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Strong Labor Opposition To Senate Bill 37 (The bill to restrict collective bargaining in NH)

When you talk about cutting collective bargaining rights for public employees, the labor unions come out in droves.  As they should. Thats why we form unions.  One solid voice to speak for the membership.

Today was no different.  At the committee hearing for Senate Bill 37, “an act relative to management rights under collective bargaining” members and representatives from many of the public sector unions came out in strong opposition to this bill.  To speak against the bill was Kurt Ehrenberg from the NH AFL-CIO. Glen Milner from the Professional Fire Fighters Association (PFF-NH).  James Allmenginger spoke on behalf of NEA-NH. Harriet Spencer spoke on behalf of AFSCME.    Even the unions who were unable to attend, like AFT-NH, submitted written testimony against the bill.

All of the testimony was pretty much the same.  Why are we attacking the collective bargaining process that has worked so well for everyone in New Hampshire for the last forty plus years.

“It guts much of collective bargaining and much of the collective bargaining agreements in existence,” said James Allmenginger,  NEA New Hampshire.

“We see this as an attack on public employees in New Hampshire,” said Kurt Ehrenberg, political and legislative field director for the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

“It is a radical piece of legislation that upsets the apple cart and takes the state back 40 years” said Glen Milner of the PFF-NH

SB37 basically gives all the power to management by making everything ‘management rights’.  This means that the ‘management’ can set all the rules around, evaluations, disciple, layoffs, and much more.   According to Senator Bragdon “all these things is still subject to negotiations”.  If management sets the rules why would they ever need to negotiate about it?

At the hearing it also became more evident who was pushing for this type of restrictive legislation.  The NH School Boards Association was one of the organizations advocating for the this bill. Their ‘concern’ is all about teacher evaluations. They would want more control in creating (and imposing) their version of teacher evaluations.

Norma Love of the Associated Press paraphrased it perfectly when she wrote:

Betsy Miller, executive director of the New Hampshire Association of Counties, said her group supports anything that increases managerial prerogative. The changes — if adopted — would give more authority to managers, she said”

Collective Bargaining works when both sides have something to win and something to loose.   There must be give and take from both sides.  This type of legislation is contrary to the collective bargaining process.

If the NH School Boards Association has an issue with teacher evaluations, they should look at some of the contracts that other cities and towns have passed.  The Nashua Teachers’ Union (AFT), the Rochester Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Hillsboro Federation of Teachers (AFT) negotiated a teacher evaluation as part of their contract.  This allowed the city and the union to compromise on how the process should work.

Even after all of this information today, I am still confused as to why a very moderate Senator Bragdon would be sponsoring this bill?  Sen Bragdon was the former chairman of the Milford School Board (now just a member).  What is the real goal of this legislation?  Is it really about evaluations or is it about layoff procedures (another negotiated process)? Or disciplinary procedures (another negotiated process)?   Only time will tell.

NH Senate President Writes Legislation To End Collective Bargaining

After enduring two full years of constant attacks on the collective bargaining process, we thought that after the elections we would be safe.  We were wrong!

Senate President Peter Bragdon, who is a strong supporter of Right To Work legislation, has introduced a bill that would effectively end collective bargaining for public employees, without actually saying it.

The bill, Senate Bill 37, is a very sneaky and underhand way of removing items from the collective bargaining process to effectively destroy it.  (Bold are proposed changes)

The phrase “managerial policy within the exclusive prerogative of the public employer’ shall be construed to include but shall not be limited to the functions, programs, and methods of the public employer, including the use of technology, the public employer’s organizational structure, [and] the selection, direction and number of its personnel, and the right to determine standards for evaluation, compensation, selection, layoff and retention, discipline, assignment and transfer, and other traditionally accepted managerial rights, so as to continue public control of governmental functions.

This change means that unions are no longer allowed to negotiate over wages, evaluations, reductions in force, or disciplinary procedures.  I would be the first to say that a contract is more than just pay and time off, however taking these above items out would destroy our collective bargaining process.

To me this appears to be going right after our state’s teachers unions.  Restricting their rights to bargin over seniority based layoffs and classroom evaluations.   In going after the teachers this legislation will decimate the collective bargaining process that has worked so well in NH for the last 50 years for all public employees.

I will not stand idly by and let them take away my rights to collectively bargain.  The first committee meeting for this bill is at the State House on WEDNESDAY January 23  at 9:30 am in room 100. Can I count on you to be there too?

If you cannot be there you can still help.  The American Federation of Teacher (NH) have created an online action page for you to send a message directly the Senate Committee.

We must work together to stop the attacks on our police, fire, educators, and public servants.  They have dedicated their lives to serving the public and deserve the rights to have a voice in their workplace.

Democratic State Senator Martha Fuller Clark files legislation restoring UNH cuts

Sen. Clark, who represents UNH’s main campus, believes that cuts harm community, economy

(Portsmouth, NH) After being sworn in yesterday for a two-year term representing a new district that includes both her hometown of Portsmouth, UNH’s main campus in Durham and the surrounding communities of Newmarket, Madbury, and Lee filed legislation today to restore the cuts made to the University of New Hampshire during the last session.

“At a time when NH and the rest of the country is challenged to compete globally for good jobs, nothing is more important than having a well-educated workforce. We owe the opportunity for all of New Hampshire’s young people to access such an affordable quality education through our university system,” Fuller Clark said, adding. “That is why today I filed legislation to restore the millions of dollars of cuts from the University’s budget that occurred under Republican leadership in the state’s budget for 2012-2012.”

During her campaign to return to the Senate after a two-year absence, Fuller Clark repeatedly heard from voters that they were outraged by the cuts the GOP legislature delivered to the University of New Hampshire.

About Martha: Martha served terms in both the New Hampshire House and Senate since the ‘90s. A two-time candidate for the U.S. Congress, she currently serves as Vice-Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, a member of DNC and, in 2008 and again in 2012 served as co-chair of the New Hampshire Committee to elect Barack Obama President of the United States.Martha participates on many different boards and commissions in her community. She presently serves as President of the Board of Strawbery Banke, as an advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and is the past President of Scenic America.

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