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Enough is enough!

Smashed Piggy Bank Retirement

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

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

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

Here are the facts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enough is enough!

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

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

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

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

NH Sierra Club Endorses 84 Candidates for State Office

2014 NH Sierra Club Environmental Champions

Environmental Champions Praised

2014 NH Sierra Club Environmental ChampionsCONCORD, NH—The New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club has released its list of carefully selected candidates running for Executive Council, State Senate and State House of Representatives. The Chapter endorsements include 70 NH State Representatives, 11 State Senators, and 3 Executive Councilors. Of the total 84 endorsed candidates, each has expressed concern for the New Hampshire environment, protecting our beautiful landscapes, and the impact of pollution on human health.

“We are very pleased to announce today that the New Hampshire Sierra Club officially endorses for election these Environmental Champions,” said Jim Allmendinger, the Political Committee Co-Chair for the New Hampshire Sierra Club.

“These candidates are our best hope for preserving clean air and clean water; protecting the wild places of New Hampshire; and all of the local businesses that benefit from our abundant environmental wealth,” continued Allmendinger. “The incumbents worked hard to un-do former House Speaker O’Brien’s radical conservative agenda that dismantled smart, popular energy programs and threatened other successful state programs. The new candidates showed their support for key environmental issues facing the state, using creative problem solving techniques, not business as usual political games.”

“New Hampshire Sierra Club endorsed these candidates based on responses to an in-depth questionnaire, voting record, and history of environmental involvement. The New Hampshire Sierra Club endorsement list will be distributed to the members in the state online and in the mail. Members will be encouraged to volunteer and support the various campaigns in a vigorous state-wide member to member outreach program.”

Executive Council Candidates

District 3: Robin McLane, New Castle

District 4: Chris Pappas, Manchester

District 5: Diane Sheehan, Nashua

State Senate Candidates

District 1: Jeff Woodburn, Dalton

District 2: Carolyn Mello, Holderness

District 3: John White, Wolfeboro Falls

District 4: David Watters, Dover

District 6: Richard Leonard, New Durham

District 8: Linda Tanner, Georges Mills

District 10: Molly Kelly, Keene

District 12: Peggy Gilmore, Hollis

District 15: Dan Feltes, Concord

District 17: Nancy Fraher, Chichester

District 21: Martha Fuller Clark, Portsmouth

State House Candidates

Belknap  District 3 — Thomas W. Dawson (Laconia)

Carroll District 7 — Edward A. Butler (Hart’s Location)

Cheshire District 1 — Paul Berch (Westmoreland)

Cheshire District 9 — Douglas Ley (Jaffrey)

Cheshire District 14 — Patricia Martin (Rindge)

Cheshire District 15 — Dick Thackston (Troy)

Coos District 5 — John E. Tholl, Jr. (Whitefield)

Grafton District 8 — Suzanne Smith (Hebron)

Grafton District 9 — Judy Wallick (Grafton)

Grafton District 11 — Chuck Townsend (Canaan)

Grafton District 13 — Richard Abel (Lebanon)

Grafton District 15 — Terri Mertz (Piermont)

Hillsborough District 4 — Carol R. Roberts (Wilton)

Hillsborough District 7 — Brendon S. Browne (Bedford)

Hillsborough District 16 — David McCloskey (Manchester)

Hillsborough District 17 — Timothy J. Smith (Manchester)

Hillsborough District 19 — Bob Backus (Manchester)

Hillsborough District 21 — Dick Bean (Merrimack)

Hillsborough District 21 — Brenda E. Grady (Merrimack)

Hillsborough District 21 — Jo Ann Rotast (Merrimack)

Hillsborough District 26 — Melanie Levesque (Brookline)

Hillsborough District 26 — Gale Taylor (Brookline)

Hillsborough District 28 — Sylvia E. Gale (Nashua)

Hillsborough District 28 — Jan Schmidt (Nashua)

Hillsborough District 28 — Thomas D. Woodward (Nashua)

Hillsborough District 29 — Suzanne Harvey (Nashua)

