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Newmarket Town Council Calls for a Constitutional Amendment Opposing Corporate Money in Politics

money-in-politicsWith the passage of resolution 2013-2014-50, Newmarket joins nearly 500 local governments nationwide in calling for a constitutional amendment to end the corrosive influence of corporate money in politics and to restore constitutional rights to the people.  The resolution calls on the U.S. Congress and the states to pass an amendment that would guarantee the people’s right to regulate political spending, and clarify that the inalienable rights of the Constitution are possessed by people only, effectively overturning the basis of U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

The Newmarket town council passed this resolution  6-0, on Feb. 19, 2014.

“The issue of representatives being beholden to large money donors isn’t a partisan one. The monopoly of influence on our elected representatives by well financed special interests that finance their campaigns drowns out the voices of normal people and threatens our form of government. I am glad we are sending a message to our representatives that we recognize the system is broken and that we expect action to be taken to remedy this issue.” said Councilor Phil Nazzaro.

Momentum is building in NH with over 50 communities having warrant articles calling for a constitutional response to the flood of money from corporations and the ultra-wealthy that has inundated elections since the court’s disastrous Citizens United decision. Since this ruling, 16 states and the District of Columbia have called for a constitutional amendment, and New Hampshire along with 12 other states are working on doing the same this year.

“New Hampshire has been flooded with outside money from powerful special interests on both the left and the right since the 2010 Citizens United decision.” said Ellen Read, Newmarket voter. She points out “For example, in the 2012 New Hampshire gubernatorial race, estimates show that outside groups spent $19 million (almost five times what the candidates spent).  In a democracy, you shouldn’t need money to have a voice in your own government.

“Newmarket voters have reaffirmed what we have seen every time this issue has come to a vote, that the vast majority of people, across party lines, wants a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United ruling, take democracy off the auction block, and preserve constitutional rights for people – not labor unions and corporations,” said Ellen Read.

Overpaid Government Workers: New Report Highlights The Real Overpaid Government Workers

If you ask any Conservative Republican what they think about the pay of government workers, I would bet dollars to donuts they would say the same thing.  Government workers are overpaid!

The truth is that they are not entirely wrong.  They problem lies in who they believe are overpaid.  They believe it is teachers, sanitation workers, and caseworkers are lazy and overpaid.  The fact is that the real people who are scamming the taxpayers with bloated compensations are the government contractors.

This week the Center for Media and Democracy released a scathing report highlighting the obscene compensations of government contractors who are being paid with taxpayer money.

The report by CMD highlights just six of these “government” workers who, between them, raked in more than $100 million from taxpayers in personal compensation during the past few years alone.

“Given these astronomical salaries, and evidence of higher prices, poor service, and at times outright malfeasance, taxpayers have every right to be concerned about how their outsourced dollars are spent,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of CMD.

These top executives include:

  • George Zoley, America’s highest paid “corrections officer” and CEO of private prison giant GEO Group. Zoley made $22 million in compensation between 2008 and 2012. CMD estimates that GEO Group makes 86 percent of its revenue from the taxpayers. GEO Group writes language into private prison contracts that forces taxpayers to keep prisons full or else pay for empty beds. GEO Group has faced hundreds of lawsuits over prisoner deaths, assaults, excessive force, and more, which have led to secret court settlements.
  • David Steiner, president and CEO of Waste Management, is America’s highest paid “sanitation worker.” Steiner made a whopping $45 million in compensation from 2006 to 2012. Waste Management’s makes about 50 percent of its revenue from U.S. taxpayers, says Goldman Sachs.
  • Ron Packard of K12 Inc. is America’s highest paid “teacher.” Packard made more than $19 million in compensation between 2009 and 2013, despite the alarming fact that only 28 percent of K12 Inc. cyber schools met state standards in 2010-2011, compared to 52 percent of public schools. CMD estimates that K12 Inc. makes 86 percent of its revenue from the taxpayers.
  • Jeffry Sterba, president and CEO of American Water Works Company, is America’s highest paid “water worker.” Sterba has made $8.3 million in the three years he has been top executive. American Water is the largest for-profit provider of water and wastewater services in the United States. CMD estimates that American Water makes approximately 89 percent of its revenue from taxpayers.
  • Richard Montoni, CEO of Maximus, is America’s highest paid “caseworker.” Maximus is a for-profit firm that handles government services for poor and vulnerable residents. Montoni made more than $16 million between 2008 and 2012. In 2013, Maximus landed in hot water for improper billing in Wisconsin. In 2007, Maximus paid $30 million to settle a U.S. Department of Justice criminal investigation into fraudulent billing.
  • Nicholas Moore is America’s highest paid “road worker.” As managing director and CEO of the Australian infrastructure firm Macquarie, Moore made $8.8 million in compensation in fiscal year 2013. As a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Macquarie has pushed for privatization of public services across the board. It has long-term contracts to run Chicago’s Skyway, Indiana’s Toll Road, and the Dulles Greenway in Virginia.

