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Rough Road Ahead: Republicans Take Governor, House And Senate In NH

All the votes have been counted and we are looking at a very rough road ahead.

With the election of Donald Trump we will see a revived national effort to cut taxes for business, cut regulations on environmental protections, and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Here in New Hampshire we about to enter a new era of Republican control.  The NH Senate stayed the same with 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats. In the House, Democrats picked up a few seats but are still in the minority (235-165). With Governor-elect Chris Sununu’s win, we can expect a fast and furious legislative attack on many of the programs working people fought for.

From Dan Touhy’s Granite Status on the election results:

WHAT DOES IT all mean for New Hampshire? Watch for some Republican policy initiatives to be pitched with gusto. In Concord, that includes a return of right-to-work legislation, the “constitutional carry” firearms bill, and proposed business tax reform.

State Rep. Fred Doucette, R-Salem, said veterans issues and tackling the state’s opioid and heroin epidemic are two of his priorities in the coming legislative session.

The combination of a Republican President and Republican controlled Congress could mean the end of the ACA which could mean the end of the New Hampshire Health Partnership Program that protects more than 50,000 Granite Staters.  Even without the repeal of the ACA, Sununu and many of his cohorts in the Legislature have already suggested ending the program in New Hampshire.

The question now is; What other attacks will working people face in the coming year?

Besides Right to Work will Republicans try to repeal our collective bargaining rights like they did in the O’Brien era of 2011-12? Will they attempt to reduce benefits for retiree’s and force workers to contribute more to the pension system?  Will they force through their so-called “school choice” legislation that takes public funds and gives it to private and religious institutions? Will they continue to attack a woman’s right to choose and to attack women’s healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood?

It is time to start organizing so we will be ready when Sununu and his fellow Republicans begin their assault on workers.

Union Built PC and Collective Bargaining International Announce Strategic Alliance

Agreement will empower Labor Unions with Digital Tools for Collective Bargaining and Real Time Grievance Tracking


union built logo 2006 hi resVANCOUVER, BC | NEW YORK, NY
 – Union Built PC Inc. and Collective Bargaining International Inc. have announced on Monday a new Strategic Alliance. Their Agreement ensures the Labor Industry will have the necessary tools to effectively represent their membership by automating the Collective Bargaining Procedure and enabling Real-Time Grievance and Arbitration Tracking.

Union Built PC Inc. and Collective Bargaining International Inc. are the leading experts in Collective Bargaining and Grievance Tracking Labor Software.  Combining the skill sets of their respective teams and product offerings, both the companies and the Labor Industry stand to benefit.

“It just makes sense to make the Collective Bargaining process a digital one.  We’ve literally tried to think of everything a union might need at the bargaining table and put it into Negotiator’s Advantage™,” says Fred Romanuk, CEO of Collective Bargaining Inc. 

“Negotiating the Collective Bargaining Agreement is the most important job of the Union.  It is critical to the success of the Union and the representation of their membership. Our mission is the improvement of the collective bargaining process,” he adds.

This partnership also provides an opportunity for Union Built PC Inc. and Collective Bargaining International Inc. to work collaboratively on product development, marketing and software sales. 

“We quickly recognized these opportunities beyond just our mutual teams. For example, the integration of Union Built PC’s Grievance Manager™ Application and Collective Bargaining International’s Negotiator’s Advantage Software creates an extremely powerful tool at bargaining and arbitration,” says Barry Diederich, VP Software Development of Union Built PC.

Collective Bargaining International Inc. has developed Negotiator’s Advantage™, a real-time, cloud-based, complete set of digitally automated collective agreement tools.  A powerful Application that builds and tracks proposals and counter proposals, dramatically speeds up proposal research, development and automatically builds the MOA and Final Contract.

Union Built PC Inc. developed their Grievance Manager™ Software in 2006, enabling the Labor Industry to track their Grievances, Arbitration and related documents in Real Time.  Since then consistent updates and upgrades have been made to the software to keep the system current with evolving technology trends and customized to the needs of the Labor Industry. 

