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Union Leaders Cautiously Optimistic About Sale of FairPoint to Illinois-Based Consolidated Communications

 Fairness at Fairpoint Banner

Portland, ME—Leaders of unions representing telecom workers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont responded to the announcement by Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc. that it plans to purchase FairPoint Communications in 2017. The sale is subject to approval by both companies’ shareholders and state regulators. 

“It’s clear that the ill-advised sale of Verizon to FairPoint in 2008 has had a profound negative impact on workers and consumers in Northern New England. Just last month, FairPoint announced another major layoff of nearly 10% of its workforce even as regulators continue to investigate their service quality failures,” said Peter McLaughlin, Business Manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2327 in Maine. “Therefore, we view this potential sale with cautious optimism. We are hopeful that Consolidated will work with us to create and maintain good jobs in our communities and really improve the quality of service that our customers deserve.”

The unions confirmed that the recent layoff announced by FairPoint would go forward as planned.

According to Don Trementozzi, President of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400, “Our members and our customers have been through the ringer with FairPoint over the last eight years, and our primary concern is that this transaction result in a more stable company that puts a priority on strengthening communities, not enriching Wall Street hedge fund owners.”

Union leaders said that they are looking closely at Consolidated’s finances, technical capacity, and history of labor relations as well as at the regulatory requirements for the sale. In 2007, the unions partnered with community groups to “Stop the Sale” of Verizon to FairPoint. They predicted the sale would be devastating for workers and consumers, but the sale went ahead and FairPoint declared bankruptcy in 2009. The company’s effort to slash labor costs by cutting pay and benefits and hiring unlimited contractors led to an historic four-month strike in the winter of 2014-15.

“As we were back in 2007 during the Verizon transaction, we will be deeply involved in the process to ensure a fair deal for FairPoint workers no matter the outcome of this transaction,” said Steve Soule, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2320 in New Hampshire. “While we certainly welcome FairPoint’s departure from Northern New England, we’ll be vigilant in examining any potential new owner and fighting for fairness for our members and our communities.”

Leaders emphasized their willingness to cooperate with Consolidated should the transaction succeed with shareholders and regulators. “As long as Consolidated is ready to engage with our members and our customers with respect and fairness, we welcome this opportunity to help re-build the company and make it the success it has been in the past,” said Mike Spillane, Business Manager of IBEW Local 2326 in Vermont.


The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers System Council T9 includes local unions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont and represents more than 1,400 employees at FairPoint Communications. The Communications Workers of America Local 1400 represents 150 FairPoint employees in the three states.


AFGE Applauds New Rule Lifting Barriers for Federal Job Applicants

New “ban the box” rule ensures applicants with past financial or legal troubles can compete fairly for federal jobs

WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. today issued the following statement in response to a final rule issued Thursday by the Office of Personnel Management revising when federal agencies request certain background information from federal job applicants:

“The American Federation of Government Employees supports the new regulation that allows job candidates to progress through the initial stages of the hiring process without having to reveal information about past financial difficulties or incarceration.

“We believe that individuals should compete for federal jobs based on whether they have the requisite skills to perform the duties of the job. Once a person has made restitution for past financial problems or served a sentence, he or she should have an opportunity to compete for federal jobs just like any other citizen.

“There is no question that access to a good, steady job is the best way to prevent recidivism. The opportunity to serve the public through federal employment should be available to all Americans who have the necessary skills, and this regulation will take us closer to that ideal.”

Leo W Gerard: Fire Ants Killed The TPP

The defeat of the TPP is a tale of ants slaying a dragon.

It seemed a fearsome task, challenging the powerful behemoth that is Wall Street, Big Pharma, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Big Ag, Big Oil, all their lobbyists, and all the Congress critters they’d “campaign-financed” to support their money-grubbing 12-country trade scheme.

The battle was engaged, though, for the sake of workers’ rights, clean air and water, food safety, reasonably priced pharmaceuticals, national sovereignty, internet freedom, financial regulation, public control of public lands, the right of governments to pass laws for the public good without corporations suing for so-called lost profits in secret tribunals adjudicated by hand-picked corporate jurists, and the freedom of local governments to buy American-made products for taxpayer financed projects to create American jobs. And, frankly, so much more.  For a righteous, just and equitable society. That’s why there were so many ants.

Literally thousands of civil society groups coalesced to combat the TPP. These included labor unions, health care organizations, food safety advocates, environmentalists, churches, family farmers, social justice societies, indigenous rights organizations and allied groups in the 12 TPP partner countries. My union, the United Steelworkers, was among them. It was an overwhelming number of groups with an overwhelming number of members who conducted an overwhelming number of events over years to make it clear to lawmakers just how strongly citizens opposed the TPP.

2016-11-20-1479664511-1714952-TPPphoto1.jpg

USW members at a 2016 anti-TPP rally in Washington, D.C. organized by the USW Rapid Response Department. Photo are by Steve Dietz of Sharper Image Studios

It began slowly with warnings about the secret negotiation process itself. Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, which was instrumental in organizing the collaborative action against the TPP, said groups started telling politicians early on that they weren’t going to tolerate another NAFTA. No one listened. As a result, he wrote:

“. . .first thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands and then literally millions of Americans signed letters and petitions urging the Obama administration and Congress to abandon TPP negotiations that gave corporate lobbyists a seat at the table, while keeping the public in the dark.”

Let me tell you about the fire ant. They mostly live in mounds. If an animal steps on the mound, the ants will attack. A few ants are irritating. A bunch are annoying. Half a million fierce fire ants with tiny venomous stingers working together can kill a 10-pound animal. That’s what happened to the TPP.

2016-11-20-1479664869-2154787-TPPphoto2.jpg

USW members at a 2016 anti-TPP rally in Washington, D.C. organized by the USW Rapid Response Department. Photo by Steve Dietz of Sharper Image Studios

The anti-TPP forces conducted call-in days that resulted in hundreds of thousands of calls to Congressmen and women. When Congress was weighing whether to fast track the TPP, in other words to approve it without even bothering to amend it to fix it, the anti-TPP forces conducted an encampment on Capitol Hill for three weeks. This, and many other anti-TPP demonstrations, occurred a year before either party chose its presidential nominee.

The USW Rapid Response, Legislative and Political departments worked with USW members to send to Congress more than 350,000 postcards protesting the TPP. USW members met with their Senators and Congressmen 1,500 times this year to oppose the deal. They held rallies, demonstrations, town hall meetings and even rock concerts to inform their communities about the problems with the TPP. They conducted large rallies and other events in Washington, D.C. They built support with their state legislatures and local governments, persuading cities and towns across the country to pass resolutions officially opposing the TPP.

And that’s only what the USW did. The AFL-CIO was an important leader on this issue. And many other unions were just as active, and so were groups like the Sierra Club and the BlueGreen Alliance. The effort was relentless and concerted. And that’s why it was successful.

For the USW, this win was a long time coming. It began 22 years ago when the USW took on NAFTA. The union filed a federal lawsuit trying to overturn that scheme. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court refused to hear it, and the USW lost. Workers continue to suffer devastation from NAFTA today, as manufacturers close profit-making American factories and re-open them across the border in Mexico where greedy corporations can make even more profit by destroying the environment and paying slave wages then shipping the goods duty free back to the United States.

For example, Carrier announced in February that it would close two profit-making factories in Indiana and reopen them in Mexico. The result is 2,100 workers, members of the USW, will lose their good, family-supporting jobs.

That’s NAFTA. That’s a trade deal negotiated by corporations for corporations. After that came Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with China in 2000. The USW strongly protested that as well, because the union believed none of the hype about how China was a huge market, and the United States was going to do all of the selling there.

As it turns out, the USW was right. China has relentlessly dumped government-subsidized products on the American market, baldly defying the international trade laws it agreed to abide by when it signed that agreement in 2000. That has devastated companies that want to manufacture in America, including steel, aluminum, paper and tires producers. These manufacturers have repeatedly had to pay untold millions to file trade cases to obtain limited relief in the form of tariffs, and tens of thousands of workers have paid in the terrible form of lost jobs.

The USW has protested virtually every so-called free trade scheme proposed since NAFTA, most particularly those with Korea and Colombia. In the case of Colombia, where more trade unionists were murdered than in any other country in the world, we asked for a delay in approval of the deal at least until safety for collective bargaining could be assured. We were ignored. And more trade unionists have been murdered every year since the deal took effect.

2016-11-20-1479664707-6124102-TPPphoto3.jpg

Image from the Rock Against the TPP concert in Pittsburgh and is by Chelsey Engel, writer, photographer, singer.

Photo are by Steve Dietz of Sharper Image Studios

Photo are by Steve Dietz of Sharper Image Studios

Then came the massive, hulking dragon of a TPP, the likes and size of which had never been seen before. This time, the corporatists really stepped in it. This time it wasn’t just a few angry trade unionists stinging their ankles. This time the self-dealing free traders had pissed off far too many civil society groups. And they were organized. And they weren’t going to take it anymore.

It’s not over, though. None of us oppose trade. We just want trade deals that, as economist Jared Bernstein and trade law expert Lori Wallach put it, are “written for all the cars on the road, not just the Lamborghinis.” For that to happen, all the groups that protested this deal must be at the table to negotiate the next deal – not just the corporations. The Lamborghinis are one interest group. We are many.

When I was a kid, Frank Sinatra sang a song called High Hopes, and the most famous verse was this:

“Just what makes that little old ant

Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant

Anyone knows an ant, can’t

Move a rubber tree plant.”

No ant can move a rubber tree plant. But let me tell you, a couple million ants just killed a TPP monster. There’s high hope in concerted action.

Labor Organizations Launch New Phone APP To Combat Wage Theft And Worker Abuses

As Donald Trump Prepares to take over Presidency, Immigrant Workers Prepare to Defend Themselves

jornalerNew York, N.Y. – On Monday November 21st, New York-based day labor worker centers, national labor unions, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) formally announced the launch of an innovative new tool to combat wage-theft and labor exploitation among immigrant workers.   

Two years ago, day laborer centers in New York began a bottom-up effort to utilize new technologies to solve epidemic of minimum wage violations.   While wage theft, or the denial of earned wages, is rampant across many industries, day laborers are particularly susceptible for many reasons including misperceptions about their immigration status. The new App was designed by and for day laborers, and it can be used by all vulnerable immigrant workers.  

The Jornaler@ App, (pronounced Jornalera, the Spanish language word for “day laborer”) will allow users to safely combat instances of wage theft by reporting abusive employers and other violations. The information compiled by the App will be administered by day laborer worker centers, labor unions and other organizations that wish to participate.

“Immigrant worker centers are honored to work with our brothers and sisters within the AFL-CIO to forge the next chapter in worksite enforcement strategies” Pablo Alvarado, the Executive Director of NDLON.  “Particularly now, as xenophobes seek to divide workers and undermine government institutions, we must organize, innovate, and stand together to defend ourselves. This new App will encourage organizing and will send a powerful message to abusive employers that wage theft will not be tolerated.”

This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the AFL-CIO’s historic partnership with NDLON, which sought to end the denial of wages to immigrant workers, and opened the door for worker centers to formally participate in the labor movement.

“The launch of this app is very important. This is an example of using technology as a tool for shared prosperity,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We want to make sure that every worker in this country knows that they are not alone. We continue to stand firm on the side of all working people and commit to protecting these day laborer corners the way we will protect our union halls, in the face of any attack”.

Developing the Jornaler@ APP was the result of collaboration initiated and conducted by social practice artist Sol Aramendi with workers, organizers, lawyers and artists at New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). As the idea began to grow, other worker centers from across New York began participating in the growing conversation. Groups such as El Centro de Inmigrante, La Colmena, the Don Bosco Workers in Port Chester, The Workplace Project in Hempstead, and Obreros Unidos from Yonkers.

Financial support from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades was instrumental in completing the development of the application and delivering it to the workers that will use Jornaler@ all over the country.

“The IUPAT is proud to have worked with our community partners and organizations to help build the framework of a new worker movement for the 21st century” said IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden. “Wage theft is a costly national epidemic, and this app will serve as a powerful tool to protect the workers who push this country forward every day.”

Jornaler@ is available for Android and iPhone. Search for “Jornalera” on Google Play or the AppStore.

Labor 411 Helps You Eat Your Way To A Stronger America This Thanksgiving

Ethical shopping list for Turkey Day can boost middle class, says nation’s top consumer directory for supporting good jobs

LOS ANGELES – For nine years, Labor 411 has promoted a movement in the U.S. to re-energize the middle class by purchasing products and services that support good jobs in this country. The nation’s #1 guide to ethical products boasts a Thanksgiving shopping list that encourages consumers to eat their way to a stronger America.

The list features options from stuffing to cranberry sauce to the turkey itself for responsible consumers who want to funnel their consumer dollars toward companies that treat their employees with respect. These are companies that provide living wages and a healthy work environment.

“At a time of year when Americans are reflecting on what they are thankful for, we want to recognize the employers that treat their workers well,” said Labor 411 Founder and Publisher Cherri Senders. “This allows consumers of the same ethical mindset to support those middle- and working-class employees who provide a solid foundation for the American economy.”

Labor 411’s mission is clear: By supporting businesses that treat their employees well with fair pay, good benefits and safe working conditions, we create a rising tide that lifts all boats. Senders has previously highlighted the importance of an ethical consumer movement in several op-eds, most recently published by the LA Daily News and Sacramento Bee; and in a regular blog on Huffingtonpost.com.

Founded in 2008, Labor 411 produces annual print guides in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. In addition to its print line up, Labor 411’s website (www.labor411.org) features and allows consumers to pinpoint where their shopping dollars can support living-wage companies in their communities and avoid retailers that do not treat their workers well.


thanksgiving_2016Whole Turkey
Butterball
Foster Farms

Potatoes / Sweet Potatoes
Betty Crocker
Dole
Ore-Ida
Homestyle Bakes
Mann’s

Stuffing
Stroehmann Bakery Products
Kraft

Ham
Boar’s Head
Hormel
Farmland
Cook’s
Hillshire Farm
Thumann’s
John Morrell
Alexander & Hornung
Sahlen’s

Cranberries / Cranberry Sauce

Dole
Ocean Spray

Salad / Vegetables

Amaral Ranches Broccoli and Romaine Lettuce
Andy Boy Broccoli, Cauliflower, Lettuce
Birds Eye and Mann’s Green Beans
Del Fresh Mushrooms
Dole Salads
Fresh Express Salad
Gargiulo Tomatoes
Monterey Mushrooms

Pie
Entenmann’s
Marie Callender’s

Teamsters Denounce Aubuchon Hardware Lockout Of Distribution Center Workers

 aubuchon-lockout-1Aubuchon Reneged On Agreed-Upon Contract

(WESTMINSTER, Mass.) –Teamster warehouse workers and drivers at Aubuchon Hardware’s distribution facility found themselves locked out of their jobs when they reported to their shifts this morning. They were met by security who had been instructed to tell the workers that they were not allowed on the property.

The 60 warehouse workers and drivers at Aubuchon’s distribution center are represented by Teamsters Local 170. After difficult contract negotiations that involved Aubuchon Hardware attempting to end its employees’ pensions and significantly raise their health care costs, the workers and the company agreed on a contract on October 21.

aubuchon-kid-lock-outThe workers planned to hold a contract ratification vote, but before that happened, Aubuchon changed the contract to include language allowing the company to outsource the distribution center work.

“We told Aubuchon that we cannot let this company outsource these jobs and destroy the lives of 60 families in Massachusetts,” said Shannon George, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 170. “They want to outsource their distribution business to Orgill, Inc. It is the height of hypocrisy for a company that calls itself locally-operated and community-oriented to send good New England jobs to a low-wage sub-contractor in West Virginia.

“The company refused to honor the contract we jointly agreed upon. Massachusetts communities have supported Aubuchon Hardware for decades. It’s outrageous that the company would treat community members who work there in this fashion.”

“I don’t know what kind of people renege on something they’ve agreed to,” said shop steward Bruce Girouard. “We discussed our contract for a long time. It feels like they’re trying to cheat us out of job security by slipping in different language at the last minute.”

“We showed up to work this morning and Aubuchon wouldn’t let us in. Now we’re out here on the street with no pay because the company is trying to starve us out just weeks before Thanksgiving, to force us to accept a contract that kills 60 jobs,” Girouard said.

“The Teamsters will not allow companies to intimidate workers,” said Sean O’Brien, Teamsters International Vice President, Teamsters Local 25 President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Joint Council 10 in New England. “The Teamsters are in the process of filing charges against Aubuchon with the National Labor Relations Board. This is a serious violation of federal laws protecting workers’ rights. Teamster members throughout New England stand ready to support these members of Local 170 as they fight back against Aubuchon’s abuses of workers and communities.”

Rough Road Ahead: Republicans Take Governor, House And Senate In NH

All the votes have been counted and we are looking at a very rough road ahead.

With the election of Donald Trump we will see a revived national effort to cut taxes for business, cut regulations on environmental protections, and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Here in New Hampshire we about to enter a new era of Republican control.  The NH Senate stayed the same with 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats. In the House, Democrats picked up a few seats but are still in the minority (235-165). With Governor-elect Chris Sununu’s win, we can expect a fast and furious legislative attack on many of the programs working people fought for.

From Dan Touhy’s Granite Status on the election results:

WHAT DOES IT all mean for New Hampshire? Watch for some Republican policy initiatives to be pitched with gusto. In Concord, that includes a return of right-to-work legislation, the “constitutional carry” firearms bill, and proposed business tax reform.

State Rep. Fred Doucette, R-Salem, said veterans issues and tackling the state’s opioid and heroin epidemic are two of his priorities in the coming legislative session.

The combination of a Republican President and Republican controlled Congress could mean the end of the ACA which could mean the end of the New Hampshire Health Partnership Program that protects more than 50,000 Granite Staters.  Even without the repeal of the ACA, Sununu and many of his cohorts in the Legislature have already suggested ending the program in New Hampshire.

The question now is; What other attacks will working people face in the coming year?

Besides Right to Work will Republicans try to repeal our collective bargaining rights like they did in the O’Brien era of 2011-12? Will they attempt to reduce benefits for retiree’s and force workers to contribute more to the pension system?  Will they force through their so-called “school choice” legislation that takes public funds and gives it to private and religious institutions? Will they continue to attack a woman’s right to choose and to attack women’s healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood?

It is time to start organizing so we will be ready when Sununu and his fellow Republicans begin their assault on workers.

Busted: Trump International Hotel Gets Smacked Down By NLRB For Union-Busting

Last night, news broke that the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Donald Trump, and Trump International Hotel, has been violating law by refusing to accept the results of the Culinary Union Local 226 (UNITE HERE) certification election and then refusing to negotiate with the union.

The NLRB decision ordered the immediate “cease and desist” from “interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees” in an attempt to break the union.

The NLRB also mandated that Trump International recognize the union and open bargaining immediately.

“The National Labor Relations Board has consistently told Donald Trump and his company that the union election wasn’t rigged and that he must sit down and negotiate with the Culinary Union,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “Mr. Trump is breaking federal law and Trump Hotel Las Vegas is operating illegally. Mr. Trump should accept the federal government’s order to negotiate and treat his workers with respect.”

“The decision by the NLRB marks a major victory for the more than 500 workers at the Trump Hotel Las Vegas, whose right to organize and collectively bargain has been trampled by Donald Trump,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “The decision underlines what we already know: Donald Trump lacks respect for the hardworking men and women who have made his hotel successful. For months he has violated federal laws by refusing to recognize and negotiate with Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which represents the hotel workers.”

“Donald Trump is a hypocrite, whose true feelings towards working people are clear. The workers at Trump Hotel Las Vegas deserve a say in determining their wages, benefits and working conditions. Donald Trump must come to the table and negotiate with them. The labor movement will continue to stand by these hotel workers, and all working men and women, as we fight back against attacks on our rights,” Trumka added.

Donald Trump likes to brag about his skills as a negotiator—but yesterday, he had to be ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to stop breaking the law, respect his workers’ fundamental rights to organize and bargain collectively, and come to the table,” said Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for President. “It’s appalling, but it’s not surprising. This is a man who personally signed a contract with a union-busting firm to try to stop UNITE HERE and the Culinary Workers’ Union from organizing in the first place, and engaged in a months-long intimidation campaign to bully his workers against voting to form a union.”

I was proud to visit workers on the picket line at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, and even prouder when they overcame Donald Trump’s intimidation campaign and were officially certified as a union earlier this year. I believe that when unions are strong, families are strong—and when families are strong, America is strong. And I will always stand with workers in protecting their rights to organize, bargain collectively, be safe on the job and retire with dignity, and if I am elected President, workers will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House,” added Clinton. 

Throughout this entire election, workers and unions, have been speaking out against Donald Trump and his anti-worker policies. (You can see a few examples from our coverage of the Democratic National Convention.)  Working people spoke out against Trump’s support of so-called Right to Work laws, refusing to pay workers and contractors, and his refusal to negotiate with the unions inside his own companies.

Donald Trump claims to have the support on “many, many union members” and even went on to say, “I have tremendous support within unions…every poll shows it.” When in fact, polling data shows that only 36% of union members support Trump.

In September, the NH Labor News posted an article highlighting Trump’s financial support of the union-busting Governor Scott Walker.  “Because of the leaked documents, we now know that Donald Trump was one of the donors who helped Scott Walker stay in office,” wrote Liz Iacobucci.

This most recent decision by the NLRB confirms that Donald Trump does not care about workers. He does not care about workers rights to organize and collectively bargain.  He does not even care about what the law requires.

Donald Trump is only out for himself. He is the epitome of corporate greed and highlights exactly what is wrong with our country right now.

Hopefully the rest of America will see Trump for the lying fraud that he truly is and will vote for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. Then I will look forward to Wednesday when Trump will disappear and be relegated to the history books.


Personal Note:

We applaud the Culinary Union on this tremendous victory over Donald Trump and the Trump International Hotel.  The Culinary Union and UNITE HERE symbolize exactly why we must stand together to fight back against corporate greed and how unions fight for every worker.  We, as union members, should rejoice in this decision and be ready to join our fellow union members on the streets when greedy executives like Donald Trump attack working people.  

Social Security COLA Falls Short for Seniors

social securty 1Small cost-of-living increase triggers huge Medicare Part B premium hike for many retirees

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. is calling on Congress to pass emergency legislation to prevent massive increases in Medicare Part B premiums for millions of retirees next year.

The government today announced a 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for federal retirees and Social Security recipients. The COLA is based on the year-over-year change in the prices for goods and services purchased by hourly and clerical workers.

This small COLA has inadvertently triggered a massive increase in Medicare Part B premiums for the 30 percent of beneficiaries who do not currently receive Social Security benefits.

Premiums for Medicare Part B are expected to increase 23 percent next year, from $121 a month to $149 a month. A so-called “hold harmless” provision prevents Medicare Part B premiums from increasing by more than the dollar increase in an individual’s Social Security payment. But for the 16 million retirees who don’t receive Social Security, including 1.6 million federal retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System, the full increase must be paid unless Congress acts.

“Congress must act now to prevent a massive increase in Medicare Part B premiums for this group of retirees,” Cox said. “Although most seniors would be protected, this group will have to pay more solely because of the uniqueness of their pension system.”

Congress last year extended the hold harmless provision to cover all Medicare Part B beneficiaries when there is no cost-of-living adjustment. However, this provision does not apply when there is a small COLA, as there will be in 2017.

Even without the increase in Medicare Part B premiums, retirees will have to tighten their belts to account for next year’s miniscule cost-of-living adjustment. Retirees already are facing a 6.2% increase in their health insurance premiums next year.

“Prices for many items that seniors must purchase are rising faster than the overall inflation rate,” Cox said. “Forcing this group of retirees to shoulder such a huge cost burden will have a devastating impact on their already modest living standards.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans have been pushing to increase Social Security benefits and change the way cost of living is calculated.

“The Alliance for Retired Americans is deeply disappointed by the announcement today that there will be a miniscule 0.3% benefit increase for millions of Social Security beneficiaries in 2017,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “For the average retiree, that means just a $5.00 per month increase, not enough to keep up with the cost of their prescription medications. This follows a 0% COLA in 2016. Most retirees are going to continue to have a hard time paying for basic necessities.”

“That’s why Congress must expand earned Social Security benefits and change the formula used to calculate future COLAs to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).  The CPI-E would base the calculation on what seniors actually spend their money on. That list includes items such as health care and housing, which account for most retirees’ spending,” Fiesta added. 

The AFL-CIO was “disappointed” with this COLA announcement.

“A weak increase that amounts to a mere $5.00 more a month for the average retired worker is a disappointment for the millions who rely on Social Security to stay afloat during retirement,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Protecting our seniors against inflation is one of the many obligations we have to retired Americans. The 2017 adjustment falls short of that goal because it fails to reflect seniors’ extraordinary expenses.”

 “The 2017 COLA not only fails to keep pace with seniors’ high health care and prescription drug costs, it also means millions of retirees, including many retired public employees, will be hit hard because the law fails to protect them against large Medicare Part B premium increases when inflation is low. State Medicaid budgets that cover Medicare premiums for low-income seniors similarly will be affected. We urge Congress to step in and limit the coming financial blow to thousands of vulnerable retirees and state budgets,” Trumka added.

NH Building Trades Announces Endorsement of Colin Van Ostern for Governor

Colin Van Ostern for Governor campaign event in Concord, New Hampshire on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.  Copyright 2016 Rob Strong

Colin Van Ostern for Governor campaign event in Concord, New Hampshire on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.
Copyright 2016 Rob Strong

Manchester – The New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council announced their endorsement of Colin Van Ostern for Governor today.                                                

“Colin is the leader working men and women need in the Governor’s office,” said Building Trades President Steve Burk. “We know Colin will fight to raise wages for working families and make sure our growing economy benefits all Granite State workers. Colin understands that union apprenticeship training programs are helping strengthen our workforce, and that union health insurance and pensions plans are helping give our citizens a stable foundation for success. The bottom line is, New Hampshire construction workers – both union and non-union – will do well with Colin as our Governor because Colin will make sure we rebuild our roads and bridges, bring passenger rail to New Hampshire, and finally pass a prevailing wage law to make sure our taxpayer dollars stay in the local economy and in the pockets of local workers. That’s why the New Hampshire Building Trades are all-in for Colin.”

“I’m honored to earn the support of the hardworking men and women of the New Hampshire Building Trades,” said Colin Van Ostern, Democratic nominee for Governor. “We need to do more to build an economy where anyone who works hard can get a good paying job and we’ll do that by investing in job and skills training, raising New Hampshire’s lowest in the nation minimum wage, and fighting back against attempts to make New Hampshire a so-called ‘right to work’ state, stripping hardworking people of the right to collectively bargain. New Hampshire needs a Governor who will stand up for people, not for partisan special interests.”

The New Hampshire Building Trades is an organization of 16 New Hampshire labor unions, representing more than 2,000 New Hampshire workers in the construction industry.

 

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