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Newspaper Guild of New York Represented Employees at Scholastic Unanimously Ratify Contract

The Newspaper GuildNEW YORK: The Newspaper Guild of New York, CWA Local 31003, announced today that the Guild-represented employees at Scholastic Inc. [NASDAQ: SCHL] unanimously ratified a contract that includes raises and safeguards for the 55 editors, writers, photographers, designers and other employees who create the content for the company’s educational publications.

The new agreement, which runs through May 16, 2016, followed a marathon bargaining session on Aug. 21 and 22, and three more weeks during which the parties drafted contract language. It was unanimously ratified today by the Guild’s Scholastic bargaining unit.

“Our new contract with Scholastic provides employees with much-needed raises and workplace protections that secures their jobs as more content is delivered digitally,” said New York Guild President Bill O’Meara.

Guild Unit Chair Kathy Wilmore said, “The negotiating committee and Guild staff worked countless hours to achieve a contract that protects the wages, benefits and working conditions of Scholastic employees. I am gratified at the unanimous “Yes” vote for the new contract.”

The new contract gives Guild-represented employees a 1 percent bonus, 7 percent in compounded wage increases over its life, including raises retroactive to July 1, 2013, as well as contract protection that continues regardless of changes in the way content is delivered.

“This contract ensures that we receive the raises we deserve and that our jobs are not at risk,” said negotiating committee member Eric Russ. “I was happy to vote for it along with all my colleagues.”

Negotiations between Scholastic and the Guild began in 2012.

About the Newspaper Guild of New York

The Guild, Local 31003 of the Communications Workers of America, represents more than 2800 journalists and other employees, mostly at New York area-based news organizations, including The New York Times, Thomson Reuters and Time Inc. It was launched in 1934 by a group of journalists that included crusading columnist Heywood Broun.

AFL-CIO Announces Targeted Mail Campaign In Select States

AFLCIO MailMail to hit nearly 1 million households in AK, CO, CT, FL, IA, IL, KY, ME, MI and WI

(Washington, DC)—This week the AFL-CIO will launch its 2014 mail program, designed to persuade voters to support working family candidates. The mail is part of the AFL-CIO’s massive political mobilization program, which includes knocking on doors, distributing worksite fliers and phone banking. With more than 12 million members, the AFL-CIO’s boots on the ground make it one of the largest grassroots efforts in the country.

This week’s mail program includes 25 different pieces in 10 states: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan and Wisconsin. The mail specifies the economic stakes this fall for all working people. The program is built on the trust and solidarity within unions and is designed to encourage voting even among working people who are discouraged by the weak economy.

Subjects include the need for working people to vote to counteract corporate control of politics, hold accountable pro-Wall Street politicians, support public education and enable paid sick leave. This mail program will continue through Election Day, and conversations with union members about working family candidates will continue into 2015 and beyond.

To view individual mail pieces, click on this link or paste it into your browser: http://www.aflcio.org/Legislation-and-Politics/2014-Printed-Mail-Political-Ads

AFT’s Statement On New Testing Bill In US House

AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis) -2

AFT Pres Randi Weingarten 2014 convention (Image by Russ Curtis)

WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten statement on the introduction of rep Israels accountability bill:

“The current fixation on high-stakes testing is denying children the engaging, meaningful education they deserve. Testing not only is soaking up too much time and narrowing the curriculum, but is less and less a measure of what kids need to know and be able to do. Standardized tests these days are driving teaching and learning, rather than giving teachers and parents useful data and feedback to help children.

“That is why this bill allowing states to reduce testing is an important step. It also points to the need to build a new accountability system that uses testing as a way to inform instruction, emphasizes meaningful learning, and includes the resources and capacity schools, students and teachers need to continuously improve.

“I would like to thank Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) for his leadership in recognizing the problems of excessive testing, and look forward to working with him to strengthen the bill in the next legislative session.”

Prominent Journalist to Help AFSC Launch Presidential Campaign Season Project

John Nichols, Washington Correspondent for The Nation, to speak Sept. 27 in Concord

John Nichols (Richard Hurd FLIKR CC)

John Nichols (Image by Richard Hurd FLIKR CC)

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – The American Friends Service Committee will launch its New Hampshire-based Presidential Campaign Project at a September 27 benefit dinner featuring John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation and co-author of Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.

The AFSC plans to conduct educational programs from now until the 2016 New Hampshire Primary on the theme of “Governing Under the Influence,” a slogan meant to illuminate the outsized control over government policy held by major corporations.

