• Advertisement

Engineering News-Record Honors Iron Workers for Groundbreaking Maternity Leave Program

Iron Workers General President Eric Dean Named ENR Top 25 Newsmaker for Pioneering Paid Maternity Leave Program in the Building Trades

Washington – Iron Workers (IW) General President Eric Dean was named one of 2017 ENR Top 25 Newsmakers for his role in establishing a groundbreaking paid maternity leave program. The IW employer-ironworker partnership IMPACT announced the groundbreaking move at its annual conference last year.

The program is the first of its kind in the building trades and provides qualified pregnant ironworkers up to six months of paid leave and up to six weeks postpartum.

The tragic story of an ironworker woman who had miscarried due to physically demanding work during pregnancy inspired Eric Dean to work with the IMPACT Contractor Co-Chair and CEO of Ben Hur Construction Bill Brown to introduce a paid maternity leave program. “When Eric Dean heard the ironworker woman’s story at the Women Build Nations conference, he took immediate action not only to keep the ironworker women safe during pregnancy, but also to give them time after birth to take care of their babies,” says IW General Organizer Safety/Diversity Vicki O’Leary.

The IW leadership hopes that the program will not only keep ironworker women safe but also improve retention. It’s an adjunct to the IMPACT Off-the-Job Accident program, which provides financial support for ironworkers while recovering from an injury that occurred off the job site.

“We are very proud to be an agent of change in the industry,” says Eric Dean. “It’s about time we make diversity and inclusion a priority. The maternity leave program was a big step for ironworker women but we are now exploring other initiatives to improve diversity and retention.”

“It’s an investment because we want our well-trained ironworker women to come back to work after pregnancy,” says Bill Brown.

2017 ENR Top 25 Newsmakers will be honored at a New York City gala in April.

With Shutdown Over, Union Hopes Real Governing Can Begin

AFGE says keeping agencies, employees in budget limbo is disservice to them and nation

WASHINGTON – In response to Congress passing a short-term spending bill to re-open the federal government, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:

“Congress has ended a crisis of its own making, allowing the government to fully reopen after forcing a shutdown at midnight Friday.

“Even though the shutdown lasted just three days, it was long enough to cause a massive disruption to our government operations and widespread confusion for federal workers, federal agencies, and the public.

“None of this would have happened if lawmakers had done their job in the beginning and passed a federal budget on time. Instead most federal agencies are limping by on borrowed time, unable to start new projects, fill new positions, or focus on long-range projects. This counterproductive cycle of short-term continuing resolutions must end now.

“Lawmakers now have 17 days to pass a budget that will fund federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. I urge Congress and the administration to come to the table, resolve their differences, and pass a long-term budget so that federal employees can continue to do their jobs in service to our country.

“Americans deserve to be able to access the programs and services that their tax dollars have funded, and federal employees deserve to be able to go to work without wondering when or if they will get paid.

“I do want to thank lawmakers for ensuring that federal employees who were impacted by the shutdown do not lose any pay. Federal employees and their families should not be forced to go without pay when they are not allowed to do their jobs because Congress cannot pass a funding measure. A special thanks goes to Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland and Congressmen Don Beyer and Rob Wittman of Virginia for first introducing the retroactive pay language in Congress.”

AFL-CIO and Broad Coalition File Amicus Briefs in Janus v. AFSCME

(Washington, DC) — Today, the AFL-CIO joined unions, public and private employers, elected officials from both parties, religious organizations, academics and civil rights organizations filing amicus briefs in Janus v. AFSCME, defending working people’s right to effectively organize and negotiate.

“Working people have always had to fight for the freedom to work and retire in dignity. Corporate CEOs and special interests have spent millions in their attempts to strip that away,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Today, working people are taking this fight to the Supreme Court. We’re standing up for the freedom to sustain a family while still being able to take time off to care for a loved one, receive quality health care and enjoy a secure retirement.”

Working people’s freedom to join together in strong public-sector unions has been protected since a unanimous Supreme Court ruling more than 40 years ago. That ruling secured these unions’ ability to effectively advocate and negotiate on behalf of their members.

Now, a Koch-backed network of corporate interests is challenging those longstanding legal precedents. Their goal is to undermine working people’s right to organize—and they’ve said so themselves. These same right-wing special interests have previously attacked LGBTQ rights, voting rights and women’s health care.

The AFL-CIO was joined today by the State of California, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, several U.S. senators, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 20 state attorneys general, Republican elected officials, former presidents of the District of Columbia Bar Association, distinguished law professors and others. This action comes as organizers prepare to stand against the corporate interests behind this case during a Working People’s Day of Action on Feb. 24. This will mark the 50th anniversary of striking African American sanitation workers’ first march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee.

