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Enough is enough!

Smashed Piggy Bank Retirement

Smashed Piggy Bank RetirementToday the Nashua Telegraph posted the article, “Pension tension: New research dispels old notion that public employees make less than private sector peers,” which highlights supposedly “new” research focused on public employee pensions.

There are many things wrong with this article and I feel obligated to correct some of these inaccuracies.

Let’s start with the fact that the “new research” they cite was written in 2012, hardly making it breaking news. It was based on surveys taken in 2004 and 2006. The report basically says that while public employees do make less per hour than their private sector counterparts, when you include their retirement benefits public employees make more.

Here are the facts.

1) Research from the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) shows that public employees earn 11-12% less than their private sector counterparts. There is no denying that public workers have a better benefits package than private sector employees – however, even when you add in retirement benefits, public sector employees still fall behind private workers by 6-7% overall. Many people choose to work in the public sector for less pay because they want the better benefits and a real retirement plan.

Unfortunately the trend in the private sector is to take away defined benefit pension plans and force workers into 401(k) programs. This makes employees responsible for funding and managing their own retirement plans. Employers are able to reduce their contributions, reducing what they pay for the benefits they offer. This shifts the entire burden onto the employee. This is also why private sector worker are paid slightly better: because they are expected to save that extra pay for their retirement.

2) Public sector employees are better educated than private sector employees. NIRS found that only 23% of private sector employees have a college degree – compared to 48% of public sector employees with a college degree.

This is easy to understand when you think about some of the jobs in the public sector. You have thousands of literal rocket scientists at NASA and thousands of doctors and medical professionals at the Center for Disease Control. Every teacher is required have a college degree. The result is a highly educated public workforce.

3) It is an outright lie to blame public employees for underfunding of the NH Retirement System. The fact is that in 1999, the NHRS was 100% funded – until Wall Street shenanigans started cutting into its value.

As reported by Liz Iacobucci, “the Trust Fund lost 10% of its value in the recession of 2001.” The NHRS Trust Fund continued to decline and hit rock bottom during the 2008 economic meltdown. “It lost another 25% of its value in the 2008 recession,” said Iacobucci. In 2008, the NHRS had more than $5.9 Billion in investments – and when the stock market crashed, that created what many are calling an unfunded liability.

Think tanks often spin the numbers, calculating that if every employee retired today, the trust fund would be short by “X” amount of money. The fact is that new employees replace the retiring workers, and the new employees pay into the Trust Fund. Investment returns are hugely important to the Retirement System: about 75% of NHRS pension benefits are funded by investment returns. The employers’ contributions are – literally – just pennies of each dollar paid.

Wall Street has rebounded nicely from the 2007-08 crash. The stock market has been setting new records for almost 18 months now. The NHRS has recovered much of its lost ground – and as the market continues to grow, so will the NHRS Trust Fund.

I also can’t believe that Charles Arlinghaus, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy Studies, is suddenly so concerned about municipal budgets. His conversion is almost laughable. In the article, he says “Your town budget is higher than it would be because the pension system is more expensive than it should be. That’s money that’s not going to hospitals, to universities.”

But the Bartlett Center was one of the biggest proponents of “pension reform” bills during the 2011-12 legislative session – and back then, Arlinghaus didn’t talk about the impact those bills would have on municipalities. Cities and towns are paying more now for employee pensions thanks to the hard work of Arlinghaus and the JBC.

Enough is enough!

We need our elected leaders and these Koch-funded “think tanks” to stop lying to the people. The media pits worker against worker when these think tanks are given unwarranted publicity.

Blaming workers for the consequences of two stock market crashes isn’t “new research” – it’s political spin.

Calling retirement benefits unaffordable – without mentioning the fact that the Legislature underfunded the NHRS for years – isn’t honest “research,” it’s political spin.

And we as workers need to change the conversation away from “look at what he gets” – and start asking, “why am I not getting that?”   We as workers, both public and private need to stop blaming each other, and start demanding better from our employers.

