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NH AFL-CIO President Brackett’s Statement On SB11 Hearing, “Right to Work (For Less)”

Statement From New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett
On First Legislative Hearing For SB11-FN, So-Called “Right to Work” Bill

Concord – New Hampshire AFL-CIO President, Glenn Brackett, released the following statement after the conclusion of the first hearing of the legislative session on a so-called “Right to Work” bill (SB11-FN): 

“I am grateful to all of our brothers and sisters who traveled from towns and cities across the Granite State to stand in Solidarity with us as we voiced our opposition to SB11, another so-called ‘Right to Work’ bill that is now before the New Hampshire State Senate. I was disappointed that after listening to four hours of impassioned testimony, from over one hundred speakers, that three members of the committee immediately voted to pass SB11 without further discussion or research. I would like to thank Senator Donna Soucy, and Senator Bette Lasky for voting against this deceptive legislation and standing up for New Hampshire working families. We will need your support in the fight ahead. 

Every two years, corporate special interest come to New Hampshire to try and pass ‘right to work for less’ legislation that would make life harder for New Hampshire working families. And every two years, concerned citizens, activists, union members and community leaders come together to fight for working families. In New Hampshire, bi-partisan support has defeated efforts to pass so-called ‘Right to Work’ legislation for decades because these laws only weaken workers’ freedom to bargain for respect, fair pay and safety on the job. Fraudulently-labeled ‘Right to Work’ is theft by deception legislation, and it remains wrong for New Hampshire. 

If the legislature is seriously interested in creating jobs and bringing business to New Hampshire, they should focus on lowering the cost of energy, and investing in education and infrastructure. New Hampshire deserves real solutions to real problems, and not partisan politics. The legislature was elected to advocate for the best interests of all New Hampshire working families, and that is why they must protect our rights and stop any form of so-called ‘Right to Work.’” 

AFT-NH President Ley’s Testimony Against SB11, “Right to Work”

Testimony of Douglas Ley In Opposition to Senate Bill 11

I am president of AFT-NH, representing 4000 teachers, para-educators, school support staff, town and municipal employees, police officers and first responders. As such, I have been asked to present letters from a number of our local presidents regarding this proposed legislation and ask that you read these with care and consideration. I have letters from the Presidents of the Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers, Hudson Federation of Teachers, Newfound Teachers’ Union and Timberlane Teachers’ Association.

My own testimony shall be brief, to the point, and is rooted in my long-standing public opposition to so-called ‘right to work’ legislation as well as my membership in a private sector union local with agency fee. Within that local at Franklin Pierce University, over 90% of bargaining unit employees are full members of the union. One full-time employee and a small number of part-time employees opt for the lower agency fee or a third option provided within our contract, ‘charitable contribution.’

Our ‘agency fee’ is really a ‘recovery cost payment,’ which helps defray the cost of negotiation and the enforcement of our contract. We have a good relationship with our employer, but nevertheless, there are constant questions of contract interpretation as well as various personnel issues which arise each year, all of which require investments of time and resources to resolve, whether it be through local activity, working with our state federation, or even calling upon the resources of our national offices. Like us, our employer also incurs costs to negotiate and enforce our collective bargaining agreement. They recover their costs by incorporating them into the operating expenses of the University, charged against students and others using the University. All we ask is the continued ability to act in similar but more limited fashion, to have employees who benefit from the collective bargaining agreement contribute to defraying the costs of negotiation and implementation.

I have worked at FPU for 26 years, and during that entire span there has been an “agency fee” option. In keeping with Federal and NH statutes, no one is required to join the union, but all must contribute in some form as mandated by our collective bargaining agreement. In twenty-six years, I know of no individual who declined employment due to this requirement, and as stated earlier, virtually every eligible employee has joined the union. Management agreed to this provision many, many years ago and has never brought forward a proposal in negotiation to eliminate agency fee. Similarly, in my experience working for AFT-NH, I can state that approximately half of our locals have agency fee, and no employer has ever proposed eliminating it. It is a provision freely agreed to by the two signatory parties to a contract, and the contract is then duly ratified via democratic process by employees in the bargaining unit and the governing body of the public employer after approval by the legislative body. Therefore, it is an excellent illustration of local flexibility and local control, long-standing NH traditions. To pass this legislation will only further inject the State into what is a localized and in many cases, private relationship and process, setting the stage for possible further restrictions upon employers and the bargaining agents of employees.

