• Advertisement

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.

USW President Leo W. Gerard: The GOP’s Big Squeeze

Editor’s note: Beginning this week, the NH Labor News will also be posting a weekly editorial from United Steelworkers President Leo W Gerard. 

(Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

(Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation last week to lower the wages of Wisconsin’s middle class workers. He wants pay cuts for hard working Wisconsinites.

It’s part of a pattern established by Wisconsin’s Republican governor and the Republicans who control the state legislature. Earlier, they slashed the paychecks ofteachers and government workers by 8 to 10 percent. Wisconsin Republicans refused to raise the minimum wage for workers who haven’t seen an increase in six years, even as 29 states gave raises to the lowest paid. Meanwhile, Walker and his GOP gang butchered state funding for public schools and propose the same fate for the state’s public universities – the colleges that, until now, the middle class could afford.

For putting the squeeze on workers, Walker is the darling of the GOP. In some polls,the college dropout is their leading candidate for the presidential nomination. His Mitt Romney-like hatred of the 47 percent, the working poor and organized labor is so GOP-revered that freshmen Republican governors like Bruce Rauner of Illinois are aping his efforts to shove workers down.

 

2015-03-15-1426441394-4673975-GOPSqueezegraphic.jpg

Photo by Rob Chandanals on Flickr.

 

The legislation Walker signed last week is called right-to-work-for-less. That’s because workers in states with these laws are paid $1,500 a year less. Wherever Republicans control a house of a state legislature, they propose it.

After Republicans won majorities in both houses in West Virginia for the first time in eight decades, the GOP immediately introduced right-to-work-for-less legislation. GOP Gov. Rauner, a billionaire, tried to circumvent Illinois’ Democrat-controlled legislature by imposing right-to-work-for-less on government workers by executive fiat.

Every adult American, of course, has the right to work. What this legislation does is help corporations and state governments cut workers’ pay. Its intent is regressive. Republicans want to return America to the days when robber barons controlled workers’ lives completely. This was a time of grotesque income inequality, of child labor, of tragically unsafe workplaces, of bosses compelling workers to remain on the job 50, 60 even 80 hours a week with no overtime pay.

American workers already are suffering the worst income inequality since the Great Depression. Right-to-work-for-less laws worsen that. These statutes forbid employers and labor organizations from negotiating collective bargaining agreements requiring all workers to pay either fair share fees or union dues.

At workplaces where employees have chosen union representation, federal law requires the labor organization to act on behalf of all of the workers, whether or not they join and pay dues. Fair share fees, which are less than dues, cover costs such as bargaining contracts that benefit all workers and representing workers who haven’t joined the union but want it to file grievances for them against the company.

Right-to-work-for-less laws are intended to bankrupt unions. And they do.

In Wisconsin four years ago, before passage of right-to-work-for-less legislation for government workers, Council 40 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), representing county and municipal workers, received dues or fair share payments from 32,000 workers. Now, Council 40 gets dues from 13,000. That cut nearly in half the funds it has to represent all 32,000 workers. As reduced income diminishes the AFSCME Council’s ability to do that well, more workers may quit and stop paying dues. That’s the death spiral Republicans are seeking.

Wisconsin unions representing workers at private companies face that same fate as a result of the new right-to-work-for-less legislation that Gov. Walker signed last week.

Right-to-work-for-less laws take from workers the tool they used for decades to secure better wages and working conditions. Right-to-work-for-less sends workers back to the desperate days before 1935. That’s the year Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act encouraging collective bargaining.

For nearly four decades after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the act, union membership grew, America’s middle class blossomed and income inequality shriveled. For the past three decades, as Republicans attacked workers’ right to collectively bargain for better lives, union membership shrank and workers’ wages stagnated. Now, income inequality is back to robber baron levels.

While the GOP attacked unions, Republicans like Walker and Rauner wounded the working poor and middle class in other ways as well. They cut funding for public transit, day care and unemployment insurance. They slashed spending for public education from Florida to Oklahoma to Arizona.

