“Revive Democracy Weekend” Kicks Off Tonight In Jaffrey

“Revive Democracy Weekend” Brings Lawrence Lessig and Dozens of NH Reformers to Walk in “Granny D’s” Footsteps from Dublin to Hancock Saturday

screens_roundup-38511Dublin, NH — On Saturday, August 23rd from 9am to 12pm, dozens of New Hampshire activists will “walk the walk” of legendary reformer Doris “Granny D” Haddock to celebrate Revive Democracy Weekend. The walkers will call on their elected officials to end the pay-to-play system in Washington through campaign finance reform, the cause for which Granny D walked cross country at the age of 90.

The 6-mile walk will conclude with a public celebration in Hancock center featuring presentations by Lawrence Lessig, founder of the NH Rebellion, and Daniel Weeks, Executive Director of the NH-based Coalition for Open Democracy.

Revive Democracy Weekend will begin with a public lecture by Professor Lessig at the Amos Fortune Forum in Jaffrey on Friday, August 22nd from 8-9pm. The events are free and open to the public.

WHAT: Revive Democracy Weekend honoring the late NH reformer Doris “Granny D” Haddock

WHEN: Friday, August 22nd, 8-9pm: Professor Lessig Speaks at Amos Fortune Forum in Jaffrey
Saturday, August 23rd, 9am-12pm: Granny D Memorial Walk from Dublin to Hancock

WHO: Professor Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School and Founder, NH Rebellion campaign
Daniel Weeks, NH writer and Executive Director, Coalition for Open Democracy

WHERE: Amos Fortune Forum, Jaffrey Town Hall, Jaffrey, NH
Granny D Memorial walk departs 273 Cobb Meadow Rd, Dublin, NH
Walk arrives for celebration at 30 Main Street, Hancock, NH

Revive Democracy Weekend is sponsored by PACE, Coalition for Open Democracy, NH Rebellion, and Stamp Stampede. For more information, visit http://www.nhrebellion.org

Teachers And Postal Workers To Protest STAPLES In BOSTON On 8-20-14

‘Stop Staples’ Boycott Comes to the Hub as Troubled Retailer Releases 2nd Quarter Results. 

Postal Workers to Pass Out Rulers Stamped ‘Don’t Buy School Supplies at Staples’ in Boston at 10 a.mTeachers to Join Protest at Saugus Staples at 5:30 p.m.

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BOSTON – The ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ campaign, organized by the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), will come to the Boston area – home of the troubled retailer – with two events on Wednesday, August 20, the same day the company will release its second quarter results.

AM Event, Boston

Who: APWU members and supporters

What: Protest against outsourcing of U.S. Postal Service work to Staples
Postal Workers and supporters to pass out ‘Don’t Buy School Supplies at Staples’ rulers

When: Wednesday, August 20 at 10 a.m.

Where: Staples at One Washington Mall, Downtown Boston
(Adjacent to City Hall Plaza, one block from Faneuil Hall)

PM Event, Saugus, MA

Who: Members of Lynn Teachers Union, APWU members and supporters

What: Protest against outsourcing of U.S. Postal Service work to Staples

When: Wednesday, August 20 at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Staples store at 444 Broadway, Saugus, MA

In addition to the events listed above, a large rally featuring postal workers and supporters is planned for Wednesday, August 27, on the steps of City Hall plaza. The location is just one block away from the Staples Washington Mall store.

Since January, APWU members and supporters have staged hundreds of protests around the country in front of the office-supply outlets over the retailer’s no-bid deal with the U.S. Postal Service that established knock-off post offices in Staples stores.

“Outsourcing postal work to Staples is one of the most ill-conceived ideas the Postal Service has come up with – and that’s saying a lot,” said John Dirzius, Northeast Region Coordinator for the APWU. “Consumers don’t want to turn over their mail to low-paid, barely-trained workers in an unsecured setting. And postal workers don’t want to turn over our jobs to a private company that’s closing stores left and right.”

Staples, facing declining sales and revenue, has announced plans to close 225 stores by the end of 2015. “The Post Office is a public asset, and we’re here to provide a public service – not a backdoor bailout to a struggling private company,” said Bob Dempsey, Vice President of the APWU’s Boston Metro Local. “If it is allowed to continue, this program will lead to the closing of neighborhood post offices.”

USPS and Staples are clearly feeling pressure from the Stop Staples campaign. In July, they announced that they were changing the name of their partnership. However, the USPS has acknowledged that the newly-renamed program is essentially the same as the old one.

Also in July, both national teacher unions – the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – passed resolutions in support of the Stop Staples campaign, and 2,000 teachers and other AFT supporters protested at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. School supplies are a key market for Staples, accounting for up to one-third of the company’s sales, according to some estimates.

For more information about the campaign to stand up for quality service and good-paying jobs, visit Stop Staples.com.

SAG-AFTRA Mourns The Loss Of Robin Williams

Robin Williams Sag AwardLos Angeles, CA (August 11, 2014)—SAG-AFTRA joins the world in mourning the sudden passing of Robin Williams. A two-time Screen Actors Guild Award recipient, Williams was consecutively honored for Outstanding Performance by a Cast for The Birdcage and then for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his inspirational portrayal of Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting.

After spending time at the prestigious Julliard School, Williams became a union member in 1977. He first rose to fame as the beloved alien Mork in the popular series Mork & Mindy and entertained and inspired generations as a stand-up comedian before moving audiences in the classic Dead Poets Society.

Said SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard, “I am deeply saddened to hear of Robin Williams’ death. He was a performer of limitless versatility, equally adept at comedy and drama, whether scripted or improv. With his incomparable manic style, he could appeal to adult sensibilities in a stand-up comedy routine or elicit giggles from children as the voice of Genie in Aladdin. Outside of his career, he used his considerable talents to raise money for charity. He was not only a talented man, but a true humanitarian. It’s such a tremendous loss.”

AP story on Robin Williams
http://news.kron4.com/news/breaking-actor-comedian-robin-williams-found-dead/http://news.kron4.com/news/breaking-actor-comedian-robin-williams-found-dead/

CWA-IBEW Fairpoint Workers Are Ready To Strike When The Time Comes

Despite working past contract expiration,
FairPoint employees can still strike at will

Union leaders say company still refusing to compromise on any proposal

On Saturday night, just before the midnight expiration of contracts covering nearly 2,000 FairPoint workers across Northern New England, leaders of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T9 and Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400 announced that their members would continue working and not go on strike. According to union leaders, negotiations will continue and employees will be covered by most provisions of the expired contracts. However, the unions can now call a strike or the company could lock workers out at any time without prior notice.

Union leaders and management have been in bargaining over a new contract since April, and negotiations have been tense from the start. In the last two weeks, the company has resorted to increasingly aggressive tactics meant to intimidate workers. Union leaders say this demonstrates management’s lack of commitment to reaching a fair agreement. In addition to posting new “no trespassing” signs and spray-painting strike lines on the pavement at many company locations, management went as far as housing strike-breaking replacement workers at the same hotel where bargaining is taking place—an open and hostile attempt to intimidate union leaders.

“They are trying to bully us into submitting to their demands,” said Glenn Brackett, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in Manchester, NH. “But we will not be bullied, and we’ll continue fighting for our families and our communities as long as we have to.”

Union negotiators have put forward several proposals that would save the company over $180 million. The company has rejected these and every other cost-saving proposal that the unions have made.

Union leaders say they are deeply concerned about management’s demand to be able to replace local, well-trained workers with low-wage, out-of-state contractors. “Most of the current employees have been working for the phone company for decades and we know our customers and our systems better than any outside contractor ever will,” said Peter McLaughlin, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2327 in Augusta, Maine. “Customers will suffer if the company gets its way. But management cares more about cutting costs and giving that money to their hedge fund owners than in investing in our communities.”

“Our unions have shown a willingness to compromise from the start,” said Don Trementozzi, President of CWA Local 1400. “But it looks to us like the company’s strategy from the beginning has been to lock out workers so they can replace them with out-of-town contractors. It’s a blatant attempt to gut good jobs in this region. Our members are unified and have the support of many allies and community members. We will not stand by and let this corporation and its Wall Street cronies get away with it.”

America’s Largest Pharmacy “Inverts” To Avoid Paying Their Fair Share

Walgreens (Image by Mike Mozart Flickr CC)

Walgreens (Image by Mike Mozart Flickr CC)

The right wing has cut billions out of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, claiming that our country can’t afford to feed hungry children.  But at the same time, some of our country’s biggest recipients of federal aid – corporations such as Walgreens – are taking advantage of tax loopholes to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.

For decades we have watched our jobs be shipped offshore in corporate restructuring. They take the jobs from hard working Americans and send them to China or India to boost their corporate profit margins. However there is a new trend in Corporate America that is sweeping across the nation. It is called “inversion.”

Inversion is where an American company buys a foreign company and the renounces their US citizenship to avoid paying US taxes. The best part is that it is all done on paper, so they do not even have to pack a box from their corporate headquarters.

Walgreens started over 100 years ago in the small town of Galesburg, Illinois and has grown into the nations largest pharmacy chain, with revenue in the billions. Walgreens, which is still based in Illinois, announced that they are considering renouncing their “corporate citizenship” to move to Switzerland, a tax haven for corporations.

By renouncing their citizenship, Walgreens will avoid paying $4 billion dollars in corporate taxes annually. This is treasonous when you consider that one-quarter, $72 billion dollars, of Walgreens annual revenue comes from taxpayers in the form of Medicare and Medicaid payments. Walgreens is happy to take the taxpayers’ money but do not feel they should have to pay their fair share.

“Much of Walgreen’s financial success was built on programs and infrastructure provided by the U.S. government and paid for by U.S. taxpayers,” said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in a letter to the Walgreens CEO and Board of Directors. “If you and Walgreen’s board of directors decide to invert to avoid U.S. taxes, you will be turning your backs on the very people that have allowed Walgreens to thrive and prosper.”

“Inversion schemes are bad for shareholders and bad for America,” said LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “They erode tax money that should be used for support U.S. infrastructure, education, national defense and other crucial programs. They potentially tarnish the reputation – and thus the value – of companies. And they can make it more difficult for shareholders to hold a company, its officers or directors accountable.”

LIUNA used their pension fund to send a letter to the Walgreens board of directors to institute a policy barring inversions.

“We need to start demanding a little more patriotism from these so-called American corporations,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “If they want to keep benefiting from everything our great country has to offer, they need to start showing a little more loyalty to the people who live and work in America. And they need to stop threatening to desert the United States and stop paying their taxes altogether unless we give in to their demands.”

Inversions are not new, corporations have been offshoring their corporate citizenship to avoid paying taxes for many years. Thanks to these corporate tax loopholes, 26 profitable corporations including Verizon and GE, paid zero in income taxes from 2008-2012. The most egregious part of this is that some of these highly profitable corporations actually got rebates and refunds from the federal government making their effective tax rate -10%.

We need to close these corporate loopholes that are letting billions of dollars slip through our fingers. It is also sickening to hear how the corporate tax rate is too high, when many of these highly profitable corporations pay less percentage wise than the average American.

Why does this type of activity not outrage more small business owners? These main street shops do not have the ability to invert to avoid paying their taxes. When will Congress start working for the people on Main Street instead of the people on Wall Street?

“Key members of Congress have introduced legislation based on Obama’s plan. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of a subcommittee that has investigated tax avoidance by Apple and other corporations, has introduced the Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2014 (S. 2360). Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) has introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 4679) that would raise $19.5 billion over 10 years,” reported the Americans for Tax Fairness.

“The President, Senator Wyden, Senator Levin and Representative Levin have all proposed solutions to plug the loophole and the Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on the issue today. Let’s get it done,” concluded Trumka.

Are we as Americans going to accept this treasonous activity from our nations largest pharmacy chain? We must close these corporate loopholes that allow corporations to skip out on paying their fair share.

 

UPDATE 8-5-14
Walgreens backs down on plan to invert.  Read more here.

UFCW Stands With Market Basket Workers (#SaveMarketBasket)

UFCW Statement on Market Basket Replacement Worker Job Fair 

UFCW Logo WASHINGTON, D.C. – Joe Hansen, International President of the UFCW, Richard Charette, UFCW International Vice President and President of UFCW Local 1445, and Dave Fleming, President of UFCW Local 328, today released the following joint statement in response to the deadline that Market Basket executives set for workers to return to work before replacement workers would be hired.

“The 1.3 million members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union stand in solidarity with the Market Basket associates who are fighting to protect their jobs from the ravages of corporate greed. Thousands of workers and customers have come together to fight for a cause that is greater than a single CEO: they are fighting to protect longstanding company values that place workers and customers before profits.

“The brave efforts of Market Basket workers are a shining example of the power workers wield when they stand together and act collectively.

“Furthermore, we condemn the company’s chief executives Felicia Thornton and James Gooch for threatening to terminate striking workers and hire replacements. Market Basket workers have an unassailable right to engage in collective action in defense of their benefits and working conditions. These workers deserve a guarantee that their livelihoods will not be jeopardized by a change in management.”

Congresswoman Shea-Porter Sends Letter To Market Basket Board, “Workers Deserve Support”

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Congresswoman Sends Letter to DeMoulas Board of Directors

Carol Shea Porter Official PhotoWASHINGTON, DC—Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today sent a letter to the DeMoulas Super Markets, Inc. Board of Directors, encouraging them to find a resolution that supports the Market Basket workforce.

“Please work to fix the current problems and restore the relationship workers have had with the company. They are a true asset and deserve recognition and support,” Shea-Porter wrote. “I hope they will not be fired simply for standing up and supporting a business and management they all have loyally served.”

Constituents affected by the Market Basket standoff have reached out to Shea-Porter, whose district contains 15 Market Basket stores.

Full text of Shea-Porter’s letter is below.

July 31, 2014

Board of Directors
DeMoulas Super Markets, Inc.
875 East Street
Tewksbury, MA 01876

Dear Members of the Board: 

Market Basket has been part of our New Hampshire landscape for so long, and Granite Staters have had very positive feelings about their local stores. The quality and the prices have certainly been part of the reason for its success, but ask any shopper and he or she will tell you it’s because of the wonderful, loyal workforce. Ask the workforce, and they will tell you it was because of the management.

Please work to fix the current problems and restore the relationship workers have had with the company. They are a true asset and deserve recognition and support. I hope they will not be fired simply for standing up and supporting a business and management they all have loyally served.

Sincerely, 

Carol Shea-Porter
Member of Congress

AFL-CIO President Trumka On The 5th Anniversary of Last Minimum Wage Increase

Today is a reminder of what is possible with just an ounce of political will.  If our leaders have the courage, they can lift millions of hardworking Americans out of poverty by raising the minimum wage. It’s a tragedy that workers have been trapped in a poverty-level minimum wage for five years. It must not go a day longer.

We are working harder than ever, while our wages are flat or falling. Over the past five years, the cost of living has continued to increase across the country, while the federal minimum wage has stayed flat. Raising the minimum wage is a critical and simple way to address a crucial underlying weakness in our economy. It will create jobs, grow our economy and increase the purchasing power of millions of workers.

The movement to raise wages is happening all around us. States are doing it. Cities, counties and little towns are doing it. Smart business owners are doing it. It’s time for Congress to get it done.

Long Island Railroad Workers Prepare For Upcoming Strike on July 20th

International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Long Island Rail Road General Chairperson Anthony Simon has issued the following statement on the deteriorating labor situation at the commuter railroad:

“I regret to report that negotiations have collapsed with New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and all eight unions are now proceeding with strike plans for July 20. MTA rejected the counter offer we presented last Thursday (July 10). It presented no counter proposal. It continues to insist that the unions agree to a contract worth less than the value of the compromise recommendations of Presidential Emergency Boards 244 and 245.  MTA has clearly decided that provoking a strike is the course of action it intends to pursue. No further negotiations are scheduled.

Please go here to ask NY Governor Cuomo to intervene in order to prevent a strike that would be disastrous to Long Island commuters, workers and local communities.

The strike will begin at 12:01 a.m. this Sunday (July 20). Riders should be aware that service will begin winding down well before then, perhaps as early as Wednesday (July 16), as the railroad needs to secure its equipment.  The strike will be limited to Long Island Rail Road. It will not affect Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, Metro-North Railroad or PATH rail operations. Joint entrances will not be picketed.

Make no mistake about it. The timing of this strike, with its devastating impact on Long Island’s summer season, is MTA’s decision. The unions repeated our offer to agree to the requests of the New York Congressional delegation, area residents and businesses to delay the strike until September. MTA would not agree.  The onus of this deadlock is solely on the MTA. Two boards of renowned and experienced arbitrators have recommended a fair compromise settlement. We are willing to accept the recommendations. MTA is not. MTA admitted to us that they know that historically, the PEB recommendations are the basis for settlement. They told us they understand that the only way they can break this historical precedent is to take a strike. That is the course that they have chosen.”
-  Anthony Simon, SMART LIRR GO 505 General Chairperson and Union Coalition spokesperson

Please go here to ask NY Governor Cuomo to intervene in order to prevent a strike that would be disastrous to Long Island commuters, workers and local communities.

RN’s To Picket Lawrence General Hospital For Patient Safety And New Contract

Mass Nurses Association

When:       Thursday, June 26 from 2 – 4 p.m.
Where:     Outside the entrance to Lawrence General Hospital (on the corner of Marston and General Streets.)

In response to excessive patient assignments for nurses and the hospital’s refusal to provide safe RN staffing to ensure appropriate patient care, the registered nurses of Lawrence General Hospital plan to conduct an informational picket outside the entrance to the hospital on Thursday, June 26 from 2 – 4 p.m. to take their concerns directly to the public. The nurses, who are in negotiations for a new contract, are also concerned about the hospital’s plan to cut the nurses time off benefits and recent dramatic cuts to their health insurance benefit that has increased the cost of their own health care – issues the nurses believe are essential to recruiting and retaining the nursing staff needed to preserve the quality and safety of patient care.

Maintaining appropriate staffing levels is a constant struggle at the facility, which is causing nurses on a number of units to take on excessive patient assignments, particularly in the hospital’s emergency department where the lack of staff is causing longer wait times for patients, lack of proper care and attention from nurses, and the boarding of patients for hours and sometimes for days waiting for a bed. Nurses are also concerned about patient assignments for nurses on the night shift, where nurses are assigned six to seven patients at one time, a staffing level that research shows places these patient at a 14-21 percent increased risk of death. Also, the hospital employs a staffing practice of understaffing the maternity unit by sending nurses home on many days, leaving the unit short staffed when mothers are admitted for deliveries. This same practice recently contributed to the deaths of two newborns and a mother at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, where they have stopped the practice after an investigation into the deaths by the Department of Public Health.

In March a delegation of nurses delivered a petition signed by more than 90 percent of the nurses to the hospital’s administration seeking safer staffing levels and patient assignments.
The nurses are now seeking contract language, similar to the legislation and ballot initiative pending in the legislature that would establish safe patient limits for nurses on all units to ensure safe patient care.

The 400 nurses, who are represented by the Massachusetts Nurses Association/National Nurses United, recently engaged a federal mediator in an attempt to break the logjam in negotiations for a new union contract. The second negotiation session with a Federal mediator will be held on June 24. The parties began negotiations in late October, 2013 and to date 15 sessions have been held. The contract expired on October 7, 2013 but has been extended until June 24, 2014.