Hillsborough District 29 — Suzanne M. Vail (Nashua)

Hillsborough District 31 — David E. Cote (Nashua)

Hillsborough District 37 — Jeremy Muller (Hudson)

Hillsborough District 37 — Kevin P. Riley (Hudson)

Hillsborough District 37 — Eric P. Estevez (Pelham)

Hillsborough District 38 — Richard D. McNamara (Hillsborough)

Hillsborough District 45 — Sean M. Burns (Manchester)

Merrimack District 2 — Scott A. Burns (Franklin)

Merrimack District 3 — Leigh A. Webb (Franklin)

Merrimack District 3 — Deborah H. Wheeler (Northfield)

Merrimack District 6 — Barbara C. French (Henniker)

Merrimack District 10 — Mel Myler (Hopkinton)

Merrimack District 20 — Richard W. DeBold (Chichester)

Merrimack District 25 — David Karrick (Warner)

Merrimack District 26 — Lorrie J. Carey (Boscawen)

Merrimack District 28 — Katherine D. Rogers (Concord)

Merrimack District 29 — Nancy L. Heath (Epsom)

Rockingham District 2 — Hal Rafter (Nottingham)

Rockingham District 6 — Mary L. Till (Derry)

Rockingham District 8 — Camron Iannalfo (Salem)

Rockingham District 8 — Dennis Iannalfo (Salem)

Rockingham District 9 — Barbara S. Helmstetter (Epping)

Rockingham District 14 — Harlan Cheney (Atkinson)

Rockingham District 14 — Jean Sanders (Atkinson)

Rockingham District 19 — C. David London (Stratham)

Rockingham District 21 — Robert R. Cushing (Hampton)

Rockingham District 30 — Jackie Cali-Pitts (Portsmouth)

Rockingham District 31 — Tamara Le (North Hampton)

Rockingham District 32 — Maureen R. Mann (Deerfield)

Rockingham District 33 — George Manos (Danville)

Rockingham District 33 — Steven J. Woitkun (Danville)

Strafford District 1 — Larry Brown (Milton)

Strafford District 1 — Candace Cole-McCrea (Milton)

Strafford District 2 — Martin G. Laferte (Farmington)

Strafford District 6 — Timothy Horrigan (Durham)

Strafford District 6 — Marjorie K. Smith( Durham)

Strafford District 6 — Janet G. Wall (Madbury)

Strafford District 14 — Bill Baber (Dover)

Strafford District 16 — Len DiSesa (Dover)

Strafford District 17 — Peter Bixby (Dover)

Sullivan District 1 — Lee W. Oxenham (Plainfield)

Sullivan District 4 — Larry Converse (Claremont)

Sullivan District 9 — Virginia O’Brien-Irwin (Newport)

Sullivan District 10 — John R. Cloutier (Claremont)

Sullivan District 11 — Linda Wooddell (Charlestown)

Teachers throw support behind Martha Fuller Clark

martha fuller clark campaign

NEA-NH and AFT-NH show solidarity and stand united behind the candidacy of Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth)

martha fuller clark campaign(Portsmouth, NH) The state’s largest teachers’ unions are in solidarity behind Sen. Martha Fuller Clark’s re-election campaign, said Clark’s campaign in a statement released today.

“I’m very grateful to New Hampshire’s teachers for their continued support,” Clark said. “We need to continue to fund and support our public education system until New Hampshire’s schools are the envy of the nation and the world. The surest way to build a durable economy for our future is to educate the workforce that our employers need at all education levels.”

Senator Fuller Clark, whose political career has been marked by a consistent commitment to primary and secondary public education, has long enjoyed the support of New Hampshire’s teachers. In the last legislative session, Clark championed renewed funding for school building aid and introduced the first legislation designed to restore funding to the state’s university and community college systems – efforts that drove the new funding that allowed for tuition freezes and cuts across New Hampshire’s higher education system.

Senator Martha Fuller Clark (D-Dist. 21) is currently serving her eighth year in the Senate after serving in the state’s House of Representatives from 1990 through 2002. Clark was the Democratic nominee for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district in 2000 and again in 2002. Today, Sen. Clark serves as Vice-Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and, as a member of Democratic National Committee; Clark serves on the Resolutions Committee. In 2008 and 2012, she was a co-chair of the NH Committee to elect Barack Obama, a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, and was a member of the United States Electoral College in 2008, when she cast one of New Hampshire’s four electoral votes for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Since 1973, she and her husband, Dr. Geoffrey Clark, have lived in the Portsmouth where they raised their three children, Caleb, Nathaniel, and Anna.

Local Economy PAC Announces “All About Andy” Campaign to Introduce Voters to the Real Andy Sanborn

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 6.47.53 AM

Screen shot 2014-10-22 at 6.47.53 AM

Campaign will educate Senate District 9 voters about Sanborn’s extreme voting record, money ties, and business dealings 

Peterborough, NH – A new campaign dubbed “All About Andy” will use mail, paid advertising, direct voter contact, and online activities to introduce voters across Senate District 9 to the real Andy Sanborn in the run-up to the November 4 election. The campaign and a related microsite, www.allaboutandy.org, were announced this morning by Strong Local Economies NH, a state political committee formed by New Hampshire residents to advance a proactive local economy agenda for New Hampshire.

“Andy Sanborn wants District 9 voters to believe he’s a bipartisan compromiser. But based on his voting record, he’s the most extreme member of the New Hampshire Senate – and votes don’t lie,” said Molly Cowan, chair of Strong Local Economies NH. “When we scored and graded every senator on local economy votes in our Local Economy Report Card, Sanborn earned an F grade and a score of just 27% – far below every other senator, Republican or Democrat.”

The Local Economy Report Card, released in September, found Sanborn voted against helping unemployed people start small businesses, against expanding access to affordable health coverage for 50,000 uninsured New Hampshire residents, and against multiple bills aimed at combating the corruption of the political process by big money that stacks the deck in favor of out-of-state big business interests at the expense of local, home-grown small businesses, among other things. The full report card is available online at: http://bit.ly/NHLocalEconomyReportCard

“Republicans and Democrats across District 9 are joining in opposition to Sanborn not only because of his failing grades on local economy issues, but also because of serious questions about his values and his judgment raised by his financial ties and business dealings,” Cowan said. “The ‘All About Andy’ campaign will highlight these questions and bring a reality check to Sanborn’s claims about bipartisanship. Because in reality, the only thing that’s bipartisan about Andy Sanborn is his opposition.”

Follow the “All About Andy” campaign sponsored by Strong Local Economies NH here:

Website: www.allaboutandy.org

Twitter: www.twitter.com/LocalEconomyNH

Facebook: www.facebook.com/StrongLocalEconomiesNH

Linda Tanner A Real Candidate For Working Families

Linda Tanner NH Senate Candidate District 8

One of the goals of the NH Labor News is to help Granite Staters get to know the candidates who are running for office in New Hampshire. We focus on candidates who support working families, particularly those candidates who are working to rebuild the middle class and strengthen our rights as workers.

This week’s focus is on State Senate District 8 candidate Linda Tanner.

Linda Tanner NH Senate Candidate District 8
Background Information for Rep. Linda Tanner

Linda is longtime community activist, teacher, and coach. Linda has dedicated her entire life to helping others and improving her community. For over 30 years as a teacher and coach at Kearsarge Regional High School, Linda worked tirelessly to help her students succeed in and out of the classroom. During her career at Kearsarge, she served as a Department Chair, worked with the School to Work program and developed a state championship tennis program. She was honored by the NH Interscholastic Athletic Association for her years of service and elected to the NH Coaches Hall of Fame for Girls Tennis. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education from East Stroudsburg University and her Masters from Dartmouth College. In 2012 she was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives from Sullivan County, District 9.

 

As a public school teacher, were you involved with your local union?

I was president of my local association, the Kearsarge Regional Education Association for three terms. I participated on many negotiation teams, worked with members on issues at the local level, and worked with management towards better working conditions. I am a lifetime member of the NEA NH and have their endorsement for this campaign.

 

As a former teacher, I am sure you have a lot to say about the current public education system. Can you give me two things you would like to see changed?  And are these changes that you can enact from the NH Senate?

Public education has been under attack by those who would privatize education, eliminate compulsory education, and eliminate teachers’ unions. I ran for my House seat because I wanted to stop these political maneuvers that were undermining what, I feel, is the most valuable institution for maintaining democracy.

I think there is a great deal we could do to promote and fund our public education system in New Hampshire. I definitely feel the move from the punitive No Child Left Behind to the Common Core is a move that will help students. The Common Core sets standards but does not dictate pedagogy, deals with progress instead of achievement or failure and is the right course towards improvement and consistency. Just like other programs, it needs to be tweaked and re-visited. I would like to see educators who are working in the schools as teachers have a larger input into programs and initiatives.

As a high school teacher, I worked with a school-to-work program for the average student to encourage them towards further education and give some basic instruction in job skills. I taught Health Occupations Co-op for several years. I feel this is a very valuable program that should be expanded to teach not only content but job skills such as being on time, being able to speak to people, shake hands, show respect for co-workers and your product.  Recently I visited the Job Corps Training facility in Vermont. We are currently building a facility in Manchester. This type of program, which targets low income youth, is vital to providing vocational training in a setting that also emphasizes those job skills. It gives an opportunity for young people to better their position and at the same time provide workers for key jobs in our State.

As a Senator I will work to help New Hampshire schools become a model system that supports innovation, is relevant to the world of work and careers, and maintains rigorous standards for all school children.

 

You are running for the NH Senate Seat in District 8 that is currently held by Sen. Bob Odell. In what ways are you similar or different from Sen. Odell?

I found my voting aligned in many areas with Senator Odell.  I voted to repeal the death penalty, expand Medicaid, and deal with the issues around the Medical Enhancement Tax. However, Senator Odell voted against returning the period for teachers to be fired without cause or hearing from 5 to 3 years, voted against medical marijuana, and voted for the repeal of automatic continuation requirement for public employees’ collective bargaining agreements. These are three examples of bills he opposed that I would have supported.

IMG_0067This Senate seat has been, under Senator Odell, a moderate vote in a 13 to 11 Republican majority. My election to the seat will balance the parties at 12 all, which would make a major shift – especially on Labor issues. Medicaid expansion has a clause that requires renewal during this next session. Both Republican candidates have stated that they will try to repeal the Medicaid expansion, fight ‘Obama Care,’ and make NH a ‘Right to Work State’ as a priority. If either of the candidates opposing me wins this seat: Medicaid will be repealed, leaving thousands without medical insurance; and ‘Right to Work” for less will be passed along with other legislation that will hurt working men and women.

 

The current minimum wage is $7.25 and the GOP-led legislature repealed the NH Minimum Wage law. What would you do as Senator to help push NH toward a real living wage? Last year, one proposal was to raise the state minimum wage over two years to $9.00/hour. Do you think $9.00 is the right number? Or do you think it should be $10.10 as the POTUS is pushing, or even higher? 

First, we need to reinstate a NH Minimum wage that was repealed under the Republican leadership of Speaker O’Brien. I served on the House Labor Committee in this past term. The bill that was introduced should be reintroduced in this next term. This bill offered modest increases over time and originally had a provision for further increases based on economic indicators. I think we need to have a bill that will pass both The House and Senate. I hope to be one of those Senators to move this piece of legislation forward.

Do you have any legislation that you would like to see or have ideas on proposing if you are elected?  

I want to defend against the so called ‘right to work’ bills. If those bills pass it will let non-union workers benefit from our hard work in negotiations without paying their fair share. It’s a union-busting tactic.

I want to ensure fairness in workers’ compensation laws for those hurt on the job – so if they can’t work, they will still be able to keep their homes and survive. At the same time, I want to see how we can reduce the rate for employers. I want to establish a minimum wage and increase it above the present $7.25 so everyone has the dignity of a decent wage. I want to protect workers from pay cards and title loans that are stripping away hard earned money with excessive fees and astronomical interest rates. I want to offer solutions for the current lack of affordable and accessible elderly and work force housing.

 

If you could pick one issue from your campaign to highlight, what issue would that be?  

I am a person who is running for this Senate seat not to be someone special or advance a radical agenda but to work on legislation that will help the working men and women of this State. I taught for 35 years in the NH public schools and over that time, you see the communities, the State, through the lives of your students. I know the successes, the struggles, and the heartbreaking issues many of our citizens face. I want to be their voice in the Legislature.

 

Why should the labor community support your campaign?  

I am a lifelong union member. As a teacher for 35 years and continuing through retirement, I have been a member of the National Education Association. During my years at Kearsarge Regional High School, I was President of my local for three terms. I served on many negotiations and collective bargaining teams working for high quality education, good working conditions, livable salaries and benefits.  I proudly served as a State Representative for Sullivan County and as a member of the House Labor Committee.  I have the experience, knowledge and the political will to help the working men and women our State.

 

What can people do to help your campaign?

I can’t win this election alone. The opposition is well-funded and as committed to winning this seat as we are. I need your help to win this election. I need your vote and I need you to talk with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to urge them to vote for me. Also, with this large, rural district, we need funds for mailings, ads, and signs. Any amount you can send to us will help us get our message out.

Please see our website lindatanner.org for more information

 

 

 

 

Nashua Legislators Honored For Their Work On “Paycheck Fairness Bill”

Nashua Paycheck Fairness Legislators

Nashua Area Legislators Honored for Their Work to Secure Equal Pay in New Hampshire with Passage of NH Paycheck Fairness Act; Advocates Call for Congress to Follow New Hampshire’s Lead

Nashua Paycheck Fairness Legislators & Supporters New law provides all employees with tools to combat wage discrimination; appreciation event highlighted Nashua legislators who led way and called on Congress to follow

NASHUA, NH – Nashua area State Senators and Representatives were honored for their work to advance the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act during a ceremony at the Nashua City Hall Plaza on Thursday, July 31st.

Senator Peggy Gilmour, Senator Bette Lasky, and State Representatives Melanie Levesque, Sylvia Gale, Jan Schmidt, Mariellen MacKay, Cindy Rosenwald, Pamela Brown, David Cote, Marty Jack, Mary Gorman, Suzanne Vail, and Mary Ann Knowles all received certificates of appreciation during an event celebrating the passage of SB 207 and HB 1188, which combined to form the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. Governor Maggie Hassan signed the act into law earlier this month; the law officially takes effect starting January 1, 2015. All area State Senators and Representatives who supported the NH Paycheck Fairness Act were invited.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who worked full time earned, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar men earned. The figures are even worse for women of color: African American women earned only approximately 64 cents and Latinas only 54 cents for each dollar earned by a white male.

Statements from Elected Official Speakers:

Nashua Paycheck Fairness Legislators“The Paycheck Fairness Act will eliminate loopholes, increase transparency in wages, and ensure that all workers have the appropriate tools and resources to help them earn a fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation,” said State Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua), bill co-sponsor.

“This law builds on the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and provides stronger protections such as ensuring non-retaliation for employees who discuss their wages, and remedies to address pay inequity,” said State Senator Peggy Gilmour (D-Nashua), bill co-sponsor.

“On behalf of myself and my fellow legislators, I am honored to receive this token of appreciation for the long hours and hard work we put in to passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. No woman or her family should ever receive less than equal pay for equal work,” said State Rep. Mary Ann Knowles (D-Hudson), bill co-sponsor.

“This law will help protect all families. We know that when pay discrimination happens to anyone, that the individual, their spouse, and their children all suffer the ramifications of lower salaries, decreased benefits, and small retirements.  New Hampshire has taken an important step toward lessening that possibility,” said State Rep. Jan Schmidt (D-Nashua).

Statements from Event Host Organizations:

State Rep. Cindy Rosenwald Receives Certificate of Appreciation for Paycheck Fairness Work

State Rep. Cindy Rosenwald Receives Certificate of Appreciation for Paycheck Fairness Work (Left to right) Deidre Reynolds, Rep Rosenwald, Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Caitlin Rollo

“In America, we value hard work and initiative. The Paycheck Fairness Act honors that American tradition by taking steps to eliminate pay discrimination and inequality in the workplace. We appreciate the work of our local legislators to make this law a reality,” said OFA Volunteer State Coordinator Deidre Reynolds.

“Ensuring equal pay for equal work is integral to the economic security of individuals and families. On behalf of our coalition, we commend these legislators for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and for their continued efforts to build a New Hampshire that works for all of us,” said Kary Jencks, executive director of NH Citizens Alliance for Action.

While the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act passed with bi-partisan support, efforts at the federal level have stalled.

“New Hampshire passed a bipartisan paycheck fairness bill that will protect women and their families, now it’s time for Congress to follow our lead,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Everyone should support equal pay for equal work. We call on our entire Congressional delegation to take a strong stand in support of paycheck fairness.”

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster are all co-sponsors of the federal Paycheck Fairness Act. U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte voted against the Senate measure in April, blocking the bill from moving forward.

Beware Of The Free Staters Running For Office

NHLN Logo .jpg

In case you missed it, the Nashua Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1tJQE9j) and the Concord Monitor (http://bit.ly/1tJQPRU) both ran an Op-Ed written by me, about the Free State Project and Dan Hynes a “Free State Mover” who is running for the NH Senate in Merrimack, Amherst, and Milford.

Here is an excerpt from the Op-Ed. Please visit one of these two site to read the full editorial.

You see, New Hampshire is the focus of a unique political experiment, started in 2001 by then-Yale University doctoral student Jason Sorens. His idea was to get 20,000 activists to move to a single state with a small population and an easily-accessible government.

As he said in his introduction to The Free State Project: “Once we’ve taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day. Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them. Once we’ve accomplished these things, we can bargain with the national government over reducing the role of the national government in our state. We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this.”

Snowplowing? Bridge safety? An adequately-funded judicial system? Public colleges? These things are nowhere on the Free Staters’ priority list.

Free Staters – at least those in Keene – seem more interested in marijuana and videotaping the city’s parking enforcement officers.

Senator D’Allesandro Announces Reelection; Endorsed by Manchester Fire Fighters and Patrolman’s Associations

Sen D'Allesandro with Manchester Fire Fighters and PFF-NH President Lang.  (Image from Facebook)
Sen D'Allesandro with Manchester Fire Fighters and PFF-NH President Lang.  (Image from Facebook)

Sen D’Allesandro with Manchester Fire Fighters and PFF-NH President Lang. (Image from Facebook)

State Senator Lou D’Allesandro was introduced by David Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire. He was joined by other firefighters who came to show their support for the Senator. “Senator D’Allesandro has always stood for fire fighters and for working families. His passionate commitment to a safer New Hampshire has never wavered. His strong voice continues to be a champion for fire fighters in Manchester and Goffstown, and all over New Hampshire. We are honored to call Senator D’Allesandro a true friend, and we are committed to his re-election to the New Hampshire Senate,” stated Lang.

The Manchester Patrolman’s Association also came in force. President Ken Chamberlain said a few words as he was accompanied by other police officers of the Manchester Police Department. “Senator D’Allesandro is an advocate for law enforcement and public safety at the State House in Concord as well as here in Manchester.  He has always fought for legislation that would increase the safety of first responders and the general public.  He was there and continues to be there with the Dan Doherty Bill which extends workers compensation benefits to first responders who suffer permanent soft tissue injuries.  The list just goes on and on with examples of what Senator Lou D’Allesandro’s record shows he has done to support New Hampshire’s first responders as well as making New Hampshire a safe state to raise a family.  It is my honor to give Senator Lou D’Allesandro the endorsement of the Manchester Police Patrolman’s Association for his re-election to the New Hampshire Senate.”

