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The Professional Firefighters Of New Hampshire Praise Legislators For Voting Down ‘Right To Work’ Bill

Professional Firefighters of NH President Dave Lang, and IAFF General President Schaitberger applaud legislators for voting down the 'Right to Work' bill. (via PFFNH Facebook)

Professional Firefighters of NH President Dave Lang, and IAFF General President Schaitberger applaud legislators for voting down the ‘Right to Work’ bill. (via PFFNH Facebook)

New Hampshire House of Representatives Votes Down ‘Right-to-Work’ Bill 

H.B. 323 would have dealt a blow to collective bargaining in the Granite State

In a major victory for public employees, the New Hampshire House of Representatives today voted down a bill that would have crippled collective bargaining and silenced the voices of workers across the state.

H.B. 323, which would have prohibited employers and labor organizations from including fees for non-union members in collective bargaining agreements, was defeated by a vote of 212-141.

“In November, the citizens of New Hampshire voted in a legislature more focused on issues like jobs and the economy, rather than out-of-state interests,” said David Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire. “It is clear from today’s vote that ‘Right- to- Work’ is still not wanted or needed in New Hampshire. This has always been an unnecessary distraction, and I’m pleased that today the bill was killed so we can move on to the issues that matter to New Hampshire.”

The defeat of H.B. 323 in the New Hampshire General Court today marks a key turning point in the battle over the rights of public employees in the Granite State. In 2010, the rise of the Tea Party movement helped Republicans take control of both the House and the Senate. But in November 2012, amid rising public discontent with anti-labor politics, Democrats regained control of the House and brought the Senate closer to balance.

“I want to congratulate New Hampshire lawmakers today for listening to the people and defending the rights of all of the state’s hard working public employees,” said Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, who was on hand for the vote. “These so called ‘right-to-work’ bills are cropping up in legislatures all over the country, but the name hides the truth because they are designed to take away the rights of workers, not protect them.”

The PFFNH, headquartered in Concord, NH represents more than 2,000 active and retired fire fighters and paramedics.  More information is available at www.pffnh.org

Senator Rand Paul Submits A National Right To Work Bill

The battle over Right To Work States just took a monumental leap as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduces a National Right to Work (for less) Act.

From Sen Paul’s Press Release:

Senator Rand Paul “Sen. Rand Paul this week introduced the National Right to Work Act, S. 204, which seeks to preserve and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities.

“Every American worker deserves the right to freedom of association – and I am concerned that the 26 states that allow forced union membership and dues infringes on these workers’ rights,” Sen. Paul said. “Right to work laws ensure that all Americans are given the choice to refrain from joining or paying dues to a union as a condition for employment. Nearly 80 percent of all Americans support the principles and so I have introduced a national Right to Work Act that will require all states to give their workers the freedom to choose.”

Sen. Paul’s Right to Work Act does not add a single word to existing federal law, it simply deletes forced unionism provisions in federal law.”

This completely changes the conversation that surrounds Right To Work.  Before they always said was about jobs.  Specifically stealing jobs from neighboring Non-RTW states. This is how they forced it through in Indiana.   I love the way that Rick Smith describes it on his show, “Beggar they neighbor”. If we are a RTW for less nation who are we going to beg jobs from?

Now it seems it is that it is about Freedom.  This is a complete joke since it is already illegal to force someone into a union.  They already have the freedom to pay the representation fee instead of joining.

This is exactly the opposite to everything we are taught to believe in the democratic process.  We can have all the debate we want but in the end, the majority rules.  Now they are taking the minority and placing them ahead of the majority.

This is an ideological and blatantly  anti-union piece of legislation.  It has no benefit to our nation as a whole.  It will reduce the collective bargaining rights of millions of union workers and it turn will reduce the pay and benefits of the other 200 million workers in the US.

The national race to bottom has begun, soon Rand Paul will probably try to repeal all collective bargaining in the country!

Is it any surprise that the National Right To Work committee made a nice donation to the Rand Paul for Senate campaign. Does it surprise you that the National RTW Committee spent over $2.2 Million dollars ‘lobbying’ in Washington D.C.?  I am not surprised considering that there were no less than five Right To Work for less bills submitted in the 112 Congress.

While I do not expect this bill to go very far in the US Senate, it is obvious that these officials care more about their campaign contributions that the majority of workers.

Testimony of NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie on HB 323 (Right To Work for Less)

Chairman White and members of the committee,

My name is Mark MacKenzie and I am the President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. We represent over 40,000 union members in the state of New Hampshire in the private, public and federal sectors. We appear today in opposition to House Bill 323.

First of all, it is clear beyond any doubt that based on the economic data alone, this bill is bad policy for our state.

The Economic Policy Institute’s report, Right to Work: Wrong for New Hampshire, by University of Oregon economist Professor Gordon Lafer, found that the impact of adopting a RTW is to lower wages and benefits by about $1,500 per year – for both union and non-union workers – and to lower the odds of getting health insurance or a pension through one’s job, while having no impact at all on job growth.

Professor Lafer’s study was updated in 2012 and will be distributed to the committee today.

I would like to highlight some of the more compelling findings in the report that merits the committee’s attention.

To a large extent, globalization has rendered RTW impotent. In the globalized economy, companies looking for cheap labor are overwhelmingly looking to China or Mexico.

The most important case study for any state considering RTW in 2013 is that of Oklahoma, the only state to have newly adopted RTW in the post-NAFTA era (Indiana and Michigan have just recently implemented their new laws).

When Oklahoma was debating RTW in 2001, a series of corporate location consultants told legislators that the state was being “redlined” because up to 90% of relocating companies “won’t even consider” locating in a non-RTW location. If Oklahoma adopted RTW, these consultants promised, the state would see “eight to ten times as many prospects.”

But instead of growing, the number of new companies coming into Oklahoma has actually fallen by one-third in the eleven years since RTW was adopted.  The state’s manufacturing employment has also decreased by 30%, and Oklahoma’s unemployment rate in 2010 was twice as high as when the law was passed.  Every promise made by RTW boosters has proven false.

Employer surveys confirm that RTW is not a significant draw; in 2009 manufacturers ranked it fourteenth among factors affecting location decisions. It slipped even lower as a factor in 2011 to 16th.

In addition, the report found that New Hampshire’s economy is far superior to the right-to-work average. New Hampshire has seen significant growth in the number of new companies incorporating in the state, including both local startups and out-of-state companies opening locations in New Hampshire.

Partly due to its economic success, New Hampshire’s quality of life is far superior to that in RTW states.  In 2010, New Hampshire ranked among the top 10 states in median household income; share of population with health insurance; share of population receiving dental care; number of primary care physicians; low violent crime rate; and low incidence of heart attacks, strokes, infectious disease, diabetes, low birth weight babies; and occupational fatalities.  New Hampshire’s school system performs above national standards, with math and reading scores significantly above the national average in 2009. The median weekly earnings of New Hampshire employees are not only higher than the average of RTW states, but higher than every single one of the RTW states. So too, New Hampshire’s median household income is higher, and its poverty rate lower, than all of the 23 states with right-to-work laws passed before 2011.

For all these reasons, New Hampshire would do far better maintaining our existing system rather than imitating the RTW states.

Over the course of the last two years, significant new information has come to light, all of which confirms the negative impact of RTW legislation.

·         A new study by independent economists from the University of Nevada and Claremont McKenna College confirms RTW results in lower wages for non-union workers.

·         An Oklahoma corporate think-tank admitted RTW has failed to create jobs.  The Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs – a think tank affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, that played a leading role in promoting that state’s 2001 RTW law – now admits that “manufacturing is lower today than it was before RTW.” Furthermore, the same organization reports that Oklahoma has become a net job exporter.

·         RTW has been shown to increase construction fatalities.  A new study shows that, in addition to its negative impact on wages and benefits, RTW also makes for less safe workplaces, including increased fatalities for construction workers.

·         New Hampshire continues to outperform RTW states.  As of December 2011, unemployment in New Hampshire was lower than in all but three of the 23 RTW states. 