“Since President Dwight Eisenhower warned the nation about the military-industrial-complex, corporations have found even more ways to exercise their influence over public policy in Washington,” said Arnie Alpert, the Quaker organization’s long-time New Hampshire Director.   “The loud voices of the corporations threatens to drown out the voices of real people.”

According to Alpert, the AFSC will train grassroots activists to make the issue of corporate influence one of the signature issues of the unfolding campaigns in New Hampshire and Iowa.   The project’s “Governing Under the Influence” banners made their national debut last weekend outside Senator Tom Harkin’s “steak fry” in Iowa.

The AFSC event will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 274 Pleasant Street in Concord, starting with snacks at 5:30 PM, followed by a buffet dinner and the program with John Nichols.  Suggested donation for the event is $20 to $75 per person “as you are able.”

In addition to writing for The Nation, John Nichols is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.  He is a frequent guest on radio and television programs as a commentator on politics and media issues.

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that works worldwide on programs supporting peace, social justice, and humanitarian development.  Since 1975 its New Hampshire Program has led efforts on a wide range of issues, including establishment of Martin Luther King Day, expansion of opportunities for affordable housing, and support for the rights of immigrants and refugees.  In earlier NH Primary cycles, AFSC’s educational efforts have driven concerns over nuclear weapons, the cost of the previous Iraq war, and international trade policy into the nation’s political discourse.

See http://afsc.org/event/afsc-nh-annual-fundraiser-john-nichols for additional information.

American Federation of Teachers-NH Endorses Governor Maggie Hassan and Strong Education Record for Re-Election

Hassan_AFT_Endorsement_2014MANCHESTER—Citing her unwavering commitment to expanding opportunity for New Hampshire’s working families, the American Federation of Teachers-New Hampshire (AFT-NH) announced its endorsement of Governor Maggie Hassan for re-election.

“Governor Maggie Hassan has been a relentless fighter for the priorities of working families, particularly for strengthening our schools and making it easier for families to afford college. We must re-elect her so that we can continue striving to ensure that every child has the opportunity to succeed,” said AFT-NH President Laura Hainey. “It’s all too clear that Walt Havenstein does not share the priorities of working Granite Staters as he pushes a so-called ‘plan’ that would create a $90 million hole in the state’s budget to give more tax breaks to big businesses at the expense of middle class families. From working across party lines to expand health coverage to 50,000 Granite Staters, to freezing in-state tuition and preserving funding for K-12 education, Governor Hassan has proven that she will always be there for our state’s children and working families, and that’s why we’ll be there for her this November.”

“It’s an honor to have earned the support of AFT-NH, whose members help educate our children, protect our citizens, and strengthen our communities each and every day,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Over the past year and a half, we have proven that we can come together to balance our budget without a sales or income tax and invest in the priorities that will help create good-paying jobs and expand middle class opportunity. Our children and our state simply cannot afford to let my opponent take us back to the same devastating cuts to education, health care and public safety that hurt our economy and middle class families during the Bill O’Brien era. We must keep our New Hampshire moving in the right direction toward a brighter economic future for all children and families.”

Governor Hassan worked across party lines to pass a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that maintained funding for K-12 education and restored funding for higher education – making it possible to freeze in-state tuition at the university system and reduce tuition at our community colleges.

The Governor created a Science Technology Engineering and Math Task Force to modernize STEM education in our public schools, and launched a new effort to partner manufacturing companies directly with classes at local schools, building relationships that can lead to a stronger workforce pipeline. She also established a public-private initiative with Manchester-based Media Power Youth aimed at reducing the risk of violence and crime in our schools and communities.

The Governor will continue working to ensure that we maintain New Hampshire’s status as one of the safest states in the nation, and that our children have access to a world-class education in order to be prepared for success in the 21st century economy.

About AFT-NH

AFT-NH is the State Affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. The AFT has over one million members with nearly 4,000 members here in New Hampshire. These members are teachers, school support staff, police, higher education faculty and town employees. AFT-NH is a member of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO which represents over 45,000 working men and women.

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Governor Hassan, Senator Shaheen Announce Five NH Projects to Receive Northern Border Regional Commission Grant

Grants to Help Spur Economic and Community Development in the North Country

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today announced that five New Hampshire projects will receive grant funding from the Northern Border Regional Commission to help spur economic and community development in the North Country.