Now, GOP governors are demanding hundreds of millions in cuts to the public universities attended by the children of America’s middle class. Rauner wants to take $400 million from the University of Illinois. Walker wants to slash $300 million from the University of Wisconsin system. Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey wants to carve $75 million out of his state’s universities.

The result is that while workers get paid less, they’re shelling out more to buy bus tickets to their jobs, to ensure that while they work their toddlers are safe and to give their kids a college education.

This is the GOP’s big squeeze. It means the death of opportunity for the working poor to climb into the middle class. It means more of the middle class dragged down into poverty as workers scramble to pay ever-climbing bills with ever-smaller paychecks.

Unions and progressive groups are fighting back. Unions, including the United Steelworkers, have filed lawsuits in Wisconsin and Illinois to try to reverse right-to-work-for-less in those states. And a coalition of progressive groups and social welfare organizations staged protests last week across the country under the banner: “We Rise.”  They’re demanding politicians put people and the planet first – that is, before the greed interests and ecological disinterest of Republicans and big corporations.

They refuse to be strangled by the GOP.

AFT-NH Legislative Update 3-10-15: Right To Work Goes Down In The Senate But The Fight Is Far From Over

THE SO CALLED RIGHT TO WORK—FOR LESS DEFEATED!

On a 12 to 12 vote the State Senate defeated the ‘SO-CALLED’ RIGHT TO WORK—‘FOR LESS’ bill (SB 107.) Despite its misleading name, this type of law does not guarantee anyone a job and it does not protect against unfair firing. It only weakens collective bargaining rights and limits workers’ freedom to demand respect, fair pay and safety on the job. It tilts the balance even more toward big corporations and further rigs the system at the expense of middle-class families.


AFT-NH would like to thank the following Senators for standing with working families!

David Boutin,
Sharon  Carson
Lou D’Allesandro
Dan Feltes
Martha Fuller Clark
Andrew Hosmer
Molly Kelly
Bette Lasky
David Pierce
Donna Soucy
David Watters
Jeff Woodburn

However, the full House will be voting on their version of the bill this coming Wednesday. The Labor Committee recommended ‘Ought to Pass” on  HB 658-FN, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union. This bill comes from Wisconsin and Scott Walkers play book.  It excludes Police Officers and Firefighters. I think the statement by Representative Doug Ley sums it all up: “…Furthermore, the decision to carve out exceptions for police officers and firefighters was justified on grounds of the need for unit cohesion. That same logic can apply to any workplace including those where employers and labor organizations agree to allow the union to recover the costs of negotiating for and defending non-union employees. Such interference in the freedom to contract is unacceptable to the minority.”

AFT-NH is calling on all Representatives to overturn the Committee recommendation and make a recommendation to defeat this bill and any other bill that either erodes or repeals NH’s collective bargaining laws for public employees.

On a side note:  Scott Walker will be in New Hampshire on March 14th.  The NH AFL-CIO is putting together “Stand Up for America’s Middle Class Visibility Action”, from 8:30 am to 10:30 am.  If interested in attending please call NH AFL-CIO, (603) 623-7302 and ask for Dan Justice.

This Wednesday and Thursday
the full House will be voting on over 246 bills, it will be a very busy two days. Here are some of the bills that they will be voting on that might be of interest:

HB 323, relative to the administration of the statewide assessment program. The House Education Committee recommended that this bill pass.  The bill changes when local school districts administer the required state assessments. Currently we have to test students in grades 3 through 8 and 11th grades; this would change to testing only in the 4th grade, 6th grade, 8th grade and 11th grade for the state assessments. Keep in mind that AFT-NH believes:

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.   We are calling for a moratorium on the high stakes testing—for students, teachers and schools, that are linked with Common Core assessments, until an implementation plan is developed in partnership with teachers, parents and the community and is field tested in classrooms in each district.

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.

AFT-NH ask that all Representatives consider the above when voting on any bill that deals with students assessments at the local or state level.