The immediate result of this alliance means Union Built PC can resell Collective Bargaining International’s Negotiator’s Advantage™ and integrate it with Union Built PC’s Grievance Manager™.

“We are thrilled to be integrating Negotiator’s Advantage™ into our robust Grievance Manager software so we can offer our Union clients a totally integrated and comprehensive bargaining tool,” says Pete Marchese, CEO at Union Built PC, Inc.

“Our Mission has always been to help Unions excel, and this strategic alliance will give Labor a leg up during the critical collective bargaining and grievance and arbitration management process,” adds Marchese.

Graduate Workers Must Have Collective Bargaining Rights

AAUP Files Amicus Brief in Columbia University NLRB Case

AAUP 100 Years Logo 2Washington, DC— Today, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) filed an amicus brief arguing that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should overturn its 2004 Brown University decision, because graduate assistants are employees who should have collective bargaining rights and collective bargaining rights, in fact, promote academic freedom. 

The AAUP amicus brief comes in response to the invitation of the NLRB to file amicus briefs and in keeping with its long history of support for the unionization of graduate assistants who make significant contributions to the teaching and research missions of colleges and universities. The brief addresses two main points from the Brown decision. It argues that graduate assistants in private universities, including those working on federal grant funded research, are employees with the right to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and it refutes the Brown decision’s speculative claims that collective bargaining would compromise academic freedom and cooperative relationships between faculty mentors and their graduate student mentees.

The brief explains that since graduate assistants perform work in exchange for compensation, they are employees. In fact, when graduate students work as teaching and research assistants, their work is indistinguishable from that performed by university faculty. Graduate students at public universities like the University of Rhode Island and Rutgers are considered employees with collective bargaining rights under state law. The AAUP maintains that all graduate workers should be afforded those rights. The work of graduate assistants is just that, work, and should be subject to the protections of the National Labor Relations Act.

“It is not fair that, currently, only some graduate workers have the basic protections and rights that other American workers have. At a time when higher education is becoming more corporatized, it is critically important that graduate workers have these basic protections and the opportunity for a voice in workplace conditions. We look forward to seeing collective bargaining rights extended to graduate workers at Columbia University and other private universities,” said Dilara Demir, member of Rutgers AAUP-AFT TA/GA steering committee and vice president of the Rutgers Graduate Students’ Association.

Risa Lieberwitz, AAUP General Counsel, said, “Graduate assistants, like other employees, should have rights to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act. Collective bargaining can build positive relationships in universities through negotiations for fair wages and conditions of work, including protections of academic freedom.”

“Graduate workers have organized an important movement across the country, fighting for recognition despite some challenges. Graduate assistants are workers and their contributions to the public good are valuable. We stand with graduate workers nationwide who are organizing for a seat at the table and a voice in the process,” said Howard Bunsis, chair of the American Association of University Professors Collective Bargaining Congress. 

More information is available here: http://bit.ly/1T0TNRC. 


The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance; to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education; to promote the economic security of faculty, academic professionals, graduate students, post‐doctoral fellows, and all those engaged in teaching and research in higher education; to help the higher education community organize to make our goals a reality; and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities.

Martin O’Malley Releases A 21st Century Workers Bill Of Rights

O’Malley releases his 11 point Workers Bill of Rights

MANCHESTER, NH – Today, Governor Martin O’Malley proposed a bill of rights for American workers to build on President Obama’s legacy by bringing fairness to the economy and giving families back their right to achieve the American Dream.

The worker’s bill of rights is a comprehensive proposal filled with specific actions that would put more money into the pockets of working people and ensure that no one who works for a living has to live paycheck to paycheck or struggle to scrape by.

READ: O’Malley on MEDIUM: 21st CENTURY BILL OF RIGHTS

As O’Malley wrote on Medium, “As I’ve traveled across the country, it’s clear that we have come a long way since the Wall Street crash of 2008, when millions of Americans lost their jobs, homes, and life savings. Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, America is creating jobs again — and has for a record 70 months in a row. 

“Yet we still have urgent work to do to build on that legacy and protect it from Republican attacks — especially when it comes to America’s middle class and the working people who, too often, have been shut out of the recovery.