Totaling $968,365, the five grants will be awarded to the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network (WREN), the Town of Littleton, the Coos Economic Development Council, the Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC) and the University of New Hampshire Broadband Mapping and Planning Program.

“The Northern Border Regional Commission is an important regional collaboration and federal-state partnership that helps spur economic and community development in some of our most economically distressed areas,” Governor Hassan said. “These five projects will address infrastructure and transportation needs and promote business development across the North Country, creating jobs and strengthening our economy. I thank Senator Shaheen, the Northern Border Regional Commission and our regional partners in Maine, New York and Vermont for their efforts to help make this important investment in our people, businesses and communities a reality.”

“Today’s announcement is great news for jobs and the economy in northern New Hampshire,” Senator Shaheen said. “These five projects will support small business growth while addressing important infrastructure needs that are crucial for economic development in the North Country. I am hopeful that with the support of this grant, we will see a rejuvenation of North Country communities and businesses that have faced significant economic challenges.”

“This is great news for the North Country,” state Senator Jeff Woodburn said. “Each of these projects will in their own way contribute to revitalizing our economy, improving life for people and our business community.  I’m grateful to the persistent leadership of these organizations who applied for these grants and work tirelessly to improve our communities, and our national, regional and state officials who advocated so strongly for us.”

WREN will receive a $161,670 grant to create an entrepreneurial training center and “maker space” to serve more than an estimated 75 emerging and existing entrepreneurs.

The Town of Littleton will receive $250,000 to support a Main Street revitalization project, with two businesses already saying they plan to expand once the project is completed. Littleton will construct a multi-use bridge over the Ammonoosuc River, which will connect pedestrians, bicycles and off-road vehicles with downtown and the riverfront.

The Coos Economic Development Council will receive a $250,000 grant to construct a new cell tower on Cummings Mountain in West Dummer, a strategic connection that will provide service in unserved areas of Coos County, encouraging business development and enhancing emergency communications.

The NCIC will receive a $200,000 grant to expand and improve the NH Grand website, an important visitor information portal for Coos County.  NH Grand supports tourism marketing initiatives, and the funding will be used to incorporate new features on the website, including search engine optimization, multi-lingual accessibility, mapping and teletype, as well as a booking system and marketing opportunities via search engine sponsorships.

The University of New Hampshire Broadband Mapping and Planning Program will receive a $106,695 grant to extend and enhance its broadband availability and mapping activities to the rural addresses of Coos County. The project will provide data about service availability in unserved and underserved areas in the region, which will be used to prioritize where investment should be focused to expand broadband access and to provide information to people and businesses considering relocating to the region.

The NBRC was created as a federal-state partnership approved in the 2008 Farm Bill, with a mission to address the economic and community development needs in economically distressed communities in the Northern Forest region, which includes New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and New York.

Statement By Richard Trumka On American Airlines And US Airways Unionization Vote

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

“Today, thousands of workers embraced a union future. The hardworking men and women of American Airlines and US Airways voted for union representation and a legally binding contract. Their collective skill has built successful airlines, and their collective voice will build successful workplaces.

“It should not be lost on the pundits that most of the nearly 14,500 new union members work in southern states. The right to a voice at work doesn’t have a geographic predisposition, and this victory will energize ongoing organizing efforts in the South.

“I want to thank all parties involved, including elected officials, for enabling workers to have a free and fair election. And I especially want to congratulate CWA and the Teamsters on helping give these workers a voice.

“Clearly, one of the largest labor organizing victories in the South in decades is a historic day. But it also shows that the future of the U.S. labor movement is alive, as these workers can be found at airports, call centers, even working from home. The right to collectively bargain will always be what our working family fights for.”

MA Truth Team: Brown’s Big Oil, Wall Street Record Is Wrong for New Hampshire

Those Who Know Brown Best Highlight How Brown Failed Small Businesses, Women, Students, and Working Families 

10614242_10153178479977785_6783427704573705127_nManchester, NH—A dozen concerned men and women from Massachusetts, which included an elected state representative, union members, a women’s health advocate, a retired educator, and small business owners—traveled to Manchester today to launch the “Massachusetts Truth Team,” highlighting why Scott Brown was wrong for Massachusetts and is not for New Hampshire. The group specifically highlighted Brown’s opposition to equal pay protections for women, the minimum wage, and support for small businesses, along with his support for Big Oil, Wall Street, and tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs as reason why New Hampshire can’t afford to support him this November.

“These men and women are highlighting how Scott Brown’s record was wrong for Massachusetts and is not for New Hampshire,” said Former NHDP Chair Kathy Sullivan. “Instead of voting in the interest of working families, he voted to protect special breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. Instead of protecting small businesses, he voted repeatedly to protect tax breaks for the big oil companies, making record profits. Instead of protecting women’s health choices, he supported the Blunt Amendment and defended the Hobby Lobby decision.”

“During a time when Massachusetts workers needed good-paying jobs, Scott Brown voted to protect special breaks for companies that send American jobs overseas, tax breaks for Big Oil, and scored a sweetheart deal for Wall Street banks when he watered down regulations and got them off the hook for $19 billion to help pay for reforms,” said small business owner Barbara Weniger. “As a small business owner, that was all I needed to see to know that he wasn’t looking out for me – he was looking out for the out-of-state special interest groups that were lining his campaign coffers. Wherever Scott Brown goes, we know who has his ear—and that’s Wall Street.”

“Scott Brown was our Senator in Massachusetts when many families were having a tough time just paying the bills,” said Linda Harvey, who operates her own law firm and often represents working families. “He spent his entire campaign riding around in his truck, telling families like mine that he was one of us. But once he got there, we found out who Scott Brown really stood for: Wall Street and Big Oil. As someone who’s seen Scott Brown campaign before, I say this: don’t buy what he’s selling.”

“When Scott Brown was in Massachusetts, he always delivered for Big Oil and Wall Street, but he left Massachusetts students in the dust, voting to cut programs like Pell Grants and Head Start that put our kids on a path to success,” said retired teacher Lois Jacobs. “Nothing does more to promote opportunity in this country than access to an affordable, quality education. But Scott Brown voted time and time again to make cuts to education while supporting special breaks for Big Oil and Wall Street.”

“Once Scott Brown became a Senator, it became clear who he was,” said Secretary Treasurer of New England Regional Council of Carpenters, Mark Erlich. “In 2010, he voted three times against extending unemployment benefits during the greatest recession since the Great Depression. He voted twice against job creation legislation, even recently saying that he does not believe that a Senator should create jobs. Meanwhile, he voted to protect $24 billion in tax subsidies for Big Oil companies, and he watered down regulations for big banks, saving them $19 billion. New Hampshire is a great state, and my view is that New Hampshire deserves better.”

“When Scott Brown was Senator in Massachusetts, women learned the hard way that he’s not someone we can trust, especially when it comes to pay equity and women’s health,” said Megan Amundson, Executive Director of Massachusetts NARAL. “He’s always talked a big game about being bipartisan and protecting a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, he let us down when it counted every time. Scott Brown lost his seat in Massachusetts because he does not stand with women, so women did not stand with him. Make no mistake—nothing has changed. He will represent New Hampshire women just as poorly as he represented Massachusetts women.”

“Since Scott Brown moved to New Hampshire, he has been rejecting research and statistics that show that an increase in the minimum wage results in faster job growth, and he has ignored the fact that more than 110,000 Granite Staters, of which 60% are women, would get a much-needed raise if the federal minimum wage were increased to $10.10 an hour,” said State Representative Tom Conroy. “Scott Brown has spent months struggling to explain why he opposes raising the minimum wage, which is exactly why Brown has the wrong priorities for New Hampshire. He’s turning his back on hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters, all while he collects a $270,000 paycheck from a company that outsourced American jobs. Brown even endorsing that business strategy. I urge Granite Staters to reject Brown on November 4th.”

Over the next seven weeks, the Massachusetts Truth Team will show how Scott Brown was wrong for Massachusetts and is not for New Hampshire as he attempts to distort the facts about his positions and rewrite history as a Senate candidate in New Hampshire.

UNION YES! New American Airlines Passenger Service Agents Vote Big for Union Representation

American Airlines B777 (Aero Icarus CC FLICKR)

American Airlines B777 (Aero Icarus CC FLICKR)

Election is biggest union organizing victory in the South in decades

WASHINGTON — 9,000 American Airlines passenger service agents, after a 19-year struggle, joined together today in a vote with the members of the US Airways CWA-IBT Association to form a new bargaining unit of 14,500 agents at American Airlines. It is the largest labor organizing victory in the South in decades.

Three-quarters of the agents work in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona and 2,300 are home-based reservations agents.

By an 86 percent vote, airport and reservations agents overwhelmingly chose representation by the Communications Workers of America-Teamsters Association in the National Mediation Board election; results of the vote were announced this afternoon. US Airways and American Airlines merged to form the New American Airlines in 2013.

The vote clearly shows that workers who can make a fair choice about union representation want bargaining rights. New American agents are concentrated in southern states, and work at diverse locations, including large and smaller airports, call centers and at home. Across every group, they voted for bargaining rights and union representation.

Richard Shaughnessy has been an agent at Miami International Airport for 27 years and has been a leader of the American agents’ fight for a voice and bargaining rights.

“The merger between American Airlines and US Airways is an exciting time for all of us. But even more exciting is our victory today,” he said. “We’re the front line employees who interact with our customers every day, and we are looking forward to a positive relationship with management to make this merger ‘work’ for all of us. We are anxious to get to the bargaining table.”

Carroll Locklear is a home based reservations agent in Texas. “I’ve been with American Airlines for 18 years and through all of those years I have been praying for this day. We have been the odd employees out for so long, because we were the only employees without union representation. Gone are the days that management can take what want when they want. This will be  a win-win for all of us,” Locklear said.

“We feel stronger now with this vote,” Eula Smith, a customer service agent in Charlotte, said. “I’m a 60-year-old woman with 42 years with this employer. You can’t live in the South and make a decent wage unless you are in senior management in a corporation or belong to a union. We need this. We need not just a union, we need CWA.”

Ken Grunwald is a 23-year-reservations agent, working at the call center in North Carolina. “I’m proud to remember everyone over the years who worked so hard for our union voice, who never gave up in the face of adversity, and who gave their blood, sweat and tears so that we would have the opportunity to celebrate this victory today. It’s a victory for all American Airlines employees! I’m so excited to think that we will finally be able to negotiate a legally binding contract. We now all have each other’s ‘back,’“ Grunwald said.

Vickey Hoots has been a US Airways reservations agent at the Winston-Salem N.C., cell center for 29 years. “This win was a long time in coming, at American Airlines, just as it was  at US Airways. I’m so proud of all our members and we’re excited that we will be able to negotiate the industry leading contract that our members deserve,” Hoots said.

Janet Elston, an agent at Dallas International Airport, says, “19 years ago, a handful of agents started a drive to obtain representation for AA airport and reservations agents. Many hundreds of activists have spent thousands of hours over the years to get us to today’s election result. They never wavered and never, ever gave up. We have finally achieved what most thought was impossible: union representation for our work group. Now we’ll begin a new working relationship with our company, with a legal binding contract.”

US Airways agents have been CWA members since 2000. US Airways merged with America West in 2005; passenger service agents at the former America West had organized with the IBT in 2004. After the merger, the CWA and the IBT formed the Airline Customer Service Employee Association, CWA-IBT.

CWA represents 700,000 working men and women in telecommunications; media; airlines; the public; health care and education sector; and manufacturing.

Greater Transparency Can Prevent Workplace Fatalities, Says National Safety Group

Bureau of Labor Statistics Must Release Data on Where and How Workers Die on the Job

NCOSH 300X250LONGMEADOW, MA —  The release today of the preliminary Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the need for greater transparency and full disclosure about workplace deaths, says Mary Vogel, Executive Director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).

“We know that 4,405 U.S. workers died on the job in 2013, a tragic loss for their families and communities,” said Vogel. “We know that when final data is released, there will be even more fatalities to mourn.  We know, based on decades of research and practice, that the vast majority of these deaths can be prevented.  We also know how to prevent the tens of thousands of deaths, not included in today’s census, which result each year from long-term exposure to toxic chemicals, unsafe practices and other workplace hazards.”

 “What we don’t know – even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects this information – is the name of each victim, their employer, and the specific circumstances leading to their deaths.”

 “We want to have as much factual information as we can about how our loved ones lost their lives at work,” said Tammy Miser of United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities, a national organization which brings together surviving family members of workers who have died on the job. “Rather than just counting bodies, we need a complete accounting of the circumstances of each individual case. Understanding what happened in the past is crucial so we can save lives in the future.”

“We need greater disclosure and transparency to transform a data collection program into a public health tool,” said Celeste Monforton, who is a professorial lecturer at the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University.

“Right now, we’re missing opportunities to prevent injuries and deaths because fatality information is hidden within inspection files,” she said. “The more we see, the more we know, the more successful we can be in preventing future tragedies.”

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace.  “Preventable Deaths 2014,” a National COSH report, describes workplace fatalities in the United States and how they can be prevented. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org.  Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

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