Educators File Amicus Brief With Supreme Court In Janus v. AFSCME

WASHINGTON — The National Education Association and the American Association of University Professors submitted an amicus brief today with the Supreme Court in the case of Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31. The National Right to Work Committee, which is behind the case, is asking the Court to read into the First Amendment a right to work law for the entire public sector.  As the brief explains, the First Amendment has never been so interpreted and doing so would conflict with the Court’s long established deference to state decisions about their public workforces.  At issue in Janus is whether non-union members who share in the wages, benefits and protections that have been negotiated into a collectively bargained contract may be required to pay their fair share for the cost of those negotiations.

“Strong unions help to create strong schools for students and even stronger communities that benefit all of us,” said Lily Eskelsen García, a sixth grade teacher from Salt Lake City, Utah who was elected to serve as the president of the National Education Association. “For generations, unions have been the best path to the middle class for working people, but in this rigged economy, unions are under attack, and those attacks are coming not just from the White House and Capitol Hill. They’re happening at the ballot box and at the Supreme Court with cases like Janus v. AFSCME.”

A comprehensive report issued last year by the Economic Policy Institute detailed how collective bargaining plays an essential role in the labor market, by raising working people’s wages and supporting a fair and prosperous economy as well as a vibrant democracy. Unions and their ability to bargain collectively are an important force in reducing inequality and ensuring that low- and middle-wage workers receive a fair return on their work. Another recent report titled, “Strong Unions, Stronger Communities,” reviewed numerous case studies where members of labor unions have used their freedom to join strong unions and collective voice to fight for improvements that benefit all working families in communities throughout America.

“The Supreme Court should not ignore the fact that state and local governments have a vital interest in the benefits of collaboration that come from robust collective bargaining and unionization. Those benefits for all public citizens include improved government services, better educational outcomes and higher economic mobility,” said AAUP General Counsel Risa Lieberwitz. “The court also should not ignore the fact that outside dark-money groups, which include many of the groups who filed briefs in support of Janus, want to manipulate and weaponize the court’s decision to attack unions and deprive state and local governments of broad societal benefits that accompany collective bargaining.”

The Janus case presents a real test for the Supreme Court. If facts, merit and law are considered, then the justices must rule in favor of upholding 40 years of precedent that support the authority of state and local governments to choose to have strong public sector systems of collective bargaining.

“The politically-motivated backers behind Janus know this case is nothing more than a smokescreen for what they’re really trying to do,” added Eskelsen García. “Point blank, this case is an assault on the freedoms of working people to earn a better life for themselves and their families while it works to right the rules further in favor of their own special corporate interests and other billionaires. The justices on the Supreme Court cannot allow themselves to be fooled.”


About the National Education Association

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

About the American Association of University Professors

The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit membership association of faculty and other academic professionals with members and chapters based at colleges and universities across the country. The mission is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post‐doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good.

Largest Federal Union Says Government Shutdown is Result of Failed Leadership

AFGE says millions of Americans will feel the effects of federal budget stalemate

WASHINGTON – In response to the federal government running out of funds to continue operations past midnight Friday, American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement:

“Congress and the administration have only themselves to blame for failing to keep the federal government open. This shutdown is a direct result of lawmakers continuing to punt the ball instead of having the courage to make the tough decisions that we elected them to do.

“Federal employees want to go to work. They believe in their mission and want to provide quality services to the American people. But now, 850,000 of them will report to work on Monday, only to be told to go home, while a million or more will be forced to work without pay for as long as this shutdown drags out.

“Every day that this shutdown continues, more Americans will begin to feel the effects as federal offices close their doors to the public, the government stops paying its bills, and millions of government workers and military service members no longer get paid.

“Failing to fund the government even for a day has real-world consequences. The 2013 shutdown lasted 16 days, cost American taxpayers $24 billion, and caused valuable work to grind to a halt. Hundreds of cancer patients were prevented from enrolling in NIH clinical trials, 6,300 children were denied access to Head Start programs for up to 9 days, 1,200 EPA site inspections were cancelled, and 1,400 OSHA inspections to prevent workplace fatalities and injuries were stopped. These are just a few examples.

“In a government shutdown, it is the American people who pay the price. They deserve to know that the government services they pay for will be there when they need them. I urge lawmakers to come to the table at once, resolve their differences, and pass a budget that ends this shutdown and all the uncertainty that comes with it.”

NATCA Condemns Shutdown That Harms The National Airspace System

Stable, Predictable Funding For National Airspace System Is Essential

WASHINGTON – National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) President Paul Rinaldi and Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert issued a statement this morning condemning the shutdown of the federal government now underway, calling it the clearest proof that the status quo is broken, and a stable, predictable funding stream for the National Airspace System is essential:

“A government shutdown harms the National Airspace System (NAS). Employees, such as air traffic controllers, who are required to work during the shutdown don’t know when they will receive their next paycheck. They cannot be paid until the government is again able to expend funds.

“Making matters worse, these employees won’t have the support for them and their team that is so important in making the system work well. While all NATCA members perform duties that are critical and essential to the NAS, more than 3,000 NATCA-represented employees have been furloughed. These furloughed members work across our bargaining units at air traffic control and other FAA facilities. They are among the hundreds of thousands of federal employees negatively affected by the government shutdown. When these professionals are prohibited from working as a result of political brinksmanship, the flying public and the NAS suffer.

“Whether the shutdown lasts one hour, one day, one week, or more, it reinforces our strong belief that the status quo is broken. The NAS requires a stable, predictable funding stream in order to adequately support: air traffic control services, staffing, hiring and training, long-term modernization projects, preventative maintenance, ongoing modernization to the physical infrastructure, and the timely implementation of NextGen modernization projects. The NAS continues to be challenged by the lack of a stable, predictable funding stream. The constant funding crises that arise from stop-and-go funding continue to wreak havoc on our system and perpetuate the current staffing crisis, which has resulted in a 29-year low of certified professional controllers.

“We will not rest until Congress ends the shutdown. In the long term, we will continue to advocate for the kind of change that will ensure the NAS has a stable, predictable funding stream for years to come.”

Government Shutdown Could ‘Inflict Serious Pain’ On Millions, Labor Leader Says

AFGE union president also warns against steep cuts to non-defense programs

Shutdown 2013 JDC EPA DC MD.JPGWASHINGTON – Federal government programs and services benefiting millions of Americans are in jeopardy due to a potential government shutdown and steep cuts in non-defense spending, the head of the largest union representing federal government workers told Congress.

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. urged lawmakers in a Jan. 18 letter to keep the government running beyond Jan. 19, when current funding expires.

“It is very clear that a federal government shutdown could inflict serious pain on everyday working people,” Cox said in the letter.

If Congress fails to pass a stop-gap spending bill, more than 850,000 federal government employees could be furloughed without pay and another million could be required to work without pay to keep public safety and health care programs running.

A shutdown would have wide-ranging impacts across the country, forcing the closure of national parks, museums, and zoos; delaying loans to millions of small businesses that rely on federal support; delaying payments, pensions, and educational benefits to veterans; ending applications for new Social Security benefits; and delaying paychecks for more than 2 million military service members.

President Cox also urged Congress to provide equal increases in spending for defense and non-defense programs. AFGE fully supports increasing DoD funding to enhance readiness, but not at the expense of other spending priorities.

Many agencies already are operating with barebones budgets thanks to years of deep cuts to non-defense discretionary programs. The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget has been cut by almost one-third, jeopardizing the agency’s mission to safeguard the quality of our air and water. The Social Security Administration, which has seen deep cuts in funding over the past seven years, is facing another cut of up to $492 million this year.

“SSA provides direct, personal assistance to millions of Americans every year who are applying for benefits,” Cox wrote. “A cut of this magnitude will cripple the agency’s ability to carry out its mission to help beneficiaries get the benefits they deserve.”

New Bill To Create A Death Benefit For School Employees Killed In The Line Of Duty

In 2017, approximately 40 people per day died from gun related injuries according to a report from Gun Violence Archives. Unfortunately this is the world we live in.  This is why children practice “lock down” procedures in school in the event of an armed gunman gaining access to the school grounds.

Today we are not here to discuss how we need to do something about the growing gun violence problem in America: today we want to talk a new bill being pushed in the New Hampshire Legislature to extend death benefits to school employees who are killed in the line of duty.

This week, the NH House Committee for Executive Departments and Administration held a public hearing on HB 1415.  The bill is would simply extend the same death benefit given to police officers, killed in the line of duty, to school employees.

Doug Ley, President of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT-NH) testified before the committee on why this bill should be passed.  He cited that since Columbine in 1996, there has been 202 school shootings that resulted in deaths of “164 students, 44 educators & school employees, and at least 3 security/police personnel.”

The American Federation of Teachers, represented the five teachers at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut. Those educators and aide’s were honored as heroes for doing all they could to protect the lives of the children in their care.

Just one example was special education teacher Anne Marie Murphy, 52, a 14-year veteran of the school, was found dead, holding the lifeless body of 6-year-old Dylan Hockley.