“That’s why today I’m proposing a ‘21st Century Workers Bill of Rights‘ to restore fairness to the economy and give working families back their right to achieve the American Dream.”

Specifically, O’Malley proposed the following 11 bold and progressive reforms. They include giving workers:

  • The right to balance work and family through paid leave (O’Malley supports the FAMILY Act);
  • The right to work a predictable weekly schedule;
  • The right to full-time work;
  • The right to overtime pay for overtime work;
  • The right to earn a living wage;
  • The right to bargain collectively;
  • The right to retire in dignity, not poverty;
  • The right to equal pay for equal work;
  • The right to affordable health care;
  • The right to quality, debt-free education;
  • The right to fair trade deals, not corporate-driven ones that the public cannot read before Congress votes on them.

This plan is yet another way Governor O’Malley has led the Democratic field throughout the campaign in putting forward a series of ambitiousbold and progressive comprehensive policy proposals to take on our nation’s toughest challenges, based on his long record of getting results.

A detailed description of O’Malley’s plan is below the image.

'21st Century Workers Bill of Rights'


An American Worker’s Bill Of Rights For The 21st Century

Our country has come a long way since the Wall Street crash of 2008, when millions of families lost their jobs, homes, and life savings. Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, America is creating jobs again—and has for a record 70 months in a row. Yet urgent work remains to protect and build on President Obama’s legacy, by growing America’s middle class and taking action to make wages go up again for all Americans. 

As president, Governor O’Malley will fight for American workers, protecting their fundamental rights in order to rebuild the American Dream:

“Our economy is not money, it is people – all of our people.” – Martin O’Malley

1.     The Right To Balance Work And Family. Governor O’Malley strongly supports the FAMILY Act to ensure that all parents—men and women, gay or straight, married or single—are able to take at least 12 weeks of leave, with pay, in order to care for newborn children or other loved ones. He will also set a goal of guaranteeing that no family, especially low- and middle-income families, has to pay more than 10 percent of their income on safe, affordable childcare in a given year. To begin to meet this goal, he will dramatically expand and federal childcare tax credits, on a sliding scale based on need.

2.     The Right To A Predictable Weekly Schedule. Governor O’Malley will lobby for, pass, and implement the Schedules That Work Act to give workers more control over their schedules, while still meeting the needs of employers. Erratic and constantly changing schedules leave many workers—especially in growing low-wage industries—unable to plan ahead to make ends meet. People who work hard should be able to earn a decent living while caring for their families. 

3.     The Right To Full-Time Work. Governor O’Malley will launch a new, national campaign to promote full-time employment, including supporting policies like the San Francisco Retail Workers Bill of Rights that give part-time workers the choice to take on additional hours before employers hire additional part-time workers. Millions of part-time workers want to work more hours but do not have the option of going to full-time work.

4.     The Right To Overtime Pay For Overtime Work. Governor O’Malley will ensure that people who work more are paid more. He supports the Obama Administration’s proposal to update restore access to overtime pay to millions of workers—and will fully enact these new overtime rules as president.

5.     The Right To Earn A Living Wage. Governor O’Malley will fight to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, indexed to inflation, while supporting efforts to make local minimum wages “living wages.”  

6.     The Right To Bargain Collectively For Better Wages. Governor O’Malley will champion legislation to make it easier for workers to gain union representation by modernizing the organizing process, bolstering the enforcement power of the NLRB, and creating tougher penalties for employers who violate the law and stand in the way of democracy in their workplace. To fight wage theft and unfair labor practices, he will partner with worker centers and alt-labor organizations to enforce our workplace standards to the fullest extent of the law.

7.     The Right To Retire In Dignity, Not Poverty. Governor O’Malley has a plan to expand, not cut or merely “enhance,” Social Security benefits, while adjusting the benefits formula to help middle-class and lower-income Americans the most. His retirement plan will also dramatically expand access to employer-based retirement plans, while protecting seniors from risks to their financial security—including by fully implementing the Obama Administration’s proposed fiduciary rule

8.     The Right To Equal Pay For Equal Work. Governor O’Malley will make closing the gender pay gap one of the most important goals of the federal government. He will fight to finally enact the Paycheck Fairness Act, holding employers who do discriminate in pay accountable and preventing retaliation against women who speak up. He will also work to make pay data publicly available by sex, race, and ethnicity, so that all employees can see that they’re making a fair wage for their job.