The full House will also be voting on many bills that deal with educational standards. We ask that you keep in mind the following:

If any 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 along 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,
  • 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 teachers 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.

The House will be voting on HB 507, relative to teacher personally identifiable data.This bill adds provisions relating to the protection of teacher personally identifiable data and adds in language that no school shall record in any way a school classroom for any purpose without school board approval after a public hearing, and without written consent of the teacher and the parent or legal guardian of each affected student. AFT-NH supports the House Education recommendation to pass this bill as amended.

And then there is HB 491:relative to immunity for school personnel using reasonable force to protect a minor.This bill permits a teacher or other person entrusted with the care or supervision of a minor or pupil to use reasonable force to end a disturbance, to maintain safety, or to remove the pupil or minor from the premises under certain circumstances.  AFT-NH supports the House Education Committee’s recommendation to pass this bill.

The last two bills have to do with revenues and funding of charter schools. First the House Ways and Means recommended that HB 551-FN, relative to preventing diversion of business income to tax havens, be defeated. AFT-NH is opposed to defeating this bill and would ask that the recommendation be overturned and a recommendation to pass be voted on.

New Hampshire, along with 22 other states, already requires multinational corporations doing business in New Hampshire to treat all of their affiliates and subsidiaries in the United States as one entity that is taxed as such. This practice, known as combined reporting, limits companies’ ability to move taxable income from one subsidiary to another across states to avoid a particular state’s corporate tax.

Companies doing business in New Hampshire, however, can still avoid paying taxes by shifting income overseas to offshore tax havens–places such as the Cayman Islands that have very low or nonexistent taxes. Companies use a variety of strategies to accomplish this and the State loses millions every year in taxable corporate revenue.

To prevent overseas tax haven abuse, states can close the “water’s edge” loophole and require that companies not only report income in other states but also the income stored in tax havens as part of their combined reporting. A US PIRG study estimated that a similar change in New Hampshire’s combined reporting requirements would yield $26.1 million in additional revenue for the state.

Tax reforms that close corporate tax loopholes are especially popular, commanding overwhelming support. Americans want to see corporations pay their fair share, rather than see cuts in education or major entitlement programs and this is true across party lines.

Cracking down on tax haven abuse is a step toward fairness. Closing the corporate tax loopholes that simply help the rich get richer, while most Americans are paying more in state and local taxes, will tilt the playing field toward fairness.

And lastly, the House Finance committee recommended that HB 563-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils pass with an amendment. The amended version is less harmful than some of the other proposed amendments, yet AFT-NH has serious concerns with this bill. This increased funding to charter schools comes from the adequacy fund. In turn this leaves less for public schools. If the state truly supports charter schools then they would find a way to pay for it by not robbing Peter (public schools) to pay Paul (charter schools). They would come up with a dedicated fund just for charter schools and find the revenue to support it without dipping into any other dedicated fund.

AFT-NH  asks that the Committee’s recommendation be overturned and a recommendation to defeat this bill be voted on.

If you have any questions or concerns please email me at lhainey@aft-nh.org or call 603-661-7293.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President



Have you visited the AFT-NH Facebook page and clicked “Like Us”? Please do so today!
You can also follow us on Twitter at @8027aftnh.
Late breaking news appears on Facebook!


Upcoming hearings for the week of March 9, 2015

MONDAY, MARCH 9

FINANCE, Kennet High School Auditorium, 409 Eagles Way, North Conway
6:00 p.m. HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state  for fiscal years ending June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017, and HB 2-FN-LOCAL, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures. *Please note time change.

FINANCE, Derry Town Hall, 14 Manning Street, Derry
5:00 p.m. HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017, and HB 2-FN-LOCAL, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

FINANCE – (Division I), Room 212, LOB
Operating Budget presentations as follows:
9:30 a.m. Public Employees Labor Relations Board.
10:00 a.m. Department of Labor.
10:30 a.m. Developmental Disabilities Council.