Strong Support For The Capitol Corridor Rail Project

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)
(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

(Image by Loco Steve FLIKR CC)

Study confirms the overwhelming
economic benefits of bringing passenger rail to state 

Thursday night members of the Nashua area met to hear the results of the long awaits “Capitol Corridor” study to bring rail service to Nashua and all of Southern New Hampshire.

The results of the study were exactly as many proponents of the rail expansion have been saying for years. The new expansion would bring an estimated 5,600 new permanent jobs and would boost the local housing industry.

The Nashua Telegraph had a great write-up on the two-year study where they reported:

Expanding Boston-bound commuter rail from Lowell, Mass., to Manchester with other stops at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and two others in Nashua – would be an economic boom for the region – bringing an estimated 5,600 new permanent jobs and 3,600 housing units by 2030, a two-year rail and transit study showed.

This Lowell to Manchester line – known as the Manchester regional commuter rail alternative – would draw a projected 668,000 annual riders and would costs a total $256 million in capital costs – about half of which could be eligible for federal grants and bonds, authors of the New Hampshire Capitol Corridor Rail and Transit Study said Thursday.

“This is one of the … biggest economic development opportunities for the state,” Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce President Chris Williams said.

“The issue is about jobs. It’s about moving the economy forward,” Williams added.

Williams urged Executive Councilors and state and local politicians to “have a real conversation about how the public and private sector can make this happen. We can’t do it without you,” he said to applause.

After the results were announced, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas released the following statement:

“The study’s findings prove that developing passenger rail service to Boston would be an incredible economic driver for New Hampshire,” said Councilor Pappas. “The Capitol Corridor would spur business development and help our state attract the well-skilled workforce needed for future economic growth.

“I look forward to working with leaders from both parties in Concord to ensure we seize this unique opportunity and create an exciting future for New Hampshire,” concluded Pappas.

Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate for federal funding for projects to repair and expand New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure.  She is a cosponsor of the Partnership to Build America Act, bipartisan legislation to leverage private investments to fund an Infrastructure Bank for financing public works projects like the Capitol Corridor project.

“I’m very pleased that the preliminary findings of the Capitol Corridor rail study show a feasible option for expanded rail that could create thousands of jobs for our workers and lead to greater economic development in the state,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “After meeting with local stakeholders this morning, I look forward to learning more about the various options for new rail lines, and I remain committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to provide support and funding for expanded transportation options across our communities. We must continue to invest in our public infrastructure in order to support our local businesses and help our economy grow.”

The project does have a hefty price tag, $120 million in capital costs, but this is an investment in our community that will more than pay for itself with fair revenue and a substantial boost to our local economy.

New Poll: New Hampshire Voters Want Senator-Elect Shaheen to Tackle Climate Crisis

Sierra Club Logo

Survey Shows Strong Support for Clean Energy and the Clean Power Plan

See The Results Here

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Sierra Club released the results of a new post-election poll conducted by Hart Research Associates showing that, regardless of whom they voted for, New Hampshire voters who participated in the 2014 midterms want the next Congress to act on the climate crisis now.

In New Hampshire, fully 66 percent of voters want Senator-elect Jeanne Shaheen to support efforts to protect communities from climate disruption.

“These findings make it clear that no matter which party they identify with or who they supported in the midterm elections, New Hampshire voters did not vote for dirty air, dirty water, or climate denial,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “Large majorities of voters support the President’s plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants and want policies to grow New Hampshire’s clean energy economy. The next Congress better listen up.”

In fact, this new poll shows 65 percent of voters favor the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants for the first time ever, while 69 percent indicated they are more likely to support a candidate who wants to increase the use of renewable energy.

A Summary of Key Findings in New Hampshire:

     65 percent of voters favor the EPA’s plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants — including 93 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents, and 42 percent of Republicans.

     66 percent of New Hampshire voters would be more likely to support a candidate who supports that EPA plan over a candidate that does not.

     66 percent of voters favor candidates who accept the scientific consensus on climate disruption over those candidates who do not.

     66 percent of voters want Senator-elect Shaheen to support efforts to address the effects of climate change.

     69 percent of voters are more likely to support a candidate who wants to increase the use of renewable energy rather than a candidate pushing to increase the use of traditional energy.