9.     The Right To Affordable Health Care. Governor O’Malley has set a national goal of ensuring access to quality and affordable health care for all. By implementing “all payer” reforms, he will overhaul our health care system to pay for the value, rather than the volume, of care—while expanding insurance coverage, bringing down prescription drug prices, investing in research, and providing better long-term care.

10.  The Right To A Quality Education And Debt-Free College. Governor O’Malley will fight to make a quality education available to every child in America, by investing to make pre-K universal, equitably funding schools, setting high standards for all students, making teaching America’s most respected profession, and preparing all students for college and a good-paying job. His higher education plan will give every student in America the opportunity to go to college debt-free, within five years.

11.  The Right To Read Trade Deals Before Our Congress Votes On Them. Governor O’Malley will only support free trade agreements that establish strong and enforceable rules for fair competition and create opportunity for American workers. He will reject trade agreements like the TPP that are written by corporate lobbyists behind closed doors, and ensure that all workers are able to read trade deals before they are rubber-stamped by Congress.

Workers In Right To Work States Are Less Likely To Have Access To Retirement Plans

Pew Analysis Shows Access to Workplace Retirement Plans
Varies Widely Across States

Big differences among industries, incomes, ages, education, race and ethnicities

Wide differences in access to and participation in employer-based retirement plans exist across states, with variations by employer size and industry type as well as by workers’ income, age, education, race and ethnicity, according to a report released today by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The report, Who’s In, Who’s Out: A Look at Access to Employer-Based Retirement Plans and Participation in the States, examines the rates of access to and participation in plans in all 50 states and assesses the challenges facing workers and employers in ensuring that Americans have sufficient resources to pay for their retirements.

Access and participation is higher in the Midwest, New England, and parts of the Pacific Northwest—and lower in the South and West. The report also finds that among Hispanic workers, access to a plan is around 25 percentage points below that for white non-Hispanic workers. Black and Asian workers also report lower rates of access than white workers.     

“Access to workplace retirement plans varies widely across the states,” said John Scott, director of Pew’s retirement savings project. “Recognizing the savings challenge faced by so many Americans, half of the states are looking at their own solutions.” 

There is a correlation between traditionally strong union states and access to retirement plans.  Workers in Right To Work (for less) states generally have much less access to retirement plans or pensions.

Below is an chart from the report that shows the percentage of workers who has access to some type of retirement plan.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 11.45.19 AMBelow is the current map of Pro-Labor / Right To Work states.  Notice that the overwhelming majority of Right To Work states have drastically less access to retirement plans. (Note: Wisconsin became a RTW state in March of 2015, Michigan in March of 2013, and Indiana in February of 2012.)

righttowork_uschart2015

Overall, Pew’s analysis, based on a pooled version of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), found that 58 percent of private sector workers have access to a plan, while 49 percent participate in one. Pew also found that more than 30 million full-time, full-year, private sector workers ages 18 to 64 lack access to an employer-based retirement plan, whether a traditional pension or a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k).

The report notes the numerous efforts at the state and federal levels to increase retirement savings. Illinois, for instance, adopted the Secure Choice Savings Program in 2015, which will start enrolling certain private sector workers in new payroll-deduction retirement accounts by 2017. In another example, the state of Washington created a marketplace in which small employers and the self-employed can shop for retirement plans. In addition, the federal government has rolled out the “myRA,” a new national savings program that is geared toward low-income savers. 

“Workplace retirement savings plans can be a critical piece of the retirement security puzzle,” said Scott. “But for millions of Americans, this piece is missing.”

The collective bargaining process has long been the key to ensuring a fair wage and access to retirement. As union membership declines we are continuing to see a reduction in our wages and access to benefits including retirement plans.  


More detailed information, including state-by-state breakdowns, is available in the report’s online interactive data visualization at www.pewtrusts.org/retirementaccess. 