TUESDAY, MARCH 10

FINANCE – (DIVISION II), Room 209, LOB
10:00 a.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017, and HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

SENATE TRANSPORTATION LOB 103
1:00 p.m. SB 234, relative to police details on public ways.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11

10 am House in Session

Senate EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 101, LOB
9:20 a.m. SB 164, relative to the independent investment committee in the New Hampshire retirement system.

THURSDAY, MARCH 12

9 am House in Session

10 am Senate in Session

FRIDAY, MARCH 13

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
9:00 a.m. Full committee work session to consider revenue items contained in HB 2.

MONDAY, MARCH 16

FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
1:30 p.m. Work session on HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

TUESDAY, MARCH 17

FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
9:30 a.m. Work session on HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures, and
HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017.

THURSDAY, MARCH 19

FINANCE – (DIVISION I), Room 212, LOB
9:30 a.m. Work session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2016 and June 30, 2017, and HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

AFT-NH Legislative Update 2-3-15: Kicking Off The Session

AFT NH Legislative Update

The 2015 session of the NH State legislature is underway and as always, there are many bills to follow and monitor.  Some legislative proposals will garner our support but others will earn our enmity and opposition as we defend the interests of our members and of working people in New Hampshire.  As we review proposed bills, we will determine our support or opposition based upon the basic legislative objectives listed below:

Education

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for neighborhood public schools that are safe, welcoming places for teaching and learning.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure that teachers and school staff are well-prepared, are supported, have manageable class sizes, and have time to collaborate so they can meet the individual needs of every child.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to make sure our children have an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and physical education

Retirement

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for universal access to secure retirement plans into which the state of NH and its cities and towns pay their required yearly contributions.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure all workers are covered by retirement plans that provide consistent and adequate income to maintain a reasonable standard of living.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure earned retirement benefits are fully funded and safeguarded from market volatility or changes in employers’ economic situations.

Public employees

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for first-rate public services that support communities and keep them safe, healthy and vibrant.
  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure public employees are well-prepared and supported so they can provide the high-quality services our communities depend on.

Collective bargaining

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for collective bargaining laws in the state of NH and will work to defeat any and all legislation that either erodes or repeals NH’s collective bargaining laws for public employees.

Revenues

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors, and vital to our shared economic success.

Charter Schools Accountability

  • AFT-NH will stand up and fight for laws and regulations requiring full transparency in how charter schools operate and making them directly and openly accountable to the public for student performance and their admissions and enrollment policies.  We need stronger policies mandating respect and support for teacher and staff voices in school policy and program, identification of potential conflicts of interest via disclosure requirements, and the use of public funds in the same rigorous manner required in our public schools.

So far this session the House Education Committee heard testimony on HB 116: relative to the renomination of teachers. This bill reduces from 5 to 3 consecutive years of teaching required for a teacher to be entitled to notification and a hearing if the teacher is not reappointed. This bill would falls under our objective of “AFT-NH will stand up and fight to ensure that teachers and school staff are well-prepared, are supported, have manageable class sizes, and have time to collaborate so they can meet the individual needs of every child.”

AFT-NH believes that all teachers deserve due process when being non-renewed.  Due process is the right to a legitimate reason, or “just cause,” before a teacher can be fired and requires a notice and an impartial just cause hearing before termination. We are asking to be treated fairly and without prejudice.

A Red Issue Alert went out this week about the above bill and if you have not taken action there is still time by clicking here.

They are also many bills moving through both chambers in regards to Common Core and state assessments. These bills would fall under the objective of; “AFT-NH will stand up and fight to make sure our children have an engaging curriculum that includes art, music and physical education.”

If these Standards and assessments 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,
  • We must provide teachers with model lesson plans aligned to Standards,
  • We need to ensure textbooks/other curricula materials align with Standards,
  • We must communicate with parents on the Standards and the expectations of students,
  • We must develop best practices and strategies along 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,
  • We need to make sure we have fully developed curricula aligned to Standards and available to teachers,
  • We must be certain that assessments are aligned to Standards indicating mastery of concepts,
  • We need to have professional development and training in the Standards, and
  • We need to develop tools to track individual student progress on key Standards.

With regards to assessments, AFT-NH believes 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.  Assessments should not be designed to deliver sanctions that undermine students, teachers and schools.  Development and implementation of such tests must be age appropriate for the students, and teachers need to have appropriate computers to administer such assessments.

Further, AFT-NH believes 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 itself.

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on SB 1 reducing the rate of the business profits tax.This bill would fall under AFT-NH’s objective to “stand up and fight for incremental, common-sense reforms designed to make NH’s existing tax system fairer and to produce the revenue needed to preserve the public services essential to NH’s residents, businesses, and visitors, and vital to our shared economic success.” AFT-NH has concerns with this bill. We have heard over and over that there is a $30 million shortfall in this current budget. With a hole of $30 million why would you cut roughly another $30 million in this biennium budget? How will this amount be made up or where in the budget will cuts be made?

Keep in mind that the state of New Hampshire already underfunds catastrophic special education aid to district by capping it at 72%.  With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million onto communities.  There has been a moratorium on Building aid which has hindered many districts from complete upgrades, making repairs to buildings or building new schools. Remember:  50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

Lastly, what are the assurances that by reducing the business profits tax jobs would be created?  I see this as only leading to reductions in the public services that all citizens of New Hampshire rely upon.

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

State Employees and State Enter Contract Negotiations Tomorrow

SEIU 1984 LogoConcord, NH, October 22, 2014 – The State Employees’ Association/SEIU Local 1984, which represents 11 thousand state employees, announced that negotiations for the 2015-2017 employment contract between the employees and the state will officially begin tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning, the employees’ bargaining team will meet with the State’s team for the first time to begin the process of negotiating an employment contract that both sides find reasonable and fair.  Typically, the first meeting is focused on establishing “ground rules,” such as dates, times, frequency, location of meetings; the structure of sessions; the bargaining environment; among other things.

“We are pleased to begin negotiations in October, which is really when we are supposed to begin by statute,” said the workers’ Bargaining Chairman, James Nall.  “It is encouraging that Governor Hassan has agreed to engage in the process before the remainder of the budget process.  We are appreciative of her willingness to begin earlier this time.”

Over the last few cycles, contract negotiations were not complete until late in the budget process; leaving both the workers and the state vulnerable to the ramifications of the legislature trying to fit funding into a nearly completed budget.  “It is great to feel that we are not an afterthought, this time,” said Nall.

The price tag of the current contract accounts for just 18% of the state’s annual expenditures.  “People are quick to assume that this is the line item to slash when balancing the state’s budget,” said Rich Gulla, SEA/SEIU 1984 president.  “In reality, far more is paid to private contractors, who carry out functions that may have previously been performed by state workers.  Interestingly, many of those contractors are from out of state, so when they receive payment from our tax dollars, that money is not spent here; it isn’t placed back into New Hampshire’s economy.  This ultimately hurts our state.”

“Before we begin the bargaining process each time, we send out a survey to all the employees in the unit,” said Nall. “It was not surprising that when responding to what one thing they would change about their job it was not their wages or benefits.  It was to provide high quality service to our citizens.  They want to have the resources to do their job. Our employees strive to provide the services to those in need – whether that’s someone who’s driving on state roads or someone needing assistance with child support.  That’s commitment and dedication.”

“Many state employees are now doing the jobs of two to three employees,” said Gulla.  “This is the result of repeated budget cuts and the elimination of over 1200 positions over the last decade.  Agencies are underfunded year after year.  Management is avoiding more layoffs by not filling vacant positions.  The amount of work to be done doesn’t decrease, though, it increases.  So services for the citizens of this great state are being negatively impacted.  That’s a problem.”

Changes related to workplace safety and wages will likely be included in this round of negotiations.

