How Are BAIN Capital, The Staples CEO, and The USPS All Connected?

Image from the Muskegon Chronicle
http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2010/03/no_saturday_mail_delivery_no_p.html

Senator Bernie Sanders told me and other union members last weekend that if conservative ideologues get control of our government, then the Postal Service would be privatized in five minutes. This privatization will put all postal employees’ jobs/retirements in peril and eliminate our country’s most trusted government service that millions of people depend on. It seems like the USPS – Staples partnership may be the first step toward that outcome.

The agreement between the USPS and Staples established postal counters in 82 Staples stores that will be staffed with low-wage, non-union Staples employees. Eventually these knock-off postal centers could be located in all 1580 Staples locations.

“We support the expansion of customer access to USPS services, but we insist that postal work must be performed by uniformed postal workers who have passed a background check, taken an oath of office and are accountable to the people,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.

This USPS-Staples partnership seems like a dream scenario for the Koch Brothers and their political puppets. Shifting good solid union middle class jobs to a company that pays its workers about $9 an hour is exactly how America’s corporate elite plan to profit from dismantling our Postal Service.

Why Staples CEO Ronald Sargent — who over the last 6 years has averaged $15 million a year in pay — does not pay his sales associates and cashiers more than their $8.64 hourly wage is outrageous to anyone who believes in economic fairness. Considering Staples management roots come from Mitt Romney and Bain Capital this type of behavior shouldn’t be surprising.  It’s also not surprising that Staples employees are required to watch an anti-union video message from Staples when hired.

Ronald Sargent is clearly no friend of working people, or taxpayers for that matter. Sargent has been a long time Board of Directors Member for Aramark, one of the most of the most anti-worker companies in the country.  Aramark’s newest frontier is privatizing state prison food services.  It’s had some disastrous results like prison riots in Kentucky over its terrible product or across the river in Ohio where Aramark  billed the state for 1.7 million meals it never served.  Aramark seems to be a company that symbolizes everything that is wrong with this era of Crony Capitalism. Its RAP sheet of defrauding states and abusing workers is stunning.

Mr. Sargent is the perfect liaison to start the dismantling of the Postal Service. He is close to Romney (contributed tens of thousands of dollars to him) and the privatizers on the political side — and has experience in overseeing the privatization of public services on the business side.

History has shown that Ben Franklin founded the world’s best Postal Service and it united our country both in commerce and in spirit.

Will history also show that Ronald Sargent, the ultimate Crony Capitalist, is the first to profit from its dismantling?

Please join the Postal Workers on Thursday April 24, from 4-6 pm in Concord NH for a peaceful demonstration near the Concord Staples on Fort Eddy Road (across from LL Bean at exit 14 off of 93 N). Help us STOP the privatization & destruction of the U.S.P.S. before it’s too late.

More details here

 

USPS Workers To Rally Against Postal Units In Staples Stores On 4-24-14

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Please join the Postal Workers on Thursday April 24, from 4-6 pm in Concord NH for a peaceful demonstration near the Concord Staples on Fort Eddy Road (across from LL Bean at exit 14 off of 93 N). Help us to STOP the privatization & destruction of The U.S.P.S. before it’s too late. 

A recent agreement between the USPS and Staples established postal counters in 82 Staples stores — staffed with low-wage, non-union Staples employees rather than postal workers. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and Staples CEO Ron Sargent plan to expand the program to Staples’ 1,500 stores nationwide.

We fully support the expansion of postal services, but we are adamantly opposed to USPS plans to replace good-paying union jobs with non-union low-wage jobs held by workers who have no accountability for the safety and security of the mail. This is nothing less than a direct assault on our jobs and on public postal services.

For more information call Janice at 513-8176 or Dana at 669-2414.

You can also join the Facebook Event and share the details through Facebook!

picket flyer

4-14-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: NH Supreme Court On School Vouchers, NHRS, and more

AFT NH Legislative Update

EDUCATION TAX CREDITS –VOUCHER PROGRAM

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on April 16th in the voucher tax credit case. AFT-New Hampshire is asking the New Hampshire Supreme Court to uphold a lower-court decision overturning the Education Tax Credit Program that provides money to students attending religious schools:

“The New Hampshire Constitution prohibits public funds to religious institutions. The tax-credit law was really a subterfuge, a voucher-like effort in which public dollars eventually would find their way to private schools, most of which,in New Hampshire,are religious schools. Further, there is evidence from all over the country that these voucher-like programs don’t actually help children. If the Legislature genuinely is interested in helping, it should work with teachers on ensuring that public schools have the programs and services needed to help all students succeed, not just some.”