Click here to download the full report.

Workers In Right To Work States Are Less Likely To Have Access To Retirement Plans

Pew Analysis Shows Access to Workplace Retirement Plans
Varies Widely Across States

Big differences among industries, incomes, ages, education, race and ethnicities

Wide differences in access to and participation in employer-based retirement plans exist across states, with variations by employer size and industry type as well as by workers’ income, age, education, race and ethnicity, according to a report released today by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The report, Who’s In, Who’s Out: A Look at Access to Employer-Based Retirement Plans and Participation in the States, examines the rates of access to and participation in plans in all 50 states and assesses the challenges facing workers and employers in ensuring that Americans have sufficient resources to pay for their retirements.

Access and participation is higher in the Midwest, New England, and parts of the Pacific Northwest—and lower in the South and West. The report also finds that among Hispanic workers, access to a plan is around 25 percentage points below that for white non-Hispanic workers. Black and Asian workers also report lower rates of access than white workers.     

“Access to workplace retirement plans varies widely across the states,” said John Scott, director of Pew’s retirement savings project. “Recognizing the savings challenge faced by so many Americans, half of the states are looking at their own solutions.” 

There is a correlation between traditionally strong union states and access to retirement plans.  Workers in Right To Work (for less) states generally have much less access to retirement plans or pensions.

Below is an chart from the report that shows the percentage of workers who has access to some type of retirement plan.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 11.45.19 AMBelow is the current map of Pro-Labor / Right To Work states.  Notice that the overwhelming majority of Right To Work states have drastically less access to retirement plans. (Note: Wisconsin became a RTW state in March of 2015, Michigan in March of 2013, and Indiana in February of 2012.)

righttowork_uschart2015

Overall, Pew’s analysis, based on a pooled version of the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), found that 58 percent of private sector workers have access to a plan, while 49 percent participate in one. Pew also found that more than 30 million full-time, full-year, private sector workers ages 18 to 64 lack access to an employer-based retirement plan, whether a traditional pension or a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k).

The report notes the numerous efforts at the state and federal levels to increase retirement savings. Illinois, for instance, adopted the Secure Choice Savings Program in 2015, which will start enrolling certain private sector workers in new payroll-deduction retirement accounts by 2017. In another example, the state of Washington created a marketplace in which small employers and the self-employed can shop for retirement plans. In addition, the federal government has rolled out the “myRA,” a new national savings program that is geared toward low-income savers. 

“Workplace retirement savings plans can be a critical piece of the retirement security puzzle,” said Scott. “But for millions of Americans, this piece is missing.”

The collective bargaining process has long been the key to ensuring a fair wage and access to retirement. As union membership declines we are continuing to see a reduction in our wages and access to benefits including retirement plans.  


More detailed information, including state-by-state breakdowns, is available in the report’s online interactive data visualization at www.pewtrusts.org/retirementaccess. 

Click here to download the full report.

The Economic Policy Institute Unveils Their ‘Women’s Economic Agenda’

New ‘Women’s Economic Agenda’ focuses on closing the wage gap between men and woman while lifting the wages of all workers 

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We need an economy that works for everyone not just a select few. Research shows that we are putting working women, specifically women of color, at a severe disadvantage.

We already know that women on average only earn $.70 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same job. The wage gap harms a woman’s chance of economic prosperity and slows economic growth.

The wage gap is closing, however this is not all good news. From 1980 to the present the wage gap has gone from 62% to 82% of men’s wages. On the surface this would appear to be great news, except that 40% of the gains, made by women to close the wage gap, actually came from the fact that men’s wages are falling. The average wage for men dropped from $20.13 in 1980 to $18.35 today.

Ensuring that all workers are paid equally for equal work is important, but that should not be due to the fact that men’s wages are falling. We need to lift all the wages of all workers together.