NEA President: Supreme Court Silences Voices of Working Families

Harris v. Quinn ruling creates uncertainty, instability for economic prosperity

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court of the United States today struck another blow against working families with its narrow 5-4 decision  in Harris v. Quinn when it eliminated agency fee arrangements for Illinois home healthcare workers. By casting doubt on case law that has been settled for decades, the Court’s ruling also creates insecurity and instability for employers and unions throughout the public sector. Harris v. Quinn was brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW), a political group whose extreme agenda seeks to weaken the power of working people.

At issue in the case was whether non-union members could reap the wages, benefits and protections negotiated in a collectively bargained contract without needing to pay their fair share. The National Education Association, joined by California Teachers Association and Change to Win, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to expose the truly radical nature of NRTW’s arguments and underscore their audacious claim that public-sector collective bargaining itself is constitutionally suspect.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“Quality public services, economic stability and prosperity starts with strong unions, but today the Supreme Court of the United States created a roadblock on that path to the American Dream. This ruling jeopardizes a proven method for raising the quality of home health care services—namely, allowing home health care workers to join together in a strong union that can bargain for increased wages, affordable health care and increased training.

“Americans count on quality public services provided by public employees like educators. We need workplaces, including public schools, where front-line employees have a voice. Today’s decision shuts the door on one proven method for ensuring that public sector workers’ voices are heard.  At a time when we are just starting to dig out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we should be creating an economy that works for all of us—not taking radical steps that undermine the rights of public workers while creating uncertainty and instability in the workplace.

“As a high school teacher and coach for 23 years, I saw how the entire team benefited when we all worked together. With today’s ruling, the Supreme Court took away the fairness and camaraderie that comes with working in a team. Agency fees are a common-sense, straight-forward way to ensure fairness and protect equity and individual rights. Every educator who enjoys the benefits and protections of a negotiated contract should, in fairness, contribute to maintaining the contract. And fair share simply makes sure that all educators share the cost of negotiations for benefits that all educators enjoy, regardless of whether they are association members.

“Despite today’s decision, we know that public sector workers will continue to organize—in public sector bargaining states and non-bargaining states, in agency fee states and right to work states—because public sector workers know that a union is the best way for all of us to ensure good schools, quality public services and economic prosperity.”

Minneapolis Federation Of Teachers’ Ratify Contract That Strengthens Public Education

Editor’s Note: Today it was announced that the Minneapolis Federation of Teacher ratified a new contract.  While ratifying a contract is good news, the details of their contract are even better.  This is why I decided to share this with all of the NH Labor News. — MATT

AFT President Weingarten on Minneapolis Teachers’ Contract Ratification

AFT_Logo-2

WASHINGTON—Statement from AFT President Randi Weingarten on the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers’ ratification of a new contract agreement with the Minneapolis Public Schools:

“This agreement helps reclaim the promise of public education in Minneapolis. It opens a new chapter in the relationship that includes the Minneapolis community, Minneapolis educators and the city’s public school system. The agreement enables partners to work together to create community schools tailored to meet students’ needs, and it recognizes and values the voice and experience of educators in strengthening Minneapolis schools and helping all children succeed.

“The agreement ratified today was a product of nine months of tough negotiations and mediation. The vote by MFT members to approve it is a statement of their continuing commitment to the collective bargaining process as the best way to define the solutions that will serve all children.

“By taking important steps toward limiting class sizes—particularly in the city’s high-priority schools—this agreement advances the goal that teachers, parents and all who care about Minneapolis children share: making sure that all students, no matter what neighborhood they live in, receive the support they need to succeed, with equity in resources across the school district.

“I commend MFT President Lynn Nordgren and her bargaining team for working through many challenges in negotiations with the school district to reach an agreement that will be good for both teaching and learning. This agreement:

  • For the first time ever, makes class size targets public, sets a limit of 18 students for K-3 classes in high-priority schools, and includes a commitment from the district to respond to class size issues within five days.
  • Establishes an audit of standardized assessments, with the stated goal of reducing the time devoted to testing and test preparation beginning with the 2014-15 school year.
  • Establishes a collaborative process for creating Community Partnership Schools that will allow teachers to take a lead role in developing site-based educational models designed to meet the particular needs of students at individual schools.
  • Includes small increases in compensation in each year of the contract. These raises recognize the value of MFT members’ contributions and commitment to the children of Minneapolis—and they come after four straight years in which teachers received no cost of living increases.”

