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NH House Labor Committe SB 416: Non-Retaliation for Flexible Work Schedule Requests

Bipartisan vote guards against retaliation for employees who request a flexible work schedule for child care or to take care of an elderly or disabled family member, among other things

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House Labor Committee voted 13-5 today to pass SB 416, a bill that guards against retaliation for employees who request a flexible work schedule for child care or to take care of an elderly or disabled family member, among other things. Amended and passed in the Senate, SB 416 simply states it is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for requesting a flexible work schedule.

“Currently if an employee asks an employer about flexibility in their schedule they have no obligation to consider that request, and there is nothing that stops them from retaliating because the employee asked,” said Kary Jencks, executive director for NH Citizens Alliance. “SB 416 encourages employers and employees to have an open and direct conversation when scheduling needs arise. This could be coming in 30 minutes early so you can leave in time for your child’s soccer game, or regularly adjusting your schedule for pick up or drop off times for children or elderly or disabled family members.  This bill will help with worker retention, worker productivity, and expand opportunity for all workers, especially women.”

“Forty-seven percent of New Hampshire’s workforce are women, the majority of whom are of sound reproductive age who due to family life may need at certain times in their career to request a flexible work arrangement without fear of being fired from their job,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress Education Fund.  “The same legislators who voted against this bill in committee are the ones who voted against access to reproductive health care, including birth control, and who oppose opportunities to raise wages for workers. These politicians stand in the way of women by making it harder for them to decide when and if to start a family, and by opposing policies that ensure they have the economic stability and family friendly workplace policies to thrive if they do. We applaud the majority of the committee for supporting SB 416.”

The prime sponsor of SB 416 is Senator Dan Feltes, (D-Concord). Co-sponsors include Sen. D’Allesandro, Dist 20; Sen. Fuller Clark, Dist 21; Sen. Kelly, Dist 10; Sen. Soucy, Dist 18; Sen. Woodburn, Dist 1; Rep. LeBrun, Hills. 32; Rep. Webb, Rock. 6; Rep. Rosenwald, Hills. 30; Rep. Luneau, Merr. 10; and Rep. Gile, Merr. 27. The Senate previously passed the amended version of SB 416 by a roll call vote of 13-10.


The Stand With Women or Stand in the Way campaign of NH Citizens Alliance and Granite State Progress Education Fund believes that instead of protecting outdated workplace policies that discriminate against women and limiting reproductive rights, our priority in New Hampshire should be to guarantee fair opportunities for women to succeed and to take care of their families.

#DenyNAI: New Legislation To Stop Norwegian Air International From Undercutting Labor Laws

Image by Viaggio Routard FLIKR CC

Image by Viaggio Routard FLIKR CC

Congressional Representatives From Both Sides Of The Aisle, Introduce Legislation To Deny NAI’s Application To The DOT.

Today, Congress took a big step forward in protecting American workers and upholding our nations trade agreements, by introducing legislation to stop Norwegian Air International (NAI) from skirting international labor laws as they attempt to expand in the U.S.

NAI, is based in Norway, but the airline is incorporated in Ireland. This is called a “flag of convenience.” It allows NAI to avoid paying taxes in their home country and allows them to avoid strong labor laws in U.S – European Air Transport agreement.

“Norwegian Air International (NAI) and its attempt to launch a flag-of-convenience airline has once again drawn a strong bipartisan rebuke from lawmakers who have long held that our government should not give operating authority to foreign airlines that violate our trade rules and threaten U.S. airline jobs,” said Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD).

“Norwegian Air International specifically set up operations in Ireland to avoid labor laws in Norway—a flagrant violation of the labor provisions in the agreement. We implore swift action by all lawmakers to get this legislation adopted in order to uphold labor protections in trade deals, protect good aviation jobs, and ensure the safest aviation system in the world,” said Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA).

“As the Norwegian Air saga continues to rear its ugly head, we are grateful to the members of Congress who stand up against this bogus proposal with commonsense legislation that protects good jobs and fair competition. This bill would fight the Department of Transportation’s effort to allow airlines to flout labor standards in order to pad their bottom lines. It sends a message to any company looking to operate in the United States: if you don’t care about working people, you aren’t welcome here,” wrote the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

In order for NAI to expand operations in the U.S. they would first need DOT approval. On April 15, the DOT tentatively approved NAI’s application.

“The Machinists Union applauds Congress for acting to stop the Department of Transportation’s ill-conceived decision to pave the way for NAI’s entry into the US aviation market. Any airline that registers its aircraft in foreign countries with lax safety and security standards and ‘rents’ its cabin crews from countries with no labor laws to lower costs shouldn’t be welcome in the United States,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja.

“Make no mistake: NAI’s scheme to gain entry into the US aviation market will unleash downward pressure on the wages, benefits and working conditions of airline workers here in the United States and cause airline workers to lose their jobs. That is unacceptable,” added Pantoja.

“NAI is a model for corporate practices that depress wages and diminish collective bargaining rights. It will contract—or more accurately ‘rent’— its flight crews through a recruitment firm based in Asia, which operates according to inferior labor laws. In doing so, NAI will be able to abuse weak labor protections to undercut U.S. airlines and their employees with significantly lower compensation and benefits,” added TWU.

