculture.nh.gov/publications-forms/agricultural-development.htm

3.   Eat seasonally – by eating foods in season in your area, you can reduce costs, like costs associated with transportation and environmental impacts.

4.   Find resources at the NH Food Bank: http://www.nhfoodbank.org/

5.   Try something new – sometimes an unfamiliar local vegetable or fish can be cheaper and delicious.

6.   Grow a garden – no matter how small or large, in containers or in the front yard. You can eat what you grow, share with your neighbors, or bring it to your local soup kitchen.

7.   Cook all your food for one week or whole month to improve nutritional value and lower costs.

8.   Reduce the uneaten or spoiled produce by buying only what you need.

9.   Community Meals at local churches, granges and community centers is a great way to lower costs and meet your neighbors.

To help those in need

1.   Host a Food Drive: at work, in your neighborhood, at church, at school, at the hockey game.

2.   The New Hampshire Food Bank needs volunteers year round. Hunger knows no boundaries and can hide in plain sight.

3.   Donate items to the food bank, soup kitchen, local programs, and other service groups. http://www.nhfoodbank.org/

4.   Volunteer your time with food programs for people in your town, like school children, homelessness, and the elderly.

5.   One on One: carpool grocery runs with an elderly person, refugee family, or a busy neighbor; plan a neighborhood cooking group to explore and share cooking experiences.

6.   Grow a garden – no matter how small or large, in containers or in the front yard. You can eat what you grow, share with your neighbors, or bring it to your local soup kitchen.

Kelly Ayotte Tries To Undo Support Of Radical Extremist GOP Frontrunner

CNN’s John King Reports On Kelly Ayotte’s Latest Political Contortions As She Tries To Undo Her Early Embrace Of Trump

Ayotte’s Allies Now Reportedly Pressing GOP Activists To Switch Allegiance From Trump 

Concord, N.H. — After Kelly Ayotte called Trump’s entrance into the presidential race a “positive development” and even met privately with Trump in New Hampshire following his announcement, CNN’s John King reports that Ayotte is now politically contorting herself once again to try to undo her early embrace of Trump. 

According to King, an “increasingly anxious” Kelly Ayotte now fears that Donald Trump carrying the banner for the Republican party into next year’s election would spell doom for her own campaign. King added that “there’s an effort underway by key Ayotte allies to press GOP activists in the state who back Trump to apply the all politics is local rule and perhaps think again.” 

Despite Ayotte’s recent political posturing, when it comes to actual policy positions Ayotte and Trump have a lot in common. NH1’s Kevin Landrigan reported, “Candidate for Senate Kelly Ayotte back in 2010 offered her support for amending the Constitution to get rid of birthright citizenship,” years before Donald Trump came under fire for advocating the very same position.

“Once again, Kelly Ayotte is resorting to blatantly political contortions to try to save her political career as she tries to undo the damage she caused by helping lend legitimacy to Trump’s campaign,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “It’s no surprise that Ayotte is now trying to run away from her early embrace of Trump and their shared position on ending birthright citizenship. This is just another example of Kelly Ayotte doing and saying anything to rewrite her record and save her own political career.”

In South Carolina, Sanders Makes Case for Family Leave, Social Security

ST. HELENA ISLAND, S.C. – Speaking to 600 people packed inside the Penn Center’s Darrah Hall, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday called for paid family leave for new parents and expanded benefits for seniors who rely on Social Security.

Sanders is one of 19 Senate co-sponsors of the Family and Medical Leave Act introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Rep. Rosa DeLauro is the chief sponsor of a companion bill with 112 co-sponsors in the House.

Under both measures, workers would be entitled to three months of paid leave to care for a newborn child. The legislation also calls for a small payroll tax totaling $1.38 a week for a typical worker.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton does not support Gillibrand’s bill, aides have said. Sanders urged all presidential candidates to join him in supporting the legislation.

The senator from Vermont also called on other White House hopefuls to join him in supporting a boost in benefits for retirees and the disabled.

With Social Security recipients facing a coming year with no cost-of-living adjustment for inflation, Sanders’ Social Security Expansion Act would make sure annual inflation adjustments are based on a formula that better measures seniors’ spending. Increasing medical costs and rising prices prescription drugs disproportionately impact seniors, Sanders told the audience here in South Carolina.

Legislation he introduced in the Senate also would increase Social Security benefits and scrap a cap on income subject to the payroll tax. Now, someone making millions of dollars a year pays no more than someone making $118,500 a year. Levying the same tax rate on annual income greater than $250,000 would only impact the top 1.5 percent of wage earners while boosting benefits for millions of retirees.

“I would hope that every Democratic candidate for president of the United States is prepared to lift the cap and expand benefits for millions of seniors in this country who desperately need to see those benefits expanded,” Sanders said.

According to published reports, Clinton has not categorically ruled out benefit cuts including an increase in the retirement age.

Sen. Sanders’ plan to expand and extend Social Security would boost the income of a typical senior making less than $16,000 a year by about $1,300 a year. It would also make sure that Social Security could pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 50 years.

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