In sum, “right to work” interferes with the freedom to negotiate and engage in collective bargaining and resolves a problem which does not exist. Statute already prohibits requiring union membership as a condition of employment, and every potential employee already has the right to decide to accept a job, with all the conditions and requirements laid out by the employer, which in this case, could include support for maintaining the mutually-agreed-upon collective bargaining agreement. I respectfully ask that this Committee honor that freedom and local control, by rejecting so-called “right to work” legislation.

Timberlane Teachers Association: “Right To Work” Is Disrespectful To Workers

January 8, 2017

 

Re: Written Testimony In Opposition to Senate Bill 11 

Dear Honorable Chairman Innis and Members of the Committee, 

Due to work obligations, I am unable to attend the hearing on Senate Bill 11. However, I would like my letter entered into the record.

I am a fourteen year teaching veteran at Timberlane Regional High School. I have proudly served my teachers’ union as a building representative, Vice President, and, currently, as President of the Timberlane Teachers Association, AFT #4796. I am proud to say that this union of professionals has worked tirelessly to improve working conditions and quality of life for our members. Our union is also an open shop: we do not charge an agency fee. This means that the hard work that our paying members provide benefit all professional employees in the Timberlane Regional School District. It is only because of the selfless efforts of the Timberlane Teachers Association that we have been able to provide a contract that respects the professionalism and work of our teachers as they prepare the next generation of civil servants, entrepreneurs, and leaders. The value of this important work is reflected in the contract that they work under. So-called “Right-to-Work” legislation, like SB 11, severely undermine the respect shown to these professionals and the work they are charged with doing.

Legislation, like SB 11, does not improve quality of life for employees and their families. It does not show the respect or value we, as a society, should be presenting these professionals with. Instead, it inserts the government into the private negotiations between the employee representatives and their employer. It is, at its heart, big government. It undermines trust that is built by years of cooperation and negotiation between employee unions and employers and results in poor-quality contracts for employees, if any contract at all.

So-called “Right-to-Work” legislation also hurts families and local economies. As we have seen made abundantly clear in states that have shortsightedly enacted such legislation, like Wisconsin, RtW laws result in lower pay for employees, fewer benefits, and a lower quality of life for citizens. When employee purchasing power is reduced or hampered by such conditions, it ultimately feeds into the local economy, resulting in depressed local markets and, eventually, a labor shortage, as RtW laws have never resulted in an influx of business to a state and as workers seek better conditions in states that respect and value them.

Finally, legislation like SB-11 are unnecessary in states like New Hampshire. Since the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 and state-level legislation, no employee is forced to join a union in New Hampshire. Membership is voluntary, already. Thus, the only reason for legislation like SB-11 is to undermine the good work of unions and erode away the hard fought improvements in quality of life achieved only because of the work of unions in America.

I ask that you vote Inexpedient to Legislate on Senate Bill 11 so we can move forward with a positive agenda for NH. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Ryan Neal Richman
President, Timberlane Teachers Association, AFT 4796

Hudson Federation Of Teachers President’s Testimony Opposing SB 11 “Right To Work”

Honorable Daniel Innis, Chairman
Senate Commerce Committee
107 North Main Street
Concord NH 03301 

Re: Written Testimony In Opposition to Senate Bill 11

Dear Honorable Chairman Innis and Members of the Committee,

Due to work obligations, I am unable to attend the hearing on Senate Bill 11. However, I would like my letter entered into the record.

I have been an educator in New Hampshire for over fifteen years. Today’s educators face many challenges, as the expectations placed on teachers have increased to issues beyond the classroom over the past decade. We no longer just need to be concerned with curriculum and assessment; we now need to often act as surrogate parents. Without the protection of a union, teachers could be exposed to unrealistic expectations as districts struggle to solve cultural problems through the classroom.

Unions help towns be competitive when they are seeking qualified applicants. Unions provide employees with fair wages and benefits, which can’t be changed through the whim of temporary board members. Unions allow employees to have a voice, without the fear of repercussions, which creates an environment where the best solutions can be sought to create the best outcomes for students.

