UFCW Stands With Market Basket Workers (#SaveMarketBasket)

UFCW Local 312

UFCW Statement on Market Basket Replacement Worker Job Fair 

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

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

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

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

Unions Applaud President Obama’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” Executive Order

White House Pens

White House PensToday is a monumental day for federal workers and those who work for federal contractors.   Today President Obama made it very clear that he would no longer tolerate the mistreatment of workers who are being paid for with money from the US Government.

The White House Press Secretary explains:

“As part of this Year of Action, the President will sign an Executive Order that will require prospective federal contractors to disclose labor law violations and will give agencies more guidance on how to consider labor violations when awarding federal contracts. Although many contractors already play by the rules, and federal contracting offers already must assess a contractor’s record of integrity, these officers still may not necessarily know about companies’ workplace violations. The new process is also structured to encourage companies to settle existing disputes, like paying back wages. And finally, the Executive Order also ensures that workers are given the necessary information each pay period to verify the accuracy of their paycheck and workers who may have been sexually assaulted or had their civil rights violated get their day in court by putting an end to mandatory arbitration agreements at corporations with large federal contracts.”

“By cracking down on federal contractors who break the law, the President is helping ensure that all hardworking Americans get the fair pay and safe workplaces they deserve.”

While Congress is rushing around to finish their last sessions before leaving on a month long vacation, the President using his executive authority to do what Congress is incapable of doing.

“Once again, the President is leading by example. Establishing the principle that if you are breaking the law, you don’t get to do business with the biggest employer in the country — the federal government,” said Joseph Geevarghese, deputy director of Change to Win. “Just like the executive order raising the minimum wage had a ripple effect across the economy, we hope that this bold step by the President sends a clear signal to the private sector that you need to do right by your workers.”

“Taxpayers shouldn’t reward lawbreakers that bust unions, steal wages and endanger workers,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “President Obama is right to make it harder for companies that abuse workers to receive federal contracts.”

Many who have worked for years, if not decades, pushing for an Executive Order that would protect workers, paid high praise to President Obama for his leadership.

“From raising wages to workplace protections, President Obama is showing strong leadership where it’s needed most,” said Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President. “Today’s executive order is a common sense measure that will make our contracting system fairer. Preventing tax dollars from being funneled to chronic violators of workers’ rights is good for workers, our economy and companies who play by the rules. When Congress shows the same leadership, all workers will be better off.”

“By signing this executive order, President Obama has demonstrated his continued commitment to protecting the rights of American workers,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. “This action will help protect the wages and lives of millions of Americans by giving the government tools to identify and fix workplace violations committed by companies that hold federal contracts. President Obama is right to use his authority to ensure that the federal government leads in the fight for good jobs, protects taxpayer dollars and makes sure the government gets good value for the goods and services it purchases.

“I commend President Obama for signing an executive order that will hold companies that receive significant taxpayer dollars more accountable for their actions,” said Dennis Williams, President of the United Auto Workers. “The president’s order will help tens of millions of workers have a better workplace environment and will create a level playing field for businesses that do the right thing. Today’s announcement is yet another example of the president’s tireless work to improve workplace safety and employees rights.”

“The UAW is proud to stand with President Obama — a president who has stood by hard working Americans! This is another step in the right direction to help rebuild the middle class and strengthen our economy,” Williams said.

“Today, President Obama took a stand for American workers by signing an executive order that will promote fairer and safer workplaces for employees of government contractors,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworker Union. “While many federal contractors already play by the rules and try to treat their workers fairly, thousands of hard-working Americans end up being denied the pay they deserve, or being exposed to health and safety risks, because some contractors insist on cutting corners in the name of profits.”

This is a major step forward to ensure that all workers get what they rightfully earned and those who cheat will not be rewarded. Here are some of the ways the President Obama is going to be cracking down on government contractors.

