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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.

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.

 

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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



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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

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