We as taxpayers should be appalled by the fact that our government is paying these people millions of dollars a year with our tax dollars, while millions of children are going without food because SNAP benefits are ‘unaffordable’.

Those who are screaming we need to get our budgets under control need to look at the outrageous compensation of government contractors who are failing us at every level.

 

Read the full report from CMD here

Solidarity; Multiple Unions Join USPS Unions To Picket Congressman Issa At NH GOP Event

Over 150 union workers stood out in below zero degree wind chill Monday night to deliver a message to Congressman Issa. He was the key-note speaker at a NH Republican fundraising dinner. The message delivered to Issa was the US Postal Service is not for sale.

Issa wants to dismantle a highly effective postal service. NALC President Fred Rolando reacted to last weeks announcement that the Postal Service made a $765 million operating profit in the first quarter of 2014 by urging Congress not to dismantle the service. “In light of these results, lawmakers should strengthen the postal network while addressing the remaining problem: the congressional mandate to pre-fund future retiree benefits, required of no other public or private entity in the country. Degrading the network and reducing services to the public and businesses would jeopardize the postal turnaround.”

Congressman Issa has other ideas. His 2013 Postal Reform Act HR 2748  will end Saturday Delivery and leaves open the possibility of reducing it further in 2018. Issa’s bill also opens the floodgates to contracting out postal jobs and services at an amazing pace. These actions will clearly accelerate the death spiral. The worlds best Postal Service will be dismantled so its remains can be carved up to be sold off to the highest bidder.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein called Mr Issa “a pure enemy of the Postal Service”.  Clearly Issa has a different agenda than ensuring the long time survival of the world’s best Postal Service. Issa, a long time champion of union busting and privatization, likely envisions the vast amount of money that can made by privatizing its services.

Dimondstein also referred to Issa and his postal proposals as “cynical and diabolical”. Those are also adept adjectives regarding the way Congressman Issa has become the richest member of congress. As documented by The New Yorker Congressman Issa has a dubious past regarding money-making ventures, often staying one step ahead of the law. Issa is going to have a much more difficult time at profiting off the sale of the Postal Service as the whole country will be victims to that crime.

Dismantling the Postal Service and crushing their unions would be a dream come true for Issa. This would allow him and his pro business cohorts to have even more leverage in their never-ending war on workers. It is quite apparent that the wealthy in this country will never say they are rich enough. Our income inequality has reached almost uncharted levels.

The rally against Issa on this cold windy night in New Hampshire was not about just Issa.   It was not about just the Postal Service. It really was about the continuing attack on workers in both the public sector and private sector.

The solidarity shown by seeing  Carpenters , Teachers, Metal Workers , Firefighters, Air Traffic Controllers and many others as they joined Postal Unions demonstrating in the cold was  quite impressive. The union solidarity as well as the chanting and singing gave all attendees a feeling of warmth in this particularly brutal winter.

The message to Issa and his anti union friends was clear. You are going to have a hell of a fight if you expect to defeat us!!

 

Wage Theft And The Misclassification Of Workers, Fill Out NH’s ‘Top Ten Labor Violations’

new-hampshire-flag

This week the State of New Hampshire released their ‘top ten’ list of labor violations. To those of us who are working in the labor movement, none of these are really surprising.  The majority of these violations stem from employers stealing workers pay.

Top 10 New Hampshire Labor Law Violations

  1. Failure to pay all wages due for hours worked, fringe benefits, breaks less than 20 minutes, etc. *RSA 275:43 and Lab 803.01
  2. Failure to keep accurate record of all hours worked. *RSA 279: 27 and Lab 803.03
  3. Failure to have a written safety plan, joint loss management committee and safety summary form filed biennially, as required. *RSA 281-A:64 and Lab 602.01, 602.02, 603.02, and 603.03
  4. Employing Illegal Aliens (not having proper documentation). *RSA 275-A: 4-a
  5. Failure to secure and maintain workers compensation coverage and misclassification of employees. *RSA 275:42 I & II and RSA 281-A
  6. Failure to provide written notice to employees of their wage rate, pay period, pay day and a description of fringe benefits, including any changes. *RSA 275: 49 and Lab 803.03
  7. Failure to pay 2 hours minimum pay at their regular rate of pay on a given day that an employee reports to work at the request of the employer. *RSA 275:43-a and LAB 803.03 (h),(i),(j)
  8. Illegal employment of workers under 18 (not having proper paperwork, hours violations, or working in a hazardous environment). *RSA 276-A: and Lab 1000
  9. Illegal deductions from wages.  *RSA 275: 48 and Lab 803.02(b),(e),(f)
  10. Failure to pay minimum wage for all hours worked. * RSA 279:21

Wage theft is real and people have to deal with it in many jobs, especially those who work in service industry.  The “Failure to pay minimum wage for all hours worked” goes right against the right wing, anti-minimum wage advocates who like to go around saying that tipped employees make $20.00 per hour.   For those who do not know, the minimum wage for tipped employees in NH is $3.25 (45% of $7.25 minimum wage).  The sheer fact this this violation is on the list means that people in the service industry are not making enough in tips to reach the mandated $7.25 minimum wage.

