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GET THE FACTS: EPA Plan to Cut Carbon Pollution (Via Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter)

Kyndby Powerplant (Image by Peter Madsen Flickr)

Kyndby Powerplant (Image by Peter Madsen Flickr)

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. The Clean Power Plan proposal will help protect public health and fight climate change by cutting carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30% below 2005 baseline levels by 2030.

“Climate change is real and we’re increasingly seeing its impacts on New Hampshire’s natural resources and our economy,” Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter said. “That’s why New Hampshire’s small businesses support new guidelines to limit the amount of carbon pollution power plants can dump into our environment. These safeguards will protect our health and spur innovation, potentially creating thousands of jobs and making us more energy independent.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today released a package of facts, myths, and statistics about the new EPA guidelines. New Hampshire doesn’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment, and these numbers prove it. 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

·         New Hampshire will have flexibility to meet the EPA’s target using the energy sources that work best for our state and by cutting energy waste. New Hampshire has been a leader in efforts to curb harmful emissions, and these rules will help level the playing field by requiring other states to do what New Hampshire has already done.

·         New Hampshire is already experiencing extreme weather. Since 2010, severe weather caused $47 million in property damage. In mountains along the Maine and New Hampshire border, snow depth decreased by 16 percent in recent years, affecting outdoor recreation industries like skiing and snowmobiling and contributing to a decline in moose due to a longer tick season.

·         Combatting carbon pollution will improve Granite Staters’ health, including the 10.2% of New Hampshire adults who suffer from asthma. In New Hampshire, there were over 1,000 hospital admissions for asthma in 2011, with an average charge of close to $12,300 for each stay.

·         Clean energy is already playing a role in New Hampshire’s economy. In New Hampshire, renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources increased more than 35 percent since 2009.

·         New Hampshire is already making progress. Between 2008-2011, carbon emissions from the power sector in the Granite State decreased by 25 percent.

NATIONWIDE

Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While there are limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no federal limits on carbon pollution levels. By 2030, the Clean Power Plan will:

·         Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year.

·         Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit.

·         Avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits.

·         Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.

MYTH vs FACT

MYTH: JOHN BOEHNER: Climate change policies will kill 224,000 jobs and surge electric bills by $17 billion every year.

FACT: We rate his statement False. [Politifact, 6/2/14]

“Boehner said the EPA’s plan to regulate carbon emissions in existing power plants will increase electric bills by ‘$17 billion every year’ and ‘potentially put an average of 224,000 more people out of work every year.’ Those numbers are based on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study that came out before the EPA announced the regulations on existing power plants.

“That study wrongly assumed the administration would set a benchmark of reducing carbon emissions by 42 percent before 2030. The regulations released June 2 actually put forward a 30 percent reduction within that timeframe. The chamber itself told PolitiFact its estimates are not based on the goals as announced.

“But despite these serious flaws, Boehner used the numbers anyway.”

POLLS

A recent Washington Post – ABC News poll found that the majority of Americans support efforts to reduce carbon emissions:

·         70 percent say the federal government should require limits to greenhouse gases from existing power plants.

·         57 percent of Republicans, 76 percent among independents and 79 percent of Democrats support state-level limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

·         The overall results are closely in line with Post-ABC polling since 2009, where between 65 and 75 percent have supported limits on greenhouse gases from power plants. 

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT

Health organizations, business community leaders, and religious groups are also coming out in support of the EPA’s proposed standard:

·          “A coalition of 176 companies, including Unilever, Mars Inc. and clothing maker VF Corp., sent letters Monday to the Obama administration and congressional leaders to support the administration’s proposal to limit power plant carbon dioxide emissions.” [The Hill, 6/2/14]

·         U.S. Conference of Bishops: “We are pastors in a faith tradition that teaches, as Pope Francis recently stated, ‘Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.’ The best evidence indicates that power plants are the largest stationary source of carbon emissions in the United States, and a major contributor to climate change.”

·         The American Lung Association: “Power plant pollution makes people sick and cuts short lives. We are pleased to see significant health benefits from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits on carbon pollution from power plants, which would reduce the burden of air pollution in America.”

ICYMI

When asked if New Hampshire already had compliance with the EPA rule “in the bag”, state officials said that seems to be the case.

N.H. Likely Has Proposed Carbon Limits ‘In The Bag’
NHPR // Sam Evans-Brown
June 2, 2014

Under a proposed rule out of the EPA Monday, New Hampshire will have to come up with its own plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. However, many of the building blocks for that plan are already in place. 

The new EPA rule says that New Hampshire should emit 486 pounds of carbon per megawatt hour of electricity generated, and that, as of 2012, New Hampshire’s rate was 905 pounds per megawatt hour. 

Mike Fitzgerald with the New Hampshire DES says the 486 pound limit is “sort of akin to a speed limit of miles per hour.” 

That speed limit is more than four times less what comes out of an average coal-fired power plant,  which likely means New England can’t have many of those on-line and meet the new rate.

Responses to the proposed rule came swiftly. The only company that operates coal plants in New Hampshire, Public Service of New Hampshire, said in a statement that while it produced 70 percent less carbon in 2013 compared with 2005, “it may be challenging to grow our success.” Environmental groups like the Clean Air Task Force hailed the rule as “an excellent first bid,” and energy industry groups such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers claimed the rule would have far-reaching economic impacts. 

Compliant Already?

New Hampshire will try to figure out if it can get below the speed-limit proposed by the EPA with the variety of programs already underway.

For instance, Fitzgerald says the “ideal situation” would be if by simply pointing to the state’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a nine-state carbon cap-and-trade program, the EPA would give the state its approval.

RGGI places a cap on how much carbon dioxide can be emitted by power plays, which Fitzgerald thinks is “more analogous to a limit on the total length you can drive.” DES will have to translate the distance-driven cap into the speed-limit number that the EPA is looking for. 

The EPA also says energy efficiency programs and state renewable energy goals will be considered toward compliance with the proposed rule, though state officials say they are still working out how those factors will be weighed. New Hampshire has both efficiency programs and a “renewable portfolio standard” which says the state will get 25 percent of its energy from renewables by 2025.

When asked if New Hampshire already had compliance with the EPA rule “in the bag”, state officials said that seems to be the case.

New Hampshire will have until 2016 to come up with the plan, and the rule itself won’t be finalized until June of next year.

And They’re Off! The Race To The Bottom Gains Speed

Image by USDA

Image by USDA

It is widely known that workers wages have been stagnant for decades thus leading to the vast income inequality we are seeing today throughout our great nation.  Many workers have seen little if any pay raise for years, and they are the lucky ones.  Workers have seen their wages slashed as their jobs are being contracted out, or outsourced, to low bid government contractors.

Government offices at the federal level all the way down to the local school board are fueling this race to the bottom. This week, In The Public Interest published a biting report about how outsourcing jobs is hurting our communities.

The battle to cut the budget has produced some previously unforeseen and disastrous circumstances.  Budgets writers in the past few decades looked to government contractors as way to reduce their budgets, when in reality they are merely shifting costs from one line of the budget to another.

“By slashing labor costs, a company may be able to show a city or state cost savings on paper,” the ITPI report states. “However, low wages often mean that the number of Americans on public assistance rolls increases and these supplemental income and healthcare costs, instead of being the contracting employer’s responsibility, are merely shifted onto other parts of the government budget.”

To budget writers this seems like a golden opportunity, cut labor costs and absolve themselves of the responsibility to provide healthcare or any retirement program.  This is troubling as we have seen more and more employers making reductions to retirement plans, failing to offer any paid time off, and declining number of employers to even offer healthcare to workers. 99% of all government workers are offered healthcare and retirement options.

The percent of workers offered healthcare (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics):

  • 57% of Full-Time workers in companies with less than 100 employees
  • 85% of Full-Time workers in companies with more than 100 employees
  • 24% of Part-Time workers

The percent of workers who are offered retirement options:

  • 42% of Full-Time workers in small companies
  • 82% of Full-Time workers in large companies
  • 37% of Part-Time workers

The cutting of healthcare and retirement plans is only one way that contractors appear to save the local government money by contracting their services.  We all know that the cost of labor is one of the largest pieces of the fiscal pie.  For contractors, slashing wages is the fastest way to meet a new lower bottom line.

“Contractors, including Aramark, Sodexo, and Compass, cut cafeteria workers’ wages by $4-6 an hour following the privatization of food service. As one of the workers interviewed for the report explained, “When [a private contractor] took over, it was $8 an hour to start… 10 years [later] and it’s still only $8/hour.”

