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Powerful New Coalition Aims To Advance Bold Wall Street Reform Agenda

Labor organizations and community groups representing 25 million Americans unite behind tough agenda: closing Wall Street tax loopholes, making banks smaller and simpler, curbing predatory lending, and more 

Senator Elizabeth Warren (image by Ninian Reid FLIKR)

Senator Elizabeth Warren (image by Ninian Reid FLIKR)

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today headlined an event in Washington, DC, where membership organizations, policy experts and elected leaders launched a new campaign for bold reforms to overhaul the country’s broken financial system. The Take on Wall Street coalition represents approximately 25 million Americans, including members of labor organizations like the AFL-CIO, AFT and CWA; grassroots community organizing networks like People’s Action and the Center for Popular Democracy; and others, including faith based organizations, MoveOn.org and the Working Families Party.  

As the 2016 campaign season has demonstrated, Americans across the political spectrum remain angry and frustrated with Wall Street and the Big Banks, which they see as both drivers and beneficiaries of a rigged system.  Wall Street billionaires continue to rake in outrageous profits through business practices that hurt working families—families that are still struggling to recover from the crisis Wall Street greed and recklessness precipitated eight years ago. Poll after poll demonstrates that most Americans strongly favor financial reform to support a fair economy.  

The Take on Wall Street campaign will advance a set of ambitious policy goals for a more equitable and inclusive economy.  The coalition members aim to convert the anger about Wall Street’s growing political and economic dominance into concrete, bold and lasting legislative gains at the state, local, and federal levels. 

“Hardworking men and women across the country want a fighting chance to build a real future for themselves and for their children,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said. “I’m glad to stand alongside the Take on Wall Street coalition to push for changes to make our financial markets safer and to create an economy that works for all our families. These are tough fights, but I know that if we get out there and stand together, we can win.” 

At the launch event, Take on Wall Street unveiled a five-point agenda to rebalance the economy so it is no longer rigged against working Americans: 

1.    Close the carried interest loophole which permits private equity and hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than most working Americans.

2.    Introduce a Wall Street speculation tax on sales of derivatives, stocks, bonds, and other financial products that would raise billions of dollars, bring banks closer to paying their fair of taxes, and stop some forms of destructive high-frequency trading outright.

3.    Make banks simpler, smaller and safer. End ‘too big to fail,’ and reinstitute the Glass Stegall separation between commercial and investment banks.

4.    Close the CEO bonus loophole, which permits corporations to pay less in taxes the more they pay their executives.

5.    End Predatory Lending and expand access to fair safe financial services by supporting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and expanding access to fair and equitable banking through Postal Banking. 

This is a rare moment in history to achieve fundamental change. This campaign is about rewriting the economic rules. The proposals at the heart of this campaign will drastically improve the way financial services function and mean more money in the pockets of working families, and hundreds of billions of dollars to boost our economy,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. 

“Finance has become the master of the economy, rather than a tool to serve it. And the outsized influence of the financial industry defends and extends rules that reward the already extremely wealthy but leave everyone else behind,” said Lisa Donner, Executive Director of Americans for Financial Reform, a broad-based coalition that was formed to work for financial reform and create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “This campaign is about moving people into action to demand change that will unrig the game and build a financial system that works for working people.” 

“Predatory lenders and tax-avoiding corporations work in concert to extract wealth from my community, leaving my customers, the lifeblood of my business, trapped in a perpetual cycle of debt and absorbing a larger share of our mutual tax responsibility. We must usher in a set of rules that reins in predatory lending, holds corporations accountable to pay their fair share in taxes, and returns the wealth of communities to the hands of local consumers,” said David Borris, owner of Hel’s Kitchen Catering in Chicago and member of the Main Street Alliance Executive Committee.   

In coming weeks, the campaign will host a tele-town hall with leading champions of reform, and launch a wave of direct actions and media events to call attention to some of the worst Wall Street practices that call out for reform, with particular emphasis on closing the carried interest loophole, which campaign leaders describe as a particularly glaring example of the corrupting influence of Wall Street campaign and lobbying dollars.  

Campaign partner organizations say that they will continue to press elected officials, regulators, and candidates at all levels of government throughout the summer and into the fall. The coalition will focus on naming the executives, legislators, and big banks and financial companies who continue to put our economy in jeopardy – while also shining a light on those champions who are taking action to make Wall Street accountable to working families.  

Current partners in the campaign include:  

  • AFL-CIO
  • Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action
  • American Family Voices
  • American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • American Postal Workers Union
  • Americans Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO
  • Americans for Financial Reform
  • Campaign for America’s Future
  • Catholic Alliance for the Common Good
  • Center for Popular Democracy
  • Citizen Action NY
  • Communications Workers of America
  • Consumer Action
  • Courage Campaign
  • Daily Kos
  • Democracy for America
  • Economic Policy Institute
  • Friends of the Earth
  • HedgeClippers
  • Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project
  • International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Media Voices for Children
  • MoveOn
  • National Education Association
  • NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
  • NYC Communities for Change
  • The Other 98%
  • People for the American Way
  • People’s Action Institute
  • Presente
  • Public Citizen
  • Rootsaction
  • Service Employees International Union
  • Strong Economy for All Coalition
  • The Nation
  • The Rootstrikers at Demand Progress
  • UNITE-HERE
  • Working America
  • Working Families Party

Donald Trump Is Nothing More Than An Old Kentucky Mule Trader

By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360

hypocrisy-thy-name-donald-trump-donald-trump-hypocrisy-china-politics-1457579539You’re at the bargaining table.

The lead management negotiator slides over a piece of paper. “You’re going to love what I’m proposing,” the guy says.

“Honest. It’s so good you don’t even have to check it out. Don’t read it. Just trust me. You know I want to do right by my workers.”

What’s that you say? “That dog won’t hunt?” (Or you might use a two-word phrase that connects an uncastrated male bovine and what he plops in the pasture.)

Well, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is shooting unions the same “trust me” line.

Where to start? How about Trump’s oft-repeated promise to stop outsourcing, which he had no problem with before he ran for president. Oh, yeah, he’s a big-time outsourcer himself. Click hereherehere and here.

Trump says he’d make American firms quit sending jobs and production to cheap labor countries by smacking them with hefty tariffs, or import taxes. He’s proposed a 45 percent tariff  on goods imported from China and a 35 percent tariff on Ford cars and parts made in Mexico and sold stateside.

Here’s the problem: A president can’t impose any federal tax. Only Congress can. (Remember “No taxation without representation” from history class?)

The odds of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan going for an import tax—or any tax hike—aren’t even slim and none. They’re none and none.

If Trump wins, the Republicans will almost certainly hold the House and Senate and, more likely, enhance their majorities in both chambers.

I’d bet the farm Trump realizes a president can’t levy a tax. So he’s free to bloviate about sticking up for American workers by sticking it to outsources with punitive tariffs knowing there’s no way he can do it by himself and no way a GOP Congress would pass them.

But he’s counting on working stiffs, especially those who’ve lost their good union jobs to outsourcing, to trust him and to swallow his sucker bait, hook, line and sinker.

Oh, Donald Trump brand suits andt ties are made in China.  Does anybody think he really wants a tax that would hit hit him hard in the wallet?

Anyway, Trump also says union members love him. Never mind that he’s fighting, tooth and nail, to keep his Las Vegas hotel workers from unionizing. Forget that Trump prefers “right to work” states to non-RTW states.

Boosting the minimum wage? Trump was against it. Now he wants to “let the states decide” whether to raise it. Here, the guy who claims to be a straight shooter is passing the buck, big time.

Trump is a lot like the Kentucky mule trader of old. He’s happy to show his teeth, but not the mule’s.

Vast Differences Between Republicans And Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates On Raising The Minimum Wage

Republican Candidates For Governor Of New Hampshire, Reject Overwhelming Voter Support For Raising The Minimum Wage.

Whether or not to raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire will undoubtedly be one of the biggest issues in this year’s Gubernatorial race. Large majorities of both, Republicans and Democrats, support raising the minimum wage. However as we have routinely seen in the New Hampshire Legislature, the elected representatives have made raising the minimum wage a completely partisan issue.

On Thursday, WMUR reported that all of the Republican candidates for governor—Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, State Senator Jeanie Forrester and State Representative Frank Edelblut—oppose the establishment of a state minimum wage, despite the fact New Hampshire is tied for the lowest minimum wage in the country at $7.25-an-hour.

“State Sen. Jeanie Forrester said clearly during her economic rollout news conference on Monday that she opposes the establishment of a state minimum wage,” wrote John DiStaso.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas “does not believe in increasing the minimum wage nor establishing a state wage,” spokeswoman Alicia Preston told WMUR. Gatsas voted against raising the minimum wage when he was a State Senator in 2007.

State Representative Frank Edelblut “opposes raising the minimum wage and voted against establishing a state minimum wage in the current legislative session,” added DiStaso.

Executive Councilor Chris Sununu is attempting to play both sides.

“I oppose establishing a state minimum wage. I am open to a responsible increase in the federal minimum wage, provided there is a strong economic and moral case for it,” Sununu told WMUR.

Given the current political environment in Washington against raising the minimum wage, Sununu can safely say that he is “open” to an increase at the federal level knowing it will probably not happen anytime soon.

“The Republican candidates’ steadfast opposition to establishing a minimum wage highlights how vastly out-of-touch they are with New Hampshire’s working families,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “Everyday Granite Staters are hurting, but Republicans continue to stick with the failed trickle-down economic policies of the past. It’s clear the GOP primary is deteriorating into a race to see who can run the farthest to the right, and they’re all tied.”

The Democratic candidates for governor—Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, former State Securities Bureau Chief Mark Connolly and former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand—all support establishing a state minimum wage.

“New Hampshire has the lowest minimum wage in the country. As governor, I’ll fight to establish a state minimum wage that rewards hard work and grows our economy,” said Executive Councilor, Colin Van Ostern.

“A full-time employee making the federal minimum wage earns just over $15,000 a year—it’s simply not enough. I strongly support establishing a state minimum wage in New Hampshire, because every Granite Stater deserves to be paid a fair, living wage for their hard work,” said Mark Connolly.

minimum wageAcross the board, 76% of Granite Staters surveyed supported raising the minimum wage. Even more astounding is that 59% of New Hampshire Republicans surveyed said they would support current proposals to raise the New Hampshire minimum wage.