Click here to read brief: http://nh.aft.org/files/voucherbrief.pdf

THE FOLLOWING BILLS WILL BE VOTED ON BY THE FULL SENATE THIS COMING WEEK

HB 1398-FN, allowing the retirement system to make payments in lieu of payments to estates in certain circumstances.  AFT-NH has no position on this bill but is monitoring. Senator Watters states:

“This legislation allows the retirement system to make payments of $15,000 or less to the next of kin of deceased member of a beneficiary when no probate proceedings are pending. This legislation was requested by the NH Retirement System.”

HB 1392-FN-L, removing the restriction on the number of pupils eligible to transfer to a chartered public school. The committee recommended Ought to Pass, Vote 5-0.  AFT-NH is asking that Senators not support the Senate Health, Education & Human Services committee recommended Ought To Pass but instead, support a recommendation of Inexpedient To Legislate. There has been no past problem for any student wishing to attend a charter school. Furthermore, the unintended consequence could negatively impact the public school by depleting a grade level of attendance or curriculum options.

HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of student data.The committee made the recommendation of Ought to Pass. AFT-NH supports the committee’s recommendation. We believe that this bill will help protect the privacy of students in New Hampshire.

THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HELD A HEARING ON THE FOLLOWING

HB 1624-FN, modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights. AFT-NH is in support of this bill. This bill updates our current juvenile justice system by:

  • Raising the age at which youth are treated as adults in the justice system from 17 years to 18 years,
  • Improving procedures to determine competency of youth,
  • Clarifying a youth’s right to and waiver of legal counsel,
  • Determining the qualifications for legal counsel to defend youth,
  • Defining data to assess the effectiveness of current interventions and proposed changes.

To read more on this bill click here.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit www.aft-nh.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook

UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

TUESDAY, APRIL 15

9:30 a.m. NH Supreme Court Oral Argument –voucher case

CHILDREN AND FAMILY LAW, Room 206, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 396, relative to child restraint practices.

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 355, relative to access to social media by educational institutions.

10:30 a.m. Rescheduled SB 414-FN, relative to Medicaid-funded services provided as a part of a
child’s individualized education program.
1:15 p.m. Presentation by the Department of Education: Perspectives on Accountability and
Assessment.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
10:00 a.m.  Regular meeting of Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Retirement.

HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Room 205, LOB
10:00 a.m. SB 193-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study pathways to oral health
care in New Hampshire.

MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
10:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and
recommendation of the municipal budget committee to the governing body.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16

10:00 a.m. House in session

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
1:00 p.m. or 1 hour following House session:  Executive session on SB 395-FN, relative to the
retirement classification of the director of the division of forests and lands.

HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS, Room 205, LOB
1:00 p.m. Executive session on SB 193-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study
pathways to oral health care in New Hampshire.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
1:30 p.m. Executive session on SB 207-FN, relative to paycheck equity.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
1:15 p.m. Full committee work session on SB 366-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table
gaming.

12:30 p.m. Big Money and Politics – New Hampshire is the highest per-capita recipient of outside special-interest money. Learn about the efforts to address this issue at the state level, understand the federal landscape and what you can do about it. This presentation, including a panel discussion led by the Coalition for Open Democracy and Americans for Campaign Reform, is part of New England College’s education series to take place at the college’s new Concord facility, 62 North Main Street. Walk south on North Main. Located on the clock tower side, near the Norway Bank, three minutes from the steps of the State House.

THURSDAY, APRIL 17

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and
expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
9:30 a.m. Executive session on SB 366-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.

MONDAY, APRIL 21

CHARTER SCHOOLS AND OPEN ENROLLMENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE (RSA 194-B:21), Room 100, State House:
11:30 a.m. Regular meeting. Presentation by Paul Leather, Deputy Commission Department of
Education on HB 435

THURSDAY, APRIL 24

STATE FEDERAL RELATIONS AND VETERANS AFFAIRS, Rooms 201-203, LOB
1:00 p.m. SB 307, establishing a committee to review Citizens United amendments to the United
States Constitution.