In Massachusetts, “Wages were slashed as the contractor reduced the pay of custodial jobs that paid an average of $19 per hour as public jobs to between $8.25 and $8.75 per hour. Employees like Rick Thorne, who had worked for the school system for 22 years, and made $20 per hour as a custodian, couldn’t afford to take the new poverty-wage positions with Aramark.” (ITPI)

NBC News also reported on a similar trend they called “domestic outsourcing.” NBC told the story of bus drivers in the greater Memphis area.  After the school year concluded, the bus drivers were gathered and told they were all fired.  Graciously the drivers were allowed to apply for the same job they previously held with a new contractor. Debbie DeCrow, an 18 year veteran of the school district was making over $15 per hour, now her new employer offered he a starting wage of “$10 per hour with no sick days or paid vacation.

It is obvious that contractors are reaping the benefits by pushing workers further down.

On paper this all seems like a great way for local budget writers to save taxpayer money, until you add in the fact that by pushing workers wages down results in more of them being forced onto government assistance programs.

“Researchers found that school cafeteria workers working for contractors in California received an average of $1,743 annually in public assistance because of their low pay.” (ITPI)

When workers have less money that means they spend less in local stores.  This is another problem for the local community. As spending at local businesses reduce, this means less business tax revenue for the states and municipalities.  ITPI also notes that states have seen a reduction in income tax revenues as wages decline.

While the taxpayers thought they were saving money by reducing labor costs in their budgets, in fact they are subsiding the contractor’s profits with additional spending in low-wage assistance programs.

“When contractors fail to provide health insurance for their employees, or if the cost of buying into the employer’s plan is too expensive, workers and their families are forced to enroll in public programs, such as Medicaid or the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or simply rely on emergency room visits which are very costly for the public.”  (ITPI)

The report concludes by sharing policy recommendations for reversing this dangerous trend, including:

  • Requiring contractors to show that cost savings derive from increased efficiencies and innovation, not a decrease in compensation
  • Requiring contractors to pay a living wage and provide health and other important benefits.
  • Requiring transparency measures, such as tracking how much state and local governments are spending on private contracts, how many workers are employed by those contracts, and worker wage rates.
  • Requiring governments to conduct a social and economic impact analysis before outsourcing

This report from In The Public Interest is just another example of how outsourcing jobs to low-wage contractors hurts the workers and the community.

Lets pull out the checkered flag and end this race to the bottom. 

Local Voices Praise New Federal Carbon Pollution Standards to Protect Public Health, Address Climate Change

Image by David J (Flickr)

Image by David J (Flickr)

Public Health Experts, Scientists, Businesses and Sportsmen Support Climate Solutions 

CONCORD, NH – Today, a variety of local voices praised newly announced federal carbon pollution limits for power plants, the leading cause of climate change, as important public health safeguards. Local people included scientists, a medical doctor, a fly fisherman and a local businessman. The chorus of support is no surprise as poll after poll demonstrates wide acceptance by the American people to address climate disruption with a carbon safeguard.

 “Carbon pollution standards are critical for protecting the health and safety of Granite Staters and other Americans who are breathing dirty air,” said Catherine Corkery, Chapter Director of NH Sierra Club, representing a variety of groups. “Regardless of the efforts of our small state and those in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, polluters across the country are allowed to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air and it’s time for that to stop.”

 “The impacts of climate change are overwhelming. The time to act is now, to protect public health, address the carbon pollution that is fueling climate change and extreme weather, and move toward cleaner, safer energy that will grow our economy and create jobs,” concluded Corkery.

 Carbon pollution fuels climate change, triggers more asthma attacks and respiratory disease, worsens air quality, and contributes to more frequent, more destructive, more costly and more deadly extreme weather events. Our nation’s power plants are responsible for 40 percent of the carbon pollution in the United States.

 While many states and local communities, including here in New Hampshire, have taken action on climate change, this new federal safeguard will set commonsense limits on carbon pollution, inspire investment in infrastructure to protect communities from the climate change impacts they are already experiencing, and spur the kind of innovation that will power America with clean energy in the 21st century. The new safeguards will also give states flexibility to implement plans that increase efficiency, improve resiliency and remove carbon pollution from our air.

Governor Maggie Hassan:

“New Hampshire has been a leader in efforts to curb harmful emissions while encouraging the creation of innovative energy technologies that help our businesses succeed. It is important that the federal government recognize that states like New Hampshire have been hard at work on this effort for a number of years, and I hope that these rules will level the playing field by requiring other states to begin to catch up to us.

“It is also important that the Administration recognize that states need flexibility to develop their own policies to protect the health of our people and our economies. So I am encouraged that the new proposed regulations provide for state-specific solutions.

“Programs such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have brought numerous benefits to the Granite State, leading to new innovations while generating jobs and saving energy costs. We look forward to continuing to work with our regional partners to ensure that we reduce the harmful emissions that lead to climate change, while also helping to reduce energy costs, create jobs and encourage innovation in the state’s clean-energy economy.”

Statements from Local Voices

Art Greene of Littleton, NH and Trout Unlimited Ammonoosuc Chapter.

Mr. Greene has a Ph.D. in Particle Physics and has worked at several national laboratories in the U.S. and Europe. He retired from Brookhaven National Laboratory as a Senior Scientist where he assisted in the construction of several particle accelerators. In 1996 he moved to northern NH where he was Engineering Director for New England Wire Technologies, a company that manufactures many high technology wire and cable products including a key component for particle accelerators. His favorite places to fish in the Granite State include the Ammonoosuc River and Israel’s River.

“Many of us who love outdoor activities in NH have become increasingly concerned about climate change and its impact on us and on future generations.  I love the sport of fly fishing, particularly for Eastern Brook Trout which is a revered species where we live, and I have been very worried about increased water temperatures reducing the number of streams and rivers where Brook Trout can survive.  I am encouraged to hear that the Environmental Protection Agency will be imposing restrictions on carbon pollution from power plants, a key contributor to global warming.  This will help many forms of NH wildlife including our Brook Trout.”

Georgia Murray, Appalachian Mountain Club Air Scientist,

Ms Murray oversees AMC’s ambient air pollution monitoring program in cooperation with the NH Department of Environmental Services, EPA and U.S. Forest Service. She also works to advance science-based policy related to air quality.

“The good news is that air quality has improved, thanks to successful Clean Air Act cap-and-trade programs and Northeast states’ participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Mountain ozone levels have decreased, hazy polluted days have declined, and rain and cloud water are less acidic,” said Georgia Murray, Staff Scientist for the Appalachian Mountain Club. “The RGGI program has seen success with reduced CO2 emissions and increased energy efficiency investments that will pay off far into the future. AMC believes these same proven tools can be used to make much needed additional progress nationally.”

Lisa Doner, Research Assistant Professor with the Center for the Environment at Plymouth State University.

Ms Doner studies lake sediments to decipher past watershed changes. Her primary focus is on how climate interacts with other mechanisms for change including natural catastrophe (fire, flood, landslide, tsunami), human disturbance (agriculture, logging, development) and long-term trends (glaciations, tectonics, sea-level change). These projects are globally distributed, with lake sites in Utah, Maine, Baffin Island (Canada), Iceland and Turkey. Doner is also Chair of the Plymouth Conservation Commission.

“The EPA’s new rule matters because it gives us a handle on large point source polluters in our own country, including many that impact New England’s air quality. It also puts the US back in the global arena for discussing global problems caused by rising CO2 levels, such as sea level rise and ocean acidification. Finally, it demonstrates to our younger generations that, as a nation, we are willing to take action to protect their future. That reason to hope is probably the most important outcome of all.”

Phil Coupe, Co-Founder of Revision Energy

Phil is a managing partner of ReVision Energy, responsible for leadership in sales, marketing and strategic direction. An active member of the local community, he serves as Chair of Maine Audubon’s corporate partner program and on the board and of the Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine (E2Tech) and is a long time mentor in the Big Brother/Big Sister program.

“This state cash rebate program is creating jobs throughout New Hampshire and ReVision Energy is a perfect microcosm of that job creation–in just 3 years we have grown from two employees to a total of 18 in our Exeter, NH facility and we are continuing to hire. The new EPA carbon pollution will build upon New Hampshire’s existing policy framework, enabling us to grow our renewable energy business and create good-paying jobs while reducing fossil fuel consumption and harmful greenhouse gas emissions. By investing in local renewable energy, New Hampshire is building a powerful clean energy economy that will position our state to be economically and environmentally sustainable as we make the inevitable transition away from finite, polluting fossil fuels.

Cristine Trayner , Marketing Director at Water Country, Portsmouth, NH.

Mrs. Trayner was honored to be crowned Mrs. NH United States 2013 and has used her title to promote sustainability initiatives to local businesses and her own employer Water Country.

“Local governments and tourism dependent businesses are on the front lines, but we cannot manage alone. The federal government needs to reduce the carbon pollution that is chiefly responsible for our changing climate. The EPA rule to lower carbon emissions at existing power plants is an important step in the right direction because the rules will make a difference and they do show the United States is a leader in global climate change action.”

Join Us At The NH Progressive Summit 2014 On June 7th

NH Progressive Summit 2014 - Web Ad 600x315pHave you signed up for this year’s NH Progressive Summit?
What are you waiting for?