  1. Hold Corporations Accountable
  2. Crack Down on Repeat Violators
  3. Promote Efficient Federal Contracting 
  4. Protect Responsible Contractors
  5. Focus on Helping Companies Improve
  6. Give Employees a Day in Court
  7. Give Employees Information About their Paychecks
  8. Streamline Implementation and Overall Contractor Reporting

    (You can read the full press release with expanded descriptions of each of these points here.)

“Holding contractors to basic labor standards not only ensures that the federal government is getting the proper value for its dollar, it will protect responsible contractors in the marketplace from unfair competition by unethical employers who profit from their violations of the labor and employment laws that all employers are required to respect,” continued SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

The SEUI and Good Jobs Nation have been working to organize low-wage fast food workers both inside and outside the government. Yesterday, low-wage federal contract workers who are part of Good Jobs Nation went on strike for the 9th time to call for an end to wage theft, living wages and benefits, and the right to collectively bargain. They are on the front lines when it comes to the horrors of wage theft and maleficence from government contractors.

“The current system doesn’t do enough to ensure taxpayer dollars only go to responsible employers. It’s difficult to know about a company’s record of compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and others laws that protect working families. That’s why President Obama’s action today is so important. With more than 20 percent of Americans working for companies that do business with the federal government, this executive order will have a real impact on the lives of workers,” concluded Kay Henry.

“Today’s announcement builds on years of work by UFCW members and our partner unions to create a system that is fairer for workers and encourages a race to the top when it comes to labor standards,” said Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). “These efforts included a 2013 resolution passed unanimously by delegates to the UFCW convention calling on the creation of a ‘High Road’ procurement process.”

All in all this order is about protecting workers in every sector of the government.

“In the last several years, the meat and poultry industries have received over 1 billion dollars from taxpayers. Many workers in these industries work full-time yet are not paid enough to support themselves or their families. They also must endure dangerous workplace conditions and chronic underreporting of injuries by their employers,” continued Hansen. “This executive order sends a message that companies who engage in this type of anti-worker activity must change the way they do business or lose access to their government contracts.”

Others took this announcement as chance to once again to highlight the dysfunction of our current Congress.

“With this order, President Obama has sent the message that in the United States, we put people ahead of profits, as he has throughout his time in the Oval Office,” continued USW President Leo Gerard. “Sadly, we have a Republican Congress that takes the opposite approach. Because they are more interested in giving handouts to their wealthy donors than in helping working Americans, the President is forced to take action on his own.”

“We welcome this action by President Obama and call on everyone in Washington to follow his example and start working together to make life better for all American workers and their families,” concluded Gerard.

All in all it was a good day for workers, a bad day for corporations who cheat, and a good day for the American taxpayers who will see savings from the new contracting process.

“I want to thank President Obama, Secretary of Labor Perez, and all those involved in crafting this executive order. Today’s announcement is an important first step in ensuring our government is doing everything in its power to protect America’s workers,” concluded UFCW President Joe Hansen.

Related post: The Government Is The Largest Creator Of Low-Wage Jobs – by Matt Murray

The AFL-CIO and SEIU Respond To Congressmen Ellison And Lewis’ Legislation To Make Unions A Civil Right

Image from Working America FB

Yesterday Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and John Lewis (D-GA) introduced legislation to make it easier for workers to organize and form unions.  They are making changes to the National Labor Relations Act the would make the formation of unions a civil right.

Here is a great introduction to the bill from the Washington Examiner:

“Ellison and Lewis’ legislation would dramatically expand the powers individual workers have under the act by allowing them to sue their employer in federal court under the Civil Rights Act.

The bill would also entitle workers filing lawsuits “to remedies like punitive and compensatory damages,” according to a Tuesday press release.

Currently most unfair labor practice complaints go through the National Labor Relations Board, which was created expressly for that purpose. Some labor disputes are handled by a second entity, the National Mediation Board. Big Labor has long complained the process is too slow.”

Read the full article.

After Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis introduced the “Employee Empowerment Act,” Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“This important piece of legislation introduced today by Representatives Ellison and Lewis is emblematic of their deep commitment to workers’ rights and steadfast opposition to discrimination and intimidation anywhere, particularly at the workplace. The bill gives employees whose labor rights are violated the same legal remedies as those whose civil rights are violated at the workplace.

“Too often, employees seeking to unite with their co-workers to demand better wages, benefits and workplace safety provisions face aggressive and often illegal anti-union campaigns coordinated by their employer. Intimidation, illegal firings, wrongful discipline and other tactics aimed at breaking workers’ will are commonplace when they seek to join together on the job.

“Along with Representatives Ellison and Lewis, we believe that workers have the right to stick together and that there are powerful interests dead set on stripping them of that right. In order for workers to be heard, it’s often necessary to band together so companies take them seriously. Too many employers try to prevent this so they can limit workers’ power. Collective bargaining enables employees unite as a group so they can speak with a more powerful voice.

“We thank Representatives Ellison and Lewis for their leadership and hope that House leadership will take up this bill without delay.”

After the announcement  AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement on Employee Empowerment Act:

Once again, Representatives Keith Ellison and John L. Lewis are leading in the fight to improve the lives of millions of hardworking Americans. The Employee Empowerment Act represents a crucial step towards ensuring that all workers are able to organize without the threat of retaliation and that workers will have full recourse available to them when employers interfere with their rights.

Eighty years ago, Congress made it the policy of the U.S. government to encourage the practice of collective bargaining – not just to tolerate it, but to expand it. Our economy was built on workers forming unions and engaging in collective bargaining. Further strengthening these rights is important to economic fairness. We need comprehensive changes to the law to strengthen workers’ collective bargaining rights, and the Employee Empowerment Act is an important piece of those reforms. By beefing up the remedies for workers who face discrimination or retaliation by their employers for trying to form or join a union, the bill strengthens worker protections and puts remedies under our labor laws on par with our civil rights laws. This helps better protect workers’ rights to organize and, when passed, will benefit workers and our entire economy.

The Government Is The Largest Creator Of Low-Wage Jobs

Rep Keith Ellison at NN14

Rep Keith Ellison at NN14“The government doesn’t create jobs,” said Mitt Romney about one month before he suffered a blistering defeat in the 2012 Presidential election.

Of course this out-right lie has been repeated over and over and over. “Government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

As a former Governor, and a (soon to be former) Congressman they should know that the government does create jobs.  The federal government alone spends $3.6 trillion dollars annually, state and local governments spend another $3.2 trillion.  Eventually all of that money goes into our economy, creating jobs and providing much needed services to our communities.

The federal government spends over $500 billion dollars on government contractors alone.  For spending all this money, the federal government is “the largest creator of low wages jobs” said Joseph Geevarghes, Deputy Director of Change to Win, a labor coalition and strategic organizing center.

These government contractors created over two million low-wage jobs.  “Over 70% of these workers are women and nearly 45% are people of color,stated Demos in a report created for Change To Win.

So we create a lot of jobs, but they are crappy low wage jobs.  We are like a Super-Wal-Mart!!! Wait, that is not really good at all.

Take for example, Erika Gales.  Erika works for the government contractor who runs the food court at the Pentagon.  She makes a whopping $7.50 an hour.  Erika told the crowd at Netroots Nation that she had to drop out of college because she could no longer afford it.  She is now responsible for taking care of her mother whose health is deteriorating.

Erika was one of the many workers who walked off the job in protest last year calling on President Obama to raise the minimum wage for government contractors.

Or take Aaron, who is a wheelchair assistant at the Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport.  He makes $7.25 an hour with no healthcare, no time off, and no benefits at all.  To support his wife and two children, Aaron was forced to take a second job.  Now he works 60-70 hours a week, and still has to collect food stamps to feed his family.   “I work so much, I hardly get to see my children,” Aaron told the crowd at Netroots Nation.

