• Advertisement

AFT’s Weingarten: Walker Will Say and Do Anything to Attack Workers

WASHINGTON— Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Gov. Scott Walker’s signing of the so-called right-to-work bill in Wisconsin:

“During his campaign for governor, Scott Walker promised not to amp up his attacks on workers. But when he decided to run for president, he kicked that commitment to the curb. In the last two weeks, he has compared working people to ISIS, has celebrated President Reagan’s bust of the air traffic controller strike as a ‘significant foreign policy decision,’ and now has signed into law a bill that will drive down wages, destroy good jobs and break the backs of unions. By his actions and statements, Walker has revealed that his plan to win the Republican nomination is a willingness to say and do anything to attack and tear down workers. It’s cynical and sad, and will ultimately fail.

“Scott Walker fails the test of common decency and common sense. If you want good jobs, then you also must stand up for the workers who hold them. If you want a strong middle class, then you can’t take out the unions that built it. If you want higher wages, then workers need a voice.

“Governors of our nation, you have a decision to make. You can take your state the way of Wisconsin, where Gov. Walker’s attacks on workers and tax cuts for the wealthy have landed the state, which is ranked 32nd for business and 27th in economic climate, with a $2 billion deficit. Or you can look over to Minnesota, where Gov. Mark Dayton has stood with workers and raised taxes on the wealthy few. Minnesota has a $1 billion surplus and is ranked in the top 10 in the nation for business and economic climate.

“The workers of Wisconsin are resilient. They will continue to fight back and wait until they have a governor who will work with them, not work to break them.”

So-Called Right-to-Work Law an Assault on Working People in Wisconsin

Statement of Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA 

Washington, D.C. – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement today on Wisconsin Gov. Walker’s action to sign so-called “right-to-work” into law:

With today’s attack on the middle class by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, half of the states in our nation have now implemented so-called “right-to-work” legislation. That leaves only half of the country in states where working people have the freedom to prosper by joining together in unions.

The tide of anti-prosperity legislation, financed by far-right extremist tycoons who buy governors such as Walker, is particularly an assault on those who work with their hands and service the great state of Wisconsin. It is by having the freedom to join together in a union that construction workers build careers, earn family-supporting pay and stay safer on the job. It is through unions that wage disparities are reduced or eliminated. 

As the Wisconsin governor darts around the world seeking money for his Presidential campaign, he has made clear that his vision for America is one of dramatically increased income inequality, class warfare waged by the rich, and shrinking rights for all but a wealthy elite.

We will continue to inform and mobilize our members to fight for America. Our country is not about deceptive slogans and low-wage work, but rather about opportunity and the freedom of our families to prosper. 


The half-million members of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – are on the forefront of the construction industry, a powerhouse of workers who are proud to build America. 


Governor Hassan’s Statement on Senate Transportation Committee Rejecting Bill to Give New Hampshire Residents Choice on Drivers’ Licenses

Governor Directs Division of Motor Vehicles to Begin Notifying Renewal and New License Applicants that New Hampshire Driver’s Licenses May Not Be Accepted at Federal Facilities

CONCORD – Following a vote yesterday by the Senate Transportation Committee to recommend killing Senate Bill 262, legislation that would give New Hampshire residents a choice whether to obtain a federally accepted driver’s license or other identification card, Governor Maggie Hassan directed the Division of Motor Vehicles to begin notifying applicants for new licenses and license renewals that their New Hampshire driver’s license may not be accepted at some federal buildings, and may not be accepted for air travel as early as 2016.

In addition, Governor Hassan also today wrote New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation urging them to seek further extensions for New Hampshire under the federal secure identification law, known as REAL ID.

The federal government notified New Hampshire in late November that it would begin implementing the federal REAL ID law on a rolling basis and that New Hampshire identifications would not be accepted. After discussions with the leadership of the House and the Senate, Governor Hassan and the Department of Safety worked with Senator Donna Soucy to introduce legislation that would give New Hampshire residents the choice of whether or not to get a federally accepted license.

“This common-sense legislation would give Granite Staters the choice to obtain a license or identification card that is compliant with federal requirements for acceptance in certain facilities, or to instead receive a driver’s license that will only remain acceptable for state use,” Governor Hassan said. “I certainly understand the Senate Transportation Committee’s hope that the federal government is just crying ‘wolf,’ but given the potential consequences to New Hampshire citizens, it is important that we make sure that they have all of the information. Therefore, I have asked the Division of Motor Vehicles to begin notifying applicants for new license and license renewals that their New Hampshire driver’s license may not be accepted at federal buildings and, beginning as early as 2016, may not be accepted for travel on airplanes.”

Under current law, New Hampshire driver’s licenses are not compliant with federal requirements and may not be accepted for entrance into federally secure facilities, such as the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, federal buildings, and –  no sooner than 2016 – may not be accepted for travel on airplanes. Senate Bill 262 would give New Hampshire residents the option to obtain a driver’s license or other identification card that will be accepted for entrance into these facilities, or to not obtain such a license and receive one that is just acceptable for state use. Without this legislation, New Hampshire residents could be required to obtain a federal passport in order to enter secure facilities or to travel on airplanes.

New Hampshire licenses and identification cards had been accepted for use at certain federal facilities under an extension waiver from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but DHS indicated in a letter last November that there was not adequate justification for another extension and beginning in January of this year, federal agencies may not accept New Hampshire licenses and other identification cards for official purposes.

Governor Hassan also submitted a letter in support of Senate Bill 262 to the Senate Transportation Committee.

The letter from DHS and a list of identification provisions with which New Hampshire is compliant and non-compliant are attached. For more information on the DHS enforcement schedule, visit http://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.

The federal government has issued the following schedule for phased-in enforcement:

Phase 1            Restricted areas (i.e., areas accessible by agency personnel, contractors, and their guests) for DHS headquarters in Washington   April 21, 2014

Phase 2            Restricted areas for all Federal facilities & nuclear power plants       July 21, 2014

Phase 3            Semi-restricted areas (i.e., areas available to the general public but subject to ID-based access control) for most Federal facilities       January 19, 2015

3a        Facility Security Levels 1 and 2         January 19, 2015

3b        Facility Security Levels 3, 4, and 5, and  military facilities

October 10, 2015

Phase 4            Boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft

A driver’s license or identification card from a noncompliant state may only be used in conjunction with a second form of ID for boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft      No sooner than 2016


Governor Hassan’s full letters to the congressional delegation and the Senate Transportation Committee is below:


The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen

506 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510


Dear Senator Shaheen:


As you may be aware, the Department of Homeland Security has not extended New Hampshire’s waiver under the federal REAL ID law, passed by Congress under then-President George W. Bush. As communicated by the federal government, this will have serious consequences to New Hampshire citizens, who may find themselves unable to enter certain federal facilities or to travel on airplanes beginning as early as 2016.


New Hampshire passed a law forbidding its participation in REAL ID, but unlike other states that have similar laws, this year New Hampshire was notified that the federal government would not continue our waiver. The Department of Homeland Security tells us we differ from those states in two key aspects: we allow drivers to delete their photos from the state’s motor vehicle system and we allow drivers to delete their Social Security Numbers from the state system.


Although only a small percentage of drivers choose those options, the Department of Homeland Security has informed New Hampshire that because these options exist, and because New Hampshire’s Division of Motor Vehicles is forbidden from identifying licenses based on compliance with REAL ID, it did not believe there was adequate justification to extend New Hampshire’s REAL ID waiver. The Department of Homeland Security has also released a phased enforcement schedule that began with the most secure federal facilities and will, according to their schedule, culminate with rejecting New Hampshire driver’s licenses for use in travel beginning sometime in 2016.


The New Hampshire Senate Transportation Committee recently rejected proposed legislation that would have allowed New Hampshire citizens to choose whether to have a federally accepted license. If the New Hampshire Legislature follows the Committee’s lead, New Hampshire citizens won’t be able to make an individual choice on obtaining a federally compliant license, so I am asking you to request that the Department of Homeland Security extend New Hampshire’s waiver, and if the department is unable to continue that waiver under federal law, to file legislation to repeal the REAL ID requirements.


Under both current federal and state laws, New Hampshire citizens may find themselves blocked from travel without warning – whether for a business trip, a vacation or a family emergency. Lack of access to federally accepted identification could also hurt our businesses whose employees must travel to meet clients in other states, and it may also make us less attractive to new businesses that are dependent on travel.


The lack of REAL ID-compliant identification could become a major burden for New Hampshire citizens and business, and I urge you to do whatever is in your power to mitigate these consequences. Thank you for your consideration.


With every good wish,




Margaret Wood Hassan




cc:        Senator Kelly Ayotte

Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Congressman Frank Guinta


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


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


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

(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)


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.

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement