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Senator Shaheen Meets With Officials At Sarah Long Bridge On Replacement Project

By Eric L. Reuter via Wikimedia Commons
By Eric L. Reuter via Wikimedia Commons

By Eric L. Reuter via Wikimedia Commons

At Sarah Long Bridge in Portsmouth, Shaheen discusses efforts to
repair and replace aging New Hampshire infrastructure

 (Portsmouth) – On November 21st, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) met with state officials at the New Hampshire Port Authority to tour the Sarah Long Bridge replacement project site and discuss New Hampshire infrastructure. While with officials from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT), Shaheen discussed the need for continued infrastructure investments to improve public safety and economic competiveness, emphasizing the importance of continued support for the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Return (TIGER) program.

“Replacing the Sarah Long Bridge is an essential infrastructure project that will support economic activity in New Hampshire and Maine and the national security needs served by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard,” Shaheen said. “The Sarah Long Bridge replacement project has been a bipartisan, bi-state effort that will benefit our economy for years to come, and I applaud the New Hampshire and Maine Departments of Transportation’s combined efforts to make this project a success.”

Shaheen has been a strong supporter of efforts to modernize and maintain New Hampshire’s infrastructure. She was a lead advocate for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s and Maine Department of Transportation’s joint application to replace the Sarah Long Bridge under the TIGER program. TIGER funds have been critical to many important New Hampshire projects including the replacement of the Memorial Bridge in PortsmouthConcord’s Downtown Complete Streets Improvement Project and improvements to the New Hampshire Northcoast Railroad.

Kuster Volunteers at Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter


Kuster strongly supports federal efforts to strengthen hunger relief programs 

Nashua, NH – On Friday, November 21, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) visited the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter to volunteer, tour the agency’s new facility, and learn about the organization’s work to ensure that every Nashua resident has a warm place to find food and shelter this holiday season. The visit also provided an opportunity for Congresswoman Kuster to hear about ways she can help support hunger relief efforts at the federal level.

The Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter has been helping serve the local Nashua community since its founding in 1981. The shelter offers both hunger relief programs and services to help individuals get back on their feet.

“During the holiday season, it’s truly incredible to see so many volunteers giving their time and energy to support their community and help people in need. I applaud the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter for creating a safe place where vulnerable people in Nashua can come to stay warm and get a good meal,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I feel lucky to have the opportunity to help out and see the inspiring work they do here. In Washington, I will continue to work to ensure organizations like this have the support they need to keep serving the people of this community.”

Kuster has been a strong supporter of federal efforts to benefit food banks and soup kitchens, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, programs that support local farmers and farmers markets, and the Meals on Wheels program. She also introduced the Hunters Feeding the Hungry Act with Congressman Don Young (AK-AL), a bipartisan bill that would provide a tax credit to hunters who donate game to food charities. Additionally, Kuster supported the America Gives More Act to permanently extend the food donation tax deduction, which rewards small businesses that donate excess food to qualified nonprofits.

Congresswoman Kuster is the first New Hampshire Representative to serve on the Agriculture Committee in decades, which has jurisdiction over many hunger relief programs.  She worked across the aisle to successfully pass a Farm Bill last year, and she continues to fight for our local farmers in Washington, many of whom assist in the Granite State’s hunger relief efforts by donating fresh, nutritious food to local food charities and farmers’ markets that serve low-income populations.

New Poll: New Hampshire Voters Want Senator-Elect Shaheen to Tackle Climate Crisis

Sierra Club Logo

Survey Shows Strong Support for Clean Energy and the Clean Power Plan

See The Results Here

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Sierra Club released the results of a new post-election poll conducted by Hart Research Associates showing that, regardless of whom they voted for, New Hampshire voters who participated in the 2014 midterms want the next Congress to act on the climate crisis now.

In New Hampshire, fully 66 percent of voters want Senator-elect Jeanne Shaheen to support efforts to protect communities from climate disruption.

“These findings make it clear that no matter which party they identify with or who they supported in the midterm elections, New Hampshire voters did not vote for dirty air, dirty water, or climate denial,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “Large majorities of voters support the President’s plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants and want policies to grow New Hampshire’s clean energy economy. The next Congress better listen up.”

In fact, this new poll shows 65 percent of voters favor the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants for the first time ever, while 69 percent indicated they are more likely to support a candidate who wants to increase the use of renewable energy.

A Summary of Key Findings in New Hampshire:

     65 percent of voters favor the EPA’s plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants — including 93 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents, and 42 percent of Republicans.

     66 percent of New Hampshire voters would be more likely to support a candidate who supports that EPA plan over a candidate that does not.

     66 percent of voters favor candidates who accept the scientific consensus on climate disruption over those candidates who do not.

     66 percent of voters want Senator-elect Shaheen to support efforts to address the effects of climate change.

     69 percent of voters are more likely to support a candidate who wants to increase the use of renewable energy rather than a candidate pushing to increase the use of traditional energy.

This poll was conducted as part of a battleground state survey by Hart Research Associates for The Sierra Club. Approximately 500 voters in each of six states — including Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – were interviewed via landline and cell phone between November 6 and 10, immediately following the mid-term elections. The margin of error is ±4 percentage points for each statewide sample.

See The Results Here

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

Wave of Actions by FairPoint Strikers Continues Friday in Manchester

FairPoint Communications

FairPoint strikers converge on company’s Elm Street offices calling for good jobs, quality service, and a Fair Deal for New England

Workers escalating their campaign after negotiators from North Carolina-based FairPoint made no movement at meeting earlier this week

Manchester protest marks the third major action by FairPoint strikers in two days, following events Thursday in Montpelier and Boston

WHEN: Friday, November 21, Noon – 1:00 p.m.

WHERE: 770 Elm Street, Manchester, N.H.

Fairness at Fairpoint BannerMANCHESTER — A wave of actions by striking FairPoint workers continues Friday in Manchester. Strikers and supporters from across New England are rallying on the picket line outside FairPoint’s Elm Street offices.

The striking workers are calling on the company, which is headquartered in North Carolina, to reach a Fair Deal for New England. They say that deep and damaging cuts the company is seeking in negotiations would make it impossible to deliver quality service to customers.

“The executives back in North Carolina don’t get it, but they’ve created a crisis here in New England,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320, which represents FairPoint workers in New Hampshire. “By attacking their skilled workers, FairPoint has left our customers relying on unqualified contractors who can’t do the work.”

The Manchester protest will mark the strikers’ third major action against FairPoint in two days. On Thursday morning, a delegation of strikers and supporters protested against FairPoint’s biggest shareholder — Wall Street hedge fund Angelo, Gordon & Co. — at an investor conference in Boston. At noon, the strikers held a major rally at the Vermont state capitol in Montpelier.

Earlier this week, union representatives participated in an effort to jump-start the deadlocked talks. They attended a meeting Tuesday with the company arranged by a federal mediator. But the meeting broke up quickly after FairPoint officials refused to modify demands for severe cuts that they’ve been seeking since bargaining began this spring.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan issued a statement after Tuesday’s meeting, saying, “I know that FairPoint workers, who stood by the company throughout its bankruptcy proceedings, have brought a constructive approach to the table and offered real concessions, and I encourage FairPoint’s leadership in North Carolina to do the same.”

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin spoke at Thursday’s rally in Montpelier, and said he had talked to the CEO of FairPoint two days earlier. Shumlin said he had urged the CEO to return to the table with the FairPoint strikers so they could “get service back to a level that is acceptable.”

Since the strike began on October 17, FairPoint has been struggling to maintain its northern New England systems with replacement workers hired from out of state. On Monday, Vermont’s Department of Public Service reported that it has received 271 complaints from Fairpoint customers during the strike, a significant increase.

The negotiations for a new contract at FairPoint began in April, and from the outset company officials pressed to increase outsourcing, cut pay for new workers and slash benefits for all employees. The workers have offered more than $200 million in cost-saving compromises during the talks. But the company has not altered its initial demand for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

AFL-CIO Seeks End to “Revolving Door” Payments


Large financial institutions give bonuses to their employees for taking jobs in government.

(Washington DC) AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today sent letters to seven large Wall Street banks calling for the banks to explain questionable compensation practices. Each bank (Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Lazard) provides the opportunity for additional compensation to employees who leave the bank to work for the government.

As an institutional investor, the AFL-CIO has called on each bank’s compensation committee to offer a detailed explanation of how bankers leaving their company to enter government service benefits their old employer.

“When senior executives leave Wall Street companies to work in the government, that means the loss of valuable human capital,” said Heather Slavkin Corzo, Director of the AFL-CIO’s Office of Investment. “So how is it in the interest of shareholders to allow for accelerated vesting or other incentives in exchange for leaving the company?  Unless the position of these companies is that this is just a backdoor way to pay off a newly minted government official to act in Wall Street’s private interests rather than the public interest, it is very difficult to see how these policies promote long-term shareholder value.”

Copies of the letter can be found at the links below:

Morgan Stanley:


Goldman Sachs:

JP Morgan Chase:

Bank of America:

Wells Fargo:



New Hampshire Submits Premium Assistance Waiver for Health Care Expansion to Federal Government

new hampshire NH flag

Waiver Will Allow Expansion Population to Enroll in Private Plans on Health Insurance Marketplace

CONCORD – Continuing efforts to implement the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program in order to improve the health and financial security of Granite State families, Governor Maggie Hassan announced today that the New Hampshire Department of Health Human Services (DHHS) submitted a waiver to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today that will allow the New Hampshire Health Protection population to enroll in private plans on New Hampshire’s federally facilitated marketplace beginning in 2016.

As required by the bipartisan health care expansion legislation that the Governor signed in March, the waiver establishes a mandatory qualified health plan premium assistance program for individuals in the new adult group. The waiver was approved in a bipartisan vote by New Hampshire’s Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee earlier this month after receiving input from legislators and other stakeholders during the public hearing and comment process.

“This waiver is an important part of our efforts to improve the health and financial well-being of Granite State families, businesses and communities through our bipartisan health care expansion plan,” Governor Hassan said. “Almost 24,000 Granite Staters have the security that comes with quality, affordable health insurance because of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, and if approved, this waiver will allow these people to choose private insurance on the health insurance marketplace.”

“This will strengthen our efforts to bring competition to our health insurance marketplace, improving affordability and increasing choices for all New Hampshire citizens, while also helping reduce levels of uncompensated care that shift costs onto all of our people and businesses,” Governor Hassan said. “Our bipartisan health care expansion plan is a uniquely New Hampshire solution, and I urge the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid to approve this waiver as quickly as possible.”

If CMS approves the premium assistance waiver on or before March 31, 2015, the Voluntary Bridge to Marketplace Program – the current expansion program – will continue through the end of the year. In October 2015, individuals in the expansion population who are not enrolled in the mandatory Health Insurance Premium Payment program – which provides premium assistance to individuals with employer-provided health insurance – and individuals who are not deemed to be medically frail will begin enrolling in private Qualified Health Plans with premium assistance via New Hampshire’s federally facilitated marketplace.

“The Department’s efforts continue to focus on expanding access to health care and improving the health and well-being of all our people,” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “This waiver submission will further our health reform efforts, and we look forward to working closely with all of our public health and federal partners to ensure that this waiver is approved as quickly as possible so that we can continue to improve the health of those we serve.”

The purchase of Qualified Health Plans via the marketplace will be paid for with 100 percent federal funds through December 31, 2016.

Through the 19th of November, 23,975 New Hampshire citizens had enrolled in the New Hampshire Health Protection Program.

For the full premium assistance waiver, visit http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/pap-1115-waiver/documents/final-waiver-app-11202014.pdf.

FairPoint Strikers Hold Two Thursday Actions: Montpelier Rally, Boston Protest

fairness at Fairpoint strikers

IBEW President Edwin D. Hill headlines major rally in Montpelier; strikers and allies target FairPoint’s biggest shareholder in Boston

Strike by 1,700 FairPoint workers for good jobs and quality service becoming national story as walkout enters its second month

Officials in Vermont and elsewhere report that customer complaints against FairPoint have spiked since strike began

FairPoint strikers are mounting two actions on Thursday. IBEW President Edwin D. Hill is headlining a major rally in Montpelier, and a delegation of workers and allies are in Boston protesting against the telecom company’s biggest shareholder.

The 1,700 FairPoint workers of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine have been on strike for more than a month. Strikers say that damaging cuts the company is seeking would make it impossible for them to provide quality service to their New England customers.

“FairPoint is tearing up the foundations of the American middle class – all just to line the pockets of hedge fund managers and Wall Street raiders,” said IBEW President Edwin D. Hill. “FairPoint workers have made many sacrifices to help save this company through tough times in the past. It’s time for FairPoint to end this strike by returning to the negotiating table and giving its employees a fair deal.”

Hill is leading the rally on the State House Lawn, and is being joined by supporters from across the Northeast. The presence of Hill and other high-profile leaders and allies marks a major escalation in the fight to win a fair deal for New England.

“These hard-working men and women are fighting for good middle-class jobs across our region,” said Frank J. Carroll, Vice President of IBEW’s Second District, which includes New England. “This struggle isn’t just about FairPoint. It’s about the entire telecommunications industry. Whether it’s FairPoint or Verizon, we will not let these companies hurt the customers we serve by driving down standards and outsourcing jobs to low-wage temp workers.”

Since the strike began on October 17, FairPoint, which is headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., has been struggling to maintain its system with replacement workers hired from outside northern New England. On Monday, Vermont’s Department of Public Service reported that it has received 271 complaints from FairPoint customers during the strike, a significant increase.

In Boston, a delegation of strikers is gathering outside an investors’ conference attended by officials of Angelo, Gordon & Co., the Wall Street hedge fund that owns more than 20 percent of FairPoint’s stock. The strikers are being joined by dozens of Boston-area union members and activists, all of whom are calling on Angelo, Gordon to intervene in the FairPoint strike.

Angelo, Gordon manages billions of dollars in public pension funds, yet has refused to publicly intervene as FairPoint has moved to gut the pension and benefits of its workers.

“Wherever we’ve taken this fight, from Charlotte to New York to Boston, we’ve received tremendous support from fellow union members and the public,” said Diane Winton, President of IBEW Local 2327 in Maine. “They understand that we’re not just fighting for ourselves, we’re standing up for the good pay and benefits that every worker deserves.”

The strikers and their allies are protesting outside the Taj Hotel, where Angelo, Gordon officials are briefing attendees at the North American Family Office Conference. The conference is billed as “the leading, private meeting for ultra-affluent families in North America.” The Boston protest follows a similar rally last week in Manhattan, where Angelo, Gordon executives attended a conference for investment managers. Nearly 60 activists greeted attendees at that November 12 meeting.

“No matter how far FairPoint executives and shareholders travel, we’re going to be there,” said Don Trementozzi, president of Communications Workers Local 1400. “We will not let this North Carolina company and its Wall Street investors evade their responsibilities to the people of New England.”

The negotiations for a new contract began in April, and from the outset FairPoint pressed to increase outsourcing, cut pay for new workers and slash benefits for all employees. The workers have offered more than $200 million in cost-saving compromises during the talks. But the company has not altered its initial demand for $700 million in deep and damaging cuts.

FairPoint officials did attend talks Tuesday in Boston arranged by a federal mediator. But once again the company refused to modify its demands.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents nearly 1,700 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 represents nearly 300 FairPoint employees in the three states. For more information, visit www.FairnessAtFairpoint.com.

Hooksett Firefighters To Distribute 80 Coats For Kids As Part Of “Operation Warm”

Image from Operation Warm
Image from Operation Warm

Image from Operation Warm

HOOKSETT, New Hampshire – Nearly 80 children from low-income families will be outfitted with brand-new USA made winter coats thanks to Hooksett Permanent Firefighters. Firefighters have partnered with Operation Warm, a national, non-profit organization that has provided new coats to 1.5 million children in need. Firefighters fundraise in order to personally fit each child, help select their favorite color, and write their name in the interior tag of their new coat, which reads, “Made Just for You.”

The coat celebration is scheduled for Saturday, November 22nd at The Hooksett Fire Station #1.  Firefighters worked closely with the Hooksett family services department to select children qualifying for support programs such as free and reduced meals. “A new coat allows families to stretch limited financial resources to other basic necessities like food and shelter,” explained Michael Benoit of the Hooksett Firefighters Local #3264, “our children and schools benefit from this program in more ways than one.”

Thanks to support from many local businesses, firefighters will provide new coats for nearly 80 children. “As firefighters, we go into homes and witness the living conditions faced by low-income kids,” explains Benoit, “this is a program that strengthens communities and the overall well-being of children.”

Operation Warm has brought 20% of its manufacturing back to the USA, an effort which supports over 200, fair paying jobs. Coats distributed by firefighters in Hooksett will be 100% American-made. “This is so much more than a coat,” said Rich Lalley, Executive Director of Operation Warm. “Beyond warmth and dignity for children, producing coats in the USA puts Americans back to work and back on their feet.”

In 2012, Operation Warm and the International Association of Firefighters launched a partnership that spans the US and Canada. Working together for two years, IAFF Firefighters have served over 50,000 less-fortunate children in 39 states.

Media is welcome to attend.
Hooksett Fire Department
Station #1, 1 Riverside Street
Hooksett, NH 03106
Saturday November 22nd 10am-1PM

DONATE: www.operationwarm.org/hooksett3264

For More Information: Firefighters for Operation Warm

Worker Safety Activists Honored At American Public Health Annual Meeting

NCOSH 300X250

Wyoming COSH Founder Dan Neal and SoCalCOSH Board Member Linda Delp
win Awards from American Public Health Association 

NCOSH 300X250NEW ORLEANS – Two veteran worker safety activists, Dan Neal and Linda Delp, were recognized today with prestigious awards at the American Public Health Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Neal, executive director of the Casper-based Equality State Policy Center and founder of the Wyoming Coalition on Occupational Safety and Health (Wyoming COSH) was honored with the APHA Lorin Kerr award, which recognizes outstanding public policy advocacy.

Delp, director of the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program and a board member of the Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (SoCalCOSH), was honored with the Alice Hamilton Award.

“Dan Neal and Linda Delp are exactly the kind of people who deserve these high professional honors,” said Mary Vogel, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). “Both of them work tirelessly to advocate for workers’ rights and safer workplaces – and to build strong organizations like WYCOSH and SoCALCOSH, which ensure that workers have a voice in winning safer working conditions.”

Neal became executive director of the Equality State Policy Center (ESPC) in 2005 after a decades-long career as a reporter and editor at the Casper Star-Tribune. For many years, Wyoming has been one of the most dangerous states for workers, as measured by the rate of on-the-job fatalities. In 2013 Neal spearheaded creation of Wyoming COSH as a project of ESPC, and affiliation of the state group with National COSH.

In 2014, Neal authored a state-wide report featuring stories of worker fatalities to illustrate how Wyoming families are devastated by these deaths, and outlining concrete steps to improve the state’s dismal safety record. ESPC and Wyoming COSH are currently leading efforts to require stiffer penalties against employers for violations of workplace safety regulations.

“Dan’s leadership and coalition-building skills have made him an effective advocate,” said Marcia Shanor, the executive director of the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association, who serves as the chair of the ESPC Board of Directors. “His vision and hard work have changed the political landscape in Wyoming.  Worker safety is now on the agenda and our elected leaders know it must be addressed. We’re thrilled that leading public health professionals are recognizing the impact of Dan’s work on the lives of Wyoming workers and families.”

Linda Delp has been a leader and innovator in the field of worker health and safety for nearly 30 years, beginning as Western Region Health and Safety Director for the Service Employees International Union. As director of UCLA’s Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program since 1990, she has created bilingual education and participatory research programs in both the U.S. and Mexico and developed union and labor-management health and safety initiatives in industries ranging from manufacturing to meatpacking to healthcare.

As a volunteer board member at SoCalCOSH, Linda has played a key role in strengthening the organization’s advocacy and education programs. An author of numerous peer-reviewed occupational health studies and a participant in academic, government and community advisory committees, Linda is also known for her ongoing efforts to mentor young scholars and activists seeking to enter the field of public health and worker safety.

“Linda is a high-energy, committed and pragmatic leader who inspires a collective vision and the ability to transform that vision into reality,” said Jessica Martinez, deputy director of National COSH, who is based in California and has worked closely with Delp. “She is devoted to expanding worker safety by identifying resources and offering opportunities to up and coming leaders of diverse backgrounds. Her dedication to create safer and healthier workplaces has been a major contribution to the labor movement.”

Wyoming COSH and SoCalCOSH are part of the COSH Network, which includes 20 groups across the United States advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. National COSH links the efforts of local coalitions and coordinates a national policy agenda on worker health and safety.

Wall Street Deals Costing Schools, Municipalities Billions

"Wall Street - New York Stock Exchange" by Carlos Delgado

"Wall Street - New York Stock Exchange" by Carlos Delgado

“Wall Street – New York Stock Exchange” by Carlos Delgado

Educators, Parents, Communities Demand Transparency and Accountability 

WASHINGTON— Following a new report detailing how Wall Street sold toxic deals to school districts and municipalities that are costing communities billions in fees, interest and other payments, educators, parents, community members and local officials have joined together for a Day of Action in cities across the country. They are demanding transparency and accountability to ensure taxpayer money is being used to invest in schools and communities, not to enrich Wall Street.

“These deals are robbing schools and kids of desperately needed resources at a time when budgets have been cut to the bone and our schools are already being asked to do more with less,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Parents, educators and communities deserve basic transparency and accountability—both from the banks that continue to peddle these toxic deals, and from those officials who locked communities into spiraling debt and fees. Putting this money back into the classroom could mean more teachers, nurses and social workers; restoring art and music; creating community schools; and wrapping services for kids and families around schools.”

The report, issued by the Roosevelt Institute, details how banks sold school districts and state and local governments predatory financial products like interest rate swaps and capital appreciation bonds—products that were laced with hidden costs and hidden risks, and in many cases were designed to fail—as well as charging exorbitant fees for products and services.

These deals are affecting schools, towns and cities across the country. For example, in Philadelphia, schools will lose more than $161 million as a result of 10 interest rate swaps. Los Angeles is now spending $290 million a year in financial fees—more than the entire city budget for maintaining its streets and highways. The Chicago Tribune this month detailed how the Chicago Public Schools will likely lose $100 million on a complex financing scheme. Detroit entered into a series of complex financial deals that has left the city $1.6 billion in debt. And the Peralta Community College District in California is paying $1.6 million a year in interest rate swap payments—the equivalent of 320 classes.

AFT members and leaders nationwide joined with parents and community members today to call for greater transparency and accountability.

“Philadelphia’s budget crisis is no coincidence. It’s the partial result of Wall Street banks rigging the game in their favor at the expense of schools, communities and students,” said Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan, who is an AFT vice president. “The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center estimates that our city’s schools have lost more than $161 million as a result of 10 different toxic swap deals. We call on the School Reform Commission to restore critical services by holding Wall Street to account for the money it has cheated our schools and students out of.”

Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson, also an AFT vice president, added, “The predatory lending schemes contributed to the urban blight in Detroit as families lost their homes only to see them boarded up. While Detroit may one day recover, many of these families will have no such luck.”

In Chicago, Chicago Teachers Union Vice President and Acting President Jesse Sharkey responded to the report, saying, “The mayor and the school district need to be as tough on their banker friends as they are on our neighborhood schools. In 2013, CPS closed 50 schools to ‘save money’ at the same time that banks and investment houses like Loop Capital and Bank of America were making millions from excessive fees and complicated swap deals of dubious legality. The banks owe us a rebate of hundreds of millions of dollars, which we should invest in 50 sustainable community schools with robust wraparound services, restorative justice programs, low class sizes and sufficient staffing levels.”

And in Los Angeles, United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said, “Our school district, city and county are being systematically gouged by Wall Street. Last year, Wall Street banks made more than $200 million in fees at the expense of LA taxpayers. Our city stands to lose an additional $65 million from a toxic interest rate swap deal from the mid-2000s. We will call on the Los Angeles Unified School District to conduct a thorough analysis of its dealings with Wall Street so we can see where the banks are charging too much and we can work to get the schools LA students deserve.”

Read the full report here.

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