Congress is always looking to protect your tax dollars, by always choosing the lowest contract bidder.  They appear to save the government money by slashing wages, stripping workers of their healthcare, retirements, and sick days, and then putting back in the same job they had before.   That is pretty much how government contracting works at every level.

On the surface it may appear that the government is saving money by privatizing these services, however they are merely trading a reduction in one area for an increase in another.  When employers do not pay a living wage, workers are forced to collect money from the government’s social programs just to feed their families.

Congressman Keith Ellison thinks we should be using our tax dollars more efficiently, and protecting workers at the same time.  Ellison and the rest of the Progressive Congressional Caucus have successfully added an amendment to four of the five appropriations bills that have come through the House to block contractors who violated labor laws from entering into contracts with the government.

If you have a history of wage theft you may not participate in this appropriations budget,” Congressman Ellison said to the crowd at Netroots Nation.

It is very simple, if you have ever been caught stealing from your workers in any way, then you will no longer be allowed to work as a contractor for the federal government.

Congressman Ellison also told the crowd that he plans to submit legislation making the right to form unions a “civil right,” allowing workers to take employers to civil court.  Workers inside and outside the government are working to form unions, and are being met with massive resistance.  The National Labor Relations Act protects workers from discrimination and retaliation as they work to form unions.  However the process is very slow, and very expensive leaving many workers to decide, “Is it worth it to fight for this job?” In many cases, workers are fired for their organizing efforts, and never take their case to the NLRB.

Do not fret there is hope, and John Nichols has a few suggestions to get us started.  As I stated before, the federal government spends over $500 billion dollars annually on government contractors.  “That is 14% of our national budget,” Nichols told the crowd. “That is enough money to leverage some serious social change.”

Just imagine the difference in our economy, if the worlds largest spender only shopped at places like COSTCO, instead of places like Wal-Mart.  COSTCO is now famous for their corporate model that pays workers almost twice the minimum wage, provides sick time and vacation time, healthcare, and retirement options all while bringing in strong annual profits.

Nichols said, “No private company would spend $500 billion dollars without setting demands on the investment.”  The government must ensure that anyone who enters into a contract with the government pays a living wage, provides healthcare benefits, time off, and the ability to learn and progress up the social ladder.  These simple demands would reverse the government’s race to the bottom.

By using the federal budget to ensure that contractors pay a living wage and provide health benefits, we as taxpayers will win in the long run.  Good Jobs Nation reports, “We will see additional GDP growth of about $31 billion annually along more than 260,000 additional jobs; $6.8 billion in new tax revenue and nearly $9 billion in fiscal savings from the SNAP, EITC, and Medicaid programs can be expected annually”

If we want to build a better community, a better economy, and a more effective use of our tax dollars then we need to push policies that create good paying jobs.  Just by using our tax dollars more effectively we can help to lift 21 million people out of poverty, create new jobs, invest in our economy, and reap a few fiscal rewards at the same time.

LIUNA Pension Fund Proposal Calls on Walgreen Co. to Bar Inversions

LIUNA - The Laborers' International Union of North America
LIUNA - The Laborers' International Union of North America

LIUNA – The Laborers’ International Union of North America

“Bad for shareholders and bad for America” 

Washington, D.C. – A pension fund affiliated with LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – today filed a shareholder proposal calling on the Walgreen Co. Board of Directors to institute a policy that bars inversions.

Companies which “invert” maintain the benefits of being based in the U.S., while slashing the amount of corporate taxes they pay.

The scheme – in which a U.S.-based corporation with operations outside the U.S. restructures so the U.S. parent operation is replaced by a foreign corporation – is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $20 billion in the next 10 years, according the White House. Walgreen’s consideration of the scheme has drawn criticism from President Obama and proposals in Congress to curtail it.

 The shareholder proposal was filed by the Massachusetts Laborers’ Pension Fund. LIUNA-affiliated funds have been active since 2005 in overseas incorporation issues involving U.S. companies.

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

 In addition, reincorporation outside the U.S. carries the risk of removal from the S&P 500 and other stock indices which can affect a company’s stock price.

 The proposal is the first of its kind in the retail industry.

IATSE Members Appeal To MET OPERA Board Of Directors To End Possible Lockout

Save The Met IATSE 1

Letter from I.A.T.S.E National President Matthew Loeb to Metropolitan Opera board members says this isn’t how the “Met family” should be handling budget issues 

Save The Met IATSE 1

NEW YORK, NY – With the threat of lockout by management that will shut the doors on New York’s Metropolitan Opera just days away, the union representing more than 800 backstage and customer service workers at the Met has appealed to the organization’s board of directors for a renewed focus on collaborative bargaining.

“We are part of the Metropolitan Opera family,” wrote Matthew Loeb, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.), in a recent letter to the Metropolitan Opera’s Board of Directors. “[O]ur love of this family is why we believe that a solution for saving the Met lies in expanding the dialogue in our deliberations beyond a singular focus on work rules, wages and benefits.”

Loeb informed the Board about the dedication of backstage workers, who have reported to work despite funerals, births and other family obligations to ensure that quality production are available, on time, to Met Opera audiences.

Workers have also gone the extra mile, Loeb told the directors, to craft innovative money-saving solutions to the technical problems that are part of staging large-scale, world-class opera productions.

“[A] more collaborative dialogue about viable solutions might be possible,” wrote Loeb, “if all parties involved simply understood how much saving the Met means to our family of backstage artists, and how our collective expertise could be of value in creating long-term cost saving strategies.”

Peter Gelb, the Met’s managing director, who has expanded the Met’s production and performance schedule without a corresponding increase in revenues, has demanded severe wage and benefit cuts from singers, musicians and backstage workers.  Gelb, who took home a base salary of $1.8 million in 2012 from the non-profit organization, has threatened to lock workers out of their jobs when current contracts expire on July 31 if workers do not meet his demands for pay cuts.

Members of six I.A.T.S.E. local unions work at the Met, including: stagecraft workers; hair and makeup stylists; people working in wardrobe and costumes; designers and scenic artists; treasurers and ticket sellers and television broadcast technicians.

Union members are aware of the financial realities facing the organization but have insisted that management overspending – including excessive executive pay, high production budgets and inefficient scheduling leading to many hours of overtime – must be addressed to put the Opera on a sustainable path for the future.

In hopes of avoiding a lockout which could cancel an entire season and threaten the future of the Opera, Loeb wrote, “[W]e strongly urge the Board to encourage Mr. Gelb to engage in bargaining that embraces the collaborative spirit that has characterized our Met family’s work in pursuing his vision.”

IATSE contracts, along with those of nine other unions at the Met, expire on July 31.  The union has created a website focused on the Met negotiations at SavetheMetOpera.com. A copy of the letter to the Met’s board can be found in it is entirety at the SavetheMetOpera.com website.

Six local unions of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) represent backstage employees at the Metropolitan Opera:  Local 1 represents skilled craftsmen who are experts with carpentry, lighting, sound, props, set and building construction. Local 764 includes costume shop employees who create the costumes, along with dressers who assist the performers with their costumes.  Local 751 are the workers who most frequently interact with the public — box office employees such as Treasurers and Ticket Sellers. Local 798 are the artists responsible for hair and makeup. Local 794 represents technicians involved in the Met’s live broadcasts. USA 829 (Scenic Artists and Designers) represents scenic artists, as well as the designers of sets, lighting, costumes and sound. 

Sununu Youth Center Tosses Aside More of Its Teaching Staff

Sununu Youth Services-Manchester (image by Prime Roofing Corp)

Budget Cuts Destroy Promises Made to at Risk Youth 

Last week, nine staff members at Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) saw their careers upended.  All were moved into other career paths, some with no clear connection to their work history. One part-time employee was laid off completely.  Six of the nine affected workers were teachers.  This action decimates the education department as a whole.

SYSC is the state’s residential detention and school facility for youth ages 13 to 17 who have either been found to be delinquent (SYSC program) or are awaiting that determination (YDSU program). Both programs are approved by NH Dept. of Education Bureau of Special Education to serve students in all disability categories. The programs include academics, special education, electives and vocational training for the youth that are taught in four distinct educational settings within the institution. Classes are in session year round at SYSC.

“This is the third round of significant cuts to SYSC in six years.  These kids require intensive services to in order to turn their lives around and to be safe while on that path. Education is the bedrock that will help them find future success,” said Diana Lacey, President SEA/SEIU Local 1984.

At issue is the SYSC administration’s strategy for making $1.25 million in budget cuts.  “It defies logic that anyone would cut the teaching staff by half at an institution that educates the at-risk youth,” said Brad Asbury, former SYSC employee and current SEA/SEIU 1984 manager working with the educators.  “The youth are paying the price for a conflict that began between the teachers and Director Maggie Bishop two years ago. They predicted this would happen well before budget writers took aim at them.”

“We’ve talked with half of the affected employees so far,” said Sean Bolton, SEA/SEIU 1984 Grievance Representative. “Based on our initial analysis, SYSC management inappropriately applied the state’s personnel rules to every affected employee except for one part-time teacher.” SEA/SEIU 1984 will be investigating the matter.

“This situation is ridiculous and putting us in harm’s way,” said Will Flowers, one of the teachers whose position was not directly affected.  “We are down to nine classroom teachers. Tell me, how’s that going to work?”  Flowers said the safe teacher/student ratio is five to six students per teacher.  “Any more than that in a classroom, you can’t watch them,” he said.  “Just last week there was a fight between two students because there were too many students in the classroom.  Without adequate staffing, our students are at risk of hurting themselves or others, as well as not having a shot at receiving effective instruction.” There are typically 60 or more residents at the facility.

“Many of the students go to vocational training,” said Flowers. “Many of them can’t read or write, so they learn a trade here.”  Flowers has been teaching culinary arts at SYSC for 18 years.

“It’s interesting that the Governor who is the ‘education governor’ and all about special education would support the gutting of the education program.  I guess it’s fine for kids with special education needs who can afford it, but not necessary for these kids,” Flowers said.  Many of the youth at the center have been identified as having special education needs.

“The teachers have worked tirelessly reaching out to state senators and representatives, executive councilors and the Governor to sound the alarm of what this cut will mean to the kids.  There is no coincidence in the administration’s choice to slash the teaching force,” said Jay Ward, Political Director at SEA/SEIU 1984. “The quality of the educational services at the Center is well known. You don’t cut it if you want to see youth succeed.”

Multiple meetings with the administration, area lawmakers, and Governor Maggie Hassan have failed to yield a more balanced approach to the execution of the SYSC specific budget cut.

The NH Union Leader Helps AFP Spread Misinformation About Right To Work (For Less) In NH

No Right To Work

Once again the Union Leader’s editorial board is peddling misinformation about unions and “right to work” (for less) legislation (“Protesting information: Picket sign o’ the times”).

Let’s clear up a few things.

1) Just whose “rights” is Americans for Prosperity supposedly “protecting”?

AFP spins this as a “worker freedom” bill.  But if AFP was really interested in protecting workers, they would be lobbying for workplace safety and better enforcement of wage and hour laws.

So, who would benefit from this bill?  Because so-called “RTW” isn’t good for businesses, either.

Many companies have a good relationship with their unions.  Employers rely on unions to find qualified workers.  Employers and unions run training programs together.  They run health and retirement benefit funds together.  They have joint workplace safety committees and labor-management committees.  And some of those employers have decided it is in their best interests to include “fair share” provisions in their union contracts.

Think about it. There is nothing – anywhere – that requires New Hampshire employers to include fair share provisions in their union contracts.  Not in the private sector, and not in the public sector.  There are school districts across the state that don’t have fair share provisions because the School Committee would not agree to it.

So if fair share is in the contract, it’s because the employer decided that was the right thing to do.

But Bill O’Brien and AFP and the National Right to Work Committee want to take that decision away from employers.  Why?  Let’s follow the money.

Bill O’Brien?  His short-lived congressional campaign received substantial contributions from the both the NRWC and donors linked to AFP.

It’s clear – to me, at least – that this isn’t about “protecting” anyone’s rights.  This is about imposing the personal ideology of a few rich men on the entire state of New Hampshire.

What the Koch brothers, NRTWC and AFP do not understand is that just because they are anti-union, that doesn’t mean everyone else is.  Many companies like working with their unions.  And they ought to have the right to do that – and to decide for themselves how to do that.

2) “Right to work” and job creation. 

The myth that RTW somehow “creates jobs” has been pushed, and pushed, and pushed – but that doesn’t make it true.  Back when Bill O’Brien was Speaker of the NH House, he kept telling people he had a list of businesses that “would move to New Hampshire” if we passed his legislation.  Of course, this list never materialized.

Instead, we heard from the Commissioner of Economic Development that RTW had never – not once – come up in his discussions with businesses considering locating in New Hampshire.

We heard from the Commissioner of Labor that none – not even one – of the 2,000+ business leaders he had met with had ever said that RTW should be adopted in New Hampshire.

So just why is Bill O’Brien so intent on imposing RTW on the Granite State?

3) “Right to work” is not a magic pill that leads to future wealth. 

The Union Leader’s editorial discusses an AFP “research” study that uses Indiana as an example.  What it doesn’t mention?  Here’s how the Kokomo Tribune describes the state post-RTW:  “Indiana’s per capita income plummeted from 30th in the U.S. to 40th overall and lowest in the Midwest.  In fact, wages in Miami County, Ball State researchers found, remain at a level the average American hasn’t seen since the 1970s.”

One more time: why would this be “good” for New Hampshire?

4) No one was protesting “information”.   

AFP’s “economic study” was nothing more than a publicity stunt.  The folks outside AFP’s presentation weren’t protesting “information” – they were trying to provide it.  The protesters were opposing AFP, Bill O’Brien, and all of the other right wing extremists who want to try pushing this legislation down the throats of Granite Staters once again.

This legislation comes up every single year, and it has for decades.  (Read “I was wrong on right-to-work” by former Sen. Mark Hounsell, who sponsored the bill back in the 1980s.)

Bill O’Brien and his friends at AFP are using this to gin up their base and to fundraise – and the Union Leader is just helping them do that.

Even when O’Brien was Speaker, he could not force a right to work (for less) law through.  Isn’t it time to quit letting the extreme right-wing define the political agenda, and let the Legislature (and the media) focus on more important things?

At The NALC Convention, Letter Carriers Show Their Support For All Workers



Having  just returned from Philadelphia and an NALC Convention that was inspiring.  I am struck by the fact that Letter Carrier solidarity towards our political fight  for survival has continued to strengthen since our last convention in 2012. What has also increased in intensity is the national war on workers. Battlegrounds were all around us, many speakers at the convention relayed stories about attacks on worker rights and when we stepped outside we saw visible proof with the Carpenters Union picketing the convention center and UNITE HERE picketing the Radisson Warwick Blu which was one of our host hotels. Clearly all our grievances are connected.


Senator Bernie Sanders speaking at the NALC convention

Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a fiery speech which was interrupted multiple times with standing ovations by the nearly 7000 delegates.”Well, I’ve got a message for Mr. Donahoe,” Sanders said. “At a time when the middle class is disappearing and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high, do not destroy middle-class jobs at the Postal Service. At a time when senior citizens and small businesses depend on the Postal Service operating six-days a week, do not end Saturday mail. At a time when the Postal Service is competing with the instantaneous communications of e-mail and high-speed Internet services, do not slow down the delivery of mail, speed it up. And do not dismantle the Postal Service by shutting down a quarter of the mail processing plants left in this country.”

The address by National Postal Mail Handlers Union President John Hegarty stressed the importance of the newly signed postal alliance which has all four postal unions working together to save the Postal Service. “The Postal Union Alliance puts it out there for all to see; we are united and we can’t be defeated.”



NH State Association of Letter Carriers members Wayne Alterisio and Lew Henry stand with locked out Carpenters

Outside the convention center was a group of locked out carpenters. The Carpenters union which was locked out  seems to have a valid grievance and is currently in court trying to end their lock out. By some reports the Carpenters have been vigilant in contract enforcement and this may have played a role in the hard-line stand  from the convention center. In the spirit of solidarity the carpenters were enthusiastic participants with Letter Carriers and community groups in the Stop Staples rally held on Wednesday. The most contentious issue in their negotiations was a clause to allow increased low wage temporary workers.

NALC3A mile away UNITE HERE organized a  boisterous rally at the Radisson  Warwick Blu Hotel on Friday. The contagious spirit was reminiscent of early OWS in NYC . The workers are in difficult contract negotiations looking for a fair contract with job security. Workers are looking for protection from contracting out their jobs to low wage workers. For a company that is making millions of dollars a year giving its workers a fair contract should not be an issue. This is the latest example that corporate greed is always an obstacle to fairness.

All these workers realize that prosperity spreads  from the middle class out not from the top down. If trickle down economics works we would be flooded in jobs at the present time. The wealthy have not owned such a high percentage of our nations wealth since before the Great Depression of the 20′s. With the extreme wealthy making money at unparalleled rate why wouldn’t they pay their workers a fair wage.

At a workshop local fast food workers outlined their plight against the reckless greed that has run rampant through their industry. A moving presentation from a fast food worker who was fired last week from his job for participating in activism to raise the minimum wage. It was eye-opening. He has two small children and was trying to survive on $7.25 an hour. In reality he had no choice but to fight to raise the wage. He had nothing to lose.

Corporate owned politicians are hell-bent on eliminating public services and replacing those union middle class jobs with low pay, no benefit, non-union jobs. It is accelerating the race to the bottom. In the private sector turning middle class jobs into temp jobs is happening at an alarming rate.  How can the ultra wealthy not comprehend  they are creating an unsustainable economic structure?

Our economic system can either make many people prosper for a long period of time or a few prosper for a short time. Judging by the building wave of economic discontent the clock is starting to run out on our plutocracy.

The Professional Fire Fighters Of NH Back Dan Feltes For NH Senate



CONCORD – Today the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire endorsed Dan Feltes for State Senate in District 15, the towns of Concord, Hopkinton, Henniker, and Warner. Members from the Concord Local #1045 and Concord Officers Local #3195 came out to support this endorsement. The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire represent over 2,000 active and retired fire fighters and paramedics from 43 locals across the state.

feltes3“We know that Dan will be a fighter for our issues here in the district and throughout the state. The Senate needs leaders who will look out for middle class families, and Dan is that candidate,” stated Mark Hebert, President of Concord Officers local #3195.

“Dan Feltes understands what it takes for working families across this state to thrive, and we know he will never turn his back on fire fighters, or on doing what is best for public safety. His priorities and experiences will serve us well in the New Hampshire Senate,” stated Jim Duckworth, President of Concord Local #1045.

“I’m honored to gain the support of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire.  We share the same values when it comes to believing that in order to move New Hampshire forward, we cannot afford to leave anyone behind. I will always fight to put working families first and be a dedicated voice for strong public safety,” said Dan Feltes.