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Southwest Baggage Handlers to Protest as Airline Receives “Airline of the Year” Award

Southwest Jet at BWI (image by Rudi Riet FLIKR CC)

Southwest Jet at BWI (image by Rudi Riet FLIKR CC)

Employees Baffled by Honor for Airline with Increasingly Hostile Labor Relations 

WASHINGTON – Workers who handle baggage at Southwest Airlines, members of TWU Local 555, will protest at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC

Today, February 25th when Southwest Airlines receives the “Airline of the Year” award from Air Transport World magazine.

Who:  More than 100 ground workers employed at Southwest Airlines

What: Protest when Southwest receives “Airline of the Year” award

When: Today, Feb. 25, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm

Where: Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert St. NW, Washington, DC 20008

“When we heard a magazine was giving Southwest ‘Airline of the Year’ award, we figured it must be The Onion,” said Charles Cerf, president of TWU Local 555, referring to the satirical publication which entertains readers with fake headlines. “Because if you’re giving an award to an airline which acts like a bully to its workers, squeezing workers while earning billions in profits – that has to be a joke, right?”

Transportation Workers Union Logo -TWUAir Transport World says ‘excellent labor relations’ is one of the criteria for receiving this award,” said Greg Puriski, a member of TWU 555 and a Southwest baggage handler who plans to be at the Washington protest. “They never asked us, that’s for sure. If they want to have better labor relations, let’s settle the contract.”

Despite difficult workloads due to handling larger aircraft and higher health care costs, most Southwest ground workers have not received a pay raise in the past four-and-a-half years. TWU Local 555 has been in negotiations with Southwest for a new contract since July 2011, with little progress during the past three-and-a-half years.

Since 2011, Southwest has earned over $3 billion in net income, including a record profit of $1.14 billion in 2014, following the airline’s merger with AirTran.  The airline also is continuing to benefit from a steep drop in the price of jet fuel.

Breaking from the Southwest tradition of rewarding employees as important stakeholders in the company, current management has held down wages despite healthy profits.  While most baggage handlers have seen their wages frozen, Southwest imposes higher health care costs on its employees each year, resulting in a loss of take home pay.

“It’s absurd that anybody would honor Southwest after the way it treats employees,” said Puriski. “Stagnating pay and the decline of the middle class are huge problems in this country.  Southwest is a profitable company that has a chance to be part of the solution.  Instead, they’re making the problem worse.”

“We want everyone attending this high-profile event to know that Southwest can do better – and must do better – to succeed in today’s competitive travel industry,” added Cerf.

TWU Local 555 is a local union of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), representing more than 10,000 ground crew workers at Southwest Airlines. 

State Senator Jeff Woodburn To Tour US Post Offices Celebrating The Anniversary Of Federal Mail Service

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Written by
Janice Kelble, Legislative Director
NH Postal Workers Union

While Tuesday & Wednesday were days spent at the NH Statehouse defending against so called “Right to Work” and other attacks on working folks, we had a bit of good news from the northern part of the State. The APWU and the NALC were pleased to get a call from NH State Senate Minority Leader, Jeff Woodburn. Senator Woodburn called to inform us of his plan to pro-actively recognize the importance of a public Post Office.

Senator Woodburn will be touring U.S. Post Offices throughout Coos and Grafton Counties to celebrate the anniversary of federal mail service being signed into law by President George Washington on February 20, 1792.

The Senator is inviting residents to join him in celebrating this vital public service that American’s depend on. “US Postal Services has proud history and remains a vital link to connect rural New Hampshire to the rest of the state and nation,” Woodburn said. ”

His tentative schedule includes stops at the following post offices:

08:30 – 09:00 am Lincoln Post Office
09:30 – 10:00 am Franconia Post Office
10:15 – 10:45 am Sugar Hill Post Office
11:00 – 11:30 am Littleton Post Office
01:30 – 2:00 pm Berlin Post Office
02:30 – 2:45 pm Milan Post Office
03:15 – 3:30 pm Groveton Post Office
04:30 – 5:00 pm Colebrook Post Office

In 2006 the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act (PAEA) was signed into law, putting a noose around the neck of the Postal Service. Slowly the Service has eroded as the USPS cuts back service, by reducing Post Office hours, closing and consolidating processing facilities, attempting to cut back delivery days and drastically reducing delivery service standards. It is not too late to turn things around. While letter mail volume has declined, package mail is booming and the mail network must be maintained to preserve a thriving robust public Postal Service!

We need more elected officials like Senator Woodburn who go out of their way to recognize important public services and to honor the workers. With all of the threats of privatization of the USPS we hope more legislators will speak out in favor of retaining this trusted public institution. A big “thank you” to Senator Woodburn from the NH Postal Workers Union and from The NH Association of Letter Carriers.

For more information or to get an updated schedule, contact Sen. Woodburn at 603.271.3207 or Jeff.Woodburn@Leg.state.nh.us.

Governor Hassan Declares State of Emergency, Closes State Government on Tuesday in Advance of Winter Storm

Governor Also Encourages Granite Staters to Avoid Travel and to Take Precautions

CONCORD – In advance of a major winter storm that is expected to bring heavy snowfall and high winds, Governor Maggie Hassan today declared a State of Emergency and announced that state government will be closed on Tuesday, January 27, for personnel not essential to public safety, public health or the storm response.

“In advance of the major winter storm that is expected to bring heavy snowfall and high winds, we have been working with state emergency management officials, other state agencies, local communities and utilities to take every precaution to ensure the safety of our people and communities,” Governor Hassan said. “I am declaring a State of Emergency and closing state government tomorrow for personnel not essential to public safety, public health or the storm response, and I encourage private companies and local governments to do the same.”

 “With possible whiteout and blizzard-like conditions throughout the day, Granite Staters should stay at home if at all possible and avoid the roads, as they will be dangerous,” Governor Hassan said. “People should make sure that they have emergency supplies and are prepared to stay at home for one or two days, and I ask you to check on your neighbors, especially the elderly or people with disabilities, throughout the course of the storm.”

The state Emergency Operations Center will open at midnight and remain open as long as necessary depending on the duration and severity of the storm, and National Guard personnel have been notified to be ready to assist with storm response as well.

Governor Hassan and state emergency management officials have been communicating directly with local emergency response agencies, school districts and utilities. Widespread power outages are not expected, but the utilities have emergency plans in place and extra response crews on standby.

State public safety and emergency management officials are working with local entities to open warming stations and shelters as needed. For more information about shelters, including the closest pet-friendly shelter, residents can contact 2-1-1 NH toll-free by dialing 2-1-1 in state or 1-866-444-4211 from out of state.

The storm will begin tonight, with the heaviest snowfall expected between midnight tonight and noon tomorrow, with up to one or two inches of snow per hour. Visibility will be low, with possible whiteout conditions throughout the day, and winds are expected to exceed 50 miles per hour.

By 7 p.m. Tuesday night, the southeastern part of the state could receive 14-20 inches of snow, while central New Hampshire could receive 10-14 inches and northern New Hampshire up to 10 inches. In addition to a blizzard warning for eastern Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford Counties and winter storm warning for all other counties except for northern Coos, the National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood warning.

In addition to stocking up on emergency supplies, such as water and canned food, in advance of the storm, New Hampshire residents are encouraged to take the following precautions:

  • Monitor weather conditions via news media, NOAA weather radio or Internet sources.
  • Avoid road travel if at all possible during the storm to allow public works crews to clear and treat the roads.
  • Anyone who has to drive should slow down, allow extra space between vehicles and follow all traffic signs and notices. Drivers could experience sudden whiteout conditions during high wind gusts and should be prepared to be stranded in cold temperatures.
  • Keep vehicle fuel tanks at least half full.
  • Monitor snow loading, especially on flat roofs.
  • Be a good neighbor and check on the well-being of relatives and acquaintances, especially the elderly or others with special needs.
  • If the power goes out:
    • Use flashlights and battery-powered lanterns, not candles, for emergency lighting.
    • Operate emergency generators safely, with exhaust directed away from buildings.
    • Never use outdoor cooking appliances indoors because of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Report the outage to your electric utility.
    • Stay clear of downed wires. Always assume downed power lines are live.

Additional information, including safety and preparedness tips, is available at http://www.nh.gov/readynh/.

Shaheen, Kuster, and NH Democrats Praise Pres. Obama’s State Of The Union Address

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) released the following statement on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address:

“Every time I’m in New Hampshire, the message I hear from people throughout the state is clear: people want Congress to work across the aisle to strengthen our middle class and expand economic opportunity. While we’ve seen economic improvement in recent years, too many are being left behind, and more must be done to move our economy forward.

“We should all be encouraged by many of the proposals unveiled this evening that will promote economic growth and job creation. Whether it’s efforts to make higher education more affordable for young people, reforming our tax code, or investing in alternative energy sources to lower costs and create jobs, Congress should now renew our commitment to growing our economy and helping small businesses succeed. I look forward to working across the aisle this year to act on these types of proposals on behalf of our economy and middle class.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) released the following statement following President Obama’s annual State of the Union address:

“Since taking office, I’ve been focused on helping create more jobs and opportunity for our Granite State workers. Although we’ve come a long way, too many Granite Staters continue to struggle. This year, we must continue to focus on strengthening economic security for our middle class families.”

“There are a number of steps I believe we must take in order to support our middle class. First of all, we must work together to make college more affordable for our students, so every Granite Stater can go on to successful jobs and careers. But we also must ensure that those jobs stay here at home – and that’s why we must eliminate tax loopholes for companies that ship good American jobs overseas.  Instead, I support cutting taxes on our middle class, so our families take home more money at the end of the day, which they can reinvest in our economy and help move our nation forward.”

“From fighting to raise the minimum wage, to supporting equal pay for equal work for all men and women, to supporting the expansion of paid family leave, I’ve made fighting for the middle class a priority this year and every year ahead. I encourage the President and my fellow members of Congress to join with me in fighting for the issues that matter to all of us at home in New Hampshire, and I look forward to continuing to work across the aisle to fight for initiatives that will strengthen our middle class and help our economy grow.”

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley released the following statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

“The President once again laid out the clear differences between the Democratic vision of strengthening our middle class and expanding opportunity for all and the Republican plan to continue putting the interests of big businesses first while middle class families pay the price.”

“Middle class economics have helped put our economy back on the right track over the past six years, and Democrats will keep fighting to build on our progress to ensure that all Americans are included in our shared success.”

“We have much more work to do, and Granite Staters know that Senator Shaheen and Congresswoman Kuster will keep working tirelessly to bring our New Hampshire traditions of bipartisan problem solving to Washington in order to move our economy forward.”

12-11-14 List Of Open Union Communications Positions From UnionJobs

Union Jobs header

DECEMBER 11, 2014 WEEKLY SUMMARY OF COMMUNICATIONS POSITIONS POSTED AT UNIONJOBS.COM

AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations)
Communications Coordinator, Communications Department (MW Region)  Michigan
Organizing Field Communications Assistant, Organizing Department  District of Columbia
Development Manager, Digital Strategies Department  District of Columbia
Strategic Campaigns Coordinator, Organizing Department  District of Columbia
Safety and Health Fellow, AFL-CIO Safety and Health Department  District of Columbia
Corporate Research Analyst, Office of Investment  District of Columbia


AFSCME
(Council 3)
Database Analyst and IT Coordinator, Baltimore  Maryland

AFT (American Federation of Teachers)
Human/Civil Rights Advocacy Director, Human Rights and Community Relations Department District of Columbia

ALPA (Air Line Pilots Association, International)
Sr. Communications Specialist, Herndon  Virginia

BAC (International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers)
Data Entry/Research Clerk  District of Columbia

CNA/NNU (California Nurses Association (CNA) / National Nurses United (NNU) AFL-CIO)
Video Specialist, Oakland  California

CPD (Center for Popular Democracy)
Fair Workweek Deputy Campaign Director, New York City preferred  New York

CWA (Communications Workers of America)
Digital Media Technician  District of Columbia

CWA-NJ (Communications Workers of America, New Jersey)
Social Media Organizer, Trenton based  New Jersey

Kaiser Permanente LMP(Labor Management Partnership)
Labor Relations Communications Director, Oakland  California

Labor Notes
Assistant Editor, New York New York

NELP (National Employment Law Project)
Campaign Coordinator (Home Care Fair Pay), New York (with an option of DC office)  New York

NNU (National Nurses United)
Educator – Immediate Opening, San Francisco Bay area  California
Communications Specialist, Oakland California

NYCOSH (New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health)
Communications Director, New York City  New York

NYHTC (New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council)
Video Communications SupervisorNew York

OEA (Oregon Education Association)
Communications PR/Media Consultant  Oregon

RTF (Raise the Floor Alliance)
Campaign Coordinator, Chicago  Illinois

SEIU (Local 1)
Communications Specialist, Detroit  Michigan

SEIU (1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East)
Communications Specialist, Boston  Massachusetts

SEIU (Local 32BJ)
Member Communications Strategist, New York City  New York
Communications Specialist: Mid-Atlantic Region, Philadelphia based Pennsylvania

SEIU (Local 721)
Communications Specialist  California

UDWA (United Domestic Workers of America)
Media Relations Specialist, Sacramento  California

UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers International Union)
Senior Strategic Targeting Coordinator, Washington D.C.  District of Columbia

UFT (United Federation of Teachers)
Social Media Coordinator, New York City  New York

SEIU (SEIU UHW West, United Healthcare Workers West)
Database Analyst, Oakland  California

UPTE-CWA (University Professional and Technical Employees-Communications Workers of America)
Systemwide Director  California

WOCC (Workers’ Organizing Committee of Chicago-Fight for 15)
Communications Associate, Chicago  Illinois

Working America(a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO)
Communications Director  District of Columbia

Two Recent Court Rulings That Pit Legal Theories vs Workplace Realities

US Supreme Court BuildingCan’t help but think there’s a huge “disconnect” between recent court rulings and real-life work situations.

First Case: Yesterday, the US Supreme Court weighed in on the question of whether employees are entitled to be paid for time spent waiting for security screening as they leave the job each workday. Apparently, the Supreme Court doesn’t believe that routinely searching employees to see if they’re stealing anything is actually “integral and indispensable” to those workers’ jobs. And the law doesn’t require employers to pay wages for duties that aren’t “integral and indispensable.”

At one level, I agree with the Court wholeheartedly. Proving you’re not a thief, day after day, should not be an “integral and indispensable” part of anyone’s job.

But, in real life: what would happen if those workers refused to go through the security screening? My guess is: they’d be fired.

Which, in my mind, makes those daily screenings “integral and indispensable” – at least as long as the employer insists upon them. Myself, I would distinguish between investigating employees after a theft, and the practice of requiring workers to go through daily screenings “to prevent theft.”  And I don’t think workers should be required to donate their personal time, just because the employer mistrusts every single one if its employees.

Second Case:  This morning, the New Hampshire Supreme Court weighed in with a reverse-and-remand decision about the NH Retirement System.

The court case, Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire et al. v. State of New Hampshire, challenged the 2011 increase in public employees’ contributions to the NH Retirement System. That increase ranged from 2% to 2½ % of employees’ paychecks, depending on the job classification. This “pension reform” provision was included as part of the State’s biennial budget.

The plaintiffs and the NH Retirement Security Coalition are still reviewing this morning’s decision.  From their press release:

The NH Retirement Security Coalition has long contended that promises made to our member employees should be enforced because our members uphold their promises each and every day that they go to work. The Court’s decision today unfortunately allows public employers to renege on their promise of security in retirement. While this decision is disappointing, our members will continue to provide high quality service to the state and its cities, towns, and school districts.

We are deeply concerned about the long term impact of this decision on the people of NH. We are carefully reviewing this decision in detail with our attorneys and members of the Coalition and we will offer further in-depth comment as soon as we are able to do so.  

But as I read the decision, one thing jumped out at me: again, I see a disconnect between the legal reasoning and everyday workplace reality.

As I read the ruling – and I could be wrong on this, I am NOT a lawyer – it appears to me that the Court is viewing this from a purely theoretical perspective. It seems to me that the Court based its ruling on the theory that raising retirement contribution rates didn’t retroactively harm public workers because the retirement benefits they had already accrued (under the lower contribution rates) were still there – and the new contribution rates only applied to retirement benefits accrued going forward.

Or, in other words: if a public employee had retired on the day the new contribution rates went into effect, then he or she would still be entitled to all the retirement benefits accrued up to that point… and therefore (as I read the Court decision), the Justices do not see any unconstitutional retroactive impact.

Which I guess begs the question: what would have happened in 2011 if every single one of the public employees covered by the NH Retirement System had chosen retirement, rather than what was effectively an employer-imposed pay cut?

And in the real world, what does this do to NH RSA 273-A, the Public Employee Labor Relations Law, if public employers are now able to unilaterally change the terms and conditions of employment by increasing required “contributions” to the NH Retirement System?

The NH Supreme Court may be asked to reconsider today’s ruling. Stay tuned.

 

*       *       *       *

Members of the NH Retirement Security Coalition include:
Sandy Amlaw, New Hampshire Retired Educators Association
Steve Arnold, NE Police Benevolent Association
Dennis  Caza, Teamsters Union Local 633
Laura Hainey, American Federation of Teachers – New Hampshire
Mark Joyce, NH School Administrators Association
Rich Gulla, State Employees Association of New Hampshire – SEIU Local 1984
Dave Lang, Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire
Mark MacKenzie, New Hampshire AFL-CIO
Harriett Spencer, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 93
Keith Phelps, New Hampshire Police Association
Scott McGilvray, NEA – New Hampshire

Three FairPoint Strikers Hit on Picket Line

A FairPoint replacement worker driving across a picket line in Keene, N.H., hit three striking workers at roughly 3 p.m. today

An account of the incident has just been posted to the official Facebook page of the unions and is excerpted in full below

The three strikers are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the leader of the New Hampshire IBEW local has issued a statement

Statement  from IBEW Local 2320 Business Manager Glenn Brackett

“Today’s near tragedy in Keene shows just how reckless FairPoint has become. It’s outrageous that they’d hire people who would hit workers standing up for their families and the customers we serve. FairPoint is hiring clearly unqualified contractors, and we have no idea if these people have had proper background checks. And that’s not just a concern to us. It’s a serious concern to the public. FairPoint is telling the public to let these people into their homes. But we don’t know who they are or whether they can safely serve the people of New England.”

Post on the Fairness at FairPoint Facebook Page (Link: HERE)

THREE N.H. IBEW MEMBERS HIT BY REPLACEMENT WORKER

At roughly 3 p.m. today, a replacement worker in his pickup truck hit three of our strikers in Keene, N.H.

The workers were picketing at the FairPoint garage in Keene when the replacement worker first crossed the line without incident in a red pickup truck. But then he abruptly did a U-turn and tried to pull back out of the lot while our strikers were lawfully picketing.

The replacement worker drove into our strikers pushing one up on the hood, hitting one with his mirror, and another with his bumper.

We want the families of any strikers in the Keene area to know that no one was seriously injured, but one of the strikers hit has been taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

Immediately after the incident, the replacement worker pulled his truck to the curb, fixed his mirror, and waited for FairPoint’s security guards to come out and meet him.

Our members called police to report the incident. But before police arrived, the replacement worker left the scene.

We believe police did later follow and stop the replacement worker. The police have been responsive and have begun what we believe will be a thorough investigation.

A reporter from the Keene Sentinel is now on the scene. We will continue following this, making sure our brothers are okay, and will share news with you as we get it.

* * * *

Background on the Strike and the Situation at FairPoint

The negotiations for a new contract at FairPoint began in April, and from the outset company officials pressed to 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.

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. Those replacement workers have been involved in a number of controversial incidents. On Nov. 15, the Eagle Times reported on a worker in Claremont, N.H. who improperly pressured a FairPoint customer to pay him directly for services. Police were called in and FairPoint officials admitted it was “a gross violation of company policy.”

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.

The Next Two Years Should Be Interesting Listening To The Science Deniers (Op-Ed By Susan Bruce)

(original title)
In the United States, in the 21st Century
By Susan Bruce for the Conway Daily Sun

Scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus budding from the surface of a Vero cell (African green monkey kidney epithelial cell line. Credit: NIAID

Scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus budding from the surface of a Vero cell (African green monkey kidney epithelial cell line. Credit: NIAID)

Three weeks ago, the news was all Ebola, all the time. Todd Kincannon, the former Executive Director of the South Carolina Republican Party announced, “the protocol for a positive Ebola test should be immediate humane execution and sanitization of the whole area. That will save lives.” The President was labeled inept and weak at handling the crisis! We needed more leadership! Retread Congressman-elect Frank Guinta insisted that there needed to be a travel ban. Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas accused Obama of unleashing Ebola on Murka to seize more power. Louie Gohmert (whose continual reelection is proof that we shouldn’t wait for Texas to secede, we should just go ahead and build a wall around the state) claimed that Ebola is “the Democrats war on women.” Women are nurses, you see.

Corrupt blowhard and birther Donald Trump blamed Obama for Ebola, referred to him as “Barry Sotoro,” and called for his resignation. This, dear readers, is the same Donald Trump who was chosen by the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications as the keynote speaker at their First Amendment Awards dinner. The award was given posthumously to James Foley. James Foley was a reporter who lost his life in pursuit of reporting from dangerous areas of our world. Choosing Trump as the keynote speaker at an event honoring this brave man is a level of tone deafness that surprises even me, coming from the Loeb/McQuaid crowd. This can only be described as an obscenity. Trump used the opportunity to bloviate about Obama. He’s still bleating about the need for Ebola quarantines. The one true thing he said was to James Foley’s parents, “Your son was far greater than I, and far greater than I will ever be.”

Obama was even criticized for not having a Surgeon General. The reason we don’t have one is Rand Paul. The President’s choice for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murphy regards gun proliferation and violence as a health problem. Senator Paul, Republican of the NRA district, placed a hold on Dr. Murphy’s nomination.

There have been 4 cases of Ebola in the United States. One man died.

New Congresswoman and juggler of hog testicles, Joni Ernst of Iowa was at an event the other day talking about Ebola. Reporter Charlie Pierce pointed out that there was (on that day) a single case of Ebola in the United States. Ernst’s response? “That’s your opinion,” she said. Buckle up kids. The next 2 years are going to be a bumpy ride.

There are zero cases of Ebola in the United States. That was accomplished without travel bans or humane executions. Now that there isn’t a low information electorate to whip into a frenzy of fear, we won’t hear much more about it. It’s not as if we actually care about sick people in Africa.

In other news, a whole lot of bizarre was just elected to legislatures across the land.

In Colorado, Tea Party Pastor Gordon Klingenschmitt was just elected to the state legislature, with 70 percent of the vote. Klingenschmitt claims to have performed numerous exorcisms on gay people. Gay people “want your soul,” he says. He also claims to have performed an exorcism on President Obama, to rid him of the demons of tyranny. How disappointed Klingenschmitt must be that Obama is still black.

This guy was elected by a huge percentage. In the United States in the 21st century.

In Georgia, newly elected Congressman Jody Hice is worried about lunar eclipses. It seems that the religious right thinks that lunar eclipses are signs of God’s impending judgment against Murka for the sins of gay equality and abortion. Jody Hice has a talk radio show, and told his listeners that the appearance of blood moons “has preceded world changing, shaking type events.” In another era, living in a cave, Hice would have been advocating blood sacrifices to the gods to appease them. In the 21st century, he was elected to the US House of Representatives.

New Wisconsin Congressman Glenn Grothman once warned that sex education classes are a secret plot to turn kids gay. He’s also said that money is more important for men than women, that days off from work are “a little ridiculous,” that Kwanzaa is a conspiracy promoted by white people, and that people on food stamps don’t act poor enough. In the 21st century, this man was elected to Congress.

New Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke told a Republican group that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is “the antichrist.” Naturally when he was called out for his comment, he claimed he was joking.

Joni Ernst isn’t just an expert on Ebola. She told Iowans last year that Agenda 21 agents were likely to start moving people off their agricultural land and sending them to the cities, after which their land would be confiscated. Agenda 21 is a non-binding treaty on sustainable development that was written over 20 years ago. Ted Cruz predicts Agenda 21 will bring an end to paved roads and golf courses. Both of these people are elected members of the US Congress, in the 21st century.

Ben Carson, a columnist at World Nut Daily is gearing up for a presidential run. He recently announced that he would cut back on voter fraud by undocumented workers by revoking their citizenship and deporting them.

Here in NH, the electorate has apparently determined that we need to revisit the 2011-2012 legislative debacle. The humiliation and destruction visited upon the state during those years was apparently easily forgotten, so now we have some retreads being sent back, along with a bumper crop of Free Staters and other dubious characters.

With the Republicans in control of the NH House, the position of Speaker is being hotly contested, and the rumors are rampant. Bill O’Brien wants desperately to return to his position as Official Petty Tyrant, and has reportedly sent out a hatchet man to threaten, cajole, and bribe various members to support him, with promises of committee chairmanships. The Tea Party-John Bircher- Free Stater crowd loves O’Brien. He’s unencumbered by truth or ethics.

On the other side of the GOP, Senator Kelly Ayotte, former governors John Sununu and Steve Merrill, former Congressman Charlie Bass, and former Speakers Doug Scamman and Donna Sytek are all urging House members to support Rep. Gene Chandler as Speaker. The decision will be made next week.

An O’Brien Speakership on the cusp of the First in the Nation Primary can only be a disaster for the NH Republican Party. That he’s even being considered for the position should frighten any thinking person.

“This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.”  ~ Charlie Pierce

US Postal Service Set to Make Devastating Cuts in Service and Further Dismantle the Postal Network

NH Postal Workers holding a Candlelight Vigil and Funeral Procession to Mourn Service Cuts and to Deliver a Message – ‘Stop Delaying America’s Mail’ – Protests are being Held Throughout the Country

City Hall Plaza, 904 Elm Street Manchester, NH

Friday, November 14, from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

NH – As a part of a national day of action NH Postal Workers will be passing out flyers and talking to the public at several Post Offices across the state. Afternoon leafleting will be followed by a Candlelight Vigil and Funeral Procession at City Hall Plaza to mourn the loss of speedy, reliable service. Postal workers want the public to be aware that unless they are stopped, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and the USPS Board of Governors are poised to make devastating cuts in service to the American people – cuts so severe that they would forever damage the U.S. Postal Service.

On Jan. 5, the USPS is slated to lower “service standards” virtually eliminating overnight delivery – including first-class mail going from one address to another within the same city or town. Also beginning in January, 82 Mail Processing & Distribution Centers in 37 states are scheduled to close/consolidate.

This will impact service in every state. All mail throughout the country (including medicine, online purchases, local newspapers, bill payments, letters and invitations) would be delayed.
Our entire community would lose business opportunities associated with ecommerce, which relies heavily on the speedy delivery of items ordered online.

These cuts would cause hardships for the public and small businesses, eliminate jobs, and destroy the world’s most efficient and affordable delivery network. It will drive away opportunities and revenue. This same flawed strategy seeks to end Saturday and door-to-door deliveries, cut back post office hours, and make other reductions in mail service.

The Postal Service is NOT funded by taxpayer dollars. These reckless cuts are not necessary and will likely cost the postal service in the long run. The Postal Service, thanks partly to a rapid expansion of package delivery has earned an operating profit of over $1 Billion so far this year.

The Postal Service does not need to be torn apart or privatized. It can continue to provide universal service to all. The obstacles faced by the Postal Service were placed there in 2006, when they were operating with record profits. Congress mandated that the Postal Service pre-fund future retiree health benefits 75 years in advance – something no other public agency or private firm is required to do. That costs the Postal Service $5.6 billion a year.

Postal Reform is needed, not cuts in Service! Fifty-one senators and 160 House members have called for a one-year moratorium on reductions in service and the closing/consolidation of mail processing centers to allow Congress time to enact postal legislation that would improve, not degrade, postal service.

The Postmaster General and USPS Board of Governors should honor their request.

For more information, visit www.StopMailDelays.org.

“Democracy in Action” Conference Focuses on Reducing Political Influence of Corporations and Big Money

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE—Eleven days after the most expensive mid-term election in US history, New Hampshire activists will gather on Saturday, November 15 at Manchester Community College to learn how to make their own voices heard in the run-up to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Open Democracy, and NH Peace Action, the 2014 “Democracy in Action” conference will focus on reducing the influence of corporations and big money on American politics.

“Fifty years after President Eisenhower warned the nation about the unwarranted influence of the military-industrial-complex, the problem has only gotten worse,” said Will Hopkins, Director of NH Peace Action.  “Now, it’s ultra-wealthy individuals and a wide range of corporate interests that are drowning out the voices and votes of ordinary citizens,” said Hopkins, an Iraq war veteran.

“In New Hampshire we have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the candidates,” said Olivia Zink, AFSC’s Grassroots Engagement Coordinator, “and with a bit of training and planning, we can make sure they hear our concerns about corporate influence and big money.”

“It’s no surprise that nine in ten Americans believe special interest money holds excessive influence in politics or that eight in ten Americans support limits on campaign spending,” observed Dan Weeks of Open Democracy, who noted that nearly $50 million was spent just on the recent campaign for the US Senate. “That’s about $100 for everyone who voted, and most of it was spent on negative ads,” Weeks said.

The Democracy in Action conference will take place from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 15.  It will include workshops on campaign skills, especially how to communicate effectively with electoral candidates through a process activists call “bird-dogging.”   Other workshops will examine news-media relations, bringing resolutions to Town Meetings, free speech rights, and public speaking.  Topical workshops will focus on corporate influence over foreign policy, health care, and environmental matters, plus others dealing with the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, corporate influence on state policy, and the impact of the money-driven political system on efforts to reduce poverty.

Participants will also learn about AFSC’s “Governing Under the Influence” project, Open Democracy’s proposals for campaign reform, and the NH Rebellion’s plans for “Granny D” walks in January.

Following the conference, attendees will have an opportunity to see a new documentary film, “Pay 2 Play,” which exposes the influence of money on our political system and explores steps to put voters back in control.

Manchester Community College is located at 1066 Front Street in Manchester. Admission is free.  Participants are strongly encouraged to pre-register. Additional information is available at:  http://afsc.org/event/democracy-action-conference.

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization supported by people of many faiths who care about social justice and peace.  It’s NH Primary season project focuses on excessive corporate influence in American politics.

Open Democracy is a New Hampshire organization founded by Doris “Granny D” Haddock to strengthen democracy and stop the corrupting influence of special interest money in politics.

New Hampshire Peace Action is a statewide group working to end wars, eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide, and shift resources from war-making to programs that meet human needs.

In addition to AFSC, NH Peace Action, and Open Democracy, the conference is also supported by People for the American Way, Public Citizen, the Stamp Stampede, NH Sierra Club, Free Speech for People, and Granite State Progress.