This poll was conducted as part of a battleground state survey by Hart Research Associates for The Sierra Club. Approximately 500 voters in each of six states — including Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – were interviewed via landline and cell phone between November 6 and 10, immediately following the mid-term elections. The margin of error is ±4 percentage points for each statewide sample.

See The Results Here

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

New Hampshire Submits Premium Assistance Waiver for Health Care Expansion to Federal Government

new hampshire NH flag

Waiver Will Allow Expansion Population to Enroll in Private Plans on Health Insurance Marketplace

CONCORD – Continuing efforts to implement the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program in order to improve the health and financial security of Granite State families, Governor Maggie Hassan announced today that the New Hampshire Department of Health Human Services (DHHS) submitted a waiver to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today that will allow the New Hampshire Health Protection population to enroll in private plans on New Hampshire’s federally facilitated marketplace beginning in 2016.

As required by the bipartisan health care expansion legislation that the Governor signed in March, the waiver establishes a mandatory qualified health plan premium assistance program for individuals in the new adult group. The waiver was approved in a bipartisan vote by New Hampshire’s Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee earlier this month after receiving input from legislators and other stakeholders during the public hearing and comment process.

“This waiver is an important part of our efforts to improve the health and financial well-being of Granite State families, businesses and communities through our bipartisan health care expansion plan,” Governor Hassan said. “Almost 24,000 Granite Staters have the security that comes with quality, affordable health insurance because of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, and if approved, this waiver will allow these people to choose private insurance on the health insurance marketplace.”

“This will strengthen our efforts to bring competition to our health insurance marketplace, improving affordability and increasing choices for all New Hampshire citizens, while also helping reduce levels of uncompensated care that shift costs onto all of our people and businesses,” Governor Hassan said. “Our bipartisan health care expansion plan is a uniquely New Hampshire solution, and I urge the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid to approve this waiver as quickly as possible.”

If CMS approves the premium assistance waiver on or before March 31, 2015, the Voluntary Bridge to Marketplace Program – the current expansion program – will continue through the end of the year. In October 2015, individuals in the expansion population who are not enrolled in the mandatory Health Insurance Premium Payment program – which provides premium assistance to individuals with employer-provided health insurance – and individuals who are not deemed to be medically frail will begin enrolling in private Qualified Health Plans with premium assistance via New Hampshire’s federally facilitated marketplace.

“The Department’s efforts continue to focus on expanding access to health care and improving the health and well-being of all our people,” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “This waiver submission will further our health reform efforts, and we look forward to working closely with all of our public health and federal partners to ensure that this waiver is approved as quickly as possible so that we can continue to improve the health of those we serve.”

The purchase of Qualified Health Plans via the marketplace will be paid for with 100 percent federal funds through December 31, 2016.

Through the 19th of November, 23,975 New Hampshire citizens had enrolled in the New Hampshire Health Protection Program.

For the full premium assistance waiver, visit http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/pap-1115-waiver/documents/final-waiver-app-11202014.pdf.

A Kinder, Gentler Speaker Bill O’Brien

Bill O'Brien (Seth Koenig | Bangor Daily News) CC

The local press is gushing over the “kinder, gentler” Bill O’Brien as he was nominated to lead the NH House as Speaker again.

“The Bill O’Brien who will lead the House for the 2014-16 Legislature is all smiles and open arms.” (Drew Cline, Union Leader)

“The tone of O’Brien’s interview with Landrigan suggests he has learned from his leadership mistakes. But it is also clear that he will not back down from his core principles, which include shrinking the size of government.” (Nashua Telegraph Editorial)

Some were not a quick to praise O’Brien for his new game face.

Dan Touhy of the Union Leader wrote:

“… press reports yesterday portrayed O’Brien as a “kinder, gentler” leader. If there is a flower in his lapel, opponents may ask, will it squirt water?”

In multiple interviews with local media outlets yesterday, O’Brien talked about how he wants to find compromise and help move New Hampshire together, however his goals are pretty much the same as they were in 2010 when he was previously elected Speaker.

“The O’Brien agenda is to achieve significant reforms in key economic areas — business taxation, higher education, and public employee pensions — with as much Democratic support as possible, and to clarify the election laws so that only New Hampshire residents can vote here.” Drew Cline, Union Leader

His goals to make New Hampshire better, hinge on attacking public workers pensions and pushing a Right To Work law on New Hampshire.

I do not believe for a second that Speaker Bill O’Brien (2014) will be any different than Speaker Bill O’Brien (2010). Even now he is saying it is my way or else!

“You’re with us or against us and bad things happen to you if you’re in the against us category,” O’Brien said in an interview with the Union Leader yesterday.

I give it three weeks before the new Speaker O’Brien disappears and the old Speaker O’Brien reappears to brow beat legislators and threaten reporters who go against him.

President Obama To Address The Nation On Immigration, Republicans Threaten Shutdown

Image by Chuck Kennedy (Official White House photo) CC FLKR
Image by Chuck Kennedy (Official White House photo) CC FLKR

Image by Chuck Kennedy (Official White House photo) CC FLKR

Today is the day that millions of aspiring Americans have been waiting for. The day when President Obama stands up to Congress and states clearly that if they will not do something to pass meaningful immigration reform then he will do what he can through executive orders.

It was announced last night that the President would make a prime-time address announcing his plans to stop the deportations of millions of aspiring Americans seeking citizenship. He will also stop the ripping apart of families, by stopping the deportation of the parents of children who are legal US Citizens.

A group of immigration lawyers from across the country sent a letter to President Obama citing his legal authority to defer deportations through executive actions.

“Our letter confirms that the administration has specific legal authority to use prosecutorial discretion as a tool for protecting an individual or group from deportation,” said Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar at Penn State Law. “This legal authority served as foundation for prosecutorial discretion policy across several administrations. Historically, this policy has been premised on the twin policy goals of managing limited resources and shielding people with compelling situations from removal.”

“This letter reflects a clear, broad, and informed consensus on two key points,” said Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor at UCLA School of Law. “First, the president has the legal authority, exercising his discretion as the nation’s top immigration prosecutor, to establish enforcement priorities. Second, the president’s lawful discretion includes the authority to set up an orderly system, modeled on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), for granting temporary relief from deportation.”

“It is well established that the President has the legal authority to end this crisis by granting temporary relief to a broad class of workers,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “It is also equally established that current enforcement of immigration law is at odds with our American vision of a just society and our values of family, hard work and fairness.”

President Obama’s Executive Order would protect nearly 5 million people currently residing in the United States.

Of course the Republicans were quick to respond to the announcement with more threats to harm real Americans if the President takes action without Congress.

“If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his Constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for Congressional action on this issue — and many others,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

Senator Marco Rubio who once championed immigration reform in the Senate now is hints of a government shutdown if the President takes executive action on Immigration.

The Des Moines Register reported that Rep Steven King wants to tie executive action on immigration to funding the government.

“If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear …,” King said. “I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that.”

King said if that happens, House-passed legislation on border security, including rolling back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, order, “becomes a requirement” for a continuing resolution.

Over the last six months conservative pundits has indicated that President Obama’s threat to defer action on deportations is unlawful and would warrant everything from a government shutdown to all out impeachment.

The irony of this is that Republicans have already forgotten that their hero, President Ronald Regan, took similar action to provide amnesty to over 3 million undocumented residents.

“The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) gave up to 3 million unauthorized immigrants a path to legalization if they had been “continuously” present in the U.S. since January 1, 1982 (The Hill).

The IRCA was not without issues, forcing the government to deport the immediate family members of those who were covered under the new order.

President George H.W. Bush followed up the IRCA with a “family fairness” policy that would close the loophole in the IRCA in turn protecting another 1.5 million aspiring Americans. The combination of the “family fairness” policy and President Reagan’s executive action provided amnesty to over 40% of the undocumented population living in the United States.

President Obama’s proposal to some seems extreme, however it would cover approximately 40% of the undocumented population currently residing in the United States.

The battle is set to begin tonight as President Obama lays out his plan to help millions of aspiring Americans.

The current government funding extension will expire on December 11th and we will have to wait to see if the Republicans will harm millions of Americans in their opposition to the President by completely shutting down the government.