Today, the Economic Policy Institute released its Women’s Economic Agenda, a set of 12 bold yet achievable proposals that push the discussion about women’s economic security beyond closing the gender wage gap. While closing the gap between men and women’s wages is essential to bring genuine economic security to women and their families, policymakers must do more. Policies in the agenda include raising the minimum wage, ending discriminatory practices that contribute to gender inequality, providing paid family leave, and increasing access to high-quality child care. If implemented, these policies could raise women’s wages by as much as 70 percent.

“Raising wages and boosting economic security for women is an essential part of growing and strengthening America’s middle class,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, who spoke at the agenda’s unveiling. “The proposals in EPI’s Women’s Economic Agenda would be powerful steps forward in the fight to level the playing field for women and families across the country.”

“The gender wage gap is only one way the economy shortchanges women,” said Alyssa Davis research assistant for the Economic Policy Institute. “Only when we take a holistic approach to women’s wages and seek to eliminate both the gender wage gap and the economic inequality gap will women reach their potential in the economy.”

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The full complement of policies in the Women’s Economic Agenda is:

  1. Raise the minimum wage—raising the federal minimum wage to $12 by 2020 would boost wages for one-fourth of the workforce, or 35 million working people—56 percent of whom are women.
  2. Eliminate the tipped minimum wage—two-thirds of tipped workers are women, yet they still make less than their male counterparts. At the median, women tipped workers make $10.07 per hour, while men make $10.63 (including tips).
  3. Strengthen collective bargaining rights—women in unions are more likely to be paid higher wages and have access to benefits such as paid sick days and pensions.
  4. End discriminatory practices that contribute to race and gender inequalities—black women earn 65.4 percent and Hispanic women earn 56.5 percent of white men’s hourly earnings.
  5. Provide paid family leave—only 12 percent of private-sector employees have access to paid family leave. Without paid family leave policies, workers (particularly women) have difficulty balancing the demands of work and family.
  6. Provide paid sick leave—ensuring that working women can earn paid sick time would let them meet their responsibilities at work and at home without compromising their family’s economic security.
  7. Require fair scheduling practices—over one-third of women hourly workers in their prime childrearing years receive their work schedules with advance notice of one week or less.
  8. Provide accessible, affordable, high-quality child care and early childhood education—accessible child care would ensure that parents do not need to choose between leaving the labor force and affording quality child care
  9. Protect and expand Social Security—the average female retiree receives over $300 less per Social Security check than her male counterpart.
  10. Provide undocumented workers a path to citizenship—women are concentrated in many occupations likely to be held by undocumented workers.
  11. Support strong enforcement of labor standards—women are more likely than men to be victims of wage theft, and are a majority of workers who would benefit from expanded overtime protections.
  12. Prioritize wage growth and very low unemployment when making monetary policy—better wage growth is crucial to ensuring that gender and racial wage gaps close for the right reasons, with wages rising for all groups but more rapidly for groups currently disadvantaged in labor markets.

Senate Budget Writers Ignore State Employees Contract

An open letter from Richard Gulla,
President SEA/SEIU Local 1984

Rich Gulla (SEA/ SEIU 1984 President) On behalf of the thousands of state employees who daily give their best efforts to providing necessary services for the citizens and visitors of our state, I register our disappointment with the NH Senate Finance Committee for not including funds to provide a contracted cost of living adjustment for the employees in their budget.  Although included in Governor Hassan’s budget, the NH House of Representatives and the Senate did not include these funds in their respective versions of the state budget.

Several months ago, the state’s bargaining team and the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 team reached a mutual agreement that provides for a modest salary increase over the next two years.  This contract was negotiated in good faith by both parties.  In not including the funds necessary to meet this contract obligation in their budget, the NH House of Representatives and the Senate have revealed their disdain and lack of appreciation for the services these committed public servants provide.

Two years ago we heard loud and clear from Senator Morse that he was displeased with the state workers’ contract not being settled in time for consideration prior to the end of the budget process.  This time, we worked diligently to begin negotiations early so that the contract could be included sooner  in the budget timeline.  The state’s and the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 bargaining teams put in long hours of research, discussion, and negotiations to arrive at this mutually agreeable and  reasonable contract. And what is the result of that effort – first,  the funding is stripped from the Governor’s budget by the House of Representatives.  And, now the Senate has completely ignored the contract.  They did not even discuss the contract with the employees who help deliver many of the  services they restored funding to, such as Service Link, Meals on Wheels to name a few.