The other violations on this list are egregious, but the ‘misclassification of workers’ and ‘employing illegal aliens’, are two violations that are hurting all hard working  Granite Staters.

By allowing undocumented aliens to work and then misclassifying them allows companies to pay workers far less than a comparable American worker would make.

I have heard stories of construction companies hiring a person to be a ‘janitor’ and then have that same employee doing carpentry on a job site.  Of course you would be hard pressed to find a real carpenter who would work on a construction site for janitor’s wages.  The other problem is what skills does this person really possess?  Are they really qualified to do carpentry?

We need the State Department of Labor to come down hard on employers who violate these labor laws.  The more they litigate employers for violations, the more others will fall in line and follow the rules.

New Hampshire Retirees hold Sen. Ayotte accountable

NH Alliance For Retired Americans Ayotte Protest

by Jennifer Kenny

MANCHESTER, NH — The voting record of Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte has drawn the ire of New Hampshire retirees.  Unable to secure an appointment with her, they are demanding that Social Security be improved by picketing in front of her Manchester and Nashua offices.

The retiree members of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans (NH ARA) have been  requesting to meet with Ayotte since the summer of 2013.  Initially this seemed like an easy ask.  Considering that the U. S. Senate designates multiple days for travel, in-district workshops, holiday and summer recess, the NH ARA members thought their request was reasonable.

Top that off with the fact that Ayotte holds a post on the prestigious U.S. Special Committee on Aging, and NH ARA represents over 13.000 retirees — a meeting just makes good sense.  After all, wouldn’t this type of meeting help her to better understand her constituency?

But stopping by her office, calling for an appointment, speaking with staff, requesting a meeting through mutual acquaintances, showing up at town hall meetings did not work.  Even holding signs in front of the Senator’s Manchester and Nashua offices in the summer heat and the winter cold and snow has not resulted in a meeting.

Ayotte apparently does not want to be held accountable for her votes on 49 health care related bills, most of which have to do with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The bills range from anti-choice measures, delaying portions of enacting the Affordable Care Act, and wiping out the law in whole or in part.

Ayotte is a co-sponsor of S. 1711 the State Health Care Choice Act which allows states to opt-out and limit required coverage.  The NH ARA wants to know why.  Does Ayotte want to reopen the dreaded donut hole that caused financial hardship to seniors and other Medicare recipients that rely on expensive prescription medications?

Perhaps she is not in favor of the clause that prevents insurance companies from arbitrarily canceling a customer’s policy when the customer becomes ill, or maybe it is the free preventative care wellness doctor appointments that she objects to.

The NH ARA is left guessing if Senator Ayotte would deny our grandchildren the right to remain on their parents health plan until they turn 26 years of age or perhaps the lifetime and yearly coverage limits that the insurance companies were allowed to  impose prior to the Affordable Care Act?

Maybe Ayotte objects to holding insurance companies accountable to their customers by proving 80% of the premium paid is used for the purpose of insurance and that only 20% of the premium is allowable for CEO pay and profits.   Considering her unwillingness to meet with the NH ARA, they may never know.

The retirees also want to learn how their Senator justifies raising the eligibility age for full retirement Social Security benefits, and why she hasn’t signed on to S 567.  This bill would establish a price index that reflects actual costs of items for Social Security recipients and insures Cost of Living increases  keep pace with inflation.

The occasional town hall meetings hosted by Ayotte are well scripted and controlled. She makes a slide show presentation and only takes questions that are pre-printed on index cards prior to the start of the meeting. Late comers are not allowed access to a card.

The NH ARA monitors legislation. These retirees have ideas and questions and remain hopeful that one of these days, Senator Ayotte will meet with them.  In  the meantime, they continue to show up with signs and keep asking for a meeting with the Senator at one of her many New Hampshire locations.

Ayotte is not up for re-election in 2014.  New Hampshire’s Democratic senior Senator Jeanne Shaheen is one of the 36 Senators up for election this year.  Shaheen’s race is one of the top targets by the Republican Party.  They want to grab control of the U. S. Senate and impose Ayotte’s agenda on our nation’s retirees and people.  New Hampshire retirees already have their walking shoes ready to make sure this does not happen.

USPS Employees And Community Activists To Rally At NH GOP Event Featuring Congressman Issa

Get those signs ready because every USPS supporter’s favorite Congressman is coming to town.

Congressman ISSA (photo credit Congressman Issa on Flickr)

Congressman Darrell Issa will be speaking at a NH GOP event on Presidents Day (Feb 17th) at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord NH. 