Today, Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) introduced the bill, HR 5090, to deny NAI’s application.

Watch Rep DeFaszio on why we should Deny NAI’s application.

Congressman Larson said that allowing NAI to violate international labor laws would “reward countries that break their commitments to protecting workers.”

“My colleagues and I have been clear with DOT that strong labor standards must factor into NAI’s air carrier permit decision. Today, we are introducing legislation that would prohibit DOT from issuing a permit to NAI if doing so would undermine labor standards,” Congressman Larsen said. “Granting an air carrier permit to NAI would say to the world that the U.S. rewards other countries that break their commitments to protecting workers. Our agreements with other countries are only as strong as our ability and willingness to enforce them, which is why I am pushing hard for the U.S. to hold other countries accountable for their end of the deal.”

After the bill was introduced, leaders from the major aviation unions praised their swift action in stopping NAI’s application.

“ALPA commends Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) for standing up for U.S. airline workers and introducing bipartisan legislation that will prevent Norwegian Air International from serving the United States with a business plan that is designed to undermine labor standards and the intent of one of this country’s international trade agreements,” said Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA’s president.

“We applaud the immediate action of Representatives Peter DeFazio, Frank LoBiondo, Rick Larsen, Lynn Westmoreland to stop this downward spiral on U.S. aviation and good jobs,” added Nelson.

“This legislation is a timely response to the DOT’s April 15 Show Cause Order that moves NAI closer to gaining access to U.S. markets. We criticized that decision because we know that NAI’s business model blatantly violates the labor provisions negotiated into the U.S.-EU aviation trade accord. Inexplicably, the DOT ignored the strict international labor standards it negotiated into U.S.-EU agreement and now faces a final decision on whether it will enforce the labor article or greenlight this low-road air carrier whose operating plan will destroy fair competition and extinguish middle-class airline jobs here and in Europe,” added Wytkind.

“The legislation introduced today requires our government to fully enforce the labor protections in aviation trade agreements it negotiates, and makes it clear that a decision by DOT to permit NAI to launch air service to U.S. markets will not stand. We urge the DOT to reassess the compelling facts in this case, reverse course and deny NAI’s application,” Wytkind concluded.

The NH Citizens Alliance Reacts To Passage Of Watered Down Version Of Pregnancy Protection Bill

pregnant woman Earlier today the NH House passed SB 488, a simple bill that improved the working conditions for pregnant women and lactating mothers.

The original bill had provisions like providing extra bathroom breaks or a stool for pregnant women and a private place for mothers to express milk on their breaks.

The New Hampshire Citizens Alliance and its Stand With Women campaign were on the forefront of effort to pass this bi-partisan bill.

After the final bill was approved by the NH House, Kary Jencks, Executive Director of the NH Citizens Alliance released the following statement:

SB 488 in its original version was relative to reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. It was a bi-partisan, business and family friendly bill that supported equal employment opportunities for women staying in the workforce. NHCA and its Stand with Women Campaign know that protecting the rights of pregnant and lactating workers is vital to NH’s economy.

In order to protect the rights of pregnant and lactating workers NH needs legislation that holds all employers accountable for making NH a state where young professionals choose to live, stay, play, and raise their families. Stripping SB 488 of its accommodation provisions to just being an Advisory Council on lactation is a disservice to NH’s economy.

Being business friendly also means being employee supportive. NH strives to be a business friendly state, but it must also attract and keep an educated, productive work force to fill the positions, grow our economy, and to inhabit and secure our communities.

By dismissing common sense workplace policy bills such as SB 488 GOP House leadership is standing in NH’s way of attracting a much needed vital workforce.

If the elected leaders are really serious about attracting younger workers and families to live and work in New Hampshire then they pass more legislation like the original version SB488.

NH Breastfeeding Bill Passes Senate And House, But Barely Produces A Drop of Protections

The New Hampshire House strips away reasonable accommodations for pregnant and lactating mothers in the workplace, leaving women open to discrimination and termination.

Today, the NH House passed SB 488- establishing an advisory council on lactation, which included breastfeeding and pumping rights.  “I’m not sure why it took 3 years to pass so little.  The bill offers no protections for breastfeeding mothers and no enforcement mechanisms against discrimination.  I think this 3-years struggle in the legislature is indicative of what employees go through when requesting accommodations from their employers,”  said Kate Frederick of Intervale, NH.  Frederick and NH are currently #1 on google for “Fired for Breastfeeding.”   House Representative Amanda Bouldin knows first hand, how much controversial breastfeeding legislation can be.  She stood up to a few or her colleagues in the House and Senate who made nationally publicized comments against breastfeeding mothers and herself.   

Bouldin commented, “I hope that NH employers, both in the public and private sector, will take it upon themselves to provide reasonable accommodations to breastfeeding mothers regardless of what the law dictates.  If there are any state offices that have interfered with breastfeeding among their employees, management should remedy the issue immediately. A government that claims to exist for the welfare of the people shows its hypocrisy in preventing children from accessing their food.”

On Tuesday, April 12, 2016, NH House Commerce Committee passed an amendment to SB 488 – EEO for Pregnancy and Related Conditions Including Lactation, sponsored by Senator Martha Fuller-Clark (D-21).    

The house committee voted to put the bill on the consent calendar for a vote in the full House next week. The amendment establishes an Advisory Council to report on breastfeeding best practices and make recommendations for future legislation. All other provisions that previously passed both the full Senate and the House Commerce Committee did not pass. 

Senator Fuller Clark stated, “This was both a business and family friendly bill that supported equal employment opportunities for women staying in the workforce.   Taking care of our pregnant and lactating workers is vital to NH’s economy.  We need stronger language on the books with clear consequences for violations.  Those who voted against the accommodations provisions just did a disservice to NH’s economy.  NH runs the risk of having women and their families move to other states that currently provide better workplace accommodations.” 

state level preg and bf rights

 The reasonable accommodations sections  that didn’t pass included:  

  • Pregnancy: Being able to drink water during the usual course of the working day; Use of a stool to sit on if needed; more frequent bathroom breaks; physical accommodations, if needed.  
  • Lactation: Unpaid break time for lactation; appropriate space to express milk using a pump, or to go off site to pump or breastfeed, if adequate sanitary space not available.  

Numerous working mothers, advocacy organizations, legislators, medical professionals and business owners had testified in support of various amendments and met numerous times in work group sessions for the last three years on the need for these provisions to be legislated.   

House Representative Ed Butler serves on the House Commerce Committee and has been a leader in fighting for the bills passage.     “After  almost three years of considering the need for space and time accommodations for working mothers who are breastfeeding and need to express milk while working, the House Commerce Committee could only agree upon a further study committee.  To say that I am disappointed is an understatement.”    

Besides the bills bi-partisan sponsors, other legislators testified in support of the bills, including Reublican House Representatives Karen Umberger and Katherine Prudhomme-Obrien.  The only person who testified in opposition of any of the bills was Deputy House Majority Whip, Claire Rouillard, who stated on Tuesday before the House Commerce sub-committee work group session,  “NH’s doing great with breastfeeding, we don’t need this bill.”     

Even though the NH House Commerce Committee had all the information they needed to pass a strong bill, they couldn’t come to an agreement.  Issues and concerns were addressed with information provided regarding enforcement measures and current Federal laws.  This week the committee asked questions they had asked a year ago,  as if an agreement hadn’t been reached as evidenced in their 19-1 vote of ‘ought to pass’ last fall.  Why was SB 219 taken off the consent calendar and tabled?  House leadership submarined that effort at the last second, for reasons known only to them. I was disappointed with yesterday’s result, but perhaps next year will bring new leadership and a new opportunity, said House Representative Bart Fromuth, R, who also serves on the Commerce Committee. 

Senator Fuller Clark and House Representative Fromuth both tried to save the bills accommodations content by bringing forth amendments on Tuesday, but they were all voted down.  

Martha Fuller Clark and two momsPictured Above:  Senator Martha Fuller Clark attends a breastfeeding awareness event at the State House 

Advocates and some legislators aren’t happy that most of the provisions of the proposed bill were scuttled but, instead of letting the bill get killed, decided to support passage of the Advisory Council, the only provision that most agreed upon with a vote of 18 to 2.  Kary Jencks, a New Boston working mother and Executive Director of NH Citizens Alliance for Action has been the lead advocacy group coordinating communications amongst the others and has supported each bills strongest amendment.    

Breastfeeding AwarenessPictured Above:  Kary Jencks takes a knee to Stand with Women, alongside Senator Jeb Bradley, Senator Martha Fuller Clark, representatives from US Senator Shaheen and US Senator Ayotte’s offices and numerous other advocacy organizations and individuals.  

 


Please see Public Service Announcement Video – Breastfeeding Awareness Event at the NH State House

http://scottbarberfilm.com/big-latch-on

To learn more about SB 488 or to get help with requesting reasonable accommodations, go to The Rustik Baby Project at www.RustikEvents.com.   

Kate Frederick is the Founder of The Rustik Baby Project and President of the NH Breastfeeding Rights Coalition.  She was fired due to requesting accommodations for pregnancy and lactation when her infant was 2.5 months old.  Now a toddler, her son continues to breastfeed as recommended by the World Health Organization.  

 

GOP Gubernatorial Candidates To Push ‘Right To Work’ On NH Once Again

Right To Work is Wrong for NH

As Yogi Berra once put it, “It’s like Déjà vu, all over again.”

The Republican Gubernatorial primary candidates just showed how out of touch they are with working families. WMUR reported this week at all of the GOP candidates for New Hampshire’s Governor came out in strong in support of the so-called Right To Work legislation.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas told WMUR that, “we voted for Right to Work when I was in the Senate, so my position is clear.”

State Sen. Jeanie Forrester said, “I think it’s a good place for New Hampshire to be, and I would support that if it came forward again.”

Not to be outdone, Executive Councilor Chris Sununu played up Right to Work as a job-creating bill.

“We haven’t brought a major business into the state in over eight years. Right to work is part of it.”

Right to Work laws do nothing but hurt workers and their communities through lower pay, less benefits, less job security, less workplace safety, less, less, less…

These laws are specifically designed to break unions and tear workers down in the never-ending race to the bottom.

In January of this year, PEW released a blistering new report that showed workers in Right to Work states are less likely to have access to retirement plans than workers in free bargaining states.

“Access to workplace retirement plans varies widely across the states,” said John Scott, director of Pew’s retirement savings project. “Recognizing the savings challenge faced by so many Americans, half of the states are looking at their own solutions.”

Pew found that more than 30 million full-time, full-year, private sector workers ages 18 to 64 lack access to an employer-based retirement plan, whether a traditional pension or a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k).

At 2.6%, New Hampshire’s unemployment rate is second in the country behind North Dakota, who is experiencing a boom from newly expanded oil and gas drilling.

Recently, other states have forced their own Right to Work legislation through and what has happened? After passing Right to Work legislation, claiming it would create lots of new jobs, Wisconsin the lost a record 10,000 jobs in 2015.

“We are in the midst of an economic crisis. Wisconsin is hemorrhaging jobs at a rate we haven’t seen since the Great Recession and our middle class is shrinking faster than any other state in the nation,” said Wisconsin Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “Thousands of families are struggling to find a job because the policies being pushed by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans simply aren’t working.”

Policies like Right to Work, are destroying good paying jobs and replacing them with low-wage jobs that continue to hurt working families.

Now the entire Republican Gubernatorial delegation in New Hampshire is campaigning on this failed policy. Granite Staters deserve a leader in the corner office who will stand up for their rights and support collective bargaining that ultimately benefits all workers.

On Equal Pay Day, Kuster Urges Passage of Her Paycheck Fairness Act

Ann kuster head shot LGWashington, DC – On Equal Pay Day, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement urging passage of her bill, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help reduce wage disparities between men and women across the country:

“Today, we celebrate Equal Pay Day – and the notion that every person, male or female, should receive fair compensation for their work,” said Congresswoman Kuster.  “In New Hampshire, women continue to earn 76 cents to every man’s dollar, and far too many women are paid less than their male coworkers for doing the same job. In 2016, this is simply unacceptable. I’ve long urged my colleagues to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill I cosponsored that would help close the gap and level the playing field for female workers and the families who rely on them. Today, I once again call on my colleagues in Congress to swiftly pass this bill into law. We cannot allow any more families to suffer from the realities of unequal pay.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act would institute a number of new safeguards against pay inequity and would provide recourse for individuals who may be experiencing pay discrimination based on gender. It would also prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who share salary information with their coworkers – an important tool for victims of pay discrimination. Congresswoman Kuster is a cosponsor of this legislation, and she has long pushed for its passage.

This morning, Kuster helped commemorated Equal Pay Day by attending a designation ceremony for a new national monument dedicated to honoring women’s equality. The new Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument is located at the iconic Sewall-Belmont House in DC, where members of the historic National Women’s Party met to organize efforts to fight for women’s equality. More information about the monument can be found here.

A strong advocate for paycheck fairness, Kuster believes pay inequity is not just a women’s issue, but a family issue. Since taking office, she’s worked to level the playing field for women and their families, and she’s fought to create equal opportunities for female professionals and women-owned businesses.  For example, Kuster authored a Women’s Economic Agenda, a plan for Congress to prioritize initiatives to reduce pay disparities based on gender and support Granite State women and their families. In her first term in office, Kuster successfully pushed the President to issue executive orders to support fair pay for federally contracted employees. She has also hosted a series of roundtables to hear directly from women business owners and other professionals all across New Hampshire about what more Congress can do to help Granite State women succeed and receive fair pay in the workplace.

On #EqualPayDay, Shaheen Renews Call for Passage of Paycheck Fairness Act

Equal Pay Day, 2016

(Washington, DC) – This afternoon on Equal Pay Day, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) took to the Senate floor to renew her call for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would address the gender pay gap that continues to put female workers and their families at an economic disadvantage. Shaheen has been vocal about the need to address the gender pay gap, which leaves New Hampshire women, who make up nearly half of the state’s working population, earning just 76 cents on the dollar compared to their male counter parts. 

“The American people believe very strongly in fairness, equal treatment, and a level playing field for everyone,” said Shaheen on the Senate floor. “These are core American values.  And that’s why people find it shocking and unacceptable that women in the United States continue to be denied equal pay for equal work.”

“The wage gap is really damaging to the 40 percent of American women who are the sole or primary breadwinner in households with children. For these women, equal pay is not only about fairness, it’s also about providing adequately for their families,” Shaheen continued. “That’s why I strongly support the Paycheck Fairness Act because this legislation would empower women to negotiate for equal pay… This legislation is about basic fairness, it’s about equal treatment.  It is about creating a level playing field in the workplace for our daughters and granddaughters, and for every American.”

Shaheen is an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act and cosponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was signed into law six years ago. The Paycheck Fairness Act would empower women to negotiate for equal pay benefiting the more than 190,000 children in New Hampshire who live in households dependent on their mother’s income. Shaheen also noted that members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team are paid a quarter of the players on the men’s team despite generating more revenue.

 

Shaheen’s full remarks can viewed here.

High Praise From NH’s Elected Leaders After Governor Signs Two-Year Medicaid Reauthorization

Leaders Across the State Applaud Governor’s Signing of Bipartisan Bill Reauthorizing New Hampshire Health Protection Program 

CONCORD – After Governor Maggie Hassan signed today House Bill 1696, bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, stakeholders in the fight against the heroin and opioid crisis from across the state – including law enforcement, fire fighters, advocates, the medical community, local officials and business leaders – applauded the work of the Governor and members from both parties:

“The New Hampshire Health Protection Program is critical to helping law enforcement stem the tide of the heroin and opioid epidemic. Renewing this vital program ensures that we can continue to tackle the heroin and opioid crisis with a comprehensive approach that focuses on prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. I thank Governor Hassan for her commitment to renewing this important program.” – Strafford County Sheriff David Dubois 

“As Sheriff, I see the devastating effects of the heroin and opioid crisis every day. The New Hampshire Health Protection Program has been vital in allowing our law enforcement officials to work with treatment and recovery centers to help one of our most vulnerable populations. The reauthorization of this legislation will help us to stem the tide of this epidemic, and I am grateful to Governor Hassan for her work to make this reauthorization a reality.” – Cheshire County Sheriff Eli Rivera

“Each day, fire fighters throughout New Hampshire are on the front lines of combating the heroin and opioid crisis, and it is critical we have every resource available to help in those efforts. Reauthorization of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program is a critical step forward in this fight, as it will help increase access to treatment and prevention programs.  I am grateful Governor Hassan and state legislators were able to work across party lines to get this done for our state.” – Goffstown Fire Chief and New Hampshire Association of Fire Chiefs President Richard O’Brien 

“House Bill 1696 is an important step forward in maintaining access to health care for hard-working New Hampshire residents in a fiscally responsible manner.” – State Representative Joseph Lachance, House Bill 1696 Prime Sponsor 

“Health care costs are commonly cited by our small business members as a challenge to growth. By re-authorizing the NH Health Protection Program through HB1696 not only are we creating healthier communities by ensuring more than 48,000 low-income individuals continue to have access to health care coverage, but we are also taking a positive step to address the health care costs facing small businesses. This program is reducing the uncompensated care costs in our health care system and will put downward pressure on health insurance premiums in the future.” – Mike Skelton, President & CEO, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce 

“Like other illnesses, positive outcomes are more likely to occur for people with mental illness the sooner they get into treatment.  Providing health insurance coverage to close to 50,000 Granite State residents by reauthorizing the NH Health Protection Program will continue to result in many of them seeking out mental health and substance misuse treatment before it becomes a crisis. NAMI NH is deeply appreciative of the bipartisan support of the Legislature and Governor in passing this important piece of legislation.” – Ken Norton, Executive Director, NAMI NH – The National Alliance on Mental Illness 

“Today’s signing of HB 1696 by Governor Hassan represents a continuation of New Hampshire’s commitment to ensure that people suffering from addiction will have access to critically needed treatment and recovery services, and assures substance use disorder treatment providers who want to expand capacity that reimbursement for services provided to thousands of Granite Staters will continue.  The NH Health Protection Program is the most important tool NH has in its fight against the opioid epidemic and more broadly the substance misuse crisis ravaging our state.” – Linda Paquette, Executive Director, New Futures 

“Today, thousands of Granite Staters can rest assured that they will continue to have access to critical substance use treatment and recovery support services. And providers can continue their work to expand treatment and recovery access to individuals and families struggling with the opiate epidemic.” – Tym Rourke, Chair, Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery

“We know that we cannot arrest our way out of the heroin and opioid crisis, and that strengthening prevention, treatment and recovery efforts is critical to a comprehensive approach. The New Hampshire Health Protection Program has provided substance misuse and behavioral health services to thousands of Granite Staters, and its reauthorization will help us increase treatment capacity. The collaboration that made reauthorization possible is a strong example of how we must all work together to combat the heroin and opioid crisis.” – James Vara, Senior Assistant Attorney General, New Hampshire Drug Prosecuting Unity and Incoming Governor’s Advisor on Addiction and Behavioral Health 

“Hospitals applaud the strong, bipartisan efforts from the Governor, Senate and House leadership and stakeholders across the State to reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP) so that the more than 48,000 Granite State residents can continue to count on the private health insurance coverage that is allowing them to get the primary and preventative care they need to become and remain healthy. The NHHPP has successfully reduced the number of uninsured patients seeking care in emergency rooms; reduced the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals to those without insurance; and reduced the cost shift to those with insurance.  It is a significant step forward for patients, providers, businesses and our state’s economy.” – Steve Ahnen, President, New Hampshire Hospital Association 

“I thank Governor Hassan and the legislature for their tireless work to reauthorize the New Hampshire Health Protection Program. Their efforts will enable people in Nashua and across the state to continue to seeking and receiving treatment to achieve recovery from opioid addiction. The success of this bipartisan plan shows again how Governor Hassan and the legislators know how to get things done the Granite State way—by rolling up her sleeves and working across the aisle to find common ground and move the ball forward.” – Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess 

“I applaud Governor Hassan and Senator Woodburn for their tireless efforts to renew the New Hampshire Health Protection Program. The New Hampshire Health Protection Program has been particularly critical to our citizens in Coos County, where the program has helped 1,800 Granite Staters access quality, affordable health insurance. The program also provides vital resources to combat the heroin and opioid crisis in our state, providing access to substance abuse treatment and recovery centers for those who would not be able to afford these services otherwise. Reauthorization will give these families the flexibility to move forward with their lives and in our communities.” – Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier

“I applaud Governor Hassan and the bipartisan coalition of State House Members and Senators whose dedicated efforts made the renewal of our Medicaid Expansion program possible. This vital reauthorization will allow nearly 50,000 of our fellow Granite Staters to keep their health insurance and access the healthcare they need – everything from cancer screenings and preventative care to substance abuse recovery and treatment. Through this program, thousands of Granite Staters have been able to access substance abuse and behavioral health services, and it is an important part of increasing treatment capacity.” – Mayor Dana Hilliard, Somersworth

“Fighting New Hampshire’s devastating opioid and substance abuse crisis is a priority Governor Hassan and I share, and I salute her for her leadership in passing the New Hampshire Health Protection Program to protect access to treatment and recovery for tens of thousands of Granite Staters. Her hard work and careful stewardship of this bill will save lives by renewing health insurance for nearly 50,000 people across our state and improving access to substance abuse treatment for many more.” – Keene Mayor Kendall Lane

Governor Hassan Signs Bipartisan Legislation Reauthorizing New Hampshire Health Protection Program

maggie hassan signs NHHPP 2NHHPP Providing Nearly 50,000 Hard-Working Granite Staters with Health and Financial Security, Reducing Healthcare Cost-Shifting onto People and Businesses, Playing Critical Role in Combating Heroin and Opioid Crisis 

CONCORD – Continuing her efforts to strengthen the health and financial security of all Granite Staters, Governor Maggie Hassan today signed House Bill 1696, bipartisan legislation that reauthorizes the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP). She was joined for a ceremony at the State House by legislators from both parties, advocates, providers, patients and state employees whose hard work has been critical to the program’s successful implementation.

“Two years ago, we worked together across party lines to establish our bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which was the most significant piece of health care legislation that the State of New Hampshire had seen in decades,” Governor Hassan said. “And today, thanks to the hard work and bipartisan efforts of all of you, we are taking another historic step forward by reauthorizing this critical health care expansion program.

“It is clear that expansion is strengthening the health and financial security of our citizens, and we know that reauthorization is also critical to our businesses, to our economy and to the ongoing battle with substance misuse,” Governor Hassan said. 

Through NHHPP, nearly 50,000 hard-working Granite Staters have the peace of mind and security that come with quality, affordable health insurance. With more New Hampshire citizens now receiving health insurance since the bipartisan healthcare expansion plan was adopted, hospitals continue to see a reduction in inpatient, outpatient and emergency department visits from uninsured Granite Staters and uncompensated care continues to decline, which reduces healthcare cost-shifting onto all of New Hampshire’s citizens and businesses. 

As the state continues to battle the heroin and opioid crisis, NHHPP has provided thousands of Granite Staters with substance misuse and behavioral health services. Experts have said that the program’s reauthorization is essential to expanding treatment capacity in New Hampshire.

The state has also seen an increase in revenues from the insurance premium tax and is beginning to see cost-savings elsewhere thanks to preventive and primary care and other benefits covered by expansion. Combined, these measures are expected to save taxpayers a total of 29 million dollars in avoided costs over the next biennium. House Bill 1696 reauthorizes the program for two additional years.  

“Unlike Washington, we have shown time and again that we are capable of engaging with each other, putting arguments aside and coming together to solve problems, leading to progress for our businesses and families,” Governor Hassan said. “And thanks to the tireless efforts of all of you and countless others who couldn’t join us today, we were able to put ideology aside and reauthorize this critical program that is strengthening our families, our businesses and our economy. Again, I want to thank everyone who worked together to make today a reality.”

maggie hassan signs NHHPP 1

Worldwide Protests And Strikes In #FightFor15 Scheduled For April 14th

On Eve of Tax Day, Underpaid Workers to Wage Biggest-Ever Global Strikes, Protests as Fight for $15 Turns up Heat

From AFGE in 2015

From AFGE in 2015 

Protests Planned in Record 300 U.S. Cities, 40 Countries, on Six Continents

Fast-Food, Home Care, Child Care, Higher Ed, Manufacturing Workers to Protest Against Low Pay, Tax Avoidance by Companies

Workers Across the Service Economy Zero in on McDonald’s Role in Undercutting Pay for Everyone

Momentum Builds off $15 wins in CA, PA, Showing Power of Workers Organizing 

WORLDWIDE – Days after millions of workers in California and thousands in Pennsylvania won historic pay increases to $15/hr and amidst ongoing negotiations for $15/hr for millions more in New York, the unstoppable momentum for $15 and union rights continued to build as underpaid workers across the globe said they would wage the biggest-ever day of strikes and protests on April 14.

Fast-food workers will go on strike in a record 300 cities and tens of thousands of underpaid workers—including home care, child care and higher education workers—will lead hundreds of protests from Manchester, NH to Memphis, Tenn. to Marina Del Rey, Calif. Around the world, workers will join in, with protests expected in more than 40 countries on six continents. 

Who’s the Real Problem?

American families are being forced to scrape by because big corporations are ripping off workers, ripping off taxpayers, and ripping off communities. To get richer and richer, big corporations manipulate the rules to avoid paying fair wages and their fair share of taxes, forcing working people and taxpayers to foot the bill. As a result, workers and communities are being starved of the money needed to build a bright future, and left with impossible choices over how to care for their children and elderly parents and how to meet their basic expenses.  

The workers’ protests, timed to hit just before Tax Day, will zero in on McDonald’s, highlighting how the world’s second-largest employer and the industry leader in the fast food and service economies is driving a race to the bottom that is undercutting wages across the economy and resulting in nearly 64 million workers being paid less than $15. The workers will also highlight how McDonald’s tax avoidance around the globe hurts governments, workers, taxpayers and consumers. 

“McJobs cost us all,” said Brenda Lozada, a home care worker from Aurora, Colo. who is paid just $11/hr after 12 years on the job. “McDonald’s is holding everyone back, not just fast-food workers. The company influences pay, how people are treated at work and how people run businesses, both large and small. The Fight for $15 isn’t just about fast-food workers getting higher pay. It’s about workers in every industry, all over the world being held back because of McDonald’s desire to make bigger profits.” 

Fast-food, home care, child care, university, airport, retail, building service and other workers will demand McDonald’s change its business model and use its massive economic power to lift up working families across the globe instead of dragging them down. 

“There are undocumented immigrant mothers in my city who work hard and pay taxes, but McDonald’s, America’s second-largest employer, does not pay its fair share,” said Rolanda McMillan, who has worked at McDonald’s in Richmond, Va. for four years. “McDonald’s cheats its workers, pays the bare minimum and dodges taxes despite making billions in profits and paying out millions to top executives. Meanwhile, workers can’t afford child care for our kids and grandkids. That’s just wrong.” 

The announcement comes as workers fighting for $15 and union rights prepare to go on strikeWednesday night and Thursday at eight airports across the country and as fast-food workers in Chicago calling for $15 and union rights prepare to walk off their jobs Friday. The Chicago workers will join with striking teachers to highlight how low pay forces fast-food workers’ to rely on food stamps and other public assistance programs—money that could be spent on schools. Members of the California Faculty Association who are demanding a 5% raise are also expected to be on strike April 14—on all 23 campuses of the state university system— in what would be the largest higher education strike in U.S. history. 

“Fast-food workers may have started this movement, but now the Fight for $15 is for everyone because it’s about a living wage for all,” said Michael O’Bryan, an adjunct at Washington University in St. Louis. “Our momentum is unstoppable. Our movement proves that when workers in all industries come together and speak out, we produce real change.” 

The Choices We Face

Because of the wage and tax schemes of greedy corporations like McDonald’s, workers, consumers and taxpayers face a series of impossible choices. American workers aren’t paid enough to afford child care and we don’t have the public resources we need to fund quality child care programs; people who provide critical home care and nursing home care for seniors and persons with disabilities can’t afford to take care of themselves, and we can’t provide access to quality long-term care for the growing number of Americans who need it; and adjunct professors and other faculty who educate our young people at public universities can barely make ends meet, while the schools themselves are starved for funding, putting higher education out of reach for too many people. 

Workers chose April 14 – the day before Tax Day – to emphasize that McDonald’s low wages force more than half the company’s workers to rely on public assistance, costing U.S. taxpayers more than $1 billion every year. In addition, the company’s manipulation of loopholes and offshore schemes to avoid taxes means there is less money for child care, health care and public universities.

Industrywide, low pay forces more than half of fast-food workers to rely on public assistance to support their families, costing taxpayers $7 billion a year. And across the economy, nearly three-quarters of people aided by public assistance are members of a family headed by a worker, costing taxpayers more than $150 billion.  

“McDonald’s matters to everyone, because it hurts just about everyone,” said Kimmie DeVries, a child care worker from Kansas City, Mo. “Its influence is huge, but instead of using its global scale to support good jobs and lift pay, McDonald’s uses its enormous footprint for just the opposite. When McDonald’s pays workers as little as it possibly can, it pushes wages down throughout the service sector, making it impossible for workers across the economy to get ahead.” 

The effects of low pay reach deep. Earlier this month, Burger King worker and Fight for $15 member Jeffrey Pendleton was found dead in a New Hampshire jail cell. He had been arrested on a minor marijuana possession charge, and was held because he could not afford $100 bail. In USA Today, his co-worker Andy Fontaine wrote, “We may not yet know the cause of death, but we do know this: Jeffrey might be alive if he had been able to afford justice in our society. And his death tragically illustrates that the lives of black men caught up in our criminal justice system matter far less than they should.”

The Fight for $15 is dedicating the April 14strike to Pendleton, a vocal proponent for higher pay and union rights, who participated in the first-ever fast-food strike in New Hampshire last month.

Workers in California, Pennsylvania Win Historic Raises; New York Could be Next

The April 14 strike comes on the heels of an unprecedented series of pay increases this week, with workers in California winning $15/hr and the largest employer in Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, announcing it will pay workers $15/hr. Negotiations around $15 in New York are ongoing.  

With wins piling up across the country, the Fight for $15 is building a growing awareness that $15/hr is the minimum wage level American workers in every part of the country need to survive and pay for the necessities to support their families. And the workers in the Fight for $15 are demonstrating the power of coming together in an organization to fight for higher pay. 

“There has never been a stronger case for why workers need an organization to help them improve their lives,” said Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry. “Millions of people are being lifted out of poverty because workers joined together and acted like a union.”

Cities including Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have raised their minimum wage to $15/hr. And home care workers in Massachusetts and Oregon won $15/hr statewide minimum wages. Companies including Facebook, Aetna, Amalgamated Bank, and Nationwide Insurance have raised pay to $15/hr or higher; and workers in nursing homes, public schools and hospitals have won $15/hr via collective bargaining.

The Democratic Party adopted a $15/hr platform, the Democratic candidates for president have lined up in support of the workers in the Fight for $15, and elected leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Kristen Gillibrand back a $15/hr federal minimum wage. It’s a far cry from the situation when the campaign started—when discourse on the economy was limited to talk of debt and deficits and two lone Democrats in Congress (former Sen. Tom Harkin and former U.S. Rep. George Miller) were the only ones brave enough to even call for $10.10/hr. 

Slate wrote that the Fight for $15 has completely “rewired how the public and politicians think about wages; the New York Times declared that “$15 could become the new, de facto $7.25;” and the Washington Post said that $15/hr has “gone from almost absurdly ambitious to mainstream in the span of a few years.”

It all started on Nov. 29, 2012, when 200 New York City McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC cooks and cashiers walked off their jobs, demanding $15/hr and union rights, in what theNew York Times called, “the biggest wave of job actions in the history of the fast-food industry.” Few gave the workers a chance, but their calls for higher pay caught on and spread across the country. Within months, workers walked off their jobs in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Milwaukee, sowing the seeds of a national movement that would eventually spread beyond fast food to workers in home care, child care, higher education and other industries. 

McDonald’s Under Fire on Both Sides of the Atlantic

The movement is also gaining momentum overseas, as workers across the globe are increasingly joining together to hold McDonald’s accountable. Workers in 40 countries on six continents are expected to protest at McDonald’s restaurants on April 14, with marches in cities ranging from Sao Paolo to Seoul and London to Lagos. 

The global protests come as McDonald’s is facing scrutiny by federal regulators from South America to Europe. Late last year, the European Commission opened an investigation into McDonald’s following allegations by trade unions and NGOs that the company has dodged more than one billion euros in taxes since 2009. In January, Italian consumer groups filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission, alleging exorbitant rents and onerous contracts thrust upon franchisees give the company an unfair advantage.

In March, Brazilian prosecutors said they were investigating alleged “fiscal and economic crimes” committed by McDonald’s, including suspected tax avoidance and violations of Brazil’s franchise and competition laws. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the federal governmentcontinues to prosecute its case against the company for violating federal labor laws, charging both McDonald’s and its franchisees with illegally threatening, intimidating, firing and otherwise retaliating against workers who had joined together in the Fight for $15.

Changing the Debate 

The strike also comes as workers have made $15 and union rights a hot button political issue in the race for the White House. Everywhere candidates go this primary season, workers in the Fight for $15 have followed closely behind, forcing White House hopefuls to address the demands of the nearly 64 million Americans paid less than $15/hr.

Ahead of debates in cities like Milwaukee, Detroit, Flint, Miami, Houston, and Charleston, fast-food workers went on strike for $15 and union rights and marched on the debates, calling on candidates to “come get our vote.” The massive protests forced candidates on both sides of the aisle to address workers’ growing calls for higher pay and union rights. On four occasions in the debates, candidates were pressed by moderators to respond to workers in the Fight for $15, including in November, when the first question directed at GOP candidates asked them to respond to the demands of fast-food workers outside the Milwaukee Theatre demanding $15/hr and union rights. 

The New York Times and USA Today both warned candidates who ignore the growing movement that they do so “at their own peril.” Meanwhile, the Associated Press said underpaid workers are flexing, “increasingly potent political muscle,” and that they have “made low wages a hot political issue; and BuzzFeed said they “could make up a powerful new voting bloc.”

A recent poll of workers paid less than $15/hour commissioned by the National Employment Law Project showed that 69% of unregistered voters would register to vote if there were a candidate who supported $15/hour and a union; and that 65% of registered voters paid less than $15/hour would be more likely to vote if there were a candidate who supported $15/hour and a union. That’s 48 million potential voters paid less than $15 who could turn out if there were candidates who backed higher pay and union rights.

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