Senator D’Allesandro stated, “It is with great pride that I stand here with the support of those who put their lives on the line every day for every one of us.  I have always had the utmost respect for the Firefighters and Police and look forward to supporting them.  I am happy to have them by my side as I officially kick start my reelection campaign today.”

6-16-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: The Session Comes To A Close, A Look Back At What We Have Done

AFT NH Legislative Update

AFT NH Legislative Update

We succeeded in defeating, once again, the so called “’right to work—for less” bill. Over the past two years hundreds of NH citizens voiced opposition to this bill with only a handful of people speaking in support. This attack on working people like you is led by out of state interests such as the National Right to Work Committee and ALEC.

We succeeded in defeating a bill that would have permitted audio and video recording of a public official while in the course of performing his or her official duties. All employees, both public and private, should have a reasonable understanding that when they are performing their jobs that they are not intimidated or harassed and should have a safe working environment.

We succeeded in passing a bill relative to the filing with a registry of deeds of a fraudulent document purporting to create a lien or claim against real property. As public employees just wanting to do our jobs we should not have to worry that someone unhappy with us could go the county’s Register of Deeds and file a million dollar false claim against your property.

We succeeded in defeating retirement legislation that would hurt public employees even more that the bad legislation passed by the Republicans in the 2010-2011 sessions. AFT-NH believes that:

  • Security in retirement is something every worker deserves after a long, successful career in public service. These workers, after dedicating their working life to educating children, enforcing the law, fighting fires and helping our communities run every day, have earned a benefit that must allow them to retire with dignity.
  • The benefit should ensure a predictable cost for the employers and employees, and it should create, and sustain, a high-quality workforce that is attractive to younger workers to invest a lifetime in public service, in turn adding value to the state’s economy.
  • In exchange for a lifetime of service, workers need to rely on defined and predictable retirement security that is protected against inflationary pressures. Their benefit should ensure sound investment options and strategies that will result in post-retirement stability, even against the economic concerns of today.
  • Public sector workers need to be able to look forward to long productive service. Retirement security should be defined through investments and contributions made over a long-term investment horizon.
  • Instead of encouraging the idea that working for the public sector is less valuable than working for the private sector, New Hampshire’s retirement system benefit for public workers should set a standard, and be something larger employers in New Hampshire should emulate.
  • Public service should be viewed as a respectful vocation; a commitment by workers of service and dedication to their home state. It is service that adds value to the quality of life for NH citizens and visitors. Public service is an investment in New Hampshire and retirement security creates a financial cornerstone of the NH economy.

We were not totally successful with the following but will be advocating for comparable bills to pass in the upcoming session.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased transparency within charter schools. We need laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voices in school policies and programs, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds by charter schools in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools.

AFT-NH supported a bill that would make sure we have the necessary resources, staff development and support in moving forward with Common Core and Smarter Balance. If these Standards are to succeed, we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

  • There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice,
  • We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class.
  • We need to provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards.
  • We must ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards.
  • We must communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students.
  • We need to develop best practices and strategies along with providing coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply.
  • We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments.
  • We must make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers.
  • We must be work to align Assessments to Standards indicating mastery of concepts.
  • We must insist that professional development and training in the Standards be offered.
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

To read AFT-NH full statement click here.

AFT-NH supported the passage of SB 322: relative to the renomination of teachers. It is time we move back to supporting our teachers in New Hampshire. Three years is long enough to deny teachers their due process when non-renewed. When decisions with such high stakes are being made, all staff should be given reasons why, and should be given time to improve through an improvement plan.

AFT-NH supported bills that would have increased School Building Aid from the state for local districts. Keep in mind that 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment. We also supported a bill that would lift the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully fund it.