The new two-year agreement covers the current and the 2014-15 school years. It will take effect following approval by the board of education, which is expected at the board’s next regular meeting.

Jobs With Justice Relaunches With New Website, Brand and Expanded Agenda

jobs-with-justice-logoWashington, D.C.—Today, Jobs With Justice is proud to unveil its new website and brand to complete the organization’s relaunch as a result of the 2012 merger between Jobs with Justice and American Rights at Work. The new website can be viewed at www.jwj.org.

“As the new Jobs With Justice, we are leading the fight for workers’ rights and an economy that benefits everyone. By bringing together labor, community, student and faith voices at the national and local levels, we are creating innovative solutions to the problems workers face today,” said Executive Director Sarita Gupta.

Already this year, the organization has helped immigrant workers earn precedent-setting U visas to protect them against employer retaliation, secured a meeting for students with Sallie Mae’s CEO to address the company’s role in the student debt crisis, pushed for the implementation of the Department of Labor’s new rule extending overtime and minimum wage protections to two million home care workers, and stood with retail and fast food workers who walked off the job to demand better wages and working conditions. So far this year, the Jobs With Justice network engaged in campaigns impacting more than 500,000 workers. The organization also issued dozens of original research reports and policy materials.

“As our country faces stagnating wages and economic growth, Jobs With Justice is an essential voice in the fight against economic inequality,” said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America and Jobs With Justice board member.

Added David Bonior, former majority whip, founding chair of American Rights at Work, and current Jobs With Justice board member, “The ability of Jobs With Justice to work nationally and locally, on-the ground and online, to win real change for workers is exactly what this movement needs.”

By combining strategic campaigns, innovative communications, and solid research and policy advocacy with robust grassroots action and mobilization, the organization will continue to build on the combined 35-year history of Jobs with Justice and American Rights at Work.

For more information and to access earlier publications and resources from American Rights at Work, please visit www.jwj.org.

PSNH Building Mechanics and Attendant Ratify First Contract

IBEW Asst. B.M. Tom Ryan congratulates Tom Eaton on first contract.

IBEW Asst. B.M. Tom Ryan congratulates Tom Eaton on first contract.

Reposted from IBEW 1837

November 26, 2013 – The Building Mechanics and Attendant at Public Service Company of New Hampshire have ratified their first collective bargaining agreement and have officially become members of IBEW Local Union #1837. The contract vote was held this morning at the PSNH garage facility in Manchester.

“I want to thank Building Mechanic Tom Eaton for all the good work he did on this contract and his willingness to also step up and become a Shop Steward,” IBEW 1837 Assistant Business Manager Tom Ryan said. “It’s a good first agreement for these workers, especially since they will be getting the terms and conditions of the large PSNH contract.”

There are currently three Building Mechanics at PSNH. They are responsible for the maintenance, repair and installation of building and mechanical systems including plumbing, heating, electrical work, HVAC, and building controls throughout the company’s service area. The Building Attendant has a wide range of responsibilities including the design, moving and installation of furniture and office systems, as well as other duties.

“We’re pretty excited to align ourselves with IBEW and start to enjoy the benefits that our co-workers share,” Eaton said after the initial National Labor Relations Board vote last June to be represented by the Union. “It’ll be good to have the security of being part of the large bargaining unit.”

“Winning the vote to join the Union is a big first step, but the challenge of securing a first contract can be even more difficult,” IBEW 1837 Organizer Matthew Beck said. “I’m sure all of our members will join me in congratulating them on this great accomplishment.”

“Working with the guys at the Union made it easy for us,” continued Eaton. “It was smooth, easy, and everybody on both sides was very cordial.”

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement