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Congressional Response to Airport Wait Times Falls Far Short, TSA Union Says

AFGE says Congress must lift arbitrary workforce cap
and fund 6,000 additional security officers

AFGE TSA WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing Transportation Security Officers at our nation’s airports, says recent Congressional actions to reduce passenger wait times are a good step but that the permanent solution remains hiring an additional 6,000 full-time screeners.

Congress on Monday approved shifting $28 million within the Transportation Security Administration’s current budget to convert 2,784 part-time officers to full-time positions and accelerate the hiring of 600 additional officers by the end of the fiscal year. This follows a similar action in May that enabled TSA to expedite the hiring of 768 new officers and pay additional overtime for current workers.

“The reprogramming requests that Congress has approved should provide some short-term relief to TSA officers who are clearly overworked and a flying public that is understandably frustrated,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

“However, the funding shifts fall far short in addressing the underlying issue, which is the failure of Congress to provide TSA with sufficient resources to meet its staffing needs and ensure the safety and security of the flying public,” Cox said.

Congress has set an arbitrary cap on the number of officers that the agency can hire, limiting TSA to no more than 45,000 screeners – although TSA can’t even meet the cap due to budget cuts.

Cox praised a group of 70 House lawmakers who sent a letter to leaders of the Homeland Security budget committee on June 8 calling the cap “arbitrary” and “illogical” and urging appropriators to remove it from the 2017 spending bill.

“Congress has set TSA up for failure by restricting how many workers it can hire and then slashing its budget to the point that it can’t even hire up to the arbitrary cap,” Cox said. “This results in passengers waiting two or three hours to get through checkpoints at peak times, while security lanes remain closed because there’s no staff to run them.

“Congress must lift this arbitrary worker cap and provide TSA with enough money to hire 6,000 additional officers, which would restore staffing levels to what they were in 2011.”

Hypocrite Trump To Hold New Hampshire Fundraiser With Known Job Outsourcer

Donald Trump (Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Donald Trump (Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Donald Trump says he is going to “make America great again” by magically bringing jobs back to the United States and opposes companies who offshored jobs. Trump has even gone so far as to say he would institute 35% tax on products made in Mexico and imported for sale in the United States.

Trump also spent most of the primary talking about how he was “really rich” and would self fund his campaign.

Trump stated on Facebook in September of 2015, “By self-funding my campaign, I am not controlled by my donors, special interests or lobbyists. I am only working for the people of the U.S.!”

Trump’s position opposing companies who outsource jobs and his statements about self-funding his campaign is what many of the Republicans liked about him. However now that he is the presumptive nominee, all of that is going out the window.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Trump would be coming to New Hampshire to hold one of many fundraisers in the area.

Wealthy donors like Sheldon Adelson are considering creating a pro-Trump Super PAC to help make up the campaign cash difference between Trump and Clinton. Trump will also be holding fundraisers with NY Jets owner Woody Johnson, who was “a top fundraiser for 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.”

Image from Bill Binnie for Senate 2010 campaign

Image from Bill Binnie for Senate 2010 campaign

Here in New Hampshire, Trump is planning to attend a fundraiser with Bill Binnie who made an untold amount of money selling out American workers. Binnie was the chief of “Carlisle Plastics Inc. in 1990, when it closed a factory with more than 400 jobs and built a new 60,000-square-foot facility in Tijuana, Mexico.”

The WSJ continued, “According to the company’s 1991 annual report signed by Mr. Binnie, ‘will significantly lower the division’s operating costs.’”

Binnie eventually sold Carlisle Plastics to Tyco for a cool $121 million dollars.

Then the WSJ “asked if [Binnie’s] own corporate history contradicts Mr. Trump’s vow to boost American manufacturing by instilling high tariffs on companies to move jobs overseas, Mr. Binnie hung up the phone without responding.”

Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the WSJ that Mr. Trump “looks forward” to attending Mr. Binnie’s fundraiser.

Not only is Trump a hypocrite for lying to voters about self funding his campaign, now he is aligning himself with campaign donors who sell out American workers utilizing bad trade deals.

Dan Weeks Calls Partisan Obstruction Of Judicial Appointments Unacceptable At State And Federal Level

Dan Weeks 4Executive Council candidate pledges to vet all state nominees based on qualifications, not political litmus tests

NASHUA, NH – Executive Council candidate Dan Weeks will join dozens of concerned citizens today at noon at the Nashua office of Sen. Kelly Ayotte to call for an end to partisan obstruction of judicial nominees in the US Senate and the NH Executive Council.

As a longtime good-government reformer with a history of cross-partisan collaboration, Weeks noted that over 50 days have passed since Chief Judge Merrick Garland was nominated to the US Supreme Court and still Senate Republicans are refusing to fulfill their constitutional duty to consider the president’s appointment. Court observes predict that numerous pressing matters will go unresolved on the Supreme Court this year as a result.

“This brand of partisan obstruction of the appointment process is unacceptable not only in Washington, but also right here in New Hampshire on the Executive Council,” Weeks said. “Granite Staters expect their elected officials to fulfill their Constitutional mandate and do the job we elected them do. In the case of Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland, that means giving him a hearing and an up-or-down vote.”

Weeks noted that every Supreme Court nominee since 1875 has received a hearing or a vote, until today. Declaring the last year of the President’s four-year term “off limits” for nominations, especially on our nation’s highest court, disenfranchises the millions of voters who elected the sitting president and sets a dangerous precedent for Republican Executive Councilors in New Hampshire.

“The refusal last year of my opponent, Councilor Wheeler, and his fellow Republicans to approve the governor’s appointment of Dorothy Graham to the State Superior Court last November – simply because she did her job as a public defender – is a troubling case in point.” Weeks said. The Executive Council’s rejection of Dorothy Graham on a party-line vote, even after she received universal support from members of law enforcement at her public hearing, was a first in recent memory, according to NHPR.

“If elected to the Council, I will take the responsibility of vetting judicial nominations seriously and reject the partisan obstructionism we see today. Moreover, I will work to protect the rights of Granite Staters to publicly vet our judicial nominees, and will urge the governor to appoint highly-qualified individuals who reflect the character and diversity of our state,” Weeks concluded.

Thursday May 5th, March For A Raise And Rally With Low Wage Workers In Fight For $15

Workers protest poverty wages. Image by )OFL communications FLIKR)

Workers protest poverty wages. Image by (OFL communications FLIKR)

March for a raise!

The minimum wage has not been raised since 2008. Full-time workers earning $7.25 are below the poverty line if they are supporting just one other person. Anyone who’s willing to work full time should not live in poverty!

On Thursday May 5th, we will march in Concord to call for better wages. We will gather in the NH DOT lot on Hazen Drive at 4 PM. People will tell us about their experiences as low-wage workers, and then we will walk up Hazen Drive, turn right at East Side Drive, walk down to Loudon Road and come back to where we started.

Please join us!

Questions? Call Cindy at 435-7552. Thanks!

May Day Rally For Immigrant Justice

DURHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Rejection of racism, xenophobia, and anti-Muslim sentiment will be the theme of the annual May Day Rally for Immigrant Justice to be held this year on the Durham campus of the University of New Hampshire. 

The rally will take place at 4:30 pm on the lawn in front of Thompson Hall in the center of the UNH campus.

“Speaking out for policies rooted in compassion, justice, and fairness is more important than ever,” said Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, a Manchester-based group that has been involved in organizing annual May 1 rallies since 2006. 

Speakers at the rally will include Castillo;  the Rev. Sandra Pontoh of the Maranatha Indonesian United Church of Christ in Madbury; Gabby Greaves of the UNH Black Student Union; Auderien Monareh, a UNH student; and the Rev. Larry Brickner-Wood of the Waysmeet Center. 

The Leftist Marching Band, a Portsmouth-based ensemble, will perform.

Sponsors of the rally include the Waysmeet Center, the Immigration Working Group of the United Church of Christ NH Conference, Maranatha Indonesian UCC Church, American Friends Service Committee, and the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. 

Previous May 1 rallies have been held in Portsmouth, Dover, Manchester, Nashua, and Concord.

May 1, which is celebrated as International Workers Day in many countries, has over the past decade become a day for immigrants and their allies to rally in the United States. 

Additional updates will be posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1086051458124426/?active_tab=posts


Tax Day Leaflets Highlight Excessive Military Spending

nuclear bomb mockup (Ed Uthman FLIKR CC) Activists will visit Representative Guinta, Representative Kuster, Senator Shaheen, and Senator Ayotte’s office calling for an end of excessive spending on nuclear weapons.

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Excessive spending on nuclear weapons and other military programs is the theme of a Tax Day leaflet that NH Peace Action, NH Citizens Alliance, and the American Friends Service Committee will distribute on Monday, April 18,  outside the Manchester and Concord offices of Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, and Representatives Frank Guinta and Annie Kuster. 

“At a time when veterans’ health care, infrastructure repair, and other urgent programs are badly under-funded, we want New Hampshire taxpayers to know that Congress has plans to spend a trillion dollars on a new generation of nuclear weapons systems that will do nothing for American security,” said Will Hopkins, Executive Director of NH Peace Action and an Iraq war veteran.

Members of the three groups plan to assemble on the sidewalk outside Senator Ayotte’s Elm Street, Manchester office at noon on Monday.  At 12:30 pm they will walk around the corner to Senator Shaheen’s office on Wall Street.  They will visit Representative Guinta’s Lowell Street office at 1:00 pm.  Finally, they will assemble outside Representative Kuster’s South Main Street office in Concord at 2:00 pm.  

At each location, they will offer to pedestrians a leaflet with information on the vast amounts the federal government spends on military programs.  They will also present leaflets to staff inside each office.

“It’s time for a new vision of American security,” said Kary Jencks, Executive Director of NH Citizens Alliance.  “The security of working families comes from decent pay in the workplace, affordable and quality health care, and secure retirement, all of which are imperiled when more than half of the discretionary budget goes to military programs,” she added.

According to the annual report on global military spending from the Stockholm Peace Research Institute, the United States spends more on military programs as the next seven countries, and “four of them are  our close military allies,” said Arnie Alpert, co-director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Hampshire Program.

“On Tax Day, we are telling our members of Congress it’s time to turn away from excessive spending on weapons and war and to turn toward education, health, and creation of good jobs in the civilian economy,” he said.

Alpert added that the activities in Manchester and Concord are coordinated with the “Global Day of Action on Military Spending.” 

Update From CWA On Possible Verizon Strike Tomorrow

standwithvzworkers-bannerWith Verizon executives refusing to give up demands on offshoring jobs and other devastating cuts, nearly 40,000 Verizon workers are preparing to go on strike on Wednesday at 6:00 am.   

 The Communications Workers of America made this statement:

“The 39,000 hard-working families at Verizon have made the company successful. Given Verizon’s enormous profitability there is no justification for the company’s continuing demands to destroy good middle-class jobs and offshore work. Workers have negotiated in good faith for ten months and addressed the company’s primary concern, which they told us was limiting health care costs. Workers and the customers who depend on us would be much better served if Verizon returned to the bargaining table and negotiated a fair agreement that fairly addressed the concerns of their workforce.

“Marc Reed and other Verizon executives are trying to rig the system against working families. The question of federal mediation is a distraction to the real problem: Verizon’s corporate greed.  Historically, federal mediators only get involved in collective bargaining situations with the agreement of both parties.  CWA did not authorize anyone at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to approach Verizon about extending the strike date. Either the FMCS acted without authorization or Verizon executive vice president Marc Reed is lying.

“All day today, CWA and IBEW bargaining teams have been available to meet, ready, able and willing to bargain. Where’s Verizon?”

New Poll Shows 66% Of Republicans Oppose The TPP, Spelling Possible Trouble For Ayotte

Former NH State Senator Jim Rubens Challenges
Sen. Ayotte to a debate on American worker wages

A poll released today by the conservative group Americans for Limited Government and independent pollster Pat Caddell shocked the establishment about voters’ attitudes on the 2,000 page Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership agreement.  The shocker: 66% of Republicans oppose the TPP.  Some highlights from the results: 

– 69% of Republicans say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate for U.S. Congress who promises to put a stop to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

– 63% of Republicans oppose an effort to pass TPP in a special session of Congress.

– 85% GOP voters agree that “political leaders are more interested in protecting their power and privilege than doing what is right for the American people.”

– 76% of Republicans say “the same political elite who have been rigging the political process in Washington are the same ones that have been rigging trade deals that hurt Americans, but benefit themselves.” 

-77% of Americans oppose a Republican leadership effort to vote on TPP in a lame-duck session.

– An astoundingly low 4 percent of GOP voters think that free trade deals have been “more of a benefit to the U.S.”.  

Jim Rubens issued the following statement in response to the poll results: 

“Since the first drafts were leaked in 2014, I have publicly opposed the TPP.  I am firmly on the side of American workers.  It’s time for the U.S. Senate to take the side of American workers and against the crony capitalists and their bought-and-paid-for politicians who want to export American jobs and drive down American wages.

“Conservative Republicans are way out front in opposition to the TPP.  It’s unfortunate that Sen. Kelly Ayotte not only supports this crony capitalist agreement, but she voted last May to give President Obama fast-track trade authority to grease it through Congress.  New Hampshire is among the top 10 states most hurt by our trade deficit with China, having lost over 22,000 jobs over the decade ending 2011.  It’s clear that voters think that Washington career politicians are selling them out.

“Many people have referred to the TPP as ‘NAFTA on steroids’ because this deal benefits other countries at the expense of American workers who are being replaced by cheap foreign labor.  85% of GOP voters have lost faith in the Washington political class because of their blatant crony capitalism.  I’m running for senate to give voters a way to stop this wholesale sell out of the American worker.”

In the press conference discussing the poll results, pollster Pat Caddell predicts there will be significant primary losses based on this issue.  

Rubens challenges Sen. Ayotte to a debate on TPP and how to get American wages rising again.

Urgent Call to Action for New Hampshire Legislators on International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day we celebrate the accomplishments of the women’s rights movement and call on our local legislators to continue to take action on gender parity

CONCORD, NH –International Women’s Day is celebrated worldwide today, March 8, 2016. Statements from Granite State Progress Education Fund and NH Citizens Alliance are below. 

Statement from Granite State Progress Education Fund Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

Granite State Progress“On International Women’s Day we applaud the accomplishments of Governor Maggie Hassan, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster who have continuously championed women’s rights and equality. We also applaud the dedicated leaders within the New Hampshire House and Senate who are working toward creating a better and more inclusive future for women and girls in the Granite State. We specifically want to highlight the legislators who have stood up to support and sponsor bills such as SB 488, which prevents discrimination against pregnant women and their families in the workplace, and HB 1346, which eliminates the sub-minimum tipped wage that disproportionately impacts the economic security of women and people of color. Bills like these will help end discrimination against women, and pave the way for equal participation in all aspects of professional and personal lives.”

Statement from NH Citizens Alliance Executive Director Kary Jencks:

NH Citizens Alliance“This week the House will convene to vote on some of the most oppressive reproductive rights bills against women our state has seen since the Bill O’Brien legislature. Bills such as HB 1328, HB 1623, HB 1625, and HB 1636, which all seek to limit or ban abortion, and HB 1684, which would remove funding from any health facility that offers abortion services, jeopardize a woman’s right to self-determination and economic security. We urge these legislators to take today to really think about their constituents and to reflect on whether they plan to Stand with Women or Stand in the Way during the House session.”

New Book About The Corrupting Influence Of Money In Politics

How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It

By Wendell Potter & Nick Penniman

Early praise for Nation on the Take:

nation-on-the-take-issue-one“Potter and Penniman offer practical answers and point out that reform beginning at the local level is most effective and that ‘sunlight is the baseline for all reform’…A well-written must-read for those ready to give up hope about politics and government in the United States.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Potter and Penniman, veteran public-policy analysts and critics, weigh in with a trove of supporting evidence to expose and explain current big-money corruption, and offer

concrete ways citizens can indeed unite to overturn such abuses.” – Booklist

More information and an excerpt of the book available here: http://www.issueone.org/nation-on-the-take/ 

The link between ordinary American people and their government is broken, and special interest groups increasingly control every level of government. The necessity of raising huge sums has completely changed the character of politics, determining what elected representatives stand for and how they spend their time. Wealthy individuals have seized control of the levels of power, and money, in form of PACs, SuperPACs, and their ilk, influences every policy initiative and piece of legislation.

According to a just-released Pew study, Americans of different political persuasions may not agree on much, but one thing they do agree on is that money has a greater—and mostly negative—influence on politics than ever before. The money raised and spent in the 2016 presidential election will shatter all records: the amount the biggest donors on both the right and the left have spent in the last two election cycles and what they are pledging to spend in 2016 it will outstrip the total cost of the entire 1998 election.  

This marriage of great wealth and political influence has strangled the political process, leaving us unable to address our most pressing problems as a nation, from climate change to the wealth gap. It defines the terms of our daily concerns: from the cars we drive to the air we breathe, even to the bodies we occupy.

The biggest challenge surrounding the issue of politics and money is that so many recognize it as a problem but so few can articulate why and what we can do about it. In NATION ON THE TAKE: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About It (Bloomsbury / March 1, 2016 / $28, hardcover) New York Times bestselling author Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman, executive director of Issue One, together two of Washington’s most vigilant watchdogs, expose legalized corruption and link it to the kitchen-sink issues citizens face every day. Inciting our outrage, the authors then introduce us to the army of reformers laying the groundwork for change, ready to be called into action. They touch on the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, but explain why it is not the insurmountable road block many imagine. The battle plan for reform presented is practical, realistic, and concrete in terms of dates, people, and legislation. No one except the lobbyists likes business as usual.

Publishing on Super Tuesday, Nation on the Take is an impassioned, infuriating, yet ultimately hopeful call to arms, a book that lays bare the reach of moneyed interests and charts a way forward, toward the recovery of America’s original promise. 

Nick Penniman is executive director of the organization Issue One. He was previously publisher of the Washington Monthly and director of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund. Both authors live in the D.C. area.

Wendell Potter is a senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity, the senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy, and a leading critic of the health insurance industry. His book Deadly Spin won the 2011 Ridenhour Book Prize. 

Issue One is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to reducing the influence of money in politics and putting Americans of all stripes back in control of their democracy. Issue One is generating a bigger, bolder movement for reform by recruiting new constituencies to the fight and elevating money in politics as the core civic issue of our time.

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