As the Chairman of the House Government Affairs Committee, Congressman Issa has spearheaded the charge that would lead to the eventual privatization of the USPS.   He has proposed to; cut Saturday delivery, cut thousands of postal employee’s jobs, cut door-to-door delivery, and even proposed allowing UPS and FedEx the ability to use mailboxes like the postal service.  All of these horrible ideas are in response the myth that the USPS is ‘failing’ or going bankrupt.

There is no denying that the USPS currently has money problems, however the problems were all made by Congress when they mandated that the USPS pre-fund their retirement system to pay for the next 75 years of retirees, in the next 10 years.  This has lead to a $5 billion dollar shortfall in the USPS budgets. Even with these money problems it should be noted that the USPS does not add one red cent to the national deficit because the USPS is a self-funded agency.  If people like Congressman Issa would just remove the pre-funding mandate, the USPS would bring in a profit of $600-$700 million dollars annually.

We cannot allow people like Congressman Issa continue to lie to the public about the problems of the USPS.  We will not stand idly by and watch why Congressman Issa takes the most trusted government agency and sells it off piece by piece.  This is why postal employees and community activists will be holding an informational picket in front of the Grappone Center, opposing Issa’s actions against the USPS.

Where: Grappone Convention Center
70 Constitutional Avenue,
Concord, NH, 03301.

When: Moday Feb 17th (Presidents Day) from 4:30-5:30pm

Join USPS employees, members of the American Postal Workers Union,  The National Association of  Letter Carriers, and community supporters to tell Congressman Issa,
The USPS Is Not For Sale!

Raise The Wage Coalition Calls For A Minimum Wage Increase

Raise the Wage Coalition Demonstrates Strong Support for HB 1403, Increasing the Minimum Wage in New Hampshire

CONCORD, NH – New Hampshire elected officials, advocates, small business leaders, and community members hosted a press conference in the LOB Lobby this morning, Tuesday, February 11th to introduce HB 1403, raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire.

HB 1403 would raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage in two stages and provide for annual cost of living increases in the future.  It would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2015 and to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2016.  Beginning January 1, 2017, it would automatically increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage to account for inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index.

Three-quarters of Granite Staters – including majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats – support increasing the minimum wage to $9 per hour, according to the Granite State Poll released last week. HB 1403 would raise the wages of 76,000 New Hampshire workers in the first two years, stimulating the economy and increasing consumer demand. Elected officials, advocates, small business leaders, and community members spoke at the press conference immediately prior to testifying at the public hearing on HB 1403, where supporters of the bill outnumbered opponents 5 to 1.

Excerpts of statements are as follows:

Remarks by Prime House Sponsor, Rep. Sally Kelly

Seven years ago, as a freshman legislator, I began my service on the Labor Committee and I was proud to stand side-by-side with my Democratic and Republican colleagues as Governor Lynch signed minimum wage legislation into law.

It was the right time then and it is the right time now for both parties and both chambers to come together so New Hampshire citizens no longer have to say that every other New England state pays a higher minimum wage to its workers than we do.  As a state, we are so much better than that. As a retail executive, I am continually aware of the life of small business owners.  Today, our economy is on the rise and the timing for this moderate increase is just right.

Last week’s Granite State poll confirms that this legislation does just that; more than two-third of Granite Staters –76% – support increasing the New Hampshire minimum wage to $9 per hour. That includes 64% of Republicans, 70% of independents, and 91% of Democrats.

 

Remarks by Prime Senate Sponsor, Senator Sylvia B. Larsen

I am proud to be a co-sponsor of House Bill 1403, which would give New Hampshire working families a much needed raise. For the first time since World War II, wages have been declining in this country. Moms and Dads are working harder, but falling further behind. These are families who work hard and play by the rules. They should be able to afford to live with dignity and raise a family. All members of the Legislature talk about helping working families and growing the economy and this bill does just that.

Accelerating New Hampshire’s economic growth is only possible when individuals and working families are confident in their own financial situations. When that happens, their increased spending helps to grow our businesses and our economy. That’s why it’s vital that we restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage. By restoring and increasing the state’s minimum wage, we will help our economy by putting more money in the pockets of hard-working people of all ages. Increasing the minimum wage will go a long way to restoring hope in the American Dream, the faith that by working hard and playing by the rules, you will be able to responsibly support your family.

 

Remarks by Diana Lacey, President of State Employee’s Association, SEIU 1984

SEIU 1984 LogoEvery day, hundreds of state and municipal workers across New Hampshire talk with low-wage workers about the burden that working hard but living with poverty level wages brings upon their families. What they see rings true with the things that the late Nelson Mandela saw, and spoke of in a February 2005 speech on poverty in London’s Trafalgar Square. Mr. Mandela referenced the effects of poverty as being imprisoned, enslaved and chained in the prison of poverty.  His powerful words included this brief excerpt:

“They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”

We are one of the wealthiest states in this country and we simply must do our part to lift working people up out of poverty. Passage of this minimum wage bill is an important start.  This is the right bill, at the right time. In lifting up our workers, we will lift up all of New Hampshire. Doing so is an act of justice, and a path to freedom.

 

Remarks by The Rev. William E. Exner

A number of faith leaders gathered for prayer this morning, right across the street from the State House at St. Paul’s. We prayed for a livable minimum wage to be voted into law in the state of New Hampshire, and we prayed for our neighbors who work hard every day, yet whose present earnings keep them locked in poverty and constant need.

We prayed for people like the 43 year old woman with two children who works at a fast food restaurant in our state. The woman’s husband is working, but not full time as his work is seasonal. To help make ends meet, she works her first job from 8 am to 5 pm, then works her second job from 6 pm to 2 am. She and her husband work so hard but still struggle to afford the basics for their family, and to cover the cost of much needed car repairs.

As faith leaders, we are here to urge a change for the better. It’s a moral imperative. The Book of the Prophet Isaiah in the Bible sets the standard when it states, “Look, you are serving your own needs while you oppress all your workers.” The Bible goes on to insist that we become ‘repairers of this unjust breach’, that we become ‘restorers of streets to live in.’ Life without a livable minimum wage lands one on quite another road.  As people of faith we are concerned for our neighbors who are paid at levels that relegate them and their children to poverty. In this state work ought not have poverty as its reward.

 

Remarks by Laura Miller, former Owner of Imagination Village

Miller was the owner of a retail business for 12 years that employed 5 people. She is now a member of the management team of a larger independent retail business that employs 18.

We have always made it a priority to pay a living wage – recognizing that in order to retain employees that help you reach your business goals, you need to pay them decently and give them opportunities to balance work, family, school and community lives. It only makes sense that if your staff is getting what they need, they will be able to focus on doing their best job for you. I am here today to support House Bill 1403, especially the cost of living increment. It is long overdue that we increase the base wage in this country. It is unconscionable that you can work full time and still live below the poverty level.

Increasing the minimum wage reduces the need for government funding of assistance programs such as the earned income tax credit and food stamps, by shifting profits back down to the local level. It keeps money in the local economy as workers need these dollars for housing, food, gas and other consumables. And I know, as other small business leaders know, that increasing the minimum wage helps businesses retain employees. In turn, quality employees can develop within a business, increasing productivity and therefore providing increased value to the enterprise, whether large or small. Raising the minimum wage helps all – it helps workers, the community, and small businesses.

 

Remarks by President Mark S. MacKenzie, New Hampshire AFL-CIO

MacKenzie was unable to attend due to a funeral. His written remarks are below and were read by NH AFL-CIO campaign coordinator Judy Stadtman.

NH AFL-CIO LogoFor New Hampshire’s minimum wage workers, and for all of us, this is about justice and dignity, and the promise of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Thousands of our friends and neighbors struggle to support families while earning the minimum wage. These workers are frequently forced to forgo basics—food, housing, clothing—and far too many rely on public assistance to survive in this economy.

It’s a myth that minimum wage jobs are held by teenagers. Today, less than a quarter of minimum wage workers are teenagers. Most are breadwinners in their families and work full time.  The median age of a low wage worker is 34 years old.  And most minimum wage earners are women. The fact is that minimum and lower wage workers in our state don’t earn enough to support a family. The annual income for a full-time employee making the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is $15,080. Living below the poverty line, these families have little or no hope of providing for a better life for their children. Jobs should lift workers out of poverty, not trap them in poverty.

Passing this bill to raise employee wages would increase purchasing power, create more jobs and boost the New Hampshire economy. More than four out of five economists say the benefits of increasing the minimum wage would outweigh the costs. Further, a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research found raising the minimum wage would create jobs while causing no reduction in the availability of minimum wage jobs.

Raising the minimum wage is crucial to our future economic growth. Five of the six fastest growing sectors of the American economy are in low wage industries – home health aides; customer service representatives; food preparation and serving workers; personal care assistants and retail salespersons. To rebuild a strong middle class and create an economy of shared prosperity, we must pay fair wages in these growing sectors.

————————————————-

HB 1403 was heard by the House Labor Committee. The bill can be found here: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2014/HB1403.html

About the Raise the Wage New Hampshire Coalition: The Raise the Wage coalition includes organizational members American Friends Service Committee, America Votes, Economic Justice Mission Group of the United Church of Christ-NH, Every Child Matters, Granite State Progress, Housing Action NH, Interfaith Voices for Humane Public Policy, National Education Association-New Hampshire, New Hampshire AFL-CIO, New Hampshire Child Advocacy Network, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, New Hampshire Kids Count, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, New Hampshire Women’s Initiative, State Employee’s Association of New Hampshire – SEIU Local 1984, and Women’s Fund of NH, in addition to elected officials, community advocates, and small business leaders.

Citation: UNH Survey Center, Granite State Poll, Winter 2014

http://cola.unh.edu/sites/cola.unh.edu/files/research_publications/gsp2014_winter_issues020614.pdf

 

Fed Up and Pumped Up: Manchester Newspaper Guild Rallies For Fairness

Manchester Newspaper Guild President Norm Welsh leads about 60 members and supporters

Manchester Newspaper Guild President Norm Welsh leads about 60 members and supporters

Manchester Newspaper Guild members and allies turned out in force Sunday morning to show Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid that his callous contract “final offer” is beneath contempt.

About 60 picketers, 40 of them Guild members, marched and leafleted outside the newspaper’s annual sports banquet at the Radisson Center of New Hampshire in downtown Manchester.

“It was awesome,” local President Norm Welsh said. “I’m not sure we’ve ever had a better turnout, even when we had twice the membership.

“We know we got the publisher’s attention because he detoured on his way to the event to come over to our group,” Welsh said. “He talked to several members and their families. My guess is he was trying to see if the group was members or ‘outsiders.’ I think he was shocked at the number of our people and who they were. Lots of folks whom I doubt he expected to ever see on a picket line.”

image-6Members were so pumped, Welsh said, that “a large group continued to picket for about 45 minutes after we thanked them and said we were done.”

He said members were grateful to be joined by so many allies, including Mark MacKenzie, president of the state AFL-CIO, state Rep. Tim Smith (D-Manchester), and supporters from the IBEW, AFT and the Postal Workers.

The Manchester Guild has called the Union Leader’s final offer “the worst contract proposal ever seen.” In addition to steep benefit cuts, getting rid of job security language and changes that would badly weaken the union, the publisher wants an 18 percent retroactive pay cut.

image-10That’s on top of huge concessions in recent years. Welsh said they’ve estimated that a top-scale reporter has lost roughly $30,000 in givebacks since 2009.

The local is in the middle of a 10-day byline strike by reporters and photographers to help draw the public’s attention to the company’s ruthless demands.

You can help by signing their petition and circulating it on social media. Go to the local’s “Where’s the Fairness?” website to find the petition and learn more.

“If we are forced to accept this new pay cut, that would mean we would have lost about 30 percent of our pay since 2009,” the local explains on the website. “It would leave us making what we made in 1995. That’s when gas cost $1.11 a gallon. A new car then would run you $13,600. A stamp only cost 32 cents. Imagine. Could you live in today’s world on what you made in 1995? Neither can we.”

2-10-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update: Common Core and Smarter Balance Assessments

This past week there were several hearings regarding the Common Core Standards and the Smarter Balance Assessment with several others scheduled for this coming week. AFT-NH knows that a recent AFT poll found that 75 Percent of teachers support the new standards, but it also found that they have not had enough time to understand them, put them into practice or discuss them with colleagues.

If these standards are to work we need to ensure that in each district the following are in place when implementing the Standards:

•    There needs to be planning time for understanding the Standards and time to put them into practice,
•    We need opportunities to observe colleagues implementing Standards in class,
•    Provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
•    Ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
•    Communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students,
•    Develop best practices and strategies alone with coaching to help teachers teach content more deeply,
•    We need to ensure all districts have the equipment and bandwidth to administer computer-based assessments,
•    Make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers,
•    Assessments need to be aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
•    Professional development and training in the Standards need to be offered,
•    We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

We also know that:

States and districts must work with teachers to develop a high quality curriculum and professional development, provide students with the time needed to try out new methods of teaching to the standards in their classrooms, commit financial resources to ensure success, and engage parents and the community.

When assessing students, we need to make sure these tests inform teaching, not impede teaching and learning. All children deserve a rich, meaningful public education that prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and challenges that await them as they become contributing members of a democratic society.  Growing our nation’s future citizens and workers is a serious undertaking that calls for a thoughtful focus on teaching and learning. Since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, the growing fixation on high-stakes testing has undermined that focus, putting at grave risk our students’ learning and their ability to meet the demands of the 21st-century economy and fulfill their personal goals.

We believe in assessments that support teaching and learning, and that are aligned with curriculum rather than narrow it.  Assessments should be focused on measuring growth and continuous development of students instead of arbitrary targets unconnected to how students learn. Assessments should be diverse, authentic, test for multiple indicators of student performance and provide information leading to appropriate interventions that help students, teachers and schools improve, not sanctions that undermine them.  Development and implementation of such tests must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.  Because each district is at different stages in their teacher/staff development and student curriculum changes that meet Common Core Standards and the assessment of their students, the Department of Education should waive the Smarter Balance testing deadline for at least another two years.

Further, we believe that assessments designed to support teaching and learning must contribute to school and classroom environments that nurture growth, collaboration, curiosity and invention—essential elements of a 21st-century education that have too often been sacrificed in favor of test prep and testing. We know that collaboration with educators is necessary to ensure that high-quality instruction and content are given their proper emphasis.

UPCOMING HOUSE VOTES WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2014

The House Legislative Administration Committee made a recommendation of ought to pass with an amendment on HB 1122-FN, establishing the crime of filing false lien statements against public officials and employees. Rep. Joel F Winters states “this bill as amended would make it a crime to file a fraudulent lien. These fraudulent liens can take considerable time and money to clear up, and could prevent someone from buying or selling a home. The register of deeds would still accept the document but would have discretion about filing it if the lien was clearly fraudulent. AFT-NH is in support of the Committee’s recommendation and asks that it be supported.

The House EducationCommittee recommended that HB 1105-FN-L, relative to aid to school districts for costs of special education, Ought to Pass. AFT-NH supports this recommendation because it lifts the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully funds it. With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million to communities. Catastrophic aid is a state fund that helps local district with exorbitant special education costs for our severely disabled children.

The House Education Committee also made a recommendation of ought to pass on HB 1114-FN, relative to limits on state expenditures for school building aid. AFT-NH is in support of this bill. It puts a floor to building aid not a cap. For the past six years many district have not been able to afford to complete upgrades, repairs or construct new buildings because of the cost. Keep in mind 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

The House Executive Departments and Administration committee recommended referring to interim study HB 1148-FN, relative to the reduction in the calculation of state retirement system annuities at age 65. Rep. Jeffrey P. Goley stated: “In 1988, the legislature decoupled group I pension benefits from Social Security, but left a statutory pension reduction of approximately 10 percent that took effect upon reaching the age of 65, then the full retirement age for Social Security. The normal retirement age for Social Security has now been increased to age 67. This bill would change the statutory reference from age 65 to “the members full retirement age for Social Security.”Committee members felt more time was needed to study if the intent in 1988 was to mirror the normal retirement age for Social Security.”AFT-NH would have liked a recommendation of ought to pass, as we understand the hardship this 10% reduction places on our retirees who have not received a cost of living adjustment in several years.

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

Thank you!
In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

Please visit www.aft-nh.org and AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”?
Late breaking news appears on our web site and on Facebook!
UPCOMING HEARINGS WEEK OF FEBRUARY 10TH

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11

CHILDREN AND FAMILY LAW, Room 206, LOB
9:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session:  HB 1260-FN-L, relative to communication of the cost of services provided under the children in need of services (CHINS) program to parents.

1:00 p.m. Executive session:  HB 1198, relative to the procedure for filing children in need of services (CHINS) petition,

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, LOB
1:00 p.m. Executive session:  HB 1550, permitting the audio and video recording of a public official while in the course of his or her official duties,

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
9:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session:  HB 1449, relative to the requirements for filing a charter school application,
HB 1298, relative to additional criteria for review of chartered public school applications,
HB 1141, requiring chartered public schools to share enrollment information with school districts.

10:00 a.m. HB 1432, delaying implementation of certain statewide assessments and studying the effects of delaying implementation of certain curriculum changes in the public schools.

11:30 a.m. Continued public hearing:  HB 1252, establishing a committee to study and propose a recodification of the education laws currently in RSA title 15.

1:15 p.m. Executive session on
HB 1132-FN, relative to school building inventory reports,
HB1377, authorizing conferral of degrees by private entities,
HB 1388, relative to student religious liberties,
HB 1397, establishing a committee to study whether the department of education is operating within its statutory authority,
HB 1463, relative to the definitions of “priority school” and “focus school.”,
HB 1469, requiring each school district to establish a special education parent advisory council,
HB 1534, establishing a commission to study fiscal disparities between public school districts, Continued executive session:  HB 1180, relative to days of school.

ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
11:00 a.m. Executive session on
HB 1462-FN, relative to electioneering by public employees,

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Rooms 305-307, LOB
10:15 a.m. HB 1403-FN, establishing a state minimum hourly wage.
1:00 p.m. HB 1349, relative to the definition of independent contractor.

2:30 p.m. Full committee work session:  HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee collective bargaining.

2:45 p.m. Executive session on
HB 1188, relative to paycheck equity,
HB 1404, relative to payroll cards,
HB 1405, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions,
HB 1407, relative to privacy in the workplace,
HB 1592-FN, relative to requiring prevailing wages on state-funded public works projects

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:00 a.m. Full committee work session:  HB 1633-FN-A-L, relative to expanded gaming in New Hampshire.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 12

10:00 a.m. House in Session

Senate EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION,Room 100, SH
9:00 a.m. SB 364, relative to group II service retirement allowances and relative to establishing a supplemental savings plan in the retirement system.
9:45 a.m. SB 398, relative to employment negotiations between the state and individual bargaining units.

LEGISLATIVE ADMINISTRATION, Room 104, LOB
12:00 p.m. or at the lunch break from session.
Executive session:  HB 1207, relative to identification of the source of legislative bill proposals,
HB 1440-FN, including the writing, promoting, or distributing of model legislation to elected officials as lobbying and requiring disclosure of scholarship funds, money, or other financial support received from such lobbyists by elected officials,
HB 1551, relative to the employment of elected officials

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13

10:00 a.m. Senate in Session

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
9:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session:  HB 1212, relative to social media privacy in higher education,
HB 1200, relative to student social media policies by educational institutions,
HB 1128, establishing a committee to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school,
HB 1393-FN-L, relative to tuition payments for students attending a chartered public school in the student’s district of residence,
HB 1392-FN-L, removing the restriction on the number of pupils eligible to transfer to a chartered public school.

1:15 p.m. Rescheduled public hearing:  HB 1586-FN, relative to student and teacher information protection and privacy.

2:00 p.m. Rescheduled public hearing:  HB 1587-FN-L, relative to the collection and disclosure of pupil data.

2:30 p.m. Rescheduled public hearing:  HB 1238, relative to access to assessment materials.

3:00 p.m. HB 1508 termination of state participation in the common core educational standards.

FINANCE – (DIVISION II), Room 209, LOB
11:00 a.m. Work session:  HB 435-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 206, LOB
9:30 a.m. Full committee work session:  HB 1633-FN-A-L, relative to expanded gaming in New Hampshire.

Republicans and Democrats Push Senate Bill To Further The Destruction Of The USPS

Colburn and Carper

Senator Coburn and Senator Carper
Image from HSGAC.GOV

Previously we reported on the fierce opposition to Senate Bill 1486 (postal reform) that was at the time, being introduced into the US Senate.  This week the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee voted 9-1 to approve S1486 with provisions that will destroy good jobs, and close post offices.

“This disastrous bill would severely damage service to the people; weaken the USPS and make it ripe for privatization, and destroy good jobs throughout the country,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “The APWU urges senators to vote against the bill if and when it is brought to the Senate floor for consideration.”

“Unnecessary and damaging attacks on the Postal Service’s vital networks and its employees—such as those unfortunately included in S. 1486—would only send the USPS on a downward trajectory,” said NALC President Fredric Rolando.

(The NALC also submitted this letter to the Senate spelling out the opposition to this bill.)

I am not surprised that my Senator, Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) voted for the bill, because like many others in the Republican Party, they want to privatize the USPS. HSGAC Votes on S1486 I am shocked at how some the Democratic Senators on the committee voted. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) all voted to move this legislation out of committee.

This is shocking to me because this legislation would decimate the unionized workforce of the USPS, and the Democrats are usually the party that works with labor unions, not against them.  I guess that just goes to show that when it comes to attacking organized labor, both parties share the blame.

This bill is a horrible and offers no solution to the well-documented problems in the USPS, the pre-funding obligation.  Instead the bill adds another $17 billion to the debt obligation to the USPS.  It is insane to think that if the USPS cannot pay their current financial obligations due to the pre-funding mandate, that adding another $17 billion will somehow help the situation.

Adding more financial obligations to the USPS is not the only problems with this bill.  The National Association of Letter Carriers laid out the other problems with the bill.

  • Threaten 100,000 full- and part-time postal jobs;
  • Lead to pension cuts; 
  • Weaken workers’ position in upcoming contract negotiations; 
  • Permit the USPS to close and consolidate mail processing facilities after two years; 
  • Allow the Postal Service to further reduce service and delivery standards;
  • Eliminate Saturday delivery after 2017;
  • Eliminate door-to-door mail delivery for new businesses and households, and 
  • Expose injured workers to impoverishment once they reach retirement age.

Possibly cutting 100,000 good mostly union jobs, is not the way to rebuild our economy.  We elected representatives to Congress to create jobs, not destroy them.

While the combination of postal unions was successful in preserving six-day delivery, it is only a temporary fix.  This new bill still wants to eliminate six-day delivery by 2017, along with the door-to-door service.

“Paving the way for eliminating six-day delivery and door-to-door service would hurt millions of residents and small businesses as well as the Postal Service itself, because it would slow service, drive mail out of the system and reduce the earned revenue that funds USPS,” said NALC President Fredric Rolando.

It continues to baffle me that between all of the Senators and Congressmen in Washington that none of them can seem to figure out the simple solution to the problems in the USPS.  All they need to do is pass a bill removing the pre-funding mandates, and poof, all the problems go away.

In fact the post office is becoming stronger and stronger every day.   Parcel shipments are up and with that revenue is up.

“The announced operating profit of $765 million for the first quarter is dramatic in itself—and it continues the operating profitability that began last year,” said NALC President Fredric Rolando.  “This quarter’s $765 million operating profit compares with the $100 million from the first quarter of 2013—another sign of improving postal finances.”

Rolando continued, “In light of these results, lawmakers should strengthen the postal network while addressing the remaining problem: the congressional mandate to pre-fund future retiree benefits, required of no other public or private entity in the country. Degrading the network and reducing services to the public and businesses would jeopardize the postal turnaround.”

It is truly sad to see that both Republicans, and now Democrats, are working together to further the destruction of most revered agency in the federal government.

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