Click here to register.

The NH Labor News is a proud sponsor of the NH Progressive Summit.  The NHLN is an outspoken advocate for progressive actions in New Hampshire including increasing the minimum wage, expanding healthcare, protecting women’s rights, and protecting workers rights from legislation like Right To Work (for less).

(From the NH Progressive Summit website) 

“Last year’s NH Progressive Summit theme was “Restoring Balance and Common Sense.” This year, the theme is “Building the Progressive Movement.” Whether it’s advancing pro-active legislation at the state and federal level that represents our key progressive values, guarding against conservative rhetoric, or challenging corporate political corruption of our legislative and electoral process – we need to continue to build the progressive movement in our state and country.”

This year’s agenda in quickly taking shape and you can see what is going on here.  This year, I will be leading a panel with Susan Bruce on how to effectively uses social media to push a progressive message and to get media attention on stories that the local media may have missed.

There will also be a special keynote address from Richard Kirsch. “Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the author of ‘Fighting for Our Health.’”  Read more about Richard Kirsch on NH Progressive Summit’s website.

I expect that this year’s lunch panel will be a very controversial one.

“The 2014 Lunch Panel is on the Northern Pass, a controversial proposal to bring new energy, revenue, and jobs to New Hampshire while at the same time impacting the natural beauty and quiet in the heavily forested North Country with large towers and power lines. Several pieces of legislation at the State House seek to address this issue, and legal and community campaigns keep it front and center. For an early briefing on the issue, we recommend NH Public Radio, State Impact: Why The Northern Pass Project Matters.”

Registration is only $25 for a full day, or $15 for a half day.  Childcare will be provided to those who request it ahead of time.

 

Are you ready to register now?  Click here to register, and I hope to see you there!

Understand The Lie That 36,000 Criminal Aliens Were Released By ICE

(Image by Sasha Kimel)

(Image by Sasha Kimel)

Understanding ICE’s Release of Immigrants with Criminal Convictions
By Wendy Feliz at American Immigration Policy Center

Understanding the complexities of immigration law and its intersection with criminal law is not easy. Over the past month, a flood of reports about enforcement policies and deportation data have compounded the confusion. Some of these reports were clearly designed to derail genuine and productive conversations around immigration policy reform. Case in point, this week the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) issued a paper that claims over 36,000 “criminal aliens” were released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.

It’s important to understand a few key issues underlying this report:

First, it’s difficult to assess the methodology of their data collection or analysis because CIS makes none of it publicly available. There are no footnotes in the document, or citations of any kind. All of their data comes from “a document obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies,” which they don’t provide or describe. The chart in the report says nothing more than “Source: ICE.” The article then goes on to draw even more conclusions about the document that are based on “separate information” that is never discussed or identified.

However, even for those who are unwilling to challenge the integrity or value of the CIS “data,” it is still important to understand the following:

While all of the 36,000 they refer to may be foreign-born, by no means are they all unauthorized or “illegally” in the United States. In fact, many of them are likely to be legal permanent residents or green-card holders. So it may not even have been determined whether they can or should be deported from the United States. The offenses they committed may or may not even be grounds for revoking their green card and deporting them. Until that determination has been made, the use of alternatives to detention is not only consistent with the Constitutional principles and values that are the foundation of the judicial system in the United States, but it makes economic sense as well. DHS spends $5 million dollars per day (nearly $2 billion per year) detaining immigrants at a cost of $159 dollars per person, per day (fiscal year 2014). For people who have homes, family, and other ties to the community, who are unlikely to flee, and who pose no threat to the community, alternatives to detention are smart and effective. The test for detention should be an individualized consideration of public safety threat and flight risk, not a one size fits all rule that covers all immigrants.

Next, all the people identified in the CIS document appear to have paid their fine or done their time for their criminal offense. However, since they are foreign-born, after completion of their criminal sentences they are turned over to immigration authorities who determine if their offenses should result in deportation. Many of these people are legal permanent residents (including those who have been here for many years and have family here) who have a right to a hearing before they lose their status. Immigration proceeding are not meant to be, nor should they be, criminal proceedings. In fact, the justification for the lack of due process in immigration proceedings is that they are civil, not criminal. The demand for harsh detention and punitive treatment is completely at odds with what the immigration system is supposed to be. If we are going to treat these people like criminals, then CIS should be equally adamant in demanding full due-process rights. Not surprisingly, they are not.