 

Related Articles:

When Reagan and GHW Bush took bold executive action on immigration.

The American Immigration Council And The AFL-CIO Push For An Executive Order On Immigration

Obama’s Immigration Plan Could Shield Four Million

In A New Book Teacher’s Advocate Defends Teachers

Total-Teaching-book-graphic

Total Teaching: Your Passion Makes It Happen By Dr. Tom Staszewski

Total-Teaching-book-graphicFrom the first-year teacher to the most experienced veteran, this book will provide an inspiring message that yes, indeed…teaching is the most noble profession. It serves as an acknowledgement of the importance of teachers and recognizes that ‘teaching is the profession that has created all other professions.’ This book provides real-life tools, tips and strategies to have a successful school year and to persevere beyond the challenges associated with the profession.  This inspiring book is filled with insightful and meaningful stories and examples, it provides a motivational pep talk to help teachers stay focused, to succeed in the classroom, to maintain the passion that brought them into the profession and develop a plan to be the best that they can be!

As featured in http://www.teacherscount.org TeachersCount is working to create a permanent culture of teacher appreciation in the United States.

Copies are available through the publisher Rowman and Littlefield and also at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com or from Rowman & Littlefield Education Phone: (301) 459-3366, http://www.rowmaneducation.com Customer Service, Toll free: (800) 462-6420, custserv@rowman.com

Dr. Tom Staszewski Teaching standards have risen and so have teacher stress levels. The pressure imposed on teachers by administrators, parents, and students, often creates feelings of teacher self-doubt. Luckily, Total Teaching by Tom Staszewski offers those in this much beleaguered profession both guidance and inspiration.

Offering constructive advice and teaching tools, Total Teaching provides readers with a source of hope. Staszewski provides tips and proven strategies for success that are applicable both inside and outside the classroom. If you are looking for a gift for a special teacher, or looking to purchase a bit of personal inspiration, TOTAL TEACHING will help shine some light at the end of your tunnel.

Tom Staszewski has been an educator since 1974. His career has spanned a variety of levels, from teaching elementary and middle school grades to instructing and holding various administrative positions at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Frequently asked questions about Total Teaching…Your Passion Makes it Happen,

written by Dr. Tom Staszewski, tomstasz@neo.rr.com

What prompted you to write the book?

In this era of policy change and educational reform at the K-12 level, suddenly “everybody” has become an expert on our school systems. In my opinion, there is a great amount of unjustified criticism that is unfairly being leveled against our schools and our teachers. Most of the criticism is unfounded, baseless, undeserved and distorted. Many critics of our school systems have never set foot in a classroom to see what’s going on —other than their own experience as a former student—and their criticism is  erroneous and counterproductive. If they (critics) would take the time to better understand just how hard the teaching profession really is, they would change their criticism to face the reality of today’s schools and society at large. I believe that most critics would find it difficult to even make it through even one day in the life of a typical teacher. The essence behind the book is that today’s teachers are under a lot of pressure and scrutiny and there is a need for more support, recognition and appreciation for the good that they are providing for society. So the point of my book is to inform the uninformed about how difficult it is to teach in many of today’s schools. And to provide recognition to educators and to thank teachers for the positive difference they are making  in society. I’ve always said that our schools are a reflection of society and society at large has changed and undergone a dramatic shift from previous generations. The book also focuses on the success stories and “what’s right” with our schools rather than “what’s wrong” with our schools. Unlike previous generations…in many homes today, whether it be a single parent household or with both parents home…many parents send their kids to school unfed, unprepared and with little or no basic skills and often with no social skills, etc.

In my previous work as a motivational speaker and professional development trainer, I have personally worked with thousands and thousands of teachers statewide and nationwide and I have found them to be hard-working, dedicated, industrious and committed to the success of their students. It’s about time that someone has taken a stand to recognize and acknowledge the value to society that  teachers are providing and to thank them for their dedication.

What is the theme of the book?

In addition to thanking and recognizing the good that teachers provide to society, the book is also a handbook that can be used by the teacher as a means of providing coping skills and methods to succeed in the classroom with the trials and tribulations of teaching. It provides a means of offering tips, strategies and techniques to make it through the day and to have a successful school year. In many respects it is a personal growth and development type handbook.

From the first-year teacher to the most experienced veteran, this book provides an inspiring message that yes, indeed…teaching is the most noble profession. It serves as an acknowledgement of the importance of teachers and recognizes that “teaching is the profession that has created all other professions.” This book provides real-life tools, tips and strategies to have a successful school year and to persevere beyond all of the challenges associated with the profession. Filled with insightful and meaningful stories and examples, it will provide a pep talk to help teachers stay focused. Readers are able to maintain the passion that brought them into the profession and to develop a plan to be the best that they can be.

What is the author’s background and experience?

Born, raised and residing in Erie, PA, Dr. Tom Staszewski (pronounced Sta SHEF ski) is a proud product of the City of Erie Public School District and graduated from Erie Academy High School in 1970. He is married to Linda Laird Staszewski. His BS in Education is from Penn State University, an MA from Indiana University of PA and a doctorate in administrative and policy studies from the University of Pittsburgh.

As a career educator, my background has spanned a variety of educational levels, from teaching elementary and middle school grades to teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels. In addition, I’ve held various administrative positions at the higher ed. level.

Workers Rally To Ask Congress To Stop Delaying America’s Mail

Janice

A boisterous crowd gathered in downtown Manchester on a blustery Friday evening to urge lawmakers not to decimate the U.S. Postal Service. This rally was part of a National Day of Action to stop the closing of 82 mail processing plants starting in January. The deconstructing of the Postal Service network continues despite the fact that on this same day the U.S. Postal Service reported a $1.4 Billion operational profit for the year.

The incredible list of Speakers included NH AFL CIO President Mark McKenzie, SEA/SEIU #1984 President Rich Gulla, IBEW #2320 Business Manager Glen Brackett, AFT NH President Laura Hainey, Gene Porter – husband of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, Norm Welsh Manchester Newspaper Guild President, Liz Skidmore , Carpenters #118 Business Manager and NALC State President Wayne Alterisio. NPMU Rep Ed Barnes was the informative MC and this amazing event was made possible by the incredible work of APWU leaders Janice Kelble and Kim Hayes. (I apologize for those I failed to mention)

The lawmakers that are endorsing these plant closures and eliminating Saturday mail delivery are not trying to save or reform the postal service they want to destroy it. A highly efficient and popular government agency does not fit their mindless anti government ideology that they sell to the American Public to get elected.

Add to the fact that the postal service is highly unionized and the anti worker politicians come out in mass. The battles to shrink worker pay and take back benefits are all around us. Friday’s speakers detailed those battles locally with the bitter strike at Fairpoint being the most ominous. The newspaper guild is still searching for fairness for its employees. The continuous war on reducing public employees is what Teachers and State Employees fight everyday. The workers at the U.S. Postal Service are the next target in our nations ongoing war on workers.

The war against postal workers not only affects the hundreds of thousands of postal workers but the millions of people in our country who rely on timely mail delivery. The elderly waiting for their medicine or child waiting for delivery of their birthday present or a small business waiting for essential documents should not be considered insignificant collateral damage in the attack on postal workers.

Congress should focus on eliminating the onerous $5.4 billion annual retirement healthcare prefunding requirement that has caused financial hardship for the USPS. That unprecedented requirement has to be modified and instead of shrinking the network it should be looking to expand it.

Good USPS financial news abounds with the strong $1.4 billion operational profit just reported.  Add to that Sunday parcel delivery for Amazon Packages is becoming a reality for many parts of the country next month. Letter revenue is up as our economy grows. The USPS can further enhance its skyrocketing 9.1% package revenue growth in the past year. It’s time to build on these success moving forward. Killing the Postal Service for ideological reasons seems more absurd now than ever before

Saving the Postal Service is what united this impressive crowd today. As I listened to the speakers and crowd response another theme became clear to us all. This spirited event highlighted a unified work force in NH that will be a formidable obstacle to those politicians and businessmen who want to erode workers pay and benefits. Our solidarity is a force that must be reckoned with.

Below is a short video of Janice Kelble, Legislative Director for the NH Postal Workers Union talking about the rally and the issues facing the USPS.

You can view all of the videos from the rally in this playlist. 

 

UPDATE:
Other local coverage from WBIN NH1 :http://www.nh1.com/news/postal-service-workers-protest-in-manchester-over-pending-cuts/

New England Cable News (NECN) http://www.necn.com/news/business/Postal-Workers-Say-Cuts-Will-Kill-Service-282766071.html
National USPS Rally Coverage:
Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/11/12/postal-workers-to-protest-plant-closings-and-service-reductions/

Senate Democrats Need To Move Quickly To Approve A New Member To The NLRB

NLRB 1

Well the elections are over and the now, just ten days after all the votes were counted, it is obvious that we are headed for another two years of monumental gridlock.

The Republicans in the Senate used their minority power to filibuster major Presidential nominees forcing Harry Reid to take the “nuclear option,” changing the rules of the filibuster to a simple majority vote. This rule change means if all the Senate Democrats voted together, they would be able to approve any and all of the President’s nominees.

The Democrats only have a few weeks left in charge of the Senate and they should be using it to appoint dozens on nominees including a new board member to the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB).

President Obama’s NLRB appointments came under fire by Senate Republicans when President Obama forced his appointments through while the Senate was in recess. Although the Supreme Court ruled that recess appointments are legal, they also found that President Obama violated those rules when he appointed Sharon Block to the NLRB.

After the Supreme Court ruled that the Senate would need to approve of the nomination, President Obama once again submitted Sharon Block to the NLRB. Unfortunately her nomination was a poison pill to the Republicans and they blocked her nomination.

It was announced yesterday that President Obama has withdrawn his nomination of Sharon Block and in turn nominated “Lauren McFerran, who has served as chief labor counsel for the Senate Health Committee since 2005.”

“Sharon Block is a thoughtful, smart and committed public servant with a proven track record serving on the both the National Labor Relations Board and at the U.S. Department of Labor,” said Mary Kay Henry, President of the SEIU. “Today, once again, obstruction by the far right has stripped the American people of a qualified nominee with stellar credentials who would have served our nation’s working families ably and justly. It is disappointing for America’s hardworking men and women that such a capable candidate would fall prey to an extreme and crassly political agenda.”

Senate Democrats now have a choice to make, and they only have a few days to make it. Do they push through the nomination of Lauren McFerran to the NLRB before December 16th when Nancy Schiffer’s term expires, leaving two Republican and two Democratic appointees on the board?

“Congress must prioritize filling all of the seats on the NLRB and confirm the Obama Administration’s new nominee, Lauren McFerran, immediately,” stated Henry. “The rights of our 2 million members — and tens of millions of working people in every sector and vocation — are protected by labor laws that are best regulated by a fully functional NLRB. Lauren McFerran, is also an impressive candidate with a robust background in labor relations law and an excellent reputation for her professional work on the Hill. It is imperative to the security of our working families that Congress confirm McFerran swiftly.”​

The Senate Democrats need to grab the bull by the horns and push through some of these nominees before the Republicans, and their opposition to everything Obama, begins their two-year reign of terror in the Senate.

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Pending State Legislative Battles

Richard_Trumka

In the wake of last Tuesday’s elections, many state and local politicians have already begun to signal their intent to wage assaults on working people in their states. While national political pundits debate outcomes, the AFL-CIO and its allies also have a keen eye on the developments at state and local levels.

We have no illusions there are radical politicians who are far more concerned with appeasing their corporate donors and being a tool for groups like ALEC than standing for working family issues. This is despite the fact that the Raising Wages agenda remain of upmost important to most Americans. A majority of the electorate are struggling economically and sixty-eight percent of voters agree that raising wages is good for workers and the economy. The majority of people want rights at work. We want the ability to stay home if we’re sick. We want fair and equal pay. And we believe if you work for and earn a pension, you should get it.

Make no mistake that the labor movement is more prepared and ready to combat these attacks than ever before.

We also know that this fight will not be the labor movement’s alone. We are fully engaged with our allies in the community and more importantly know that the values we stand for are in complete sync with the majority of Americans. It will take a collective effort to preserve and expand our values, and we are up to the task.

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