THURSDAY , MAY 1

STATE FEDERAL RELATIONS AND VETERANS AFFAIRS, Room 203, LOB
11:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 307, establishing a committee to review Citizens United
amendments to the United States Constitution.

NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health To Honor Workers On Workers Memorial Day

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WMD+2014+poster20X14PNG

No matter how hard we work, how hard we try, and people are still going to be injured on the job.  Every day labor unions are pushing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a safer workplace for all workers.

For over 40 years, unions have been working with OSHA to identify workplace hazards and identify employers who are cutting corners that put workers safety at risk.

New Hampshire has always taken pride in the fact that we are one of the safest states to work in.  Over the last few years, New Hampshire has led the country with the least number of on the job deaths.  With only seven workplace deaths this year will be no different.

Workers memorial day

Once a year America’s unions and safety organizations, like the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, honor these workers who lost their lives on the job.  The day, dubbed Workers Memorial Day, honors workers while renewing our effort to make our jobs safer.

This year the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health will be holding their annual Workers Memorial Day dinner.

Worker’s Memorial Day will be held on April 28th, at 5:30 at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Hall, 161 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, NH.

This year we have identified 7 individuals who lost their lives on the job in New Hampshire in 2013.  We will be adding their names to our perpetual memorial plaque.  There will be a buffet dinner and guest speakers.  There is no registration fee for this event.

The focus of the meeting is to remind everyone that, despite the passage of the OSH Act over 40 years ago, thousands of workers are injured or killed on the job every year, some of whom may never return to work.

The event is open to everyone, but space is limited.  For more information Brian Mitchell contactnhcosh@nhcosh.org and (603) 232-4406.

 

For more information on Workers Memorial Day go to the AFL-CIO Website where you can find a WMD celebration in your area.

Expanded Gambling Is About Creating Jobs (Testimony by NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie)

NH AFL-CIO Logo

NH AFL-CIO LogoAs president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to workers and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now is the time for our elected leaders to step up to the plate and take real, immediate and concrete steps to create good new jobs for thousands of workers in our state.

This Committee and the entire New Hampshire House now have the opportunity to do just that. In fact, legislators have been presented with a bill, SB 366, that will guarantee the creation of a half-billion-dollar construction project, every penny of which would come from private investment.

SB 366 would create more than 2,000 jobs for New Hampshire construction workers and more than 1,000 good, permanent jobs. Furthermore, this bill will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax revenue for the state and our municipalities, allowing us to keep critical programs like education, public safety and infrastructure off the budgetary chopping block. Plus, polls show that a big majority – nearly 60 percent – of Granite Staters favor the approach SB 366 takes.

SB 366 would bring expanded casino gaming to New Hampshire. Now, I know some members of this committee personally don’t approve of gambling, and that’s certainly your prerogative. But we must come to terms with the fact that we are stuck in a situation where job growth continues to be sluggish and the state budget continually presents our elected officials with extremely difficult choices between cutting programs and finding needed revenue.

The fact is, New Hampshire will be experiencing the downside of casino gaming whether or not we build a new casino within our borders. Our state already has a $75 million-per-year casino industry under the guise of “charitable gaming,” and there will soon be several casinos just over the border in Massachusetts. Without SB 366, we’ll leave thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

SB 366 was amended in the Senate to include provisions drafted by the bipartisan, multi-agency Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority as part of last year’s state budget process. In consultation with independent experts, the authority reviewed best practices in the gaming industry across the country to develop a true New Hampshire solution for expanded gaming.

This bill was crafted specifically to address concerns lawmakers had with previous gaming proposals, concerns we shared in many cases. We believe that SB 366 includes a comprehensive regulatory structure and robust provisions to ensure that the jobs will go to New Hampshire workers.

Although we have always supported creating good jobs for Granite State workers, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO has never officially endorsed a casino proposal before. Our executive committee recently voted unanimously to fully endorse gaming legislation this year because we are convinced the current proposal represents what’s best for New Hampshire’s working families and for our state

Creating jobs shouldn’t just be a talking point or a political slogan. Growing our economy and putting people to work should be real, tangible goals for our elected leaders. SB 366 is legislation that would accomplish these goals, and I urge the committee to support it. Together we can help rebuild New Hampshire’s middle class by focusing on creating good jobs for workers in our state. Passing this bill will contribute to that cause.

Thank you for your consideration.

Mark MacKenzie
President of the NH AFL-CIO

Expanded Gaming Helps All Of NH Cities And Towns (SB 366 Testimony by Laura Hainey, President of AFT-NH)

roulette wheel casino

aft sqaureI am here today in support of SB 366. AFT-NH is affiliated with NH AFL-CIO and we stand in support of our union brothers and sisters for whom this bill will create thousands of badly needed New Hampshire jobs.

We know that expanded gaming will:

  • create thousands of construction jobs,
  • create even more good jobs to  operate the facilities,
  • bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax state revenue,
  • boost economic development by hundreds of millions of dollars as well.

We also know that this bill:

  • Is a responsible NH solution for expanded gaming, and includes robust regulations crafted by the bipartisan Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority..
  • Protects the New Hampshire charities who depend on charitable gaming.
  • Provides that the gaming commission may not delegate its rulemaking authority to any other person.
  • Prohibits the use of credit, debit or ATM cards at a slot machine or table game.
  • The gaming commission must enforce the prohibition on the use of EBT cards for gambling.

But the same could be said about previous casino bills that failed to pass the House. SB 366 is different because it includes a new provision to guarantee revenue, and to make sure every community in New Hampshire sees the benefits. SB366 uses casino revenue to reinstate revenue sharing for cities and towns, to the tune of $50 million per biennium.  Revenue sharing means much needed funding for cities and towns across the state. City and town officials who struggle to adequately fund schools, roads, public safety, and other basic services will be pleased to know this bill will directly help their communities.

For example, in my hometown of Rochester, the Rochester School Department has to cut $2.8 million from their budget, with significant cuts will be made to personnel. With SB 366 revenue sharing the city of Rochester would receive $530,950 to help stop layoffs.

In the city of Nashua over the past several years the school department has eliminated 83 positions and has only been able to restore a few of these positions. They are planning to cut another 12 positions in the coming year. These cuts in services will be very difficult decisions, but there is no doubt they will directly impact students in the Nashua school system.. With SB 366 revenue sharing the city of Nashua would receive a little over $2.4 million. Just imagine the benefit the citizens of Nashua would realize with that revenue.

In fact, every single city and town in our state would receive substantial revenue sharing under SB 366. Just imagine the cuts in services and layoffs your community could avoid if we pass this bill..

In Closing, I ask that you support SB 366 and recommend Ought To Pass.

Laura Hainey,
President of AFT-NH

Rachel Maddow Eviscerates Scott Brown On Her Show. Brown Repsonds #BQHATEVWR

Maddow Show Screen Shot

In truth, I do not know if Scott Brown actually responded to Rachel Maddow’s comments on her show or not, I only guessed that is what he would have said.

Here is the clip from the 4-7-14 Maddow Show

For more fun, check out the new BUZZFeed on Scott Brown.
Community: 10 Things You Don’t Do If You Want To Be New Hampshire’s Senator 

LIUNA Pushes for Action on Silica

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

LIUNA – The Laborers’ International Union of North America

Washington, D.C. – As the U.S. Department of Labor concluded its final day of public hearings on a proposed rule to prevent exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica in the workplace, officials from the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America, LIUNA Training and other LIUNA affiliates testified on the new proposed standard. Their testimony follows several weeks of testimony by various representatives of labor, industry and associations.  The new proposed standard, announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), aims to limit American workers’ risk of lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease caused by Silica dust inhalation.

At the hearing, LIUNA officials urged the department to act fast in finalizing the silica rule since this dangerous dust is already causing millions to suffer unnecessary death and diseases like silicosis and lung cancer. During the more than 16 years spent developing this proposal, there have been no requirements to train workers on silica or monitor exposure levels. If approved, this new rule could save thousands of lives by limiting dust exposure with control methods, such as water and ventilation, and providing medical exams for workers who have been exposed.

Excerpts below:

“Last year, my doctor advised me to stop work. He had diagnosed me with silicosis and advised me to avoid job sites where I could be exposed to silica… It may be too late to prevent my illness, but my fellow sandhogs and young workers who are just starting to do tunnel construction deserve better protection.” – EDDIE MALLON, MEMBER of LABORERS’ LOCAL #147

“Some of the potential for our most severe exposures are in tunnel work where the confined nature of the work, the often limited ventilation and the ability of tunnel boring machines and other tunnel equipment to generate dust from excavating large amounts of material can lead to substantial silica exposures.” – JAMES MELIUS, MD, DrPH, ADMINISTRATOR of NY STATE LABORERS HEALTH AND SAFETY TRUST FUND

“OSHA’s proposed Silica in Construction standard should take a stronger stance in providing the training and information workers need… it is imperative that workers directly engaged in dust-generating operations receive task and equipment specific training.” – TOM NUNZIATA, LIUNA TRAINING AND EDUCATION FUND

“We recommend that OSHA include and strengthen the competent person provisions in the final rule. We believe the competent person is one of OSHA’s most vital and effective safety and health tools in the construction industry and must be a part of the new rule.” – TRAVIS PARSONS, SENIOR SAFETY & HEALTH SPECIALIST of LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND OF NORTH AMERICA

There are thousands of workers every day in the U.S. exposed to similar conditions on the job, and we need this new standard to offer better protection to these men and women for silica exposures in construction… we urge OSHA to quickly publish a final rule.” – KEN HOFFNER, MSPH, CIH, CSP, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR of NEW JERSEY LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND

“[W]e see that states and municipalities are passing laws to protect their citizens and workers from silica containing dust… it is imperative that OSHA move forward with the standard… Greater production, use and protection would be ensured.” – WALTER JONES, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH of LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND OF NORTH AMERICA

“We believe a new OSHA standard with a lowered PEL will spur innovation in the construction industry… By changing the culture through a new standard, we can preserve worker health, help construction workers lead longer and healthier lives and, based on much of the testimony to date, likely make work more productive in the process.” – SCOTT SCHNEIDER, DIRECTOR OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH of LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND OF NORTH AMERICA

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association Celebrates “100 Years Of Commercial Aviation” (VIDEO)

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“One day the skies will be crisscrossed with airlines carrying freight and passengers!

Thomas Wesley Benoist, 1914
Constructed the first commercial aircraft. 

 

 

NATCA — “We Guide You Home” 

24 hours a day, 365 days a year members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association are working to make sure that your flight gets home safe and sound.

NATCA presented this short video at their annual safety convention, Communication for Safety, where 1400 people from the aviation industry came together to talk about ways to make our worldwide air traffic system even better.

Click here to read our previous post about CFS and the Archie League Medal of Safety Awards.

If you are one of the 743.1 Million passengers who fly every year then take a moment to say “Thank You” to the men and women who “Guide You Home.”

If you are an aviation enthusiast then be sure to ‘LIKE’ NATCA on Facebook!

LiUNA Warns Of Danger Ahead For Roads And Workers

Image from Wiki Commons
Image from Wiki Commons

Image from Wiki Commons

The sun is shining, the temperature is rising as we move into the ever-popular season we call, road construction.  People in New England like to joke that we have all four seasons, almost winter, winter, coming out of winter, and road construction.

However road construction is no laughing matter.  Every year billions of dollars are spent by the federal government and state governments to build and maintain our roadways.  This year is no different, crews have already started to repair the potholes created from our long, and very cold winter.  The brutally cold winter we experienced this year have wreaked havoc on our public roads.

Repairing these roads is usually a given however this year there could be a major problem.

“Based on current spending and revenue trends, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund will encounter a shortfall before the end of fiscal year (FY) 2014.”

When the DOT runs out of money that means thousands of road workers, many who are LiUNA members, are forced out of work.   This problem is compounded by the fact that construction workers are already facing a 12% unemployment rate nationally.

After the February jobs report was released showing another uptick in the unemployment of construction workers, Terry O’Sullivan, President of the Laborers International Union of North America, released the following statement:

“With the U.S. Department of Transportation now warning of a shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund as early as this summer, Congress needs to get moving right away on a Highway Bill reauthorization before it is too late. Cities and states that rely on this funding to keep our highways efficient and safe will soon be forced to delay or cancel critical new projects, which could be catastrophic to the construction industry and have a damaging ripple effect throughout the economy. With an 11.3% construction unemployment rate, we still have plenty of workers who are ready and willing to rebuild our congested, pot-hole ridden and dangerous roads and bridges. So LIUNA will keep pressing members of both parties to pass a critically needed, long-term investment in our nation’s infrastructure that will put thousands of men and women to work on projects that benefit our entire nation.”

We have plenty of people who want to work and god knows we have plenty of work to be done.  All we need is a Congress that is willing to work together to pass a Highway bill.