Also, the overwhelming majorities of these convictions are for minor offenses and include things like tax fraud, disturbing the peace, traffic convictions, and other minor crimes that would be classified as misdemeanors for natives, but which for immigrants are often classified as felonies. Wild accusations notwithstanding, we know next to nothing about the true nature of the offenses or the potential threat that these people pose. DHS should be vigilant about protecting communities from those who truly pose a threat, but that is accomplished by looking at the facts, not by making decisions based on labels or fear- mongering.

Moreover, just like in the criminal justice system, the immigration laws contemplate that many individuals going through the court system can remain home while those proceedings are pending. All of these individuals were released under supervision because of basic Constitutional principles that apply to all people. The Supreme Court has affirmed that the United States cannot lock people up indefinitely after they have served their sentence. For those facing the possibility of indefinite detention, the Court has made it clear that there must be a process to review these cases and release people who can be safely released. However, for those who pose a “special risk to public safety,” they can continue to be detained.  All of the cases in the CIS report appear to have been determined to be cases where this exception does not apply.

Finally, there is nothing in the CIS paper which indicates that DHS has terminated proceedings or exercised any kind of prosecutorial discretion in these cases. Being “released” from custody doesn’t mean people are “set free.” They are released after paying a bond, under an order of supervision, with an ankle bracelet, etc. while DHS can and does continue to pursue a case against them.

There is no question that our current immigration laws and policies are broken, and the status quo is unsustainable. However, inflammatory rhetoric and baseless accusations are not going to get us an immigration system that is good for our economy, good for families, and that keeps our country safe. That will require our elected officials to move past political rhetoric and posturing and start debating what reform should look like. We can and should have laws that are fair, sensible, and humane – laws that are consistent with our Constitution and our values, and that will keep our country safe and improve our economy. The only question that remains is when will Congress act?

How Free Local Programs Are Building Strong Community Leaders (by Rep Sylvia Gale)

Looking for Leaders …..Everywhere
By Rep Sylvia Gale

Rep Sylvia Gale

Rep Sylvia Gale

We are at that time of year when many schools and colleges are wrapping up the academic year and graduation time looms near.

I have noticed over the past several years that many Leadership Programs have also been established, often by local Chambers of Commerce and other government and business oriented organizations to identify and develop those who are identified as leaders for the future.  Some, if not all of these Leadership programs charge fees for the privilege of participation and these programs vary in length, but often run concurrently with the traditional academic calendar. Over the past year I have become aware of several other Leadership Programs that are cultivating Leadership among much more diverse and somewhat surprising demographics.

One of the longest-standing peer-Leadership programs is the NH Women’s Leadership Series sponsored and developed by New Hampshire Citizens Alliance.  Now in its 7th year, this program offers a 6-week course which teaches skills from Analyzing Power and Fundraising 101 to How to Run a Successful Issue or Political Campaign.  Over the years, more than 200 women from all walks of life throughout New Hampshire have participated, ranging in age from 16-89 years old, and to date at least three former attendees have now been elected to the NH House of Representatives!  Other participating members have gone on to open new businesses and to accept leadership roles in various grassroots organizing campaigns.

This year, the NH Coalition to End Homelessness initiated the NH Granite Leaders Program.   Over the course of six months, more than 25 individuals from across the state who have been homeless in the past, or who are currently without safe and stable housing have participated in this inaugural program.  Through a variety of community and corporate sponsorships and partnerships this program was designed and delivered to build Leadership skills within the homeless and formerly homeless community, increasing their capacity to take on influential roles on issues pertinent to their lives.

As an elected member of the NH House of Representatives I was honored to host this class at the NH State House for one of their first sessions.  In collaboration with the League of NH Women Voters and Senate President Morse and Senator D’Allesandro the participants were provided with information as to How a Bill Becomes a Law and a vigorous question and answer session as to how voters can bring their ideas  forward into the Legislative arena as well as how to fully participate in that process from voting, to testifying in Committees and how best to convey their concerns and positions to their elected officials throughout all levels of state and municipal government.

Two weeks ago I had the honor of attending the Graduation Exercises for the Emerging Leaders Program in Nashua that was produced and delivered through a collaboration between the Adult Learning Center and the Granite State Organizing Project, with support from the Greater Nashua Interfaith Council.  During this event each of the nineteen graduates delivered a speech on what the 6-week sessions had meant to them and what they were taking away with them as a result of having completed this program.  Each of these very proud graduates, coming from a vast array of cultural, educational, and socio-economic backgrounds gave the program high praise and expressed gratitude for the self-esteem building and personal goal-setting skills that they had gained from their participation.

What is common to all of these Leadership Programs is the strength of relationship building that goes on throughout the time these program participants are spending together on a shared course of learning and development.   I applaud the accomplishments of all of those who have completed their individual and group course and project requirements this year, and look forward with great excitement to see these emerging leaders take their next steps toward making our local and statewide communities more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible to all!

Representative Sylvia E. Gale
Hills 28- Nashua Ward 1

 

 

 

Breaking Down Female Stereotypes In The Workplace — Impressions From An Office

For centuries women have been fighting for equality.  Men had no problem putting them to work, in and out of the house.  Women stood up for their rights, formed unions, and created a better workplace for everyone.

It was not long after that that women wanted to have a voice in the political arena. Women began to fight for their right to vote.  The banded together and after years of struggling, finally won the right to vote.

Now a century later, women are still looked at differently then men.  Some men still generalize women, and make outrageous and untruthful claims about women.

We live in a world of stereotypes.  Some are good, like the stereotype that people of Asian decent are better at math, however most are derogatory.  No matter what we do these stereotypes are hard to shake.

One of the worst stereotypes is ones placed on women in the workplace.  

Arnie Arnesen RadioArnie Arnesen is a friend of the NH Labor News and hosts a daily radio show, The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen.  For those who do not know Arnie, she was a State Rep, lawyer, author, radio commentator, professor, and in 1992 she ran for the position of NH Governor.  Given New Hampshire’s current elected representatives (2 female Senators, 2 female Congressional Representatives, and a female Governor) this may not seem strange, but in 1992, Arnie was the first woman to run for Governor of NH by a major party.

In a recent radio broadcast she talked about the strange questions she was asked on the campaign trail about being a woman, and being Governor.  They asked stupid questions like, “what will happen when she is on her period.”

To show reporters and constituents that they needed break away from the preconceived stereotypes of women in the workplace, Arnie would read the poem “Impressions From An Office.”  The poem shows how men and women are treated differently in the workplace.

Please share this with all your friends so we can continue to break down these stereotypes.  (Click here to share on Facebook or Twitter)

IMPRESSIONS FROM AN OFFICE
–Natasha Josefowitz

 The family picture on HIS desk.
Ah, a solid, responsible family man.
The family picture on HER desk.
Um, her family will come before her career.

HIS desk is cluttered.
He’s obviously a hard worker and a busy man.
HER desk is cluttered.
She obviously a disorganized scatterbrain.

HE is talking with his co-workers.
He must be discussing the latest deal.
SHE is talking with her co-workers.
She must be gossiping.

HE’s not at his desk.
He must be at a meeting.
SHE’s not at her desk.
She must be in the ladies’ room.

HE’s not in the office.
He’s meeting customers.
SHE’s not in the office.
She must be out shopping.

HE’s having lunch with his boss.
He’s on his way up.
SHE’s having lunch with her boss.
They must be having an affair.

The boss criticized HIM.
He’ll improve his performance.
The boss criticized HER.
She’ll be very upset.

HE got an unfair deal.
Did he get angry?
SHE got an unfair deal.
Did she cry?

HE’s getting married.
He’ll get more settled.
SHE’s getting married.
She’ll get pregnant and leave.

HE’s having a baby.
He’ll need a raise.
SHE’s having a baby.
She’ll cost the company money in maternity benefits.

HE’s going on a business trip.
It’s good for his career.
SHE’s going on a business trip.
What does her husband say?

He’s leaving for a better job.
He knows how to recognize a good opportunity.
SHE’s leaving for a better job.
Women are not dependable.

Small Gathering Of People In Nashua Talking About May Day, Immigration, and Voting

“Your Vote is Your Voice” — Rep. Sylvia Gale (Nashua)

Sylvia Gale and many others gathered to celebrate May Day and to push for immigration reform.

Before you vote, Gale said, make sure you know where they stand on the issues that matter to you.  Watch her short speech here.  Special thanks to ProfJoseph4855 who recorded it.

Video Description

Published on May 2, 2014

A great assembly of concerned folks rallied at Nashua City Hall on Thursday, May 1, 2014 to call for immigration reform so that hard working families can stay together without fear and that worker’s rights are extended to all, including immigrant families seeking a better life for themselves and their children. State Representative Sylvia Gale and champion of immigrant rights Eva Costello Stefani address the crowd.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
― Emma Lazarus [Statue of Liberty]

Congresswomen Shea-Porter, DeLauro To Host The NH Women’s Economic Agenda Summit (3-21-14)

Image by MARCN CC on Flickr

Image by MARCN CC on Flickr

Will be joined by NH House Speaker Terie Norelli and NH Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen

MANCHESTER, NH – On Friday, March 21, Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), along with NH Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen and NH House Speaker Terie Norelli, will host a summit on the economic issues facing women and their families in New Hampshire.

The summit will feature a panel discussion on paycheck fairness, work-life balance, and quality, affordable child care. It will be moderated by MaryAnn Manoogian, Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Business Advancement at SNHU, and will be followed by a Q&A session.

In July, Congresswomen DeLauro and Shea-Porter, along with their Democratic colleagues, launched When Women Succeed, America Succeeds:  An Economic Agenda for Women and Families. The initiative addresses the need for women to get equal pay for equal work. It promotes work and family balance, and it recognizes that expanded educational opportunities, increased job training, and investments in women entrepreneurs are all essential for women’s economic success.

Minority Leader Larsen has led the charge for paycheck fairness in New Hampshire. She championed passage of the Paycheck Equity Act, which recently passed the New Hampshire State Senate and will help women stand up for equal pay in the workplace. On average, women in New Hampshire still make only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Speaker Norelli recently oversaw passage of House Bill 1403, which implements a minimum wage of $8.25 per hour for 2015 and $9.00 for 2016, with automatic annual adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index. According to the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, in the Granite State, 59 percent of minimum wage workers are women.

WHO: Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)
NH House Speaker Terie Norelli
NH Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen

MODERATOR: MaryAnn Manoogian, Executive Director of the Center For Women’s Business Advancement at Southern New Hampshire University 

WHAT: A Summit on the Economic Issues Facing Women and their Families in New Hampshire

WHEN: Friday, March 21, 2014 from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Light lunch will be served

WHERE: Manchester Community College
1066 Front Street
Manchester, NH

 

NOTE: Members of the media are asked to RSVP to ben.wakana@mail.house.gov

 

Raising The Minimum Wage, Increases Employment And One City Proved It

Minimum Wage 101Tens of thousands of hard working Granite Staters are currently working and doing their best to survive in minimum wage jobs.  The time has come to raise the minimum wage.

The debate over raising the minimum wage has been raging throughout the United States since the minimum wage was first instituted in 1938.  The debate has not changed in over 70 years. Proponents claim raising the minimum wage will help low-wage workers and will boost the economy because workers will have more spendable income.  The opponents claim that an increase to the minimum wage will cost jobs, therefore hurting the economy, leading to higher unemployment and massive inflation.

Both sides have merit, however the facts continue to prove that an increase to the minimum wage is far more beneficial to workers, employers and the economy.

Many states and large cities have already moved to increase the minimum wage above and beyond the federal minimum of $7.25.   San Francisco was one of the early leaders in pushing up the minimum wage. In fact the city raised their minimum wage in 2004 and indexed it to inflation.  Currently the minimum wage in San Francisco is $10.74, well above the federal minimum, and even more than the proposed $10.10 federal minimum wage increase.

The fact that San Francisco raised the minimum wage almost a decade ago has given us a real life test bed for how it will impact the local economy.  The results were staggering. In San Francisco between 2004-2011, private employment grew by 5.6%.  Neighboring towns also benefited from the increase.  The entire Santa Clara Country saw a 3% increase in private employment.

More importantly employment in the food service industry grew by 17.7%, debunking the myth that raising the minimum wage will cost low-wage workers their jobs.

That is not to say that there were not drawbacks to raising the minimum wage.  There was a minor (2.8%) increase in prices at local fast food restaurants compared to the surrounding areas.  This increase would mean that your $2.00 hamburger now costs $2.06.  This is hardly the massive inflation that some people claim.

The minimum wage increase in San Francisco also benefited low-wage employers.  According to Ken Jacobs, chairman of the US Berkley Labor Center, turnover in low-wage jobs “decreased by 60%”, which saves employers from having to spend additional money to hire and train new workers.

New Hampshire is now at a crossroad, do we increase the minimum wage to benefit our local economy, or do continue to survive in this stagnant economy.  HB 1403 would incrementally raise the minimum wage in NH to $9.00 over the next two years, and then tie it to the Consumer Price Index.

Americans overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage.  The Quinnipiac University Poll showed that 71% support an increase.  The Washington Post Poll found similar results, 66% support an increase.  The Washington Post Poll went one step further by asking what the minimum wage should be.  The median response was $9.00 per hour.

The New Hampshire Legislature must do what is best for all Granite Staters and the local economy by raise the minimum wage.

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