In not even discussing the merits or concerns they may have with the small cost of living raise for thousands of workers across the state, the Senate Finance Committee acted irresponsibly and state workers lose out. This is quite a message the Senate Finance Committee is sending to thousands of dedicated workers who have long been “doing more with less,” handling impossible caseloads, doing the jobs of two or three people, fueling the state’s economy, going the extra mile to serve the state’s citizens and visitors.

We call upon the full Senate to act responsibly when they meet next week to discuss and vote on the budget.  We are hopeful they will do the right thing – recognize the contract, talk about it and approve it.

Sincerely,

Richard Gulla
President, SEA/SEIU Local 1984

 UPDATE 2:45pm

Senator Lou D’Allesandro Comments on Failure to Include State Employee Contract in Budget

Concord, NH – As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Lou D’Allesandro made the following comments today following the completion of the committee’s work on the state operating budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017:

“I’m disappointed that in formulating the Senate budget, one item that was completely left out was the already negotiated pay raise for state employees,” said Sen. D’Allesandro. “The state’s collective bargaining team had come to an agreement with the State Employees Association on a modest 2% cost-of-living increase.  The House removed funding for the increase from its budget and the Senate failed to address the issue. This creates unfinished business.  What kind of a message does it send to our workforce that we take the time to develop tax cuts for big corporations but don’t fund a modest wage increase for our hard working NH employees?”

After Winning Union Election WMUR Production Assistants Begin To Negotiate Their First Contract

by Christopher Harley FLIKR

by Christopher Harley FLIKR

Editor’s Note: This is a letter to the editor from Brian Wilson. 

My name is Brian Wilson. I am a full-time “Production Assistant” (studio camera, teleprompter, video server and audio operator) at WMUR-TV in Manchester, NH. The station is owned by multi-national media giant, Hearst Corporation.

I am writing to inform you (and ask for your support of) an organizing effort that has been underway among a group of production employees at the station over the past 12-plus months.

On February 25th of this year, Directors/TDs, Production Assistants, and Graphic Designers at the station petitioned the NLRB seeking an election for union representation. After an attempt by the company to exclude workers it calls “freelancers” from the bargaining unit failed, the company agreed to an election.

About six weeks after the petition was filed, on April 6th, 2015, a group of 20 eligible workers voted 15-4 in an NLRB-conducted election to be represented by Local 1228 of the IBEW (the same union that already represents Videographers/Editors, Master Control Operators, and microwave/satellite truck operators at WMUR.)

On April 17th, 2015 the NLRB certified IBEW Local 1228 as the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit.

NLRB Case: http://www.nlrb.gov/case/01-RC-147033

The station and union have agreed to an initial bargaining session which has been tentatively set for early June.

Through collective bargaining, workers in this unit at WMUR are fighting to improve wages and working conditions, gain job security, and to stabilize and make uniform the conditions of employment which so often have been set in an arbitrary and unequal way.

These workers have seen the substantial improvements achieved by the other two bargaining units at the station and are striving to win a first contract that brings the same level of results.

These employees have also seen the financial success of the station, but do not feel that they have been given the opportunity to share in that success. They deserve fair compensation for their hard work and effort in helping to make WMUR as successful and profitable as it is.

I hope that you will support and stand with these workers and their families as they fight for fairness and to secure a place in a shrinking middle class.

Sincerely,

–Brian C. Wilson

Rand Wilson SEIU 888: A Smart Strategy to Defeat ‘Right to Work’

Without aggressive action, the right-to-work tsunami will sweep more states. "Just Cause for All" campaigns should be part of the strategy. Photo: Glenn Schmidt.

 Photo: Glenn Schmidt.

By Rand Wilson

Without aggressive action, the right-to-work tsunami will sweep more states.
“Just Cause for All” campaigns should be part of the strategy.

Wisconsin is now the 25th state to adopt a so-called “right-to-work” law, which allows workers to benefit from collective bargaining without having to pay for it.