Raising the minimum wage is not a partisan issue nationally or here in New Hampshire. Nationally, 63% of those surveyed support a $15 minimum wage by 2020, and 71% support the elimination of the tipped minimum wage.

Research from the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute shows that just increasing the state’s Minimum Wage to $9 an hour would benefit over 76,000 people. That money would almost immediately be pushed right back into our local economies as low-wage workers spend almost everything they bring home in their paycheck.

“No matter who wins the primaries, voters will have a clear choice this November between a Republican who opposes raising the minimum wage and a Democrat who supports it,” Buckley added.

Roger Tilton To Run For New Hampshire Senate To Unseat Senator Gary Daniels

RHT MainWe have just learned that Roger Tilton of Milford will be announcing his candidacy for New Hampshire Senate, District 11 (Milford, Merrimack, Amherst and Wilton) on June 10th.

Currently, the District 11 Senate seat is held by, Gary Daniels, who is no friend to labor. From his time as chair of the Labor Committee in the NH House and now in the Senate Daniels has repeated voted against raising the minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage would lift the wages of over fifty thousand hard working Granite Staters.

Daniels also co-sponsored SB 107, which would have prohibited “collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union,” the official description of his so-called Right to Work bill.

Tilton has been a long time supporter of organized labor including a stint as a union organizer. Tilton helped AFTRA organize production workers at KING5, Seattle’s NBC affiliate in the late 80’s. As a former union organizer, Tilton understands the true power unions and collective bargaining.

“The past 40 years have not produced fair gains for the people who put the economy in motion, and without taking steps in the other direction we will not change anything. I know first-hand the immediate and long-term beneficial impact that organizing workers has on their working conditions and standards of living. I will support both those who have organized, and those who need help in doing so,” said Tilton in a recent interview.

Tilton said he opposes so-called Right to Work legislation and any other attacks on workers rights to form unions and collectively bargain.

“So-called ‘right to work’ legislation has been shown to reduce wages, decrease worker safety and protection, and slow regional economic development. ‘Right to Work’ makes sense for big businesses taking big profits out of the local area, but it makes no sense for the people in towns like Wilton, Milford, Amherst, or Merrimack,” added Tilton.

Tilton also plans to announce his own legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2017, with a goal of $15 by 2021.

“Since 1938 the federal minimum wage has been increased 22 times, and our economy has never suffered because of it. Keeping New Hampshire’s minimum wage down has reduced consumer demand, which keeps local businesses from growing. We need a $10 per hour minimum wage right now, and increases to $15 an hour in reasonably short-order,” Tilton explained.

Sen. Daniels has also been a long time supporter of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has come under serious scrutiny over the last few years. Daniels was first selected as the NH Co-Chair when he was a State Rep a number of years ago and continues to be a NH Co-Chair as a State Senator.

ALEC is well known for allowing corporate sponsors to supply legislators with lavish gifts and vacation getaways and in return the legislator introduces model legislation in their home state that benefits the corporate sponsors.

In 2013, leaked documents showed that corporate special interest lobbying group ALEC asked state chairs, including New Hampshire State Rep Gary Daniels, to sign a pledge stating: “I will act with loyalty and put the interests of the organization first.”

“It is unbelievable that these politicians participate in an organization that asks them to pledge allegiance to corporate special interests over their constituents,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress who first reported on the ALEC pledge in 2013.

“We are being invaded and undermined by big corporate money. ALEC is buying elections in exchange for candidates’ pledges to put outsiders’ interests ahead of the locals. Gary Daniels took that pledge, and we must stop him from selling out New Hampshire,” added Tilton.

In this current legislative session Sen. Daniels introduced legislation interfering with a woman reproductive rights, including repealing NH’s “buffer zone” law around reproductive health care facilities.

Daniels also sponsored legislation to require specific licensing of outpatient facilities that provide abortion services. Other states have used similar legislation to “trap” women’s health clinics and force them to shut down, taking away a woman’s legal right to a safe abortion.

Tilton disagrees with Daniels when it comes to women’s reproductive rights.

“I believe in a woman’s right to make her own reproductive healthcare decisions,” said Tilton. “Senator Daniels sponsored multiple pieces of legislation attacking a woman’s right to choose and attacking women’s healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood, which provides thousands of women with quality healthcare options at little to no cost.”

Tilton will officially announce his candidacy for District 11’s Senate seat on June 10th.

As a Merrimack resident, I look forward to his candidacy and look forward to Tilton tossing Daniels out of office.

Tilton Sign 2014


P.S. Tilton is also a huge proponent of legalizing cannabis in New Hampshire like they did in Washington and Colorado. He believes this could be a strong revenue source for the state.

Granite Stater Among A Dozen Young Leaders In Washington Calling On Senate To “Do Your Job”

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Young Leaders Join Members of Congress to tell Senators: #DoYourJob

Yesterday, national youth-led and youth-serving organizations released an open letter to U.S. Senators calling for fair consideration for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

At the press conference releasing the letter today at the Supreme Court, young leaders from across the country joined members of Congress and discussed why Senator Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, needs to do his job and schedule hearings and a vote for Judge Garland instead of engaging in unprecedented partisan obstruction. Speakers also shared what’s at stake for young people in the Supreme Court vacancy fight.

“It’s energizing to see so many young leaders at the front of the growing chorus of voices urging Senate leaders to do their job and provide a fair process for the consideration of Chief Judge Merrick Garland,” said Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). “The decisions made at the Supreme Court don’t just impact us today, they impact generations to come. That’s why it’s so important that the Senate do its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent by giving Merrick Garland a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote.”

“It’s been more than three months now since a vacancy opened on the U.S. Supreme Court, and during that time, we’ve seen a whole lot of partisan bickering, obstructionism, and political maneuvering,” said Senator Al Franken (D-MN). “But you know what we haven’t seen: Senate Republicans doing their job as outlined by the Constitution. The President has fulfilled his duty by nominating Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the highest court in the land, and now, it’s the responsibility of us—the Senate—to fulfill our duty as well. That means we need Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, and ultimately, an up or down vote on Judge Garland’s confirmation. I was pleased to join these young American leaders today to remind Senate Republicans that it’s time to take off their political blinders. This is far too important to ignore.”

“As a member of Congress who was elected to do my job, I take my constitutional duty seriously,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego. “Senate leadership should stop their obstructionism and take their duties seriously, too. A lengthy Supreme Court vacancy can have severe and lasting consequences. It’s time for the Senate to do their jobs and give Judge Garland a fair hearing and a timely vote.”

“This Supreme Court vacancy is critically important for all Americans, but especially for Latinos living in the United States,” said Rep. Linda Sánchez. “We are an especially young community with more than 14 million millennials. So our message is simple: The President has done his job, now it is time for Republican Senators to do their job.”

Oscar R. Cornejo a junior at Dartmouth College studying Sociology and Native American Studies, was one of the many young leaders who traveled to Washington to urge the Senate to “Do Your Job.”

As an undocumented student from Mexico, Oscar co-founded Dartmouth’s first immigrant rights organization, advocating and raising awareness of the undocumented immigrant voice. During his three years at Dartmouth, Oscar has united campus stakeholders to cultivate inclusivity and access to undocumented students, organized the 2015 Collegiate Alliance for Immigration Reform conference, and lead a successful campaign to have the Library of Congress drop the I-word.

“I know some senators want to wait until after the election, until the next President is elected, to choose the next Supreme Court justice,” said Oscar Conejo, of Hanover, New Hampshire. “But the Senators need to do their job, not play politics with the Supreme Court. As an undocumented student, I know just how critical the decisions are that they make on important issues that affect me and my family, from education to immigration and so much more.”

The letter released today is signed by Young People For, Generation Progress, NAACP Youth and College Division, Sierra Student Coalition, the Roosevelt Institute, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Energy Action Coalition, American Constitution Society Student Chapters, the Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network, Student Debt Crisis, Advocates for Youth, and the Micah Leadership Council.

Text of the letter is below as well as selected remarks from some of the young leaders who spoke out yesterday.

Consuelo Hernandez, Tucson, Arizona: “I’m here today because I’m tired of conservatives in the Senate choosing politics over precedent and chaos over constitutional duty. On issues as wide-ranging as voting, reproductive justice, and economic justice, the day-to-day lives of young people are directly impacted by the decisions made at the Supreme Court. By choosing not to give Chief Judge Merrick Garland the fair and timely consideration afforded past nominees, conservatives are abandoning their constitutional duties and turning their backs on the constituents like me who put them in office.”

Max Levy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: “As the president of the College Dems chapter at the University of Pennsylvania, I know how important it is to work with organizations from across the political spectrum.  Even though we don’t always agree, we work hard to foster productive dialogue on our campus. Right now, some Senators are saying we shouldn’t even hold a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, and that’s just plain wrong. Dialogue is healthy for democracy. I know that’s true on my  campus, and it’s true for the Senate.”

Mary Marston, Concord, North Carolina: “Young people now make up the largest voting bloc in America and many are just becoming politically active. It is critical that our elected officials follow through on their constitutional commitments to keep young people engaged in the democratic process.”

Zach Wahls, Iowa City, Iowa: “I see the marriage between my moms—the possibility of their marriage—as our legal system keeping up its end of the American promise to a fair hearing and due process. Because the Court was able to act, and its decision was recognized as legitimate, my parents’ marriage is recognized in all fifty states—my parents’ sacred promise is recognized to mean the same thing in Iowa as in Alabama. We got a fair hearing, and we need to make sure that America can get a fair hearing, too.”

Peter Cheun, American Constitution Society Student Chapter President at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law (Illinois): “Law students across the ideological spectrum may disagree on who their ideal Supreme Court nominee would be. But in my experience, they have been nearly unanimous in their agreement that the Senate should do its job: Give Judge Garland a fair hearing and an up or down vote.”

Max Eichenberger, American Constitution Society Student Chapter President at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law (Illinois): “When employees fail to do their jobs, it is their business and consumers that ultimately suffer. For the U.S. Senate, their business is administering our representative government, and we are all the consumers. Give Judge Garland a fair hearing and keep this shop running.”

Joelle Gamble, National Director, Network at the Roosevelt Institute: “So far, in 2016, we’ve seen that young people just want the political process to work the way it is supposed to. If our leaders want us to participate, they have to ensure that the political process works in the first place. They must restore our faith in democracy.”

Karissa Gerhke, Sierra Student Coalition National Director: “Young people working for just, sustainable communities and the protection of the environment are not taking a back seat in this fight. We can’t and we won’t let obstructionists threaten everything we’re fighting for on our campuses and in our communities. The Senate should do its job to fill this vacancy.”

Stephen A. Green, NAACP National Youth and College Director: “Young people from across the country have courageously come together to call upon Congress to do their job or lose their job. We deserve a democracy that works for all people, give Judge Garland a fair hearing!”

Erik Lampmann, People For the American Way Foundation’s Young People For Public Affairs & Policy Manager: “Keeping the Court understaffed is simply indefensible. Until our Supreme Court is empowered to function as it was designed, we will not stop calling on Senators to “Do Your Job” and treat the Court, the Constitution, and us with respect.”

Layla Zaidane, Generation Progress Managing Director: “As a generation, Millennials have grown up amid partisan gridlock and politicians more interested in playing political games than doing their job. But the Supreme Court vacancy isn’t a game to us: from marriage equality to reproductive rights, the decisions the Court makes affect our lives, every day. Millennials overwhelmingly support a hearing and a vote on President Obama’s nominee—it’s time for the Senate to do its job and ensure a fully-functioning, fully-staffed Supreme Court.”


Open Letter to the Senate

Dear United States Senators,

We, the undersigned youth-led and youth-serving organizations, call on all U.S. senators to give fair and timely consideration to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

On issues as diverse as immigration policy, voting rights, and reproductive rights, the daily lives of young people are affected by what happens in our nation’s courts. We represent broad youth constituencies seeking to ensure that their rights are protected at the local, state, and federal level — including young immigrants, youth of color, trans* and queer youth, students, low-income youth, and differently-abled young people. We know the communities we work with are just some of the over 100 million people in this country who stand to be directly impacted by cases before the Court just this term.

A fully-functioning judiciary is essential to a flourishing democracy and critical to our ability to protect our rights and seek justice. Purposefully keeping the Supreme Court understaffed, as some senators are proposing, is indefensible.

Chief Judge Garland deserves the treatment traditionally afforded past Supreme Court nominees: prompt hearings and an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Senators who believe Chief Judge Garland should not serve on the Supreme Court are free to vote against him, but blocking the process entirely is an abdication of senators’ constitutionally-defined responsibilities and an insult to the people who elected them.

Young people are working each day to provide for themselves and their families; some are also studying for advanced degrees and vocational certificates or organizing their communities to create change. Across the country, young people are working hard at their jobs. They should be able to expect the same of their senators.

The undersigned organizations call on all senators to do their jobs and consider the President’s nominee to the nation’s highest court in a timely fashion. There are too many critical issues at stake for young people, and for all people, for ideologically motivated senators to play politics with our Supreme Court.

Respectfully,

Advocates for Youth

American Constitution Society Law Student Chapters

Energy Action Coalition

Generation Progress

Sierra Student Coalition

Student Debt Crisis

Micah Leadership Council

NAACP Youth and College Division

NARAL Pro-Choice America

Network at the Roosevelt Institute

Young Elected Officials Network

Young People For

The US International Trade Commission Shows The TPP Is Bad News For Working Families

A New Report From The US International Trade Commission
Shows The TPP Is Not Worth Passing 

ITC-International-Trade-Commission-logoYesterday, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) released their findings on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). To nobody’s surprise the results are not good.

The TPP would not deliver the economic benefits promised by the U.S. Trade Representative. Instead, the report shows that the deal would be disastrous, increasing the U.S. trade deficit by over $21 billion per year and harming employment in key industries.

Basically they found that miniscule gains would be made in most of the sectors of the economy. By miniscule I mean that after 15 years the TPP would increase our GDP by a whopping 0.15%.

Most alarmingly, the ITC report projects that the TPP would increase the U.S. trade deficit in both manufacturing and the services sector. According to the report, once fully implemented, the TPP would decrease manufacturing output by over $11 billion per year and would decrease U.S. employment in manufacturing by 0.2%.  The report also highlights concerns that the TPP would put call center jobs at particular risk of being offshored.

The weak economic projections in the ITC report are especially notable given that ITC’s track record is one of being overly optimistic about the effects of free trade deals on American workers and our economy.

These results are not surprising to many of the labor groups who have been against this multi-national trade agreement since it was announced.

“This ITC report is so damaging that any reasonable observer would have to wonder why the Administration or Congress would spend even one more day trying to turn this disastrous proposal into a reality,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Even though it’s based on unrealistic assumptions, the report could not even produce a positive result for U.S. manufacturing and U.S. workers.”

“One of many shockers is just how meager the purported benefits of the TPP are. A mere .15% of GDP growth over 15 years is laughably small—especially in comparison to what we’re being asked to give up in exchange for locking in a bonanza of rights and privileges for global corporations,” added Trumka.

“Even though the report fails to account for currency manipulation, wage suppression and the negative impacts of uninspected food imports and higher drug costs, the study still projects the TPP will cost manufacturing jobs and exacerbate our trade deficit,” Trumka concluded.

“This report validates that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not worth passing,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard. “This report, as mandated by law, indicates the TPP will produce almost no benefits, but inflict real harm on so many workers.”

Trumka and the AFL-CIO are not alone in their condemnation of this report. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers highlights that includes many of the same provisions, currently in our international trade agreements, that fail to protect basic labor rights.

“The ITC, which historically has overestimated the benefits of trade agreements, predicts that the TPP will increase our nation’s trade deficit in manufacturing. This means that the corporate driven, secretly negotiated TPP will lead to the export of good paying manufacturing jobs to countries like Vietnam that lack basic human rights,” said International President Robert Martinez, Jr., of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). “For ordinary Americans struggling to get by this will result in more unemployment and continued downward pressure on wages and benefits.”

“The IAM has repeatedly called for the inclusion in the TPP of the International Labor Organization Conventions, which explicitly define basic labor rights. Unfortunately, the TPP labor chapter contains the same ineffectual provisions as in other U.S. trade agreements and fails to provide effective mechanisms to deal with countries lacking fundamental labor rights, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Mexico. That Malaysia, a country cited for human trafficking while focused on rapidly developing its aerospace industry, would be include in the TPP repudiates any notion that the agreement sets a new standard for international labor rights.”

“While the ITC has found that the TPP might increase U.S. GDP by a meager 0.15 percent by 2032, this is of little solace to the working families that will be devastated by the agreement’s numerous flaws. The IAM strongly urges Congress to reject the TPP and focus on a trade policy that benefits America’s working families.”

“The ITC has a long history of being overly optimistic about our trade deals. Yet, even the ITC’s rosy projection paints a picture of the TPP that would be bad for American workers,” said Shane Larson, Legislative Director of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).  “Across the electorate and throughout the country, the public is coming out strongly against the TPP and for good reason. The TPP was based on a trade model that has led to lost manufacturing jobs, lower wages, and increased trade deficits. It’s no surprise that those outcomes are what the TPP will deliver.”

The TPP will be hot button issues during this coming election. We have already seen this in the Presidential primary process. People all across the country are challenging candidates to stand up in opposition to this disastrous trade deal now.

“The American public has made clear its overwhelming opposition to the TPP and the approach to trade it embodies, and now this report makes it even more clear why lawmakers of both parties should stand with the American people and loudly oppose the TPP,” Larson stated.

“This year voters across the country are clearly making trade an issue. Most Washington policymakers and politicians are out of touch with the lives of average Americans. The American public is sick and tired of economists projecting fantasies of prosperity for them when it’s primarily multinational corporations that benefit. On Main Street and in workplaces all across America, working Americans know firsthand the consequences of what economists experience in theory,” added Gerard of the USW.

“But in the end, this may be the most damning government report ever submitted for a trade agreement. It is clear that the TPP will be DOA if Congress ever decides to bring it up,” Gerard stated.

This report clearly shows that the drawbacks to the TPP far out weight the meager benefits promised the US Trade Representative and the White House.

Governor Hassan Proclaims Clean Water Week in New Hampshire

 CONCORD – In order to highlight the importance of clean water to public health, public safety and New Hampshire’s economy, Governor Maggie Hassan today proclaimed Clean Water Week in New Hampshire. The Governor issued the proclamation during a ceremony at the State House with the New Hampshire Water Pollution Control Association to recognize students for their participation in a poster competition promoting Clean Water Week in the Granite State.

“Ensuring that all of our residents and visitors have access to safe, clean drinking water is critical to public health, the well-being of our families, vibrant communities and a thriving economy,” Governor Hassan said. “During Clean Water Week – and every week – we must continue working aggressively to address water contamination, ensure clean drinking water for all of our citizens, and protect the beautiful natural resources that make our state a unique place to live, work, visit and raise a family.” 

To help ensure that Granite Staters have access to clean, safe drinking water, Governor Hassan recently signed bipartisan legislation to create the New Hampshire Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund, which ensures that funds from the MtBE decision are used to remove MtBE contamination. 

Governor Hassan and state officials also continue to work aggressively to address water contaminated by perfluorochemicals (PFCs) around the Saint-Gobain facility in Merrimack, near the former location of Textiles Coated International in Amherst and at Pease Air Force Base. She has pushed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a review of the best available science regarding PFCs and establish a lifetime health advisory for states to assess the safety of drinking water. The Governor has also worked with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and the Department of Health and Human Services to expand well testing, delivery of bottled water and assistance with blood testing as appropriate, and to start an investigation into the potential presence of these chemicals elsewhere in the state. 

The full text of the Governor’s proclamation is attached and below: 

CLEAN WATER WEEK

MAY 15 – 21, 2016 

WHEREAS, New Hampshire residents have a strong commitment to protecting our state’s environment and consider our ocean, lakes, streams, and groundwater among the most precious of our resources; and

WHEREAS, With the support of New Hampshire residents and through several different water protection programs, the Department of Environmental Services endeavors to keep New Hampshire’s water clean for aesthetic, recreational, ecological, and drinking purposes; and

WHEREAS, Other guardians of New Hampshire’s waters are the New Hampshire Water Pollution Control Association and the New England Water Environmental Association comprised of government officials and wastewater treatment plant professionals concerned with the abatement and control of water pollution; and

WHEREAS, Since the passage of the 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control (Clean Water Act), substantial progress has been made in protecting and enhancing water quality due to the concerted efforts of the government, the private sector, and the public, including the construction and expansion of more than 80 publicly owned wastewater treatment plants throughout New Hampshire; and 

WHEREAS, Clean water is critical to public health, public safety, and our economy; and

WHEREAS, Significant water pollution challenges still lie ahead in the effort to protect New Hampshire’s water resources from pollution; 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, MARGARET WOOD HASSAN, GOVERNOR of the State of New Hampshire, do hereby proclaim MAY 15 – 21, 2016, as CLEAN WATER WEEK in the State of New Hampshire and invite the people of New Hampshire to observe this week by remembering how critical clean, fresh water is to all of us and to act responsibly in their use of this shared resource.

Given this 18th day of May, in the year of Our Lord two thousand and sixteen, and the independence of the United States of America, two hundred and forty.

Margaret Wood Hassan

Governor

The DOL To Double Overtime Rule Lifting The Wages Of An Estimated 12 Million Workers

Thomas Perez delivers remarks after President Barack Obama announced Perez as his nominee for Labor Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Thomas Perez delivers remarks after President Barack Obama announced Perez as his nominee for Labor Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

12.5 Million Americans: the number of people that the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates will be affected by President Obama’s changes to the overtime rule.

Today, the Department of Labor, under President Obama’s direction, will update the threshold for salaried workers who automatically qualify for overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week.

“We’re making more workers eligible for the overtime that you’ve earned. And it’s one of the single most important steps we can take to help grow middle-class wages,” said President Obama.

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

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

This simple rule change will have a significant impact on our local and national economy. The White House estimates this rule change will put $12 billion dollars into the hands of hard working Americans over the next ten years.

The DOL is lifting the threshold for salaried workers from just over $23,660 a year to $47,476. This means that if you are a salaried employee who makes less than $47,476 dollars you will now be entitle to overtime (time and 1/2) for every hour worked in a week above 40.

This doubles the current salary threshold while being responsive to public comments regarding regional variations in income by setting the salary threshold at the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest income Census region (currently the South). Tying the salary threshold to the lowest-wage region of the country has strong historical precedent in previous rulemakings.

This salary threshold will be reevaluated and updated every three years ensuring that if continues to meet the 40th percentile mark.

Employers have used this low salary threshold to cheat workers out of higher wages for decades. Many of these workers routinely work 50-60 hours a week and are paid a flat rate. In some cases salaried workers were putting in so many extra hours, without any additional pay, that their per-hour rate would drop below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Now employers will have to choose between raising the wages of salaried employees or keeping employees at their current salary but reducing the number of hours they work in a week. Reducing the number of hours worked would lead to job growth as employers will need to hire additional workers to fulfill their needs.

Check out this short video from the White House that explain the rule change and how it will effect individual salaried workers. 

EPI estimates that raising the overtime salary threshold will directly benefit a broad range of working people, including:

  • 6.4 million women, or 50.9 percent of all directly benefiting workers
  • 4.2 million parents and 7.3 million children (under age 18)
  • 1.5 million blacks, and 2.0 million Hispanics
  • 4.5 million millennials, defined as workers age 16 to 34 (who make up 28.2 percent of the salaried workforce but 36.3 percent of directly benefiting workers)
  • 3.6 million workers age 25 to 34 (who make up 22.9 percent of the salaried workforce but 28.7 percent of directly benefiting workers)
  • 3.2 million workers with a high school degree but not more education (who make up 15.5 percent of the salaried workforce but 25.3 percent of directly benefiting workers)

This is a monstrous step in the right direction to lift the wages of millions of Americans. The White House estimates that the new rule is expected to extend overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans who are not currently eligible under federal law.

The new rule is slated to take effect on December 1st of this year.


Below are a couple of charts from the EPI that break down what industries will see the biggest boost from this new rule change and the number of workers impacted by the new rule, state by state.

In New Hampshire, over 54,000 workers will be directly effected by this new rule change.  Texas, Florida and California will see the biggest increases with over 1 million workers benefiting from this change.

Leo W Gerard: Really, Really Rich Trump Is No Workers’ Champion

Trump Tower (m01229 FLIKR CC)

Trump Tower (m01229 FLIKR CC)

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald  “I am really, really rich” Trump is, according to Forbes, the 121st richest person in America. So, yes, he is really, really rich.

He loves the perks of being really, really rich, like flying to campaign events in one of his own private jets, which means he blithely skips those annoying airport security lines that non-billionaires must endure. He enjoys kicking back in one ofhis five houses, including the 58-bedroom Mar-A-Lago mansion, where the$600,000 annual property taxes are three times the entire cost of an average American home. And, of course, Trump relishes the power he has to tell workers, “You’re fired.”

Born into wealth, Trump attended private schools and inherited $40 million when he was just 28 years old. He didn’t spend summers volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in Appalachia. He didn’t take a gap year to put that fancy private school education to use tutoring inner city kids. So, frankly, it’s easy to understand why he opposes raising the minimum wage. This guy who was born with a really, really silver spoon in his mouth doesn’t have a clue what living on $7.25 an hour means.

2016-05-15-1463345960-5975605-TrumpBlogMinimumWage.jpg

Like all robber barons, Trump can’t spare a dime. He made that clear in the November Fox News debate. Trump said $7.25 is too much, too high a wage for the guy working two minimum-wage jobs to keep a roof over his widowed mother’s head or the single mother working 60 hours a week at two fast food joints to support her child.

Fox moderator Neil Cavuto asked Really Really Rich Trump if he was sympathetic to protesters demanding the minimum wage be raised.

“I can’t be,” Trump said.

“Taxes too high, wages too high,” Trump said later to explain his position that America couldn’t compete against other nations if U.S. workers are paid a living wage.

To put that in perspective, the annual income of a minimum-wage worker laboring full time for a year without a single sick day or vacation day is $15,080. That is $920 short of the $16,000 in annual fees required of members at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club in Florida.

But Trump thinks wages are too high. He has no idea what a $7.25-an-hour life is.

After the debate, in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump went further, making it clear, that as a rich man, he didn’t care, either, that all workers’ wages had stagnated for years even as their productivity steadily rose.

No worker should get a raise, he told “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski.

“Our wages are too high. We have to compete with other countries,” the really, really rich man told Brzezinski.

The guy born to wealth and privilege said that the skilled electrician who is still paying off his trade school loans and who goes out in ice storms to repair lines for $58,000 a year is paid too much. The rich guy whose father handed him a $1 million loan to start his business says that the woman who scrimped and strived to be the first in her family to graduate from college and now works as an emergency room nurse saving lives makes too much at $68,000 a year.

Their wages are too high, Trump said. Gotta cut ‘em to compete with China. A race to the bottom is what Trump has in mind. For working people, that is. Not for really, really rich guys like him. They’re exempted, of course. Like they’re exempted from those annoying airport security lines.

Trump’s reasoning is the same as Mitt Romney’s. Remember Mitt “Corporations are people, my friend” Romney? The two rich guys have the same values. That is, they value corporations over people.

Trump explained shortly after the November debate that he intended to stiff the working poor because business was more important to him. He would stand strong against raising the minimum wage, he said, because “our country is losing business.”

Trump didn’t say that CEO million-dollar paychecks should be cut. He didn’t say the tens of billions handed out in Wall Street bonuses should be eliminated. No way. Those are the perks of his buddies, the rich guys he hangs out with at Mar-A-Lago. He specified only that the pay of poor people was too high.

All that big money at the top could actually be meaningful to minimum-wage workers. For example, in 2014, the $28.5 billion in bonuses handed out on Wall Street was twice the annual pay for the 1 million Americans who worked full-time at the $7.25 minimum wage.

The 167,800 Wall Streeters who grabbed those billions actually did pretty crappy work too. Wall Street profits declined 4.5 percent. That’s the kind of job that would get a minimum-wage worker fired, not rewarded.

So when the rich like Trump do badly, they get more money. When low-wage workers faithfully perform their jobs, Trump says, “Give them less money!”

Now that the really, really rich guy is the presumptive nominee, however, he’s double-talking. On NBC’s “Meet The Press,” he told Chuck Todd that he’s become sympathetic to minimum wage workers, but he’s not going to do anything about their plight. Here is what he said:

“I have seen what’s going on. And I don’t know how people make it on $7.25 an hour. Now, with that being said, I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I’d rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide.”

So, ok, it’s hard. Some minimum wage workers are homeless. They work, butsleep on the street. Virtually all survive only with the help of taxpayer-funded public benefits like food stamps, Medicaid and public housing. So they’re the victims of scorn, despite laboring full-time.

Maybe it’s not right. But a President Donald Trump is not going to lift a finger to help minimum wage workers. If workers happen to live in a state that wants to let corporations exploit employees, a President Trump wouldn’t intervene to save workers’ day.

This is a really, really rich guy completely oblivious to the anxieties of American families – including the ultimate nightmare of a boss shouting, “You’re fired!” This is a guy who told a reporter that no one has done as much for equality as he has because he opened his Mar-A-Lago Club to everyone – a club requiring a $100,000 initiation fee – a fee nearly twice the average annual earnings of an American worker.

This is not a man of the people. This is no working man’s champion. Just like Mitt, this is a really, really rich guy for rich guys.

Jeanie Forrester’s Economic Plan? Lower Wages for Granite Staters

Image from @OFA_NH pic.twitter.com/ZG7B0GfERQ

Image from @OFA_NH pic.twitter.com/ZG7B0GfERQ

Concord, N.H. – Today, State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Jeanie Forrester pitted herself squarely against hard-working Granite Staters looking for better wages and a higher quality of life.

Asked whether she would sign a bill raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage—currently tied for having the lowest minimum wage in the nation — Forrester said, “I would not. I believe that government should stay out of what a business does.”

Forrester voted to repeal New Hampshire’s minimum wage in 2011 and voted against an increase as recently as February. While Forrester’s so-called economic plan acknowledges that “wages have been relatively flat over the past decade,” her record and her new push today to abolish the minimum wage would only make things worse for hardworking Granite Staters. 

“Jeanie Forrester’s outrageous opposition to raising the minimum wage reveals she’s sticking to the same failed, discredited trickle-down economic policies of the past that devastated our economy and the middle class,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “The GOP primary is fast becoming a contest over who can recklessly become closest to far-right ideology and show how out-of-touch they are with mainstream Granite Staters.”

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