“We take great comfort in knowing that Dylan was not alone when he died, but was wrapped in the arms of his amazing aide, Anne Marie Murphy,” the Hockley family said in a statement. “Dylan loved Mrs. Murphy so much and pointed to her picture on our refrigerator every day.”

These heroes should be given the same death benefit as any police officer killed in the line of duty.


Below is the full written testimony of AFT-NH President Douglas Ley Testimony In Support of HB 1415: Death Benefit for School Employees Killed in Line of Duty

Thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you to the Committee for providing me this opportunity to testify in favor of HB 1415, establishing a death benefit for a school employee killed in the line of duty.

My name is Douglas Ley, and I am one of the members from Cheshire County, District 9, representing the towns of Dublin, Harrisville, Jaffrey, and Roxbury. I am also president of American Federation of Teachers-NH, and I have filed all the requisite paperwork with the Legislative Ethics office and intend to participate in the discussion of HB1415.

As we know, NH Statutes currently authorize a death benefit of $100,000 for families of police officers and firefighters killed in the performance of their duties. That is a good thing, and I am proud to have helped pass that legislation. Today, we consider establishing a similar death benefit for the families of school employees killed in the line of duty, and on behalf of AFT-NH I am here to voice our support for this proposed statutory addition.

Dr. Donna Decker is my colleague at Franklin Pierce University and an expert on school shootings, a subject on which she has written and spoken. I asked her the other day just how many such incidents have occurred since the infamous shootings at Columbine High School back in 1999. According to her research, there have been 202 school shootings in the US since Columbine, or an average of 11 shootings per year over the past 18 years at all levels of education. Not all are mass shootings, and not all involve fatalities, but even so, the numbers are staggering—164 students killed, 44 educators & school employees, and at least 3 security/police personnel. Besides Columbine, the most infamous such shooting occurred in Newtown CT, my former hometown (I graduated Newtown High School in 1976)—20 students and six school personnel were cold-heartedly murdered. Thankfully, NH has thus far escaped this phenomenon and I hope that will always be the case, but it is best to be prepared for the worst.

As a negotiator, I have helped negotiate a dozen school personnel contracts. In reviewing them, I find that all include small life insurance policies for the personnel, ranging from $7500 to $30,000, paid for by the Districts. In a few cases, there are also provisions for death benefits in the form of small cash buyouts of unused sick days. None of these benefits, however, come close to the $100,000 benefit proposed here and none of these current benefits would even remotely compensate for the anguish and loss suffered by a family when a school employee is killed in the line of duty.

In my work as a negotiator, I often work with school secretaries. These are the personnel on the front-line of school security, authorizing or denying entry to individuals seeking to enter schools. Their work is often highly-demanding, pulling them in multiple directions at the same time, but the one area about which they always express deep concern is their ability to maintain school security. Like the secretaries, para-professionals, food-service workers, and teachers all tell me over and over that their greatest concern is the safety and security of the children for whom they take responsibility. They wish there was no need for school safety provisions, but they know the world in which they live and work, and they welcome the trainings and drills on how to handle life-or-death school emergencies.

Allow me to close with the following thought. We entrust our children to teachers, para-educators, and all the professionals who work in our public schools. Those school personnel take that charge very seriously, and are ready for whatever emergencies arise. I hope there is never a school shooting incident in NH, but if there is, I am quite certain that school personnel will do all they can to preserve the lives and protect the safety of the children in their charge. Because of the trust and the heavy burden we place upon these secretaries, teachers, para-educators, and all others, providing a $100,000 death benefit to their families in the event of death in the line of duty is right. It can never make up for a family’s loss, but it can provide some aid and assistance and is tangible evidence of the public’s recognition and regard for the heavy responsibilities we place on those in our public schools. Let us do the right thing, and pass HB1415 to the House floor with a recommendation of OTP.

 

AFT-NH President Ley Testifies Against SB 193 To House Finance Committee

(January 16, 2018) Below is the full submitted testimony of AFT-NH President Douglas Ley on SB 193:

Let me begin by offering my thanks to the Committee Chair and to the Finance Committee for taking the time to hear my testimony.

For the record: Douglas Ley, representing District 9-Cheshire County, towns of Dublin, Harrisville, Jaffrey, & Roxbury. In addition, I am here as president of American Federation of Teachers-NH, and have filed the requisite paperwork with the Legislative Ethics Office.

Speaking on behalf of myself and the 4,000 members of AFT-NH, I come before you in opposition to SB193. The written report provided to you focuses upon financial aspects of SB193 and places the proposed program into a broader national context by looking at its financial provisions as compared to those in other states with similar Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). You can read the report by clicking the link Following the Wrong Path.

Based upon the comparison between SB193 and similar programs in five other states, the report concludes that “NH should expect similar taxpayer and academic accountability problems as these states.” Without going over the report in detail (I am confident the Committee will do its due diligence), let me simply highlight a few salient points:

  1. SB193 eligibility requirements closely mirror those in AZ (esp. prior to very recent amendments there), but unlike AZ and other states, there is no requirement in SB193 for prior public school enrollment as a condition of eligibility. Thus, NH can expect similar student loss from public schools and the accompanying costs as occurred in AZ.
  2. Funding formulas across states with ESAs are generally similar. In AZ there was a 10-fold increase in costs between 2012-15, and the losses estimated by Reaching Higher NH are in line with experiences in other states.
  3. On the issue of financial accountability, AZ’s Attorney General just two years ago found that in one six-month period, there was over $100,000 in misspent funds. Under SB193, there is only very limited public financial accountability—instead, accountability is outsourced to the same private entity earning money from the program. In addition, there is no requirement for posting of surety bonds or other insurance by private providers, to ensure that private schools or providers would have enough money to reimburse the State for any misused funds. Ultimately, SB193 lacks even rudimentary public financial accountability standards, to say nothing of the very meager academic accountability standards.

Other witnesses will undoubtedly go into great detail on specific estimated costs to the State and to local property tax payers in order to fund SB193 while maintaining our constitutional duty to education and our social contract commitment to public schools and public education. Allow me to close by noting two additional items:

First, let me draw your attention to a letter from the Superintendent of the Monadnock Regional School District, which includes one of the towns I represent. In that letter sent to you on Monday, January 15, the Superintendent expresses her clear concerns over the financial impact on the Monadnock District of anywhere from $83,000 to $172,000 in lost State aid to the District. What is not said in that letter is that this is a District that has faced very difficult budget battles over the past five years and the likelihood of those budget wars continuing for the near future.

Second, you also received a letter from the president of the Nashua Teachers Union (NTU), who could not attend this hearing today due to conflicting commitments. In that letter, NTU president Adam Marcoux reviews their objections to SB193, pointing to Nashua’s loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in State funds if SB193 becomes law. His conclusion regarding SB193’s financial impact is succinct and pointed: It “sounds like a state property tax increase, in addition to the anticipated local property tax increases.”

At a time when this committee has already rejected a number of other policy proposals on grounds that State funds are simply not available, I ask that the Committee reject SB193 as financially unsound for the State of New Hampshire and as an expenditure of public funds with virtually no public accountability. For localities, this will entail further downshifting of costs onto local taxpayers in order to provide public funds to those who choose of their own volition to send their children to private or home schools. This is not a proper use of public funds, unregulated, unaudited, and certain to result in tax increases. I ask that you therefore reject SB193 and vote to recommend ITL.

[Note: The entire written testimony is provided but actual testimony was abbreviated due to time constraints and to avoid duplicate testimony. Per President Ley, many school boards, school board members, superintendents and policy experts tore into the bill in great and meticulous detail. AFT-NH applauds their efforts.]

 

AFGE thanks lawmakers for joint bill supporting federal workers

FAIR Act seeks to address years of cuts to workers’ pay, benefits

WASHINGTON – The nation’s largest union of federal workers, the American Federation of Government Employees, thanks Senate and House lawmakers for introducing joint legislation that recognizes their invaluable contributions to this country.

The Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, or FAIR Act, was introduced Thursday by Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia. The bills, S 2295 and HR 4775, would provide salaried and hourly federal employees with a 3 percent pay adjustment in 2019.

AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. issued the following statement in support of the bill:

“AFGE thanks Sen. Schatz and Rep. Connolly for their leadership and continued support for federal employees across the nation. They recognize the invaluable contribution that these public-sector workers make each and every day to the benefit of everyone who calls this country home. And they understand that it’s vital for the federal government to pay its employees fairly so we can recruit and retain the high-caliber workforce that the public expects and deserves.

“They also know the financial sacrifice that federal workers have made in the name of deficit reduction. Federal employees have had their pay and benefits cut by over $182 billion and growing since 2011, and they are earning 4.7 percent less today than they did at the start of the decade.

“The legislation introduced by Sen. Schatz and Rep. Connolly – the Federal Adjustment of Income Rates Act, or FAIR Act – would help prevent federal employees from falling further behind with a 3 percent pay adjustment in 2019. The women and men who guard our borders, serve our veterans, inspect our food, and protect our planet are worth this modest investment.”

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 12,612 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement