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Preventing Workplace Violence: National COSH and Local Groups Join Call for OSHA Standard for Health Care and Social Service Workers

NCOSH 300X250San Diego – In solidarity with labor unions representing millions of American workers, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), the New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NHCOSH) and other local COSH organizations have endorsed petitions calling for a comprehensive federal standard to prevent workplace violence in the health care and social assistance sectors.

“With an issue like workplace violence, it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, how can you stop a person who wants to hurt somebody?’” said Jessica Martinez, acting executive director of National COSH. “But that’s just wrong and ignores documented best practices. If you address issues like adequate staffing and lines of communication, worksite security, proper training and safety protocols, there’s no question you can reduce the risks faced by health care and social service workers.”

Workplace violence is a problem across all sectors of the economy. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than two million workers each year report that they are victims of violent incidents on the job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported more than 400 workplace homicides in 2014, making homicide the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.

Health care and social service workers are among those most at risk. Fifty-two percent of victims of workplace violence, according to the BLS, are health care and social service workers.

On July 12, a coalition of unions filed petitions with the U.S. Department of Labor, calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a “comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard to protect all workers in healthcare and social service settings.” The coalition of labor unions includes the AFL-CIO; American Federation of Teachers; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; American Federation of Government Employees; Communications Workers of America; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Service Employees International Union; the United Steelworkers and National Nurses United.

“Like other on-the-job hazards, workplace violence can be prevented – in health care, social services and in other sectors” said National COSH Senior Organizer Peter Dooley. “To be effective, a workplace violence prevention standard must be part of a comprehensive, systems approach to workplace safety, with workers involved in every step of the process.  That includes evaluating risks, assessing remedies, reporting incidents without fear of retaliation, and design of rigorous training.”

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, National COSH and local COSH groups point to the proven effectiveness of prevention programs. “A comprehensive workplace violence prevention program,” the letter states, “reduced rates of assault at Veterans Health Administration hospitals between 2004 and 2009.”  The letter also notes that the states of California and Minnesota have recently passed legislation requiring health care employers to implement workplace violence prevention programs.

In addition to National COSH, local groups signing on to yesterday’s letter include:

  • Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health (ConnectiCOSH)
  • Fe y Justicia Worker Center (Houston COSH)
  • Maine Labor Group on Health
  • Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH)
  • Mid-State Education and Service Foundation
  • New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NHCOSH)
  • New Jersey Work Environment Council (NJWEC)
  • New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH)
  • NorthEast New York Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NENYCOSH)
  • Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (RICOSH)
  • South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice
  • Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (SoCalCOSH)
  • Western Massachusetts Coalition for Workplace Safety and Health (WesternMassCOSH)
  • Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH)
  • Worksafe

Yesterday’s letter to Secretary Perez and Assistant Secretary Michaels is available here.

* * *

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org.  Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

Tell Congress NO To Fast Track: A Special Message From AFT

This is a special message from AFT Secretary Treasurer Loretta Johnson.


Yesterday, I spoke at a rally here in D.C., where hundreds gathered to urge Congress to put the brakes on “fast-track” trade deals that will hurt American workers. I don’t need to convince you that transparency is important when it comes to making decisions about our economy, jobs, safety and the environment. Unfortunately, just a few hours ago, the Senate introduced legislation that undercuts the public’s voice on free trade agreements through this fast-track legislation.

Click here to tell Congress NO to fast-track.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade agreement that is currently being negotiated in secret between the United States and 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. And legislation granting fast-track authority would enable corporate power-grabs like the TPP to be rushed through Congress, circumventing ordinary review, amendment and debate procedures.

The TPP will create rules and obligations that govern an estimated 40 percent of the world’s economy, yet few Americans are aware of its impact or even its existence. Unfortunately, the last 20 years of corporate-driven free trade policy have created a downward spiral in which jobs have been shipped overseas and worker, environmental and consumer protections have been eroded.

We cannot allow corporate interests to determine trade policy like the TPP. We must urge Congress to fend off the corporate call for fast-track.

Smart trade policy has the potential to promote shared global prosperity, which is why our communities—NOT multinational corporations—must be the driving force in shaping trade policy.

Please urge your members of Congress to protect our economy, jobs, environment and public health by opposing fast-track legislation.

In unity,

Lorretta Johnson

AFT Secretary-Treasurer

One more thing: Would you help us by sending this tweet?: To preserve & protect US jobs Congress must stop Fast Track for the TPP! #StopFastTrack

4-21-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: NH Retirement, Oral Health Care, and Finishing Up The Session

Overall it was a quite week at the State House. Both chambers have till May 15th to act on all remaining bills. All committees are working their way through them.

The full House will be voting on SB193: Expanding Access to Oral Health Care in NH. The House Health, Human Services & Elderly Affairs Committee recommended Ought to Pass as amended. AFT-NH is in support of the recommendation and asks that it be supported on Wednesday, April 23rd.  This bill forms a Study Commission that would examine barriers to oral health care for under-served NH residents. We believe this study will help build the case that addressing the dental workforce must be part of any long-term strategy to bridge the gaps in our system of oral care access.

This Commission presents an opportunity for partners to educate the Legislature and the public about how a Dental Hygiene Practitioner would help address these needs. To read more click here.

The full Senate will be voting on HB 1494:  relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees. The Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee recommended Ought to Pass as amended This bill is on the consent calendar and will be voted on this coming Thursday, April 24th .  AFT-NH is in support of this recommendation.

  • This amended bill (1) adds definitions of terms used in RSA 100-A and clarifies existing definitions; (2) revises the procedure for calculating the cost of purchasing credit for certain types of prior service; (3) clarifies the ability to earn service credit while on a salary continuance plan; (4) corrects an inconsistency in the statute regarding the approval date of the comprehensive annual financial report; (5) adds penalties for employers who fail to remit correct data in a timely manner; and (6) repeals obsolete provisions.
  • Senator Soucy successfully amended the bill to address our concerns. The amendment eliminated a study committee, a suggestion of the NHRS which we opposed as there is no data collected yet to study. The amendment also changed the following paragraph in section 8 of the bill:
  •  “(a) Every employer shall report to the retirement system monthly, in a format provided by the retirement system, all compensation paid by the employer to retired members of the retirement system, including the name of, and the total hours worked, for each retired member of the retirement system, except that an employer shall not include in the report the compensation and hours worked by a retiree for serving as an elected state official or as an elected official of a political subdivision.”

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!



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


9:30 a.m. HB 1200, relative to student social media policies by educational institutions.
9:45 a.m. HB 1238, relative to access to assessment materials.
10:15 a.m. HB 1534, establishing a commission to study fiscal disparities between public school

House EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:30 a.m. Executive session on:
-SB 343, (New Title) relative to the duties of the statewide education improvement and assessment program legislative oversight committee and repealing the school administrative unit legislative oversight committee,
-SB 348, establishing a commission to study sexual abuse prevention education in elementary and secondary schools,
-SB 350, (New Title) relative to the transfer of adequacy aid calculation data from the department of education to the department of revenue administration,
-SB 355, relative to access to social media by educational institutions,
-SB 414-FN, relative to Medicaid-funded services provided as a part of a child’s individualized education program.

1:15 p.m. Rescheduled Presentation by the Department of Education: Perspectives on Accountability and Assessment

House ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
11:15 a.m. Executive session on
-SB 120-FN, relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees,

House WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:30 a.m. Continued executive session on
-SB 366-FN-A-L, relative to video lottery and table gaming.


10:00 a.m. House in Session


10:00 a.m. Senate in Session


House FISCAL COMMITTEE (RSA 14:30-a), Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:30 a.m. Audits: 1) State of New Hampshire Management Letter year ended June 30, 2013.
2) State of New Hampshire Single Audit of Federal Financial Assistance Programs for the year ended June 30, 2013.


Senate JUDICIARY, Room 100, SH
9:30 a.m. HB 1198, relative to the procedure for filing a child in need of services (CHINS)petition and relative to the definition of sexual abuse under the child protection act.