The South Carolina Model:

In the past year, South Carolina has frequently been promoted as a model of economic development due to its RTW law. But at the end of 2012, South Carolina’s unemployment rate was 8.4 percent; While New Hampshire’s was 5.4 percent. South Carolina’s poverty rate is also double that of New Hampshire; while its median income is $23,000 lower.  The rate of new business openings was 25 percent faster in New Hampshire than in South Carolina. When it comes to “new economy” firms – the high-tech, high-wage employers that every state seeks – New Hampshire is ranked much higher than South Carolina.  By any measure, South Carolina should be trying to figure out how to be more like New Hampshire — not the opposite.

The past two years have also produced evidence that shed light on some misleading claims that had been put forth on behalf of RTW.

Texas’ growth was entirely in the public sector, unrelated to RTW. For the last four years, job growth in Texas has come entirely through government jobs, while the private sector shrank—clearly a trend that cannot be credited to RTW.

Evidence presented as current was actually thirty-five years old.  The National Right to Work Committee produced a Powerpoint presentation in 2011 that quotes an executive of Fantus, a site-location firm, warning that “approximately 50 percent of our clients … do not want to consider locations unless they are in right-to-work states”. The Committee neglected to mention that the quote is based on a report from 1975, and that by 1986, the firm’s executive vice president reported that the figure had fallen to 10 percent.

With all this evidence it would seem that those advocating in favor of this bill are actually driven by an Ideological belief system with no real regard for the true impact this bill will have on New Hampshire’s middle class working families and our state’s economic future.

I urge the committee to reject this legislation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Strong Labor Opposition To Senate Bill 37 (The bill to restrict collective bargaining in NH)

When you talk about cutting collective bargaining rights for public employees, the labor unions come out in droves.  As they should. Thats why we form unions.  One solid voice to speak for the membership.

Today was no different.  At the committee hearing for Senate Bill 37, “an act relative to management rights under collective bargaining” members and representatives from many of the public sector unions came out in strong opposition to this bill.  To speak against the bill was Kurt Ehrenberg from the NH AFL-CIO. Glen Milner from the Professional Fire Fighters Association (PFF-NH).  James Allmenginger spoke on behalf of NEA-NH. Harriet Spencer spoke on behalf of AFSCME.    Even the unions who were unable to attend, like AFT-NH, submitted written testimony against the bill.

All of the testimony was pretty much the same.  Why are we attacking the collective bargaining process that has worked so well for everyone in New Hampshire for the last forty plus years.

“It guts much of collective bargaining and much of the collective bargaining agreements in existence,” said James Allmenginger,  NEA New Hampshire.

“We see this as an attack on public employees in New Hampshire,” said Kurt Ehrenberg, political and legislative field director for the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

“It is a radical piece of legislation that upsets the apple cart and takes the state back 40 years” said Glen Milner of the PFF-NH

SB37 basically gives all the power to management by making everything ‘management rights’.  This means that the ‘management’ can set all the rules around, evaluations, disciple, layoffs, and much more.   According to Senator Bragdon “all these things is still subject to negotiations”.  If management sets the rules why would they ever need to negotiate about it?

At the hearing it also became more evident who was pushing for this type of restrictive legislation.  The NH School Boards Association was one of the organizations advocating for the this bill. Their ‘concern’ is all about teacher evaluations. They would want more control in creating (and imposing) their version of teacher evaluations.

Norma Love of the Associated Press paraphrased it perfectly when she wrote:

Betsy Miller, executive director of the New Hampshire Association of Counties, said her group supports anything that increases managerial prerogative. The changes — if adopted — would give more authority to managers, she said”

Collective Bargaining works when both sides have something to win and something to loose.   There must be give and take from both sides.  This type of legislation is contrary to the collective bargaining process.

If the NH School Boards Association has an issue with teacher evaluations, they should look at some of the contracts that other cities and towns have passed.  The Nashua Teachers’ Union (AFT), the Rochester Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Hillsboro Federation of Teachers (AFT) negotiated a teacher evaluation as part of their contract.  This allowed the city and the union to compromise on how the process should work.

Even after all of this information today, I am still confused as to why a very moderate Senator Bragdon would be sponsoring this bill?  Sen Bragdon was the former chairman of the Milford School Board (now just a member).  What is the real goal of this legislation?  Is it really about evaluations or is it about layoff procedures (another negotiated process)? Or disciplinary procedures (another negotiated process)?   Only time will tell.

NH Senate President Writes Legislation To End Collective Bargaining

After enduring two full years of constant attacks on the collective bargaining process, we thought that after the elections we would be safe.  We were wrong!

Senate President Peter Bragdon, who is a strong supporter of Right To Work legislation, has introduced a bill that would effectively end collective bargaining for public employees, without actually saying it.

The bill, Senate Bill 37, is a very sneaky and underhand way of removing items from the collective bargaining process to effectively destroy it.  (Bold are proposed changes)

The phrase “managerial policy within the exclusive prerogative of the public employer’ shall be construed to include but shall not be limited to the functions, programs, and methods of the public employer, including the use of technology, the public employer’s organizational structure, [and] the selection, direction and number of its personnel, and the right to determine standards for evaluation, compensation, selection, layoff and retention, discipline, assignment and transfer, and other traditionally accepted managerial rights, so as to continue public control of governmental functions.

This change means that unions are no longer allowed to negotiate over wages, evaluations, reductions in force, or disciplinary procedures.  I would be the first to say that a contract is more than just pay and time off, however taking these above items out would destroy our collective bargaining process.

To me this appears to be going right after our state’s teachers unions.  Restricting their rights to bargin over seniority based layoffs and classroom evaluations.   In going after the teachers this legislation will decimate the collective bargaining process that has worked so well in NH for the last 50 years for all public employees.

I will not stand idly by and let them take away my rights to collectively bargain.  The first committee meeting for this bill is at the State House on WEDNESDAY January 23  at 9:30 am in room 100. Can I count on you to be there too?

If you cannot be there you can still help.  The American Federation of Teacher (NH) have created an online action page for you to send a message directly the Senate Committee.

We must work together to stop the attacks on our police, fire, educators, and public servants.  They have dedicated their lives to serving the public and deserve the rights to have a voice in their workplace.

A Story Of Bad Faith Negotiating, From Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers (AFT-NH)

Have you ever been in a negotiation with someone and after you reach an agreement, the other side says they have changed their position?

This is commonly referred to in labor negotiations as ‘bad faith bargaining’.  Bad faith bargaining also refers to when the negotiators never plan to reach an agreement and yet they continue to negotiate.

Today the Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers filed an Unfair Labor Practice against the Hillsoboro-Deering School Board for their actions in recent contract negotiations.

Terri Donovan,  Director of Field Services and Collective Bargaining informed the NH Labor News of how this came to be.

Both the School Board and the Teachers Federation came together to work on negotiations for a new contract in late October of 2012.  Both parties laid out their ground rules and proposed contract changes.

The School Board later came back to negotiations with a very clear mandate.

“The School Board negotiating team stated’ they would not settle a contract unless’ the Union agreed to remove the contractual evergreen clause.”

This was a complete shift from their previous contracts which included an ‘Evergreen’ clause since the late 90s.  The Evergreen Clause continues the current contract until a new contract is negotiated, even after the expiration of the current contract and teachers are granted steps based on experience.

Richard Pelletier, School Board Chairman and negotiating team member tried to say that the board promised the voters that they would not approve another contract with an evergreen clause in it.  After much research there is still no proof this every happened.  In an apparent act of defiance or indifference, the two school board members who are also on the negotiating team, opted not to attend the scheduled all day negotiations on Nov 28th.

Not long after this, the Union declared Impasse and moved into mediation with the School Board.  The School Board negotiating team and the Union negotiating team endured more than ten hours of tense mediation to finally come to an tentative agreement.  The tentative agreement also included an evergreen clause.

Just before the union was about to the union membership radification meeting and explain the changes to their contract, the HDFT President Diane Hines ran into Jean Mogan, School District Business Administrator and member of the School Board negotiating team in the school hallway.  Jean then informed Diane that “the School Board didn’t vote on the contract they couldn’t get a second to the motion”.  This means that even if the membership were to agree to the tentative contract, the School Board would not agree to it.

How could this happen? According to audio tapes of the HD School Board’s non-public session, School Board Chair Richard Pelletier stated that “A majority of the negotiating team.has agreed to a tentative agreement”.   When they returned for a public session HD School Board member and negotiating team member,  Nancy Egner Denu brought the motion up for a vote.  The remaining three members of the board refused to second the motion, essentially killing it.