We were not successful in passing our real pension reform bill, SB 364: relative to group II service retirement allowances and relative to establishing a supplemental savings plan in the retirement system. If nothing is done, New Hampshire will be in a situation where 30 years down the road, we are going to have public employees – at the end of a career – eligible to apply for food stamps, and other social services. This puts a strain on working families by forcing our public employees into social services. This is financially irresponsible for New Hampshire and undignified for our public employees.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit AFT-NH.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!

To read the full listing of EDUCATION BILLS click here

To read the full listing of LABOR BILLS click here

To read the full listing of RETIREMENT BILLS click here

To read the full listing of MISCELLANY BILLS click here

Senator Sylvia Larsen Announces Her Retirement From The Senate

sylvia larsen

sylvia larsenCONCORD – Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen announced today that she will not seek re-election this fall to the State Senate. After 20 years in the State Senate, Senator Larsen issued the following statement:

“I have decided to finish my time in this beautiful chamber of the Senate and not run for re-election. I have served for 20 years and look forward to spending more time with a law graduate son in Portland, a newly-married daughter who just moved back to Concord with our new son-in-law, and a retired husband who loves to explore.”

“I still love what can be accomplished through political involvement and I plan to stay involved, just not as a candidate this election. I believe the Senate Democrats are in a strong place to return to the majority after this election and I look forward to seeing a Democratic Senate President when the 2015 session begins.”

“As I look back on my time in the Senate, I thank the people in my district for the trust they have given me through these ten elections that has allowed me to accomplish much of what I came here to do.”

Senator Larsen is particularly proud that:

  • Universal access to public kindergarten is now statewide
  • A constitutional education funding plan is now in place
  • Her proposal for a tax-free college savings plan is now a $10B account that has also funded thousands of low-income student scholarships statewide
  • State has funded renovations at vocational high schools are now reimbursed, where heretofore it was only for new construction
  • A woman’s right to the privacy of her medical decisions has been protected
  • Our state’s domestic violence laws are the strongest in the Nation
  • We have affirmed that equal work deserves equal pay
  • Community treatment for mental health and substance abuse will be enhanced
  • A new women’s prison will finally be built and offer life skills training to the women
  • Affordable health care will finally be available to the low and middle income hard working families of our state

Senator Sylvia Larsen was elected to the State Senate in 1994. She is the Dean of the Senate, the honorary title given to longest serving member. Senator Larsen is the longest serving legislative leader in New Hampshire history. She has served as the Democratic Leader since 2002 and was Senate President from 2006-2010.

“Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen has long been a champion for her district and our state, dedicated to supporting middle class families and keeping New Hampshire’s economy moving forward,” stated Governor Hassan. “Just this past year, her leadership was critical to the passage of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act and our historic, bipartisan health care expansion plan, as she worked across party lines to help strengthen the financial security and health of hard-working Granite State families.

Hassan continued, “I was proud to serve in the Senate with her when she became New Hampshire’s longest serving female Senate President and led the nation’s first legislative body to include a majority of women. During Senator Larsen’s distinguished ten-term career in the Senate, she advanced a variety of important causes that are critical to the well-being of our people and maintaining our status as one of the safest, healthiest and most livable states in the nation. I thank her for her friendship, her dedicated service and her unyielding commitment to the people of New Hampshire.”

“Over the course of her career, Senator Larsen proved to be a tireless advocate for not only her constituents but the entire state of New Hampshire,” said Senator Shaheen. “In fact, her unparalleled commitment to constituent service made her one of the best public servants I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with in Concord. I’ve been honored to call her a friend for many years and I wish her and her family the best as she begins the next chapter of her life.”

“Throughout her distinguished career, Senator Larsen has served the people of her district and the entire Granite State with enthusiasm, intelligence, and compassion,” stated Congresswoman Kuster. “Over the last 20 years, she has demonstrated a deep dedication to public service, and has proven to be an extremely effective lawmaker who fights for the best interests of her constituents. I know she will be greatly missed at the State House. Senator Larsen has also been a wonderful friend to me for many years, and I wish her and her family all the best for the future.”

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