It joins Michigan and Indiana, which both adopted right to work in 2012. Similar initiatives, or variants, are spreading to Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and West Virginia—and the National Right to Work Committee and the American Legislative Exchange Council probably have a well-developed list of additional targets.

Without aggressive action, the right-to-work tsunami will sweep more states. To defeat it, the first step is committing to fight back, rather than resigning ourselves to what some say is inevitable.

Everyone’s Interests

Rand Wilson speaking at Local 888 convention 2014

Rand Wilson speaking at Local 888 convention 2014

We’ll have to go beyond what we’ve mostly been saying so far, which is that right to work is “unfair” or “wrong.”

That argument certainly works for most union households and many of our community allies. But the real challenge is to convince a much broader public that a strong (and fairly-funded) labor movement is in their interest and worth preserving. Clearly most Americans aren’t yet convinced.

Many unions over the last few years have undertaken important campaigns along these lines. For example, teachers unions have positioned themselves as defenders of quality public education. Refinery workers have struck for public safety.

Nurses and health care unions have fought for safe staffing to improve the quality of care. And most notably, the Service Employees (SEIU) and others have waged the “Fight for $15” for fast food and other low-wage workers.

In its own way, each union is working hard to be a champion of the entire working class. Yet with the exception of SEIU’s Fight for $15, each is essentially focused on the issues of its core constituency at work. This still limits the public’s perception of labor.

Supporters of right to work cynically play on the resentment many workers feel about their declining standard of living. Absent a union contract, the vast majority have few, if any, ways to address it. To most, organizing looks impossible and politics looks broken.

Workers’ understandable frustration is fertile ground for the far right, which promises to improve the business climate and create more jobs by stripping union members of their power.

Thus, when we anticipate right to work’s next targets, the best defense should be a good offense—one that clearly positions labor as a force for the good of all workers.

‘Just Cause for All’

Here’s one approach that would put labor on the offensive: an initiative for a new law providing all workers with due process rights to challenge unjust discipline and discharge, “Just Cause for All.”

Such a law would take aim at the “at-will” employment standard covering most non-union workers in the U.S. At-will employees can be fired for any reason and at any time—without just cause.

While such a major expansion of workers’ rights as Just Cause for All would be unlikely to pass in most state legislatures—Montana did it in 1987, but it’s still the only one—it could become law in states that allow ballot initiatives.

A well-orchestrated attack on the at-will employment standard would force the extreme, anti-worker, and big business interests who back right to work to respond. If nothing else, imagine how competing initiatives would force a debate. On one side, extending due process protections and increased job security to all workers: a real right-to-work bill. On the other side, taking away fair share contributions for collective bargaining.

This strategy isn’t untested. When the Coors beer dynasty backed a right-to-work ballot initiative in Colorado in 2008, labor collected signatures for a counter-initiative, “Allowable Reasons for Employee Discharge or Suspension,” which would have overturned at-will employment. (Labor also supported a proposal that would have provided affordable health insurance to all employees and a measure to allow workers injured on the job to sue for damages in state courts.)

Fearing that the just cause proposal might pass, centrist business people offered a deal. In exchange for labor withdrawing its proposal, they provided financial support and manpower that helped labor defeat right to work in Colorado. (For more on this story, read “The 2008 Defeat of Right to Work in Colorado: Is it the End of Section 14(b)?” Raymond L. Hogler, Labor Law Journal, Spring 2009.)

While it’s unfortunate that the labor initiative didn’t go before Colorado voters, the result was still encouraging—and instructive. By championing the interests of all workers, labor split business and blunted the right-to-work effort.

To win back “fair-share” participation in the three new right-to-work states and stop further attacks, we’ll need well-planned campaigns that include grassroots mobilization, direct action, paid and earned media, and focused electoral work.

Just Cause for All campaigns should be part of the strategy. Even if we lose, campaigns for due process and job security for all will help shift the debate on right to work, leave the labor movement stronger—and make labor and its allies once again the champions of the “99%.”

Rand Wilson is policy and communications director at SEIU Local 888 in Boston.

This story was also published on LaborNotes.

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