This means the board never voted on the agreement. The public never heard the details of the agreement. Most importantly the public never heard that the majority of the board agreed to the tentative contract.

Richard Pelletier broke the ground rules laid out in the negotiations by refusing to advocate for the tentative agreement.

“Members of negotiating teams have an obligation to support tentative agreements when they present those agreements to their respective memberships for ratification”

The Union held a vote of no confidence in the HD School Board negotiating team and is now moving forward with an Unfair Labor Practice.

This is the true definition of bad faith bargaining.

(link to the ULP for reference and more details)

Amherst School Board and Teachers Did Not Settle Contract

The power of collective bargaining has been proven time and time again, so it is sad to hear that the Amherst School Board is unwilling to settle with the Amherst Education Association.

via facebook http://on.fb.me/TJnS8M

The Amherst Education Association and the Amherst School Board were not able to reach a settlement on a contract before the January 8th SB2 budget submission deadline. As a result, Amherst PreK-8 teachers will be working without the stabilizing influence of a contract for the third time in the past nine years.

The Amherst Education Association has already voiced significant concerns over the Board’s proposed 2014 budget, which relies on unprecedented reductions in teaching staff and increases in class size based on fiscal reasons rather than educational policy. Coupled with the failure to settle a contract, the AEA feels the Board was not willing to explore any options that would best serve the Amherst voters and the teachers that serve them.

Will Amherst follow the same path as other districts (notably Manchester) and move towards larger class sizes? What will happen to the district’s high ranking among NH schools? Amherst teachers strongly believe increased class sizes and fewer teachers are not in the best interest of Amherst’s PreK-8 students.

With hope, the Amherst Education Association and the Amherst School Board can resolve these issues before people are forced out and Amherst students’ learning environment is negatively impacted.

The Amherst Education Association represents Amherst School District teachers at Clark, Wilkins and Amherst Middle School, covering grades Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade.

“Right to Work” Laws? More Like “Right to Freeload”

This is a special cross post from the We The People blog by Howie Barte. Read more about Howie at the bottom.

“Right to Work” Laws? More Like “Right to Freeload”
By Howie Barte 

It is a safe bet that no one alive in the USA today that can remember a time when company bosses forced workers to toil for up to 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no time off other than for a debilitating work accident, or worse.  Today’s 8-hour day/40 hour standard workweek was not granted out of kindness by the industrialists and corporations making enormous profits off disposable workers.  It was hard-fought and won by labor unions in this country and in every other industrialized capitalist-oriented country on Earth.

Likewise, no one alive will remember when unsafe, stifling sweat shops that employed children under inhumane conditions were the norm.  But those, too, were eliminated because unions forced them out of existence through job actions as well as political actions.

The US mining industry lagged behind these gains for many years.  Working conditions in the mines as recently as 50 years ago were inhumanly unsafe and unhealthful.  The mining company fat cat industrialist/capitalists realized that it was far cheaper to replace a sick or dead miner with a newly hired miner than to upgrade the mines’ working conditions and safety equipment.  Unions such as the United Mine Workers of America (UMW orUMWA) forced changes to working conditions and pushed for passage of laws mandating minimum safety requirements for mining operations.

All of the above events have something in common:  They were possible because of the collective actions taken by workers who were organized into unions.  Without unions, the abominable working conditions described above would most likely still be the norm.  And every worker who benefited fairly shared in the costs of these achievements.

The republican party (GOP) was once the party of Abraham Lincoln, who fought the US Civil War and ultimately ended slavery in the USA.  Slavery is, after all, just another way for industrialist/capitalist fat-cats to enjoy cheap labor, without regard to human suffering or even basic human rights.  The end of overt slavery gave rise to covert slavery, where workers were indebted to through such clever inventions as the company store and thus enslaved not by a whip but by basic economics.  Slowly and painfully, workers organized into unions, and laws were passed guaranteeing workers a minimum wage by which they could buy food, clothing and shelter.

The unions incurred huge expenses in challenging the industrial/capitalist fat cats to achieve these necessary improvements in wages and working conditions.  Company bosses needed a way to fight back, so they formed a “union” of sorts of their own, the industrial/capitalist fat cats political campaign war chest, so to speak.  The republican party was wooed and enticed by obscene and bottomless barrels of money.   Unions responded by backing democrats.  As a result, republicans wanted to get unions out of the political balance as much as the industrial/capitalist fat cats did.  The perfect storm against organized labor was forming.

Enter the right-to-work” laws, which mandate that although unions must represent all covered workers in grievances and share among all workers any and all gains in working conditions and/or wages won by the union, while union members pay their dues to finance these services, the non-union-member workers in the same company in “right-to-work” states get these gains for free.  They don’t pay a single dime towards the expenses incurred for these services.  They free-load on the backs of union members.

Right-to-work” laws truly have only one single purpose:  To reduce income to unions by preventing them from charging non-union workers any fees for services the non-members still benefit from.  By reducing the union’s income, they reduce its negotiating power, its financial (and thus political) resources, and its attractiveness to new workers.

Starting in 1943, Florida passed the first “right-to-work” laws, barring mandatory fees/union dues for union services for non-union members.  And since the GOP won back the US House of Representatives, Indiana passed its own right-to work law.  There are now 23 states with these union-busting laws on the books.

Over the past week, the GOP-controlled Michigan state legislature passed two such laws in record time.  They were signed into law within hours by Michigan’s GOP governor Rick Synder.  The republicans claim that these laws free workers and encourage job creation, but this is misleading at best.  They only free workers from strong union protection of their hard-earned wages, working conditions and job security.  And most new businesses pay much less than the union shops.  But the real hit is leveled against union resources that help elect democrats.

Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th president of the USA, hero of World War 2 and a (now extinct) moderate republican, warned in his farewell speech in 1961, “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex..”

It is a warning largely ignored by today’s Tea-Party-infected, ultra-right,Karl Rove brainwashed GOP.

Eisenhower and Jimmy Hoffa must be holding each other as they turn over in their graves.   :(

From We The People Blog bio:

Until December 6th, 2006, Howie was a liberal-centrist radio talk show host in Providence, Rhode Island.  In the Fall of 2006, corporate/political forces decided that the free speech provisions of the US Constitution didn’t really mean all that much, and they decided to silence all but the most ultra-conservative voices on talk radio in Rhode Island.  Both Howie, who had been on the air for fifteen months, and his close friend and mentor, ex-RI State Attorney General Arlene Violet, who had hosted the talk show following Howie’s for seventeen years, were summarily fired.  Arlene received a 30-day advance “gag-order” notice required by her contract, but Howie’s advance notice consisted of “Nice show today, Howie!  Now leave immediately and don’t come back.” 

Worse even than that was the fact that Arlene was told to leave the next day, which was a day earlier than she had been told, and she was escorted out of the building!!  As Harry Chapin stated in his song ‘W.O.L.D’, “That’s how this business goes!”.

Before that, Howie was an air traffic controller for 33 1/2 years, most of it spent at T.F. Green Airport (PVD) in Providence, Rhode Island.  During that time, he was a co-founder of NATCA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which is the federal union that represents the nation’s air traffic control workforce, as well as several other federal professions.  He served the first regional vice president of the NATCA New England Region, and also served as local president at PVD for fourteen years and alternate regional vice-president for 11 years.
  He retired from federal service in 2005.

After retirement, he was asked to be a radio talk show host in the local Providence, RI market. As stated above, he served in that capacity for fifteen months, after which the station he worked for decided to shift to the ultra extreme right, and save salary money in the process. Howie and his mentor, Arlene Violet were shown the door, leaving only cost-free syndicated ultra-extreme right national programs and a single right-wing local host.

Howie was born in New York City, and from the age of almost seven, has lived in Spain, Holland, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico, when he graduated college and originally was an air-taxi pilot before becoming an air traffic controller in the FAA. He also spent four years in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam conflict.

Howie is married with two grown daughters. He is a Harley Davidson rider (see photos on www.howiebarte.com) and loves Sushi and Sashimi. He self-describes as a liberal-centrist with libertarian tendencies, particularly when it comes to our legislators making laws that supposedly protect us from ourselves. He is willing to pay his fair share of taxes, but believes that corruption and inefficiency in government should be financed solely by the jerks that pass these laws and skim off the top (or even the bottom).

American Friends Service Committee Show Support For Labor In 2013 Legislative Agenda

Over the last two years New Hampshire endured one of the worst legislative sessions in history.  At the hands of (former) Speaker O’Brien every progressive organization came under attack. He and his legislative cohorts attacked, women, labor, the elderly, and the impoverished.

Throughout the two year session the American Friends Service Committee was there fighting back in every way they could.  They teamed up with labor and other community activism groups to protest O’Brien’s actions.

While this session will undoubtedly be a complete 180 from the previous session this does not mean there is not work to be done.

AFSC Logo via http://bit.ly/SUVtKY

Today the AFSC released their Legislative Agenda. Some of the items on the agenda include: Repealing the Death Penalty, Strengthening Tenants’ Rights, Promoting Affordable Housing, Supporting Prison/Sentencing Reform, and Preserving Marriage Equality.  Many of these are expected from the traditional Quaker organization.

Once again AFCE and Organized Labor will be walking hand in hand on some very important issues.   The local unions have yet to say what their most important state legislative issues will be, however with the Democrats in control of the house Right To Work for less will not be one of them.

Some of the common legislative goals.

  • Raising the Minimum Wage
  • A Fairer Tax System
  • Stopping Prison Privatization
  • Protecting the Most Vulnerable (e.g. Medicaid expansion, human service budgets, predatory lending)
  • Protecting Human and Civil Rights (including Collective Bargaining, Voting Rights)

All of these issues have been pushed by labor for many years.   You may remember that the NH AFL-CIO was one of the loudest voices when it came to passing a minimum wage law for New Hampshire.

The NH Labor News also publishes important updated from Arnie Alpert of the AFSC.  I look forward to working with Arnie and the entire coalition at AFSC.

Michigan Tries To Sneak A Right To Work For Less Bill Through

Let me be one of the first to welcome the State of Michigan to the hell I have been living in for the last two years.  The Michigan Legislature just proposed a Right To Work (for less) bill into their legislature.

If you follow the NH Labor News you already know that we are adamantly against any form of Right To Work for less.  We have been fighting against multiple forms of Right To Work and reductions in our collective bargaining rights.  These attacks on our collective bargaining in NH were mostly due to the extreme right wing legislators and their leaders Speaker Bill O’Brien.

Michigan and New Hampshire are nearly identical in public opinion of Right To Work (for less) and collective bargaining.

From Detroit Free Press: “With the election behind us, Lake Research Partners found that voters are overwhelmingly ready for politicians in Lansing to get to work creating jobs and improving education, not changing rules about unions or collective bargaining (83 percent agree, 64 percent strongly agree). The same poll shows that a strong majority of Michigan voters (70 percent) continues to support the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively over wages, benefits, and working conditions, including a majority (55 percent) of those who voted No on Proposal 2.”

This Right To Work proposal seems very strange, given the large number of union workers in Michigan.  The economy in Michigan was completely turned around by the recovery of the American auto industry.   Why would they want to go after the same people that helped to rebuild Michigan’s economy over the last three years?

Here are the facts:

Right To Work for less does not create jobs.

Contrary to what the right wing media may be telling you,  Right To Work has never been proven to create jobs.

Right To Work laws lower wages.

This is a proven fact that people in RTW states make on average $1,500 a year less. They are also less likely to receive healthcare benefits or retirement options.

Right To Work is an attack on collective bargaining.

RTW laws have one real purpose, ‘to weaken the unions’.  They know that if they can somehow weaken the unions workers will have less say in the workplace. They will have less say in their pay, benefits, and overall working conditions.

Right To Work states rank lower in education.

In New Hampshire, the statistics are astounding that Right To Works states fail in comparison on reading levels, math levels, and early childhood education.

Do not be fooled by the right wing media that might be saying that Right To Work is a matter of freedom or way to create jobs, they are lies.

Working America and the AFL-CIO are working to ensure that Michigan does not try to sneak this Right To Work (for less) bill through the legislature in their own ‘lame duck’ session.

If you are in Michigan take one minute and sign this letter to the MI Senate Majority Leader Richardville and tell him to stop the attacks on workers by opposing this so called Right to Work bill.

If you are not a resident of Michigan you can still help.  Use you twitter account to send a message to Sen Richardville.  Click To Tweet to @SenRichardville

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