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Republicans Push Right To Work In Missouri, New Hampshire And Wisconsin Admitting It Will Lower Wages

Right To Work 2

 

Yup, he said it! Missouri Republican State Representative Bill Lant actually admitted what labor advocates have been saying for decades, Right To Work laws reduce wages.

“In the states where right to work was passed recently, the hourly rates may have dropped 2 to 3 dollars an hour, but the amount of days per year that the workers actually got to put in on the job increased dramatically.” (Missouri Digital News)

 

View Progress Missouri’s short video on YouTube: http://youtu.be/iHzMu5CciBc

Proof positive that even the Republicans, who are peddling these ALEC inspired Right To Work laws, know exactly what Right To Work laws will do to workers. The corporations who fund ALEC want to pass Right To Work laws in every state to further suppress already low wages.

Rep. Lant is not the only one who knows that Right To Work laws crush wages. ALEC Co-Chair and Missouri State Senator Ed Emery said, “One of the things that will be advocated by the unions is look at all these right to work states, average wages all go down. Sure they go down…”

View on YouTube: http://youtu.be/zuzI8zzA8dw

This all out assault on worker and our wages is not limited to Missouri. New Hampshire will once again vote to make New Hampshire a Right To Work state. Like many other years in the past, Republicans in the House and Senate will pass a Right to Work bill and Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan will veto it. The only good thing is that everyone knows that the NH GOP does not have enough votes to override the Governor’s veto, but they will undoubtedly try anyway.

Just this week it became obvious that when the new “Wisconsin Right To Work” PAC popped up and began pushing press releases that Wisconsin workers will once again have to fight off Governor Walker and his Koch funded allies.

“The day after Wisconsin Right to Work launched, ALEC member Rep. Chris Kapenga announced that he would be introducing a right to work bill in 2015,” reported Brendan Fischer and Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy.

“All year round, we knock on doors in South Central Wisconsin and we ask people what is on their minds,” said Kevin Gundlach, head of the South Central (WI) Federation of Labor. “Never have I heard anyone say ‘we need right to work’. People are worried about low wages, health care, benefits and making ends meet in this economy. Right to work will take us in the opposite direction from where people want to go.”

Right To Work is not about worker freedom it is about crushing workers and the unions who they have chosen to represent them.

Huge hat-tip the Progress Missouri and the Center for Media and Democracy for their great coverage.  
UPDATE:

After posting this article, it was brought to my attention that the NH Senate has two Republican State Senators (Sen Carson and Sen Boutin) who voted against Right To Work in the past.  If they vote against it again this year, the bill would be deadlocked at 12-12.

Marilinda Garcia Is A Member Of ALEC, And Why That Is Important To YOU!

Marilinda Garcia (Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

ALEC

Right now State Rep. Marilinda Garcia is attempting to move up the political ranks from State Rep. to US Congresswoman. She has been out on the campaign trail talking about how she wants to fight for the middle class and that she speaks for the “millennial” generation.

Other than the fact that Marilinda is still living with her parents at age 32, she is just another politician who has been bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists and big money donors like the Koch Brothers.

Hopefully by now you have heard about ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, but just to make sure we are all on the same page, I will go over a few highlights.

ALEC brings in state legislators from across the country to luxurious five-star hotels, where corporate lobbyists wine-and-dine legislators.

While enjoying their all expense paid vacation junkets, legislators are courted by corporations into submitting model legislation back in their home states. This model legislation usually benefits the corporation like reducing pollution standards (RGGI), increasing profit margins by pushing Right To Work laws, and hundreds of other pieces of legislation.

Marilinda Garcia (Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Marilinda Garcia (Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Even though Rep. Garcia told the Union Leader [1/27/12] that, “there was nothing wrong with lobbyist taking legislators out for dinner,” these legislators are meeting with corporate lobbyists in secret. Legislators are skirting ethics laws by submitting legislation — on behalf of the corporate special interests — as if they wrote it, even thought they received the model legislation on a junket paid for by ALEC’s corporate backers.

Some legislators are proud of their connection to ALEC, like New Hampshire’s State Rep. Jordan Ullery, (State Senate candidate and) State Rep. Gary Daniels, and former Speaker of the House William O’Brien.

Others are not as forthcoming about their connection to the controversial lobbying group. “Members of ALEC from New Hampshire include 2nd Congressional District candidate Marilinda Garcia,” the Telegraph reported. [Nashua Telegraph, 12/08/13] 

As a member of ALEC, legislators are expected to submit the ALEC model legislation, created for and by corporate special interests, or face the wrath of the Americans For Prosperity political action fund. Americans for Prosperity was created and is heavily funded by ultra-conservative millionaires and billionaires like the Koch Brothers, to push candidates to do their bidding or face an AFP primary challenger for their seat.

After these junkets, politicians vow to support their new corporate sponsors over the people who elected them. Some would even say this is legalized corporate bribery.

State Rep. Marilinda Garcia has been called out for this type of activity before, when she was flown down to Philadelphia for an all expense paid trip to view a for-profit cancer treatment center. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America spent hundreds of dollars per person to fly out Garcia and four other legislators, in hopes they would support legislation, submitted by Rep. Garcia, which provided monetary incentives to CTCA to build a new center in New Hampshire.

In response to criticism that she is taking campaign contributions from CTCA in trade for submitting this legislation Rep. Garcia told the Union Leader [1/27/12],   “There have been no campaign contributions or junkets offered by the Illinois-based company. But Garcia said she doesn’t see anything wrong with lobbyists taking legislators out for dinner.”

I don’t know about you, but I do see something wrong with corporate lobbyists bribing our state legislators with expensive trips and fancy dinners.

This makes me wonder, what would Congresswoman Marilinda Garcia be like? Would she be a true representative of New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District or will she continue to do the bidding of her corporate sponsors?

I want someone in Washington who is there to represent me, not a bought and paid for puppet for the millionaire and billionaires who fund her campaign and the corporate special interests who shower her with lavish vacations and all expense paid junkets.

Think US Manufacturing Is In Trouble Now? Wait Till WALMART Jumps In

photo 0f 2007 Northcross Mall Wal-Mart protest by Kristin Hillery, via flikr
photo of 2007 Northcross Mall Wal-Mart protest by Kristin Hillery, via flikr

Photo by Kristin Hillery, via flikr

Hey, Richard Trumka! You didn’t need to be so darn diplomatic yesterday. My take: Wal-Mart getting into in US manufacturing is pretty much the LAST thing America’s economy needs right now.

Unless, of course, somebody’s had an attack of conscience and they’ve completely changed their business model.

Really quick, let’s look at Walmart’s business model:

The retailer has a clear policy for suppliers: On basic products that don’t change, the price Wal-Mart will pay, and will charge shoppers, must drop year after year.

Yep, it’s that old ratcheting-down thing. Works the same way as chained-CPI for Social Security benefits. Or, what’s been happening to the middle-class for the last 40 years. Death by a thousand cuts (also known as “creeping normality”). They take a little bit this year, and a little bit more next year, and a little bit more the year after that.  Wal-Mart’s business model:

Wal-Mart also clearly does not hesitate to use its power, magnifying the Darwinian forces already at work in modern global capitalism. …The Wal-Mart squeeze means vendors have to be as relentless and as microscopic as Wal-Mart is at managing their own costs. …Wal-Mart has also lulled shoppers into ignoring the difference between the price of something and the cost. Its unending focus on price underscores something that Americans are only starting to realize: Ever-cheaper prices have consequences.

Why would anybody in their right mind want to apply this business model to US manufacturing? (Other than, of course, the Walton family. But maybe having a bigger fortune than the bottom 42% of Americans, combined, isn’t enough for some people…?)

Isn’t it time to start ratcheting things UP again?

Mr. Trumka, please… save the diplomacy for elsewhere. We gotta stop this Race to the Bottom.

—–

made in prison labelAnd, oh yeah… something else about “Made in the USA.”

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve got a lot of prisons here in the US. And inmates work for really cheap wages.

That USA-grown organic produce sold at Walmart? Yep.

Stuff that gets returned to Walmart? Yep.

And that may just be the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to ALEC pushing “prison industries enhancement” laws for the past 20 years, there’s now lots and lots of stuff “Made in the USA” behind prison bars. And no way to tell how much of it ends up for sale on retail store shelves. Apparently, in some states, it’s legal to sell prison-made stuff in local stores… as long as it’s not transported across state lines.

Myself, I’m thinking it’s about time for another nationwide product-labeling campaign. So consumers will know exactly where in the USA these products are made.

H/T to the Teamsters for the really great graphic above… and to Dennis Trainor, Jr. and Acronym TV for the video below.

The American Enterprise Institute Says States Are Full Of “Public Pension Millionaires.” The Truth Is Very Different

http://2bgr8stock.deviantart.com/art/Money-Cash6-117258936 By 2bgr8STOCK

Once again workers retirements are under attack. As many working Americans are loosing their pensions for a 401K-retirement style savings plan, those who still get a pension are once again under attack.

Last week the online magazine ‘MainStreet.com’ released their article titled “Some of the Richest Retirees are “Public Pension Millionaires“.  The article attempts to sway people into believing that public workers are collecting millions in pension earnings.

Full-career public employees retiring today receive pension benefits that place them among the highest-income retirees in their states,” writes Andrew G. Biggs, in a report for the American Enterprise Institute.

This is total garbage! The article even states that the average AFSCME retiree earns $19,000 per year.  The truth is that these AFSCME members are better off than New Hampshire state employees.  According to the NH Retirement System’s fact sheet, the average state employee retirement payout is $12,758 per year.  That is just over $1,000 dollars a month, now that is living large!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average New Hampshire State and municipal worker earns $874 per week or approximately $45,000 per year.  The police and fire department employees do get more in retirement due to the fact that they are not eligible for social security.  Even the police and fire retirements only average $36,000 a year.

It is obvious that Andrew Biggs is pushing an anti-worker agenda with a goal of stealing workers pensions and trading them in for 401K plans.

Mr. Biggs works for the American Enterprise Institute that is a well-known conservative think tank with strong ties to ALEC.  The website, RightWingWatch.com describes AEI as:

One of the oldest and most influential of the pro-business right-wing think tanks. It promotes the advancement of free enterprise capitalism, and has been extremely successful in placing its people in influential governmental positions, particularly in the Bush Administration. AEI has been described as one of the country’s main bastions of neoconservatism.

AEI’s Board of Directors is comprised of the heads of major corporations and Wall Street bankers. Right Wing Watch also noted that,  until his passing in 2006, Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron was on the board of directors of AEI. We all remember how Enron went belly up and left workers with nothing.

They want to gut our pensions and trade them for 401K’s to create more profits for the Wall Street gamblers.

This bogus report from AEI is not about how much public employee pensions are costing, but how much more their corporate funders can make by reducing their pension contributions.

Does anyone think it is a coincidence that this attack on public workers pensions was released just before the Ryan budget was announced? A budget plan that would force government workers to pay more of their hard earned money, towards their retirement programs. I don’t.  This is a coordinated attack on working families who are trying hold on to what little retirement security they have left.

Statement on NH House Democrats & Republicans Decision to Allow Corporate Special Interests to Write State Law Behind Closed Doors

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CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House voted HB 1207, disclosure of model acts, inexpedient to legislate today. The bill would have simply required model bills to list their origin. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Drafting legislation is the most fundamental act of lobbying, yet New Hampshire has a huge, gaping hole for reporting and disclosure of this lobbying activity. Corporate and other special interests are allowed to write state laws behind closed doors, often without any disclosure or transparency as to who is writing them and why. Knowing who is writing our state laws is an important part of having an open and transparent government. We are disappointed by the House’s decision. Otherwise strong public servants, who rally at length against special interest influence in their campaign speeches, missed a key opportunity to act on those values this week.”

“This law would have applied equally to conservative and liberal groups, to Democrats and Republicans, to partisans and non-partisans. Good government should be a shared democratic value regardless of political party or persuasion, and no one should shy away from identifying who is drafting our state laws and why. We appreciate that the committee that heard this bill agreed, but their recommendation to put this into House rules instead of law means bills originating in the Senate will not have the same disclosure, and House Rules also change with administrations. This policy needs to be law.”

Background on HB 1207:

Right now national cookie-cutter model legislation, designed to promote a particular interest, has no disclosure requirements. This allows special interests to unduly influence laws behind closed doors. In the 2011-2012 session, Granite State Progress identified 30 model bills from one national organization alone, 16 of which became law. Many of the bills had no visible involvement from the entities who designed them meaning, often, legislators and constituents didn’t even know who was originally behind the bill or why – a key part of understanding the intent and potential impact of a policy.

HB 1207 would have simply required bill sponsors to let the Office of Legislative Services know when they were using a model act, and OLS would note that in the bill analysis. To be considered a model act, the legislation has to be national cookie-cutter legislation that is officially voted on and adopted by an organization or corporation, then distributed in more than one state. Home-grown New Hampshire bills would not be impacted. Laws from other states are not formally distributed by those states and, thus, are not considered model acts. Model legislation is not inherently bad, but the special interests promoting it – regardless of political persuasion – should be disclosed as part of an open and transparent legislative process. Granite State Progress supported having this disclosure on all model legislation to lessen the corruption of our legislative process.

 

Bill Text: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2014/HB1207.html

 

1-28-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update

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aft sqaureFrom Laura Hainey, President AFT-NH

UPCOMING VOTE IN THE SENATE:

On Thursday the Senate Finance Committee held its hearing on SB 217 the “right to work for less bill”. They voted 4 to 2 to pass the bill, but if it had been referred instead to the Senate Executive Departments And Administration Committee, we might have seen it defeated by a 3-2 margin.  The next step is for the full Senate to vote on January 30th when they are in full session. As in the many years past AFT-NH is opposed to this bill and asks that it be defeated.

Thank you to all who took action by sending a letter to the committee members. It is very much appreciated.

By a vote of 5 to 0 the Senate Health, Education And Human Services made the recommendation to pass SB 343 as amended: establishing a commission to study the common core standards. This bill authorizes the Statewide Education Improvement and Assessment Legislative Oversight Committee to examine common core standards and New Hampshire’s current educational standards. AFT-NH support this bill and will advocate that this committee reached out to our teachers and have an honest conversation as to what their needs are moving forward. We know we need appropriate and useful staff development opportunities, the tools and materials to do our jobs, and the trust in us as professionals.

The full Senate will also be voting on SB 193 on January 30th. AFT-NH is in support of this bill which would allow a new, specially trained type of dental provider called Dental Hygiene Practitioners to join the dental team.

Oral health affects a child’s overall health — their ability to eat nutritious foods, to learn, to play. Sadly, pain and infection can prevent a child from just being a kid. These practitioners would expand the dental workforce, and improve access to routine dental care for children and others who face difficulty getting such care.

AFT-NH is in support of the committee recommendation to pass this bill for the following reasons:

  • Access to basic dental care is a challenge in NH, and expanding the dental workforce is one of several policy solutions recommended in the state’s 10-year Oral Health Plan.
  • These practitioners are a proven, safe and efficient way to provide core dental care services;
  • SB193 offers a critical path forward for thousands of NH residents who can’t access care right now and turn to hospital ERs when pain and infection set in;
  • There is no reason to delay getting vulnerable children and adults in our state the care they need – waiting only adds to the cost and human suffering associated with a known public health crisis.

THIS PAST WEEK AFT-NH TESTIFIED IN SUPPORT OF:

HB 1440: Requiring Lobbyist Reporting and Disclosure. This bill requires that organizations that formally adopt and distribute cookie cutter legislation in more than one state – and do not have a registered lobbyist in the state – must file reports after meetings, conferences, or events attended by New Hampshire legislators in which model act(s) were distributed.

Drafting legislation is the most fundamental act of lobbying, yet New Hampshire’s lobbying requirements leave a huge, gaping hole for reporting and disclosure of this lobbying activity. Reporting and disclosing lobbying exists to ensure legislators, the public, and press knows who is behind how our public policies are being crafted and introduced in New Hampshire. Transparency and accountability in our legislative process are an important part of ensuring the integrity of how are public policies are adopted, and in preventing the corporate corruption of our legislative process.

There is a new class of lobbying that takes place outside of the State House and beyond  the public view. This needs to be fixed and HB 1440 does just that.

HB 1207:  This bill as written would require disclosure when sponsoring legislation. Too often now, we are seeing national cookie-cutter model legislation coming through the halls of our State House. Legislation that is not drafted in response to any local interest or community concern, it is instead often intended solely to benefit the bottom line of the special [corporate] interests writing the bill. Often, legislators or constituents don’t even know who was originally behind the bill.

Knowing who is writing our state laws is an important part of having an open and transparent government. That’s why it’s important to know who drafted a bill and why.

THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HELD HEARINGS ON THE FOLLOWING BILLS:

HB 1180: This bill increases the minimum number of days of school from 180 to 190 and authorizes up to 10 of those days to be completed online in a manner to be determined by the school board. AFT-NH testified in opposition to this bill.  We know that this bill is unnecessary because increasing the school year is something that can be done now if negotiated between the district and the union. If districts and the State want to improve education they can, as I stated above, offer school employees appropriate and useful staff development opportunities, give use the tools and materials to do the jobs and trust us as professionals.

HB 1128: This bill establishes a committee to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school. The duties of this  committee is to study issues related to students receiving special education services who attend a chartered  school, including responsibility for funding and provision of special education services, and any other issue deemed relevant by the committee.

Around 2011-2012 the state passed a bill which mandated that local districts must pay for support services for special education students enrolled in Charter schools. This means that a district must send someone to the charter school, contract out the service, or pay the Charter school to provide the services. All of which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

AFT-NH support this bill.  We need to have a clear picture on what it is costing districts to educate special education students who are enrolled in a Charter school in or out of their home district. Because this is a mandate from the State we also need to have the discussion on who should be paying for these services.

NH Pushes Back Against ALEC Model Legislation. AFT-NH Testimony On Proposed Legislation

ALEC

Over the past few years people have become increasingly aware of the effects of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  ALEC provides lawmakers with model legislation created by ALEC’s corporate funders.  Some of ALEC’s model legislation includes: Right To Work, Stand Your Ground, Paycheck Protection (a bill to stop automatic dues deduction), School Vouchers, and Payroll Debit Cards (a bill to pay workers with debit cards instead of paychecks).

This year the NH Legislature is considering a bill that would require legislators to identify any model legislation.  The first of these bills is HB 1207.

This bill requires the identification of a private organization responsible for distributing a model act used by a legislator to propose legislation, as provided by the legislation’s prime sponsor or as identified by a third party.

The first committee hearing on HB 1207 was today and people are lining up to show their support for this bill.  One of the strong proponents of HB 1207 is AFT-NH President Laura Hainey.  ALEC model legislation has pushed multiple bills attacking teachers and public schools over the past few years.

AFT-NH President Hainey provided the NHLN with a copy of her testimony in support of HB 1207.

January 23, 104

Dear Legislative Administration Committee:

AFT-NH represents 4,000 employees in NH, mostly public employees who work in your cities, towns and school districts. The members of AFT-NH are teachers and other school workers, like librarians and even cafeteria workers.  Some of us are police officers who work to ensure safe and orderly communities. Our members work in higher education preparing new generations of citizens and leaders. And our members provide vital public services in towns all over New Hampshire. In short, AFT New Hampshire members ensure the safety and well-being of our fellow citizens and help build stronger communities throughout our state.

I am asking you to support HB 1207. This bill as written would require discloser when sponsoring legislation. Too often now, we are seeing national cookie-cutter model legislation coming through the halls of our state house. Legislation that is not drafted in response to any local interest or community concern; instead it is often intended solely to benefit the bottom line of the special [corporate] interests writing the bill. Often, legislators or constituents don’t even know who was originally behind the bill.

Knowing who is writing our state laws is an important part of having an open and transparent government. That’s why it’s important to know who drafted a bill and why.

For this reason I ask that you support HB 1207.

Sincerely, 

Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

We at the NHLN support this type of legislation that will bring transparency to our legislative process.  Granite Staters deserve to know who is writing the legislation that will effect their lives.  Granite Staters should know when corporations and other outside parties are trying to pull the wool over our eyes, and hide the truth from us.

We will continue to follow this piece of legislation as it progresses.

Grassroots and Dark Money Groups Building Media Campaign for Right to Work in PA

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Written by Sean Kitchen on the Raging Chicken Press

The never-ending push for Right to Work (for less) legislation in Pennsylvania is on the move again, but this time there’s more of a tangible campaign targeting the conservative base.  For 14 straight years, State Representative Daryl Metcalfe has introduced some form of Right to Work legislation, but this year’s legislation was introduced by State Representative Bryan Cutler (Lancaster, PA).  Last January, Jen Stefano from the Koch Brothers funded American’s for Prosperity in Pennsylvania held a press conference with Representative Metcalfe and announced that the legislation will become law.  Currently, it appears that dark money groups tied to right wing think tanks like The Franklin Center and Greenhouse Solutions are teaming up with a conservative activist from Southeastern Pennsylvania, and are astroturfing a social media and media campaign by using Facebook and Twitter accounts to push anti-union news and rhetoric from “independent” media outlets.

The players in this story are Simon Campbell – a conservative grassroots activist from Yardley, PA,  dark money think tanks, and astro-turfed media and social media outlets.  Simon Campbell is a local conservative activist from Bucks County PA.  He jumped on the scene in 2005 when he was elected to the Pennsbury School District.  The cause-celeb he ran on was a teacher bashing and anti-teacher strike platform.  While sitting on the Pennsbury School Board, Campbell started Stop Teachers Strike.  In 2013, Campbell’s four year term on the local school board was up and he and his colleagues were sept off board.   Weeks after the election, Campbell founded a 501.4(c) organization called Pennsylvanians For Union Reform, and thanks to his non-profit social welfare status, Campbell’s group is able to receive a whole lot of dark money.  Campbell’s resume as a right-wing activist has him giving speeches at luncheons or sitting on training sessions at Koch funded think-tanks like the statewide Commonwealth Foundation and Americans for Prosperity.

Then there’s a growing social media campaign. It appears that Campbell has been running a Pennsylvanians for Union Reform facebook page since June 2013, and has amassed over 20,000 followers.  That’s either one hell of a grassroots campaign or Campbell’s group has a few thousand sitting aside for social media promotion.   Then the page regularly posts stories from Pennsylvania media outlets that deal with union issues, but the majority of the posts come from two “independent” media outlets, Media Trackers and Watchdog Wire.  Out of the two media outlets, Media Trackers is more savvy when it comes to hiding their funding sources and who is actually writing their articles.  According to their website, Media Trackers describes itself as follows:

Media Trackers is dedicated to media accountability, government transparency, and quality fact-based journalism. Our site examines stories published in the mainstream media, explores claims made by some of the more partisan political groups, and provides the facts on the issues, people and elections that matter.

A 2012 Mother Jones article described Media Trackers as:

Conservatives have their think tanks, dozens of them at the state and national level. They also have a corporate-funded legislation mill in the American Legislative Exchange Council. What conservatives lacked, Ryun told the donors, were nimble attack blogs that could quickly capitalize on the latest missteps by big-government politicians or the “liberal” media—essentially hard-hitting, opposition-research-style shops that prize scoops, speed, and scandal over policy briefs and press conferences. His pitch: Create a network of one- and two-man digital media outlets with low overhead, rapid response, and a nose for controversy.

The donors loved it. They ponied up seed money in the low six figures, and Ryun’s conservative attack machine, Media Trackers, was born. Bonus: As a nonprofit, Media Trackers can keep the identities of those donors secret.

To obtain their non-profit status, Media Trackers changed their name to Greenhouse Solutions during the2013 IRS scandal, claiming that a liberal sounding name will ease the process.  When looking for Media Trackers’ journalists or blog staff, some of their writers were from the Heartland Institute,  a Rick Perry adviser, and a former journalist with the Washington Examiner.

The second fake independent media outlet involved in this campaign is Watchdog Wire, whose twitter account describes it as a “project of the Franklin Institute.”  Watchdog Wire’s media outlet is ran by the Franklin Center’s communications department.  Under the Franklin Center’s staff page, it lists Watchdog Wire’s staff.  The Franklin Center also has ties to two Pennsylvania groups, the Commonwealth Foundation, a right winged think-tank, and the Pennsylvania Independent, one of those “independent media” outlets.  Sourcewatch describes The Franklin Center’s ties to statewide think-tanks like the Commonwealth Foundation:

Franklin Center Director of Communications Michael Moroney told the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in 2013 that the source of the Franklin Center’s funding “is 100 percent anonymous.” But 95 percent of its 2011 funding came from DonorsTrust, a spin-off of the Philanthropy Roundtable that functions as a large “donor-advised fund,” cloaking the identity of donors to right-wing causes across the country (CPI did a review of Franklin’s Internal Revenue Service records).[18] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement” in a February 2013 article.[19]Franklin received DonorTrust’s second-largest donation in 2011.[18]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[20] a conservative grant-making organization.[21]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[22] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[23] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[24] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[25] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

What we are witnessing are the cogs turning in the right-wing infrastructure gearing up for an attack on public sector workers in 2014.  There has been a quiet 14-year movement to make Right to Work a possibility in Pennsylvania, and now the volume is being ratcheted up a few notches.  We are witnessing a “grassroots,” social welfare, non-profit group that has the potential to collect dark money run a social media campaign that is pushing for one issue; screwing workers’ rights.  The social media campaign, run by Pennsylvanians for Union Reform, is constantly pushing anti-union rhetoric from dark money dominated non-profit media outlet, like Media Trackers, or the Koch Brother funded, Franklin Center’s communication’s department at Watchdog Wire.  This is how the right wing infrastructure, with all their minions, all their think tanks and all their communications departments are going to try to undercut labor laws in Pennsylvania just like they did in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Florida in 2011.

 

BREAKING: Leaked Documents Show NH Legislators Asked to Take Pledge Putting Corporate Front Group Ahead of Constituents

ALEC

ALECDisturbing new revelations detailed in leaked documents illustrates extent to which American Legislative Exchange Council puts special interests ahead of every day Granite Staters

Concord, NH – New leaked documents show that corporate special interest lobbying group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) asked state chairs,  including New Hampshire State Representatives Gary Daniels (R-Milford) and Jordan Ulery (R-Hudson), to sign a pledge stating,: “I will act with loyalty and put the interests of the organization first.”

The pledge for elected officials to put their affiliation with ALEC over their oath of office was revealed in documents released about ALEC in an investigative report by The Guardian newspaper this week.

ALEC allows corporations to draft legislation that directly benefits their bottom line, then sit side by side with ALEC legislators to vote on which ones to introduce in State Houses across the country. The Guardian expose highlights the extent of this relationship; it also details ALEC’s internal concerns about lobbying while pretending to be a charitable organization and its plans to win back corporate members who left the organization in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting where the ALEC-supported Stand Your Ground law came into wide recognition.

ALEC’s legislative agenda for 2014 includes plans to harass navigators who help uninsured Americans sign up for affordable health coverage and to continue to push for a repeal of the minimum wage. These policies and others will be discussed at ALEC’s annual “State and Nation Policy Summit” in DC today, which several New Hampshire ALEC legislators are anticipated to be participating in – including Daniels, Ulery, Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack), JR Hoell (R-Bow) and Pam Tucker (R-Greenland).

Other NH ALEC members include current 2nd CD Congressional Candidate and current Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R-Salem); Deputy Republican Whip Rep. Andrew Renzullo (R-Hudson); and early participants in the Free State Project Rep. Carol McGuire (R-Epsom) and Rep. Dan McGuire (R-Epsom).

“It is unbelievable that these politicians participate in an organization that asks them to pledge allegiance to corporate special interests over their constituents,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “New Hampshire’s ALEC state chairs Representatives Gary Daniels and Jordan Ulery must publicly denounce ALEC’s loyalty oath and apologize to Granite State families for their behavior. Any New Hampshire legislator involved in ALEC should immediately end their membership and stop being a shill for policies that hurt Granite State families and small businesses.”

Granite State Progress has been the New Hampshire leader in exposing ALEC’s role in writing New Hampshire’s laws and which legislators are members of ALEC.  More information about ALEC’s shadowy role in New Hampshire state policy is available by request.

(Be sure to check out the follow up story from Granite State Progress entitled,  Leaked Documents Show NH Legislators Asked to Take Pledge Putting Corporate Front Group Ahead of Constituents)

 

Link to the Guardian story – state chair pledge is highlighted on page 20 of embedded document: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/03/alec-funding-crisis-big-donors-trayvon-martin

Link to the ALEC website listing Daniels and Ulery as the New Hampshire chairs: http://www.alec.org/about-alec/state-chairmen/ 

Link to past Granite State Progress reports on ALEC and NH legislators:
http://granitestateprogress.org/blog/2012-06-09/alec-exposed

 

Why Are We Still Fighting Over African-American Voting Rights 50 Years Later?

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“I have a dream that my four little children will me day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character I have a dream . . . I have a dream that one day in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the wards of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
Dr. Martin Luther King — August 28, 1963

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On August 28th we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where over 200,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial.   The event —  organized by labor organizations, faith leaders, and civil rights activists — became one of the most memorable moments in American history.

A commemoration held this past weekend drew tens of thousands to the Washington Mall; but there will be another celebration on Wednesday, featuring remarks by President Barack Obama.

The 1963 March on Washington was the culmination of activists pushing for equality for all, regardless of race.  The March is credited with being the catalyst for passing the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965).

“We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”  Dr. Martin Luther King — August 28, 1963

Some people, particularly jurists on the Supreme Court, are saying that discrimination does not exist anymore and there is no need for the Voting Rights Act.  I disagree.  The Voting Rights Act is needed just as much today as it was in 1965.

In states all around the country, the Republican Party has been attacking voters’ rights with ALEC-inspired laws like Voter ID.  So far 30 states have passed some type of Voter ID requirement in an effort to combat a non-existent voter fraud problem.  Anyone who does not have the type of photo ID required by these new laws is effectively losing their Constitutional right to vote.  According to the ACLU “11% of US citizens – or more than 21 million Americans — do not have government-issued photo identification.”

This directly affects the African-American community. “As many as 25% of African American citizens of voting age do not have a government-issued photo ID, compared to only 8% of their white counterparts.”

Over the last few months, North Carolina has been leading the charge to disenfranchise voters, specifically African-American voters.

More than 300,000 registered voters in North Carolina could lack either a driver’s license or a state ID, according to records from the State Board of Elections…. Most of them are poor African-Americans.”

They say these laws are somehow “needed” to stop voter fraud; but in the last 10 years there have been only two cases of voter fraud in North Carolina.  What is their real objective?  Former Secretary of State Colin Powell condemned North Carolina’s new Voter ID law by saying “that he believes the restrictions unfairly target minority voters and will ultimately hurt the Republican Party

Requiring citizens to show a valid photo ID is only one part of the GOP-led attack on voting rights.  The new Voter ID law cuts early voting from 17 days to 10.  They are also eliminating Sunday voting, when many churches encourage their congregations to vote after services.

North Carolina county election boards are now going after college voters.  Why? Because they tend to vote for Democratic candidates.

“The Watauga County Board of Elections voted Monday to eliminate an early voting site and election-day polling precinct on the campus of Appalachian State University.” (source)

Other counties in North Carolina are not being shy about their outright discrimination of African-American voters.

“The GOP chair of the Forsyth County Board of Elections is moving to shut down an early voting site at historically black Winston-Salem State University.” (source)

“The Pasquotank County Board of Elections on Tuesday barred an Elizabeth City State University senior (Montravias King) from running for city council, ruling his on-campus address couldn’t be used to establish local residency. Following the decision, the head of the county’s Republican Party said he plans to challenge the voter registrations of more students at the historically black university ahead of upcoming elections.” (source)

The election board is challenging King’s eligibility to run for city council all on the fact that he resides on campus and claims the dormitory as his domicile.  By challenging his eligibility to run for office, they are also simultaneously challenging a college students’ right to vote in the town they reside in – even though the US Supreme Court has ruled that college students have a Constitutionally-protected right to vote where they attend college.

If you think that the GOP plans to stop with Elizabeth City State University, you would be wrong.  The GOP (Pasquotank) county chairman Pete Gilbert told the Associated PressI plan to take this show on the road.”

The GOP will not stop with North Carolina.  Texas is already moving forward on a new Voter ID that was originally rejected under the Voting Rights Act.  This prompted the Attorney General to sue the state of Texas over these changes.

“In the voter ID lawsuit, the U.S. government will contend that Texas adopted a voter identification law with the purpose of denying or restricting the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language minority group.” (source)

Texas is in the middle of a court battle over the GOP-led gerrymandering of legislative districts.  The claim is that the GOP redrew lines in four districts, segregating minority voters into a single district and allowing GOP to protect their majority in the other three.

After nearly fifty years of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, it is obvious that we have not yet achieved the dream that Dr. King laid out for us in 1963.  We have made great strides in equality; we have a dozen states that have enacted same-sex marriage laws.  Yet we still have yet to overcome the wage inequality between man and women, and whites and minorities.  We have come so far – yet, in recent years, it seems that we are moving backwards once again.  The good thing is that we have such great teachers like Dr. King to help remind us we can always do better.

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