11:00 a.m. Executive session on
-SB 307, establishing a committee to review Citizens United amendments to the United States Constitution.


10:00 a.m. Ad Hoc subcommittee on retirement.

AFT President Wiengarten weighs in on Affordable Care Act.

WASHINGTON— Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act announcement today.

“President Obama did the right thing today. His action underscores his long-term commitment to work through the issues as we implement the Affordable Care Act and ensure it lives up to its promise of expanding access to affordable healthcare for all Americans.

“Any policy effort this large is going to have problems, big and small. But the relentless attacks by Republicans to undermine and destroy the law are wrong—especially because they’ve provided no alternative other than the broken system we had before that left millions of Americans without any healthcare. We need to continue to fix the problems and unintended consequences of this law, not scrap it and deny the American people the promise of affordable healthcare. We will continue to work with the administration, Congress, our members, community groups, other unions and our employers to ensure this law works for the American people.

“This law is already making a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans—for those with pre-existing conditions who were denied coverage before this law, for young adults who can remain on their parents’ plans, for Americans who now have access to preventive care, and for those who would otherwise face a lifetime of debt to receive the treatments they need to stay healthy. And more than 5 million more Americans would gain access to healthcare if every governor in the nation took advantage of the law and expanded Medicaid for more families.”

The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

AFT President Wiengarten Says; Republicans’ Irresponsible Actions That Could Lead to a Shutdown

Weingarten: “What they are threatening to do puts at risk the futures and the dreams of kids all over this country. We need to ensure the welfare of the nation’s neediest kids and reclaim the promise of public education for all children.”

WASHINGTON—Statement of AFT President Randi Weingarten on the Republican congressional actions that could lead to a government shutdown:

“Some extremists who have the ear of the House Republican leadership are making a mockery of our democracy, and in so doing, may cause our economy to spin out into another recession. As a former civics teacher, I find this appalling. What they are threatening to do puts at risk the futures and the dreams of kids all over this country.

“We need to ensure the welfare of the nation’s neediest kids and reclaim the promise of public education for all children. A government shutdown, for example, could immediately cut an estimated 19,000 Head Start and Early Head Start spots across 10 states. The effects of the shutdown would compound the billions of dollars in sequestration cuts that affected programs for students with disabilities and disadvantaged students and early childhood education services for low-income children. We need to spend less time talking about a needless shut down and more time figuring out how to end sequestration in 2014 in its entirety.

“The far right wing’s craven political brinkmanship is reckless and irresponsible. A shutdown would be terrible for our fragile economy. A brief shutdown would put about a million federal employees out of work; that is enough to undo the last six months of job growth in the private sector. A shutdown of up to a month would reduce real GDP by an estimated 1.4 percentage points in the fourth quarter, while a two-month shutdown would put the economy back into recession. The last recession drove 2.7 million children into poverty.”

‘Women of Steel’ Presents Reconnecting McDowell with $5,000 for 4-H Camp

Reconnecting-McDowellWASHINGTON—Scores of kids from McDowell County, West Virgina will attend week-long 4-H summer camp programs this summer, thanks to a $5,000 donation to Reconnecting McDowell by United Steelworkers’ “Women of Steel” committees.

The 4-H camp in McDowell, run by the West Virginia University Extension Service, has a day program for children ages 5-12 and residential program for children ages 9-18. The theme for this summer’s camp is “Green Brick Road,” which focuses on the 4-H tradition of courage, heart, head and home. Activities include learning new skills such as archery, cooking and photography. Older campers have the opportunity to discuss teen issues, including drug abuse, relationships, money management and planning their futures. Healthy lifestyle classes and STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math) also are offered.

The Women of Steel program started more than 20 years ago to motivate and educate women within the steelworkers union to become more active in their union and communities. Women of Steel leaders in West Virginia—Karen Shipley and Heather Anderson—said the $5,000 will allow at least 50 McDowell kids to attend 4-H camp who otherwise would not have been able to participate.

“This $5,000 contribution will make summer a fun and constructive time for so many kids. This type of community partnership exemplifies the work of Reconnecting McDowell to improve the lives of children and families in McDowell County,” said Christine Campbell, president of AFT-West Virginia.

Reconnecting McDowell is a public-private partnership launched in December 2011 to reinvigorate the schools and communities in McDowell County. Visit www.ReconnectingMcDowell.org.


All around America, labor unions sponsor charitable programs in their communities.  For a small sample of those efforts, read “This Thanksgiving (and every Thanksgiving) Unions Are Giving Back” here.


Labor Speaks Out Against SCOTUS Ruling On The Voters Rights Act

Image from Labor411

Image from Labor411

Discrimination may not be as prevalent as it was in the 1960’s however that does not mean we do not need the Voters Rights Act.

Today the US Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voters Rights Act (VRA). The Voters Rights Act was created because some communities were violating voters rights by creating rules to prohibit voters. These rules ranged from poll taxes to testing requirements for registration.  In section 4 of the VRA some communities were mandated to get pre-authorization prior to making changes to their voter registration process and voting restrictions.

The Communication Workers of America summed it up nicely in a brief statement:

“It wasn’t in 1956 that the community of Calera, Ala., attempted to restrict the vote and the voice of its African-American citizens. It was just seven years ago, in 2006.”

“This example, and too many more like it, clearly demonstrates that the Voting Rights Act is needed today more than ever.  Attempts to cut voting hours and polling places, limit early voting and restrict registration, especially targeting students, the elderly, people of color and the poor are all too pervasive in our nation today.”

“Voter suppression in any form harms our democracy. CWA, the NAACP and other partners are determined to eliminate this and other barriers to democracy.”

Many of the challenges voters face now, is the creation of Voter ID laws. These laws are sweeping the country like a plague.  SEIU President Mary Kay Henry had this to say after the ruling:

“The facts are that conditions have not changed in many parts of our country where voters have suffered from a long history of racial discrimination in voting and new forms of voter suppression continue to threaten our democracy. In many states and localities across the country, we saw efforts to disenfranchise African American and Latino voters during the 2012 election. Whether in the form of onerous voter ID laws or citizenship check boxes meant to confuse voters, state and local governments are already changing their election laws and procedures in ways that will disenfranchise millions of eligible voters, including the elderly, the disabled and young people.

“With this decision, state and local governments in areas with a proven history of racial discrimination in voting will have no effective check on their power to change election laws as they please, potentially opening the floodgates to even more discriminatory practices that will prevent eligible citizens from voting. Congress should move swiftly to remedy the harm that the Court has done to one of our most important civil rights laws.

AFT President Randi Wiengarten agrees that our rights as voters are still under attack every day.

“With today’s ruling, a narrow majority of the Supreme Court rolls back the protections of a fundamental civil rights law that has preserved voting rights for millions of Americans. For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act has enshrined the right to free and fair elections in our country. Sadly, this is a decision that makes you shake your head and ask: Does the Court majority live in the same world that we do—how can they be so out of touch with the real-life efforts to suppress voting that are happening right now?”

“In his opinion for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice Roberts conveniently ignores the recent history of voter suppression efforts. The tests and devices that blocked ballot access in the 1960s may be largely gone, but 21st-century tactics to disenfranchise Americans—restrictive voter ID laws, outcome-driven redistricting, limiting voting hours and opportunities, and spreading misinformation about polling places and times—still disproportionately impact African-American, Latino, immigrant and low-income voters, as well as students and seniors.”

“The Voting Rights Act is necessary to ensure that our aspirations for a stronger democracy are a reality for all voters. It is a proven tool to ensure voters in covered jurisdictions are not deprived of their fundamental right to vote and to have their vote counted. We can only imagine what assaults on that right will be unleashed without this law in force.”

This ruling means that communities that have a proven history of trying to limit voters rights will once again have the free reign to do so.  New Hampshire is one of the many states still fighting back against the right-wing attacks on voters rights.

“Political and legal pushback to overly restrictive rules won’t always arrive in time for individual citizens who do not have the right kind of ID,” said Professor Justin Levitt, an election law expert engaged in voter protection efforts nationwide. “Organizations like VoteRiders are working to help make sure that eligible voters aren’t unfairly locked out of the polls in the meantime.”

This decision means that we must work together within our unions and with our community allies to fight back against any form of voter suppression.

4-30-13 AFT-NH Legislative Update And Urgent Action Needed To Stop Or Amend HB142

The full Senate will be voting on HB 142 relative to teacher evaluation systems, which was amended by the Senate Education committee to read:

1 New Paragraph; School Boards; Duty to Provide Education. Amend RSA 189:1-a by inserting after paragraph II the following new paragraph:

III. A school board shall adopt, with the involvement of teachers and principals, a teacher evaluation system for use in the school district, consistent with RSA 189:14-a, I(b). In such adoption, a school board may consider any resources it deems reasonable and appropriate, including any resources that may be provided by the state department of education.
AFT-NH is in opposition to this bill as amended. It does include the involvement of teacher but it left out “Nothing in this paragraph shall supersede collective bargaining rights under RSA 273-A”. This is language that needs to be put back in; we have been working with several Senators to do just that. We need you help to make this happen so please take the action below.

With that being said we are asking that you contact Senator Stiles at 603-918-0553 and ask that she puts in or supports a floor amendment that adds this language back into the bill:

“Nothing in this paragraph shall supersede collective bargaining rights under RSA 273-A”.


The full Senate will vote on HB 178: relative to public employer collective bargaining agreements. This bill requires the PELRB (Public Employee Labor Relations Board) to:

  • Post online training for collective bargaining.
  • Maintain a record how political subdivisions vote on collective bargaining agreements and provide the legislature with an annual report.

AFT-NH supports this amended bill and hopes that the Senate will pass it as well.

HB 187
:.relative to deliberative sessions in towns that have adopted official ballot voting. This bill was submitted by retired AFT-NH member Marjorie Porter. This bill provides that the dollar amount agreed to in a collective bargaining agreement between a public employer and an employee organization shall not be modified by the legislative body of the public employer and that amount is what the voters should vote on.

AFT-NH supports this bill; we believe that what is negotiated in good faith should go before the voters for a vote and not be sidelined by a few. We hope that the Senate will pass it as well.


The House Education committee held a hearing on SB 82. This bill establishes a commission for the purpose of identifying strategies for developing and implementing a competency-based public education. AFT-NH is staying neutral on this bill. We understand that moving to a competency-based system will take much time and consideration when developing this system. AFT-NH hopes that the final report will include recommendations for adequate time and staff development for the educators charged with implementing this new system.

If you are currently moving forward in implementing a competency-based system and you have concerns, suggestions and recommendations please send them to LHainey@aft-nh.org. This way we can makes sure they are passed along.

The House Labor committee held a hearing on SB 100: AN ACT authorizing electronic payment of payroll. This bill will affect all public employees in New Hampshire. This bill will do the following:

  • Deletes the requirement that an employer who pays wages by electronic fund transfer offer employees the option of being paid by check.
  • Permits an employer to pay wages with a payroll card after offering employees the option of being paid by direct deposit.

AFT-NH is opposed to this bill.  We understand that many employees do receive their paycheck by direct deposit but there are many who prefer the paper check and they should still have this option. It might be different if they were proposing the cost savings be shared with the employee.

The House Labor committee will be holding a work session on HB 100 on Tuesday, April 30th.

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

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

Bold are AFT Priorities.


10:00 a.m. Executive session on SB 134-FN, relative to the Division of Higher Education and the Higher Education commission,
SB 162-FN, repealing the student tuition guaranty fund and making provisions for the disbursement of remaining funds, and relative to the membership of the Higher Education commission.
11:00 a.m. Or immediately following the executive session, subcommittee work session on retained HB474, relative to eligibility for in-state tuition rates at the University System of New Hampshire.

1:00 p.m. Full committee work session on SB 100, authorizing electronic payment of payroll.


9:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on SB 48, relative to school performance and accountability.

9:40 a.m. HB 283, establishing a study committee to review the hearing officer’s report with regard to the New Hampshire Local Government Center and to study potential changes to RSA 5-B.

9:15 a.m. HB 269-L, authorizing a city or town to conduct a special meeting necessitated by changes in adequate education funding.



10:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on retained HB 435-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils,
HB 243, relative to the board of trustees of a chartered public school,
HB 424-FN, relative to review of chartered public school applications by the state board of education.


FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1:00 p.m. Department of Education


9:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on SB 48, relative to school performance and accountability.

FINANCE, Representatives’ Hall, SH
3:00 p.m. − 5:00 p.m. HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015.

HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

6:00 p.m. − 8:00 p.m. HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015.
HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

Please note: The above Finance hearing will be streamed live via the internet at the following web address: mms://gencourt.state.nh.us/wmtencoder/housemedia.wmv

AFT President Randi Wiengarten’s Statement on Failed Gun Reform Legislation Vote

Washington—AFT President Randi Weingarten’s statement on today’s gun safety legislation votes.

“Make no mistake—the NRA and the gun manufacturers won out today over the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of our children, families and communities. A government by the people and for the people must serve the American people and not the gun lobby.

“The tragic question facing us now is how many gun deaths will it take before Congress lives up to its basic responsibility to protect and serve the American people? Twenty-six children and teachers gunned down in Newtown, Conn. Thirty-two students and faculty killed at Virginia Tech. U.S. Rep. Gabby Gifford shot outside a supermarket. Thirteen students and educators brutally murdered at Columbine High School. Twelve people gunned down in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Nearly 3,500 Americans killed by guns since Dec. 14—more than 50 of them children. The time for action is now.

“We applaud Sens. Manchin, Toomey, Feinstein, Blumenthal, Schumer, Kirk and Lautenberg for their leadership, as well as the other senators who voted for commonsense gun safety legislation today. AFT members admire their courage for standing up and doing what is right for our children and families.”


AFT President Randi Weingarten Voices Concern Over Social Security Cuts In Budget Proposal

AFT President Randi Weingarten released the following statement in response to President Obama’s budget proposal.

“President Obama’s budget lays out a number of critical investments that will put Americans back to work, rebuild the middle class, and strengthen our communities and public schools. But we have serious concerns about any proposal that jeopardizes the Social Security and Medicare benefits seniors, veterans and disabled Americans rely on to get by. Such cuts are irresponsible and untimely, and put our economic recovery at risk.

“America is strongest when we live up to our shared responsibility to create good jobs, expand the middle class and ensure that all children have the opportunity to not only dream their dreams, but achieve them. President Obama has issued a bold proposal to provide free, public preschool to every 4-year-old and expand high school opportunities to be more hands-on and more focused on thinking rather than testing, like those at P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) in Brooklyn, N.Y. The president’s budget also invests in our public schools and students through proposals to rehire teachers and keep them in the classroom, and to preserve Pell Grants to make college more affordable and accessible. And expanded mental health services will help keep our schools and communities safe and ensure children who need extra support can get what they need.

“This moment also requires real investment in putting Americans back to work, and the president has offered tangible proposals to create good jobs while also rebuilding and upgrading our aging infrastructure. And to keep our families healthy, this budget preserves funding for community health centers, strengthens primary care and reproductive health services for low-income women, expands training for healthcare workers, and increases funding for healthcare professionals in underserved areas. The president is also proposing a balanced approach to roll back the disastrous impacts of sequestration and raise revenue by closing loopholes and asking the wealthiest Americans to do their part.

“The American people deserve a budget that accelerates our economic recovery and lays the foundation for an economy built on shared prosperity and opportunity. Congress should take immediate action on these critical investments in our children, our schools and our nation while rejecting any cuts to Social Security and Medicare.”

Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten: http://twitter.com/rweingarten

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