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Retirees Launch Campaign to Protect Medicare from Privatization

Washington, DC – Alarmed by the House Congressional Leadership’s plans to dismantle Medicare, the Alliance for Retired Americans today kicked off a grass roots campaign to block any attempts to cut or convert guaranteed, earned health benefits into a voucher or privatized scheme. Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Tom Price, whom President-elect Trump will nominate to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, both said that they were moving to “reform” Medicare in the next Congress.  

“Alliance members will use all the tools at our disposal to stop any plan to replace our guaranteed earned Medicare benefits with a system of ‘Coupon-care’ vouchers,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance. 

Today the Alliance joined allies in delivering more than one million petitions against the Republican plan to cut and privatize Medicare to House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Before delivering the petitions, Fiesta spoke at a Capitol Hill news conference with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Ted Deutch. Representatives from several other advocacy groups also spoke against cuts to Medicare. 

Alliance members will be directly lobbying members of Congress and Senators in Washington and in their home districts and stating their opposition to efforts to gut Medicare and Medicaid. More than 100 meetings have been planned so far, and the organization expects to reach 200 offices over the next few weeks.

The Alliance will also campaign online and feature dozens of personal stories about why Medicare’s guaranteed benefits are so important on its website, www.retiredamericans.org, and social media.

 “Our members are irate. They paid into the Medicare system for decades, and heard President-elect Trump repeatedly promise to protect their earned health care benefits. We will fight tooth and nail to protect Medicare from all those who try to turn the earned benefits of Medicare into Coupon-care,” said Fiesta. “Medicare must be protected, preserved and expanded for future generations, not dismantled.”

Rough Road Ahead: Republicans Take Governor, House And Senate In NH

All the votes have been counted and we are looking at a very rough road ahead.

With the election of Donald Trump we will see a revived national effort to cut taxes for business, cut regulations on environmental protections, and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Here in New Hampshire we about to enter a new era of Republican control.  The NH Senate stayed the same with 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats. In the House, Democrats picked up a few seats but are still in the minority (235-165). With Governor-elect Chris Sununu’s win, we can expect a fast and furious legislative attack on many of the programs working people fought for.

From Dan Touhy’s Granite Status on the election results:

WHAT DOES IT all mean for New Hampshire? Watch for some Republican policy initiatives to be pitched with gusto. In Concord, that includes a return of right-to-work legislation, the “constitutional carry” firearms bill, and proposed business tax reform.

State Rep. Fred Doucette, R-Salem, said veterans issues and tackling the state’s opioid and heroin epidemic are two of his priorities in the coming legislative session.

The combination of a Republican President and Republican controlled Congress could mean the end of the ACA which could mean the end of the New Hampshire Health Partnership Program that protects more than 50,000 Granite Staters.  Even without the repeal of the ACA, Sununu and many of his cohorts in the Legislature have already suggested ending the program in New Hampshire.

The question now is; What other attacks will working people face in the coming year?

Besides Right to Work will Republicans try to repeal our collective bargaining rights like they did in the O’Brien era of 2011-12? Will they attempt to reduce benefits for retiree’s and force workers to contribute more to the pension system?  Will they force through their so-called “school choice” legislation that takes public funds and gives it to private and religious institutions? Will they continue to attack a woman’s right to choose and to attack women’s healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood?

It is time to start organizing so we will be ready when Sununu and his fellow Republicans begin their assault on workers.

Shaheen Announces Grant for the Community College System of NH to Increase Access to Apprenticeships

The ApprenticeshipUSA-NH project will receive a $1.2 million grant from the Department of Labor

The project, supported  by Sen. Shaheen, will serve 133 apprentices in the Granite State with a focus on women, low-income, veterans and other underrepresented populations

(Manchester, NH)— U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced today that the Community College System of New Hampshire was awarded $1.2 million by the Department of Labor (DOL) to fund the ApprenticeshipUSA-NH project. The grant is part of the Administration’s ApprenticeshipUSA initiative to expand apprenticeships in diverse industries nationwide. With this new grant, the Community College System of New Hampshire will create a Registered Apprenticeship system in the Granite State that builds upon the momentum of several initiatives aligned with state economic, workforce development and educational goals. The ApprenticeshipUSA-NH project will serve 133 apprentices, with special emphasis on underrepresented populations including low-income, individuals with disabilities, youth, women, and veterans. Senator Shaheen has been a strong supporter of the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative since its creation in 2014.

“This is an important investment in New Hampshire’s workforce,” said Senator Shaheen. “The ApprenticeshipUSA-NH project will invest in Granite State workers to advance their skills and knowledge for today’s job market, while also strengthening our economy. I am proud to have worked with the Administration in support of the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative so we can engage more young people, women, veterans and other underrepresented people in apprenticeships to provide them with the skills they need to find a career they love. This program demonstrates that when we invest in our workers, we are investing in our businesses and economy as a whole.”

“The Community College System of New Hampshire has been integral in our efforts to build an even stronger workforce in New Hampshire, helping to ensure that our young people are equipped with the skills, knowledge and innovative thinking needed for success in the good jobs of the 21st century,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “The ApprencticeshipUSA grant will support the community college system’s efforts and build on other initiatives already underway to develop a stronger apprenticeship system in New Hampshire that is responsive to industry demand and allows for the inclusion of all Granite Staters. The future economic sustainability of New Hampshire depends greatly on our ability to provide a strong economic foundation where all citizens have access to great jobs that provide a sustainable wage and growth opportunity, and I was proud to support the community college system’s ApprenticeshipUSA grant to help us achieve that goal.”

“I thank Senator Shaheen for her strong support of the ApprenticeshipUSA initiative since its creation in 2014, and I look forward to continue working with members from both parties to build an even stronger, more innovative New Hampshire where all Granite Staters who work hard have the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead,” Governor Hassan said.  

Job-driven apprenticeships are one of the surest paths to provide American workers with the skills and knowledge they need to acquire good-paying jobs and grow the economy. More than 90 percent of apprentices are employed after completing their programs, with an average starting wage above $60,000. International studies suggest that for every dollar spent on apprenticeship, employers may get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity and greater front-line innovation.

Hazardous Child Labor Is Still Legal In The U.S. And President Obama Needs To End It

Tobacco, Image by Steve Snodgrass

Tobacco, Image by Steve Snodgrass

Nearly 50 members of Congress ask President Obama to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco before leaving Oval Office 

Washington, DC—Nearly 50 Members of Congress asked President Obama to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco fields in a letter sent to the White House today. U.S. child labor law allows children as young as 12 to work unlimited hours in tobacco fields as long as they are not missing school. “Voluntary policies among tobacco companies have attempted to get children under 16 out of the fields, but it isn’t clear those policies are effective or why they permit 16- and 17-year-old children to do work that is hazardous and makes them ill,” said Sally Greenberg, co-chair of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC) and executive director of the National Consumers League.

“We believe that this work is too dangerous for workers under 18,” said Greenberg. “Children working in tobacco fields suffer regular bouts of nicotine poisoning, otherwise known as Green Tobacco Sickness. They are also subjected to dangerous pesticide residues and use razor-sharp tools. We believe tobacco work should be conducted by adults who are better able to deal with the risks, and kids who have to work or who want to work should be re-directed into safer jobs.”

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) authored the letter, which asks the President to designate tobacco work for children as “hazardous child labor” and by doing so, render it illegal. Cicilline has been a persistent advocate of protecting U.S. child tobacco workers since a Human Rights Watch report, “Tobacco’s Hidden Children—Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming,” found that nearly three out of four child tobacco workers interviewed suffered symptoms that correlated with nicotine poisoning.

“Laws that allow children to risk nicotine exposure while working in tobacco fields are hopelessly out of date and put children’s health in jeopardy. President Obama should act immediately to prohibit this hazardous work for children,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In August, the CLC sent a letter signed by 110 groups, representing tens of millions of Americans, to President Obama urging him to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco before he leaves office. The Administration has not responded to the request.

In 2012, under strong pressure from the farm lobby, the Obama Administration withdrew long-overdue occupational protections for child farmworkers that would have banned child labor in tobacco while providing several other life-saving protections.

“We call on President Obama to rectify this decision and protect child tobacco workers from the dangers of nicotine poisoning before another child farmworker becomes ill at work,” said Norma Flores López, chair of the CLC’s Domestic Issues Committee. “Children who work in tobacco fields often wear black plastic garbage bags on their torsos to try to avoid contact with nicotine-laden tobacco leafs. Imagine the heat they experience in broiling sun wearing those bags? How can we subject them to those conditions?”

Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have urged the Obama Administration to issue federal rules to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco.  

On May 5, the Federal Drug Administration announced new regulations prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to children. “We’ve agreed for many years that nicotine does not belong in the hands of children,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell. 

“Despite this concern, the Obama Administration has not yet taken appropriate steps to protect child tobacco workers from nicotine poisoning in the fields,” said HRW’s Becker.

In September, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, a global leader of the movement to end child labor and child slavery tweeted a plea for the President “as a fellow Nobel Prize laureate” to ban child labor in U.S. tobacco.

“The United State has adopted the global sustainable development goal of ending child labor in the next nine years, but refuses to take the important first step of ending hazardous child labor in our tobacco fields,” said Reid Maki, director of child labor advocacy for the National Consumers League and coordinator of the CLC. “How sincerely are we embracing this vital goal if we won’t ban hazardous work that most Americans would agree is too dangerous for children—work that has been already banned in India and Brazil?” 


About the Child Labor Coalition

The Child Labor Coalition, which has 38 member organizations, represents consumers, labor unions, educators, human rights and labor rights groups, child advocacy groups, and religious and women’s groups. It was established in 1989, and is co-chaired by the National Consumers League and the American Federation of Teachers. Its mission is to protect working youth and to promote legislation, programs, and initiatives to end child labor exploitation in the United States and abroad. The CLC’s website and membership list can be found at www.stopchildlabor.org.

In Party Line Vote, Senate Sustains Veto Of SB 336, The Repeal Of Licensing For Concealed Carry

Granite State Progress Applauds NH State Senate for Sustaining Governor’s Veto of SB 336, Which Would Have Allowed Dangerous People to Legally Carry Hidden, Loaded Guns

In party-line vote, Democrats stand with NH Association of Chiefs of Police, public safety advocates to keep 93 year old New Hampshire law in place

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire State Senate voted on party lines today to sustain Governor Maggie Hassan’s veto of SB 336, which sought to repeal a 93 year old concealed carry licensing law that requires an individual to be a suitable person to carry a hidden, loaded handgun in New Hampshire. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“SB 336 was another attempt by the gun lobby to allow anyone in New Hampshire to legally carry a hidden, loaded handgun. Requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon has worked well for New Hampshire for more than 90 years. These licenses are very easy and quick to obtain and do not place an unreasonable burden on law abiding citizens. SB 336 was a radical piece of legislation that would have jeopardized public safety. New Hampshire does not require people to have a specific reason to conceal carry but it does require that the applicant be a suitable person. This common sense law allows local police departments to deny a license when there is reason to believe a person is a danger to themselves or others. For example, if an individual in a community is a known domestic abuser but has yet to be indicted, or has a hot temper and a habit of getting into bar fights, New Hampshire thankfully provides our local police departments with the ability to reject their concealed carry application. New Hampshire is one of more than 40 states that currently require a license to carry concealed weapons and we should not weaken our public safety laws now.”

After the vote, Governor Maggie Hassan released the following:

“New Hampshire’s current concealed carry law – which former Republican Governor Mel Thomson called a ‘sensible handgun law’ – has worked well for nearly a century, safeguarding the Second Amendment rights of our citizens while helping to keep the Granite State one of the safest states in the nation. I shared the same public safety concerns that law enforcement, public safety officials and citizens had about Senate Bill 336, which would have undermined our efforts to maintain public safety by removing the protections that the permitting process offers to help ensure that potentially dangerous individuals are not allowed to carry hidden weapons. As I always have, I continue to support the Second Amendment and the right of Americans to responsibly own guns for personal safety, hunting, and recreation, and I will continue working with law enforcement, public safety officials and citizens across New Hampshire to ensure that we continue balancing the rights of gun owners with the rights of all New Hampshire citizens to be safe in their communities.”

After the vote, Sen. David Watters (D-Dover) released the following comments: 

“New Hampshire is continually rated one of the safest states in the nation and there is no overriding reason to make changes to our concealed carry law that has served us well for close to a century. As a strong supporter of our Second Amendment rights, I know that our current permitting process provides an important oversight role to our local law enforcement, an appeal process, and a common sense way to ensure that potentially dangerous individuals are not allowed to carry hidden weapons.” 

“I am proud that the Senate sustained the Governor’s veto and I am proud to stand with our law enforcement, public safety officials, and citizens across New Hampshire who are concerned with any adverse effects this legislation may have caused and maintained our common sense concealed carry law so that we can ensure that New Hampshire remains one of the safest states in the nation.”

The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police testified against SB 336, and in 2004 Senate President Chuck Morse and several Republicans voted against a similar repeal bill. This is the third time the Governor has vetoed this legislation.  A copy of Granite State Progress testimony in opposition to SB 336 is available by request, along with more information about how concealed carry laws work.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster, A True Fighter For America’s Veterans

Congresswoman Kuster’s Work for Veterans Praised in New Television Ad

In her second television ad of the 2016 cycle, a Nashua veteran praises Congresswoman Kuster’s work to secure affordable housing and jobs for homeless veterans in New Hampshire.  

In the ad, titled “Thank You,” John Elsten discusses his military experience and his living situation during his unemployment.  A Vietnam veteran, he was forced to sleep under bridges and in alleys in downtown Nashua after losing his job.  He was able to secure housing through the VA Supported Housing program, a rental assistance voucher program through the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that Congresswoman Kuster has worked to expand.  While touring a shelter in Nashua, Congresswoman Kuster met John, who was living and volunteering at the shelter.  She has made expanding affordable housing for homeless veterans in Nashua, Keene, Plymouth, and throughout New Hampshire a key part of her work to support Granite State veterans.

“I was heartbroken when I heard about John’s struggle, as well as the struggles of so many veterans like him, to find affordable housing and employment,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I fight every day to help veterans like John who have given so much to our country.  We have a solemn responsibility to support the brave men and women who have served our country, and that includes ensuring they have a roof over their head, as well as gainful employment and accessible health care.”

Click here to watch the ad

Addressing the problem of veteran homelessness is no small task. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that nearly 40,000 are homeless on any given night.  Specifically in New Hampshire, HUD estimates that there are between 123-138 homeless vets, many who are forced to live in temporary shelters.

Part of ending homelessness for our veterans in providing them with sustainable employment after they return. As the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans notes, “military occupations and training are not always transferable to the civilian workforce, placing some veterans at a disadvantage when competing for employment. NCHV strongly believes that all programs to assist homeless veterans must focus on helping them obtain and sustain employment.”

About 1.4 million other veterans “are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing,” NCHV added.

Rep. Kuster talks with student veterans and higher education administrators today in Concord.

Rep. Kuster talks with student veterans and higher education administrators in Concord.

In January of 2016, Kuster met with student veterans and higher education administrators from across New Hampshire to discuss the importance of supporting veterans as they pursue higher education following the completion of their service. This discussion allowed Congresswoman Kuster to learn more about the work being done by New Hampshire colleges to implement education benefits, as well as to hear directly from student veterans about how she can best support them through her work in Congress.

“When our brave men and women return from their service in the Armed Forces, we must ensure that they have access to the tools they need to complete their education and to compete in today’s workforce,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “During today’s conversation, we were able to bring together student veterans and representatives from some of the Granite State’s top institutions of higher education to discuss how we can help returning veterans pursue their college education here in New Hampshire. We are lucky to have such a dedicated group of higher education leaders here in the Granite State who have done an incredible job supporting veterans seeking college degrees.”

As a member of the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Kuster has long worked to ensure that veterans have access to the resources necessary to support their transition back into civilian life and to pursue higher education after completing their service. Kuster has supported legislation for student veterans throughout her time in office, including the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act of 2013, which proposed allowing veterans to pay in-state tuition for out-of-state schools. This legislation passed the House of Representatives, and its provisions were later passed into law as part of another bill. 

In February, Kuster was pleased to announce that three bills she cosponsored had passed in the House of Representatives.

  • H.R. 2360, the Career Ready Student Veterans Act, will help ensure that educational and training programs serving our nation’s veterans meet state accreditation standards, protecting the quality of education provided for veteran students.
  • H.R. 2915, the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act, will direct the VA to identify suicide prevention programs that are proven to be most effective for female veterans in order to ensure the unique needs of women veterans are more effectively addressed.
  • H.R. 3036, the National 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Act, will designate the September 11th Memorial at the World Trade Center as a national memorial, thereby awarding a grant of up to $25 million per fiscal year for the maintenance of the site.

To some politicians, taking care of our veterans is nothing more than lip service. They say they support veterans while they made deep cuts to social programs that help thousands of veterans avoid homelessness and help keep them from falling into poverty.

Congresswoman Kuster does not just talk about supporting veterans; she is fighting to ensure that we end veteran homelessness and provide the best opportunities for our veterans throughout their entire lives.

NH Climate Advocacy Groups Deliver Petitions In Support Of Energy Saving Programs

petition-drop-off-27sept16

CONCORD, NH — A coalition of New Hampshire groups delivered 992 petitions to the governor’s office on Tuesday, calling on the state to strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). As RGGI undergoes a policy review, environmental advocates are calling on the state to double the strength of the program by lowering the cap on carbon emissions by 5% instead of 2.5% every year.

The coalition includes Environment New Hampshire, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Mom’s Clean Air Force, Toxics Action Center, Union of Concerned Scientists, and New Hampshire Sierra Club.

“Strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is the best way for New Hampshire to do its part in cutting dangerous carbon emissions and investing in a clean energy economy,” said Michelle McCarthy, a campaign organizer for Environment New Hampshire.

“The RGGI program has been very effective in reducing carbon emissions, creating jobs and sparking investments in renewable energy sources” said Rob Werner, State Director of the League of Conservation Voters. “New Hampshire should follow the lead of other RGGI states and allow RGGI proceeds to be used more effectively to support a variety of  approaches to continue to move from a high carbon economy to a low carbon economy.”

“People in New Hampshire want to be part of the solution and want more tools to act on climate,” Catherine Corkery, NH Sierra Club. “The RGGI program has been a great first step for the last 8 years. Now New Hampshire needs to go farther and faster with more energy efficiency, more renewables and more financial tools. We need our leaders to hear us and act on climate with us.” 

The coalition will be hosting a People’s Hearing to focus on supporting and strengthening RGGI at UNH School of Law in Concord on Wednesday, September 28th. The coalition plans to deliver testimony from the hearing to the Governor at a later date.

Petition language below.


To: Honorable Governor Hassan, NHDES Commissioner Thomas Burack, and NHPUC Commissioner Bob Scott,

The connection between climate and energy use is critical because power plants are some of the leading contributors to climate disruption and unhealthy air pollution. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is New Hampshire’s program to reduce carbon pollution from those dirty energy sources, helping businesses and families save money on energy bills, improving the local economy, and protecting our climate and health. Currently, there is a review of the regional energy savings program.

For New Hampshire, I support three improvements:

  1. Reducing the amount of carbon pollution power plants are allowed to emit by at least 5% annually from 2020 levels through 2030;
  2. Closing or reforming loopholes in the program including the cost containment reserve and credit banking program; and,
  3. Eliminating the corporate rebate program and instead directing more of the funds to the Energy Efficiency Programs to benefit taxpayers, low income households, and residents.

By improving our climate protections you can make sure New Hampshire is in the driver’s seat when it comes to meeting the goals of the Clean Power Plan, helping consumers save money, reducing pollution, improving the local economy, and protecting our climate and public health.

Gov Hassan Ceremonially Signs Net-Metering Increase

Governor Hassan shows national leadership as state studies clean energy future

CONCORD, NH – Governor Maggie Hassan joined local businesses and solar advocates today for a ceremonial signing of New Hampshire’s net metering bill, HB 1116, and to continue pushing for energy choice and clean energy job growth to help make the Granite State a national leader.

The event took place at the Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, where ReVision Energy recently installed a 48-kilowatt rooftop array, making it New Hampshire’s largest solar-powered brewery. Governor Hassan demonstrated tremendous leadership by officially signing HB 1116 into law earlier this year and doubling the state’s net metering cap — net metering is a policy that enables the right to self-generation and fair credit for power sent to neighbors. The bill also initiated a 10-month study by the state’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) to explore the future of clean energy policy in New Hampshire.

“I am proud of our bipartisan work this year to raise the cap on net metering, which will help our clean energy industry continue to grow and thrive,” Governor Hassan said. “Solar and other small scale clean energy resources are creating good-paying, high-quality jobs, spurring economic development and helping combat climate change, which we see firsthand here in the state’s largest solar-powered brewery. I am confident that the PUC process will result in a fair net metering tariff that will encourage energy diversification and clean energy job growth, and I look forward to continuing to work with members from both parties and the business community to support our growing clean energy economy.”

Recent statewide polling shows that New Hampshire voters–both Republicans and Democrats–favor solar as an energy source, and a clear majority support net metering. Moreover, national polls have found solar energy to be an issue that could sway independent voters in key swing states like New Hampshire.

Solar energy is an exciting and growing sector that can help accelerate the state’s economy. Local businesses like ReVision Energy depend on strong, stable energy policy to allow them to create jobs throughout the state.

“Today New Hampshire has the second highest per capita fossil fuel consumption and carbon pollution in New England,” said Phil Coupe, Co-Founder of ReVision Energy. “We are honored to stand beside strong clean energy leaders like Governor Hassan who is taking decisive action to unleash the powerful job creation opportunity represented by the transition to solar energy. But to maximize the creation of solar jobs and to bring solar savings to more individuals and businesses, we need certainty and a well-defined time horizon on clean energy policy so that we can invest with confidence in a sustainable energy future for New Hampshire.”

What’s Next

The PUC has already kicked off their study process that will determine New Hampshire’s future around renewable energy and advancing clean jobs throughout the state. It’s critical that smart energy policies — like net metering — are upheld by the Commission to encourage energy choice and clean energy job growth across the state.

“Governor Hassan demonstrated great leadership by taking action to protect energy choice in New Hampshire, and we are hopeful regulators will do the same going forward,” said Chris Rauscher, Director of Public Policy for Sunrun and spokesperson for TASC. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Commission and collaborate with other stakeholders to find customer-focused policy solutions that will protect the ability of energy consumers to generate and use affordable solar power from their rooftops.

American Nurses Association Endorses Gov. Maggie Hassan In Senate Race

Image from Hassan Campaign (All Rights Reserved)

Image from Hassan Campaign (All Rights Reserved)

SILVER SPRING, MD – The American Nurses Association (ANA) and its Political Action Committee (ANA-PAC) announced today the endorsement of Gov. Maggie Hassan in her race to represent the residents of New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate. Each election cycle, ANA-PAC endorses candidates who have demonstrated strong support for nursing and health care issues and will best serve the interests of nurses and their patients.

Elected in 2012, Gov. Hassan has worked across party lines to successfully pass New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan, which is already providing quality, affordable coverage to nearly 50,000 residents of the Granite State, and reducing uncompensated care that shifts costs to individuals and businesses.

“I am honored to accept the endorsement of the American Nurses Association, which represents our country’s 3.6 million registered nurses,” said Gov. Maggie Hassan. “Ensuring that our citizens can live healthy, productive lives is essential to their freedom and well-being, and critical to our economy. As governor, I have worked to make health care more accessible and affordable for all of our people and businesses, including successfully passing and reauthorizing our bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan. I have worked with nurses and others on the front lines to combat the heroin and opioid crisis. And I have also worked to address our state’s health care workforce challenges. In the Senate, I will continue to fight to increase access to affordable health care and strengthen our health care workforce.”

“Gov. Hassan believes we need to move toward a system that rewards health outcomes and puts quality over the quantity of services that nurses provide. She is also an advocate of children’s health and safety. We know she will continue to support the work of nurses and patient safety in the Senate,” said Judith Joy, PhD, RN, executive director of the New Hampshire Nurses Association. “We applaud her leadership as governor and look forward to continuing to work with her to ensure nurses’ voices are heard on Capitol Hill.”

ANA-PAC works to ensure that nursing’s perspective is considered in policy decisions made on Capitol Hill. Endorsement decisions are based on several criteria including, but not limited to, candidate interviews, communication with ANA’s constituent and state nurses associations, campaign information, and the candidate’s voting record on ANA’s priority issues.

For more information, please visit ANA-PAC.

The AFL-CIO Pushes Back Against Pro-Business Democrats Trying To Change The New Overtime Threshold

Pay Check Everyone agrees that the current overtime threshold needs to be updated. The issue is, how quickly should this update take effect?

In May, the Department of Labor announced that they would be lifting the salary threshold for overtime from just over $23,660 a year to $47,476. This means that if you are a salaried employee who makes less than $47,476 dollars you will now be entitle to overtime (time and 1/2) for every hour worked in a week above 40.

“New overtime protections mark a major victory for working people that will improve the lives of millions of families across America,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO in a May press release. “We applaud the Obama Administration heeding the call for action to ensure working people get paid for all the hours we work. Taking this step to restore overtime is one of the many ways we are beginning to change the rules of our economy that are rigged in favor of Wall Street.”

“The fight for even stronger overtime protections and to raise wages for all working people continues. But today, millions of workers will receive a long overdue raise, healthier and more productive jobs, and more time to spend with our community and loved ones,” added Trumka. 

Congressman Kurt Schrader

Congressman Kurt Schrader

This week, Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5), Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-5), Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and Congressman Collin Peterson (MN-7) introduced legislation that will “initiate a reasonable three-year phase-in of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule.”

“The current overtime threshold is horribly outdated and needs to be raised as both employees and employers navigate our changing economy. This bill will do exactly that without disrupting the way businesses operate and employees are paid,” said Congressman Schrader. “Since the DOL’s immediate phase-in date was announced, we’ve heard from business owners and their employees who are worried about implementing this increase overnight. Without sufficient time to plan for the increase, cuts and demotions will become inevitable, and workers will actually end up making less than they made before. It’s long past time we strengthen overtime pay protections for American workers in a meaningful and effective way.”

“While I believe the time has come to increase the overtime threshold, the DOL rule would put businesses in a bind and potentially lead to job loss,” said Congressman Peterson. “Both businesses and constituents in my district have expressed concern about the impact of an immediate threshold increase. A three-year phase in will provide adequate time for business to adapt to the new standard while also ensuring workers are fairly compensated.”

Surprise, businesses do not want to have to pay workers more money.  How are businesses going to win the race to the bottom if President Obama and the DOL keep raising the floor?

The Schrader plan is to phase the overtime threshold  in slowly to decrease the impact on businesses. Schrader’s office explained this proposed legislation would work in their most recent press release.

“On December 1, 2016, the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act will immediately increase the threshold more than 50% to $35,984. Each year following, the salary threshold will be raised by $74 per week until December 1, 2019, when we reach the DOL’s proposed $47,476 threshold.”

The one thing that Schrader’s office neglected to mention is that the newly proposed legislation would also eliminate the automatic increases to the overtime threshold every three years.

The AFL-CIO quickly spoke out against this newly proposed legislation in a stern letter to all Representatives in the U.S. House.

July 14, 2016

Dear Representative:

            I am writing on behalf of the AFL-CIO to urge you to oppose legislation, introduced by Rep. Kurt Schrader, that would rob millions of workers of the overtime pay protection they have earned. The misnamed “Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act” would delay by three years the full implementation of the Labor Department’s new overtime regulations, originally scheduled to take effect in December, 2016.

            The Schrader bill would also eliminate the final rule’s mechanism that would automatically update the salary threshold every three years after implementation. As you know, workers have waited decades for an update to the salary threshold—it has only been updated once since the 1970s—in 2004 (when it was set too low). Having experienced decades of wage stagnation and uncompensated overtime, workers should not have to wait three more years for the protection the new regulations will provide.

            The current salary threshold for overtime pay would be over $57,000 if it had kept pace with inflation since 1975. Instead, effective December 1, 2016, the salary threshold below which salaried employees are automatically eligible for overtime pay will rise from $23,660 ($455 per week) to $47,476 ($913 per week). The Labor Department based this new threshold level on the 40th-percentile salary for workers in the lowest-wage Census region (currently the South). Because history demonstrates that it can take years for the regulatory process to adapt to changing labor markets, the rule also indexes the threshold to inflation. Once implemented, the threshold level will increase every three years, beginning in 2020.

            For approximately 12.5 million workers, this new regulation is the most effective way to raise wages, create jobs, and restore the 40-hour work week. The AFL-CIO urges you to oppose the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act and any legislation that would delay or weaken implementation of this important rule.

Sincerely,

William Samuel, Director
Government Affairs

Phasing in the new overtime rule by $74 dollars a week may be good for some businesses but it is definitely not good for workers. This proposed legislation would create confusion as to when workers would qualify for overtime leaving workers wide open for wage theft.

Aside from ensuring that workers are paid fairly for the hard work they are doing, this new overtime rule is intended to stimulate job growth. Rep. Schrader is worried about potential job losses from the new rule taking effect, yet the only businesses who would be effected by this rule have workers making less than $47,000 a year salary, who work more than 40 hours a week.  This means that businesses will have to choose:

  • Do they want to continue to pay their employee a low salary and pay them overtime for every hour above 40?
  • Do they want to raise the employee’s salary to $47,476, allowing the employee to work unlimited hours without having to pay them overtime?
  • Do they want to continue to pay their employee a low salary and then hire an additional employee to complete the extra work that needs to be done?

Either way workers are going to get a benefit. Either workers will get more money in their paycheck or more workers will receive paychecks.

This proposed legislation is bad for workers and will only continue the stagnation of our economy while leaving workers vulnerable to wage theft by their employers.  This legislation will do more harm than good and should be rejected.


For more information on who will benefit from the new overtime rule read our previous post from May 2016 or check out this handy info-graphic on the DOL overtime changes

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