As president of the Hudson Federation of Teachers, we have over 98% of our members choosing to join the union. They understand what being a union member provides for them. No member is forced to join, but our members appreciate having supplemental insurance, members who negotiate contracts for them, and members who will represent them should they request it. Unions make working situations better for everyone.

With all the challenges facing New Hampshire, such as the opioid crisis, it seems that there are other issues that requires the time and energy of our legislators rather than fix something that is not broken.

I ask that you vote Inexpedient to Legislate on Senate Bill 11 so we can move forward with a positive agenda for NH. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Lavoie

President, Hudson Federation of Teachers Local 2263

Republican, Teacher, and Union President, Opposes So-Called Right To Work In NH

Written Testimony From  Richard (Alex) Luhtjarv, President, Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers, Opposing SB 11

Dear Senator Avard,

I am writing to you as my State Senator and asking you to vote no on SB 11. I am a Republican, but also the President of a local teachers’ union. While many may feel that those two positions are contradictory, I do not. The reasons why I am both are very similar – I feel the Republican party AND labor unions protect the value of hard work. I was taught that the key to lifelong success was giving it 110% in school and at work.

As a teacher, I pass on those values. However, in my 17 years as an educator, I have been a witness to many situations where quality teachers have been subjected to unfair decisions in which the union was their only defender. There is value in that service to defend hard work.

I have also been a part of three different negotiating teams and each time, we worked together with the district to negotiate fiscally responsible contracts with fair pay and benefits while trying to mitigate the burden on taxpayers. There is value in that service to reward families of workers who have dedicated their careers to helping their students become productive members of the community.

Right to work bills are shortsighted. Our union currently has 100% participation among the teachers of our district. All of our teachers have benefited from the services provided by their local union. We use dues to help support that local work in advocacy of member interests and through collective bargaining. We also use dues to contribute to local charities and organizations, such as the food pantry and local youth athletic association.

Right to work would undermine our ability to continue to be a positive presence in our community. I hope that as a fellow Republican, you will read this letter, and 1. Consider voting against SB 11, but 2. Realize that the stereotypes that exist about unions in 2017 are just not accurate.
Thank you for your time and consideration,

Richard (Alex) Luhtjarv

President, Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers

Right To Work Is Still Wrong For New Hampshire Working Families

The working people of New Hampshire are once again under attack from the greedy corporate special interests that want to line their pockets by taking more money from the hard working Granite Staters.

The New Hampshire legislature is once again considering the so-called Right To Work law that has been proven to lower wages, increased healthcare costs, increase poverty rates and reduce workers access to a retirement plan.

The corporate special interests, who have been pushing this harmful and confusing legislation in New Hampshire for the last forty years, only care about one thing: how much more money can they take from you.

Research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that workers in Right to Work states, make on average $5,000 less per year. Lower wages means more profits in the hands of greedy CEOs and less money in the hands of hard working Granite Staters struggling to pay their bills.

The corporate lobbyists will tell you that ‘everyone should have the right to work,’ but the so-called Right to Work law has nothing to do with getting a job. Passing Right to Work will not magically make new companies appear out of thin air.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin echoed these claims as he forced a Right to Work law through the Wisconsin Legislature. He promised that by passing Right to Work, Wisconsin would create tens of thousands of new jobs.

However, after passing Right to Work in March of 2015, Wisconsin ended up loosing more than 10,000 jobs by the end of the year. This is vastly different than Wisconsin’s neighboring state of Minnesota whose pro-worker progressives agenda, created more than 12,000 jobs in the last quarter of 2015 and was ranked the “Top State for Business in 2015.”

The corporate lobbyists will try to tell you that Right to Work laws are about “freedom from greedy union bosses.”

Are they talking about those same “greedy unions” who helped usher in workplace safety regulations, vacation time, retirement benefits, and the weekend itself? If the corporations had their way, our manufacturing facilities would be filled with twelve year olds, working fourteen hours a day, six days a week for pennies a day.

These special interests will also try to tell you that by passing Right to Work it will give workers the freedom to choose if they want to join a union or not. What they neglect to tell you is that it is already illegal to force someone to join a union. What Right to Work does do is allow people to freeload off the union’s contracts.

The only freedom gained from pushing a Right to Work law in New Hampshire is the corporation’s freedom to pay workers less and take away your rights as workers.

Why are these corporate special interests so determined to pass this unnecessary legislation? New Hampshire already has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Conversely seven of the top ten states in unemployment are Right to Work states.

What exactly will we gain by passing this irrelevant legislation? It does nothing to help workers or struggling middle class families.

Right to Work laws are a thinly veiled affront on the hard working middle class by big business and corporate special interests. That’s why the National Right To Work Committee spends more than $11 million dollars a year lobbying to push this confusing, contentious legislation in state house’s all across the country.

Right to Work is bad for working people and wrong for New Hampshire.

Transportation Unions Ready for New Congress, Trump Administration

Transportation Trade Department LogoTransportation union leaders across all sectors gathered today for their post-election meeting to assess the landscape in Washington and lay the groundwork for a unified effort under a Trump Administration.

“Our discussion today was focused on boosting investment in transportation and protecting the rights of working people against a torrent of political attacks designed to weaken unions,” said Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD). “We also vowed to defend against assaults on labor and safety protections in our laws, and work with those who want to change American trade policy so it aligns with the economic interests of American workers.”

The Executive Committee took aim at the wrongheaded decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation to approve the controversial application of Norwegian Air International (NAI) for a foreign air carrier permit.

“Transportation unions were clear today in their resolve to stop the first-ever job-killing ‘flag-of-convenience’ airline sanctioned by our government from destroying U.S. airline jobs. We will continue urging President Obama to intervene and reverse the NAI decision,” Wytkind said.

Transportation labor leaders also sent a clear message that they stand with United Steelworkers Local 1999 President Chuck Jones in his battle to save more jobs at Carrier. Jones, who’s championed the jobs and rights of his members for decades, called out the President-elect because the number of jobs saved at Carrier is 730, not the more than 1,000 the President-elect claimed.

“America is great because of our freedom to speak out and the right of working people to come together in strong unions to demand fairness and living wages on the job,” Wytkind said. “When our elected leaders stifle dissent and bully people like Chuck Jones for simply speaking out for the men and women he’s elected to lead, we not only rip at the fabric of our nation — we eviscerate rights for which people died.”

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The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) provides a bold voice for workers in every mode of transportation and is devoted to protecting middle-class jobs, expanding collective bargaining and ensuring modern, safe and secure transportation operations and infrastructure. For more information visit us at www.ttd.org.

AFGE Applauds Obama Action Giving Federal Employees 2.1% Pay Raise in January

Move recognizes sacrifice of federal workers, maintains tradition of pay raise parity between military and civilians

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees, the nation’s largest federal employee union, applauds President Obama’s decision to provide federal workers with a 2.1% pay raise in January.

afge-1“Federal employees certainly deserve this modest boost in their pay, following years of pay freezes and miniscule increases that have left them worse off today than they were at the start of the decade,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “This pay adjustment will help employees pay their bills, reduce their debts, and cover the everyday costs facing working-class Americans.”

No other group has sacrificed more than federal employees to help bring the country out of the Great Recession. Since 2010, federal employees have been forced to give up more than $182 billion in wages and benefits – which amounts to a $91,000 pay cut per employee. Federal employees earn 6.5 percent less today than they did at the start of the decade when adjusted for inflation.

“AFGE has been fighting for federal workers to be made whole after years of financial sacrifice, and this action is a step in the right direction,” Cox said. “I’m especially thankful for the lawmakers who urged President Obama to take this action and for our activists who kept the pressure on them.”

The Dec. 7 letter to Obama was signed by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin of Maryland, Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Senator-elect Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. AFGE also thanks Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia for introducing legislation earlier this year supporting AFGE’s push for a 5.3% catch-up pay adjustment.

President Obama’s alternative pay plan, submitted to Congress on Dec. 8, also maintains the longstanding tradition of pay parity between the civil service and military. Congress approved a 2.1 percent pay raise for service members in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, and AFGE has been fighting since August for civilian workers to get the same increase.

President Cox said AFGE already is working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to introduce legislation in the next Congress that would provide employees with an even larger increase in 2018.

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.”

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