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Dear Platform Committee: Stock Buybacks Should Be Illegal

Bernie Sanders Hillary ClintonThis weekend, the Democratic Party Platform Committee will put the finishing touches on the party’s official policy positions.

What’s not in there, yet?  A clear stand against corporate stock buybacks.

Hillary Clinton made buybacks part of her presidential platform almost a year ago.  Bernie Sanders has been talking about buybacks even longer than that.

But while the presidential candidates were talking about the issue, corporations spent $600 billion buying back their own stock. (And that’s just counting what the big corporations spent.)

If that money had been spent on new hires, rather than just on concentrating corporate ownership, it could have created almost 8.5 million jobs.  (That’s at the average US wage, including benefits.)

Image by Rose Lincoln, 1199SEIU

Image by Rose Lincoln, 1199SEIU

Imagine what the US economy could look like, if 8.5 million more of us were working right now.  Instead… well, you can read “US companies have spent $2 trillion doing something that has absolutely no impact on their business” for yourself here.  (That’s what the past five years of buyback spending adds up to: $2 trillion.  Yes, “trillion” with a “T.”)

Buyback spending drives up stock prices, which enriches corporate executives and investors who sell their stock.  But it’s not an investment in the corporation’s future – just the opposite, in many cases.  A lot of recent buybacks have been financed by new corporate debt, in a practice that one Wall Street insider described to me as “monetization of future revenues.”  They’re borrowing against future corporate revenues to pay stockholders now.  They’re mortgaging the future, rather than investing toward it.

This used to be illegal, back when the economy worked for the middle class.  This weekend, the Democratic Party Platform Committee should take a clear stand: it ought to be illegal, now.

Read more NH Labor News coverage about stock buybacks here.

I Was Going To Endorse A Presidential Candidate Today, BUT….

Today I thought I was going to sit down and finally make an endorsement in the New Hampshire Democratic Primary. The election is only a month away, and many people have been waiting for me to endorse someone.

But I am not going to make any announcement about who I support right now.

Before I make an endorsement, we – as Democrats– seriously need to sit down and talk!

The differences between the Republican candidates and the Democrats are astounding. The two parties could not be further apart. Republican presidential candidates are attacking women, attacking immigrants, attacking members of the LBGT community, and the list goes on and on. There are massive amounts of money being “invested” in this election by corporations and dark money organizations that are trying to undermine workers’ rights.

The Republican candidates in this election are trying to take our country in the completely wrong direction.

Working families have been badly hurt, during the past few decades. We have to ensure that the Republicans do not win the White House.

I’m a Democrat, and we have our own problems right now. This primary has become the most divisive I have ever seen. Never before have I seen infighting between Democrats as I am seeing now.

My Facebook feed is full of supporters vocally showing their support for their chosen candidate. That is all fine and dandy – but recently supporters have turned to attacking fellow Democrats for not supporting their candidate.

People are accusing Senator Sanders of not being a Democrat, while others are accusing Sec. Hillary Clinton as being a shill for her Wall Street donors. Wherever the truth lies in these statements is not really relevant. Attacking fellow Democrats does not help either candidate, and does not show how the Democratic agenda will move America in the right direction.

Even the Republicans have started using our own infighting to fuel their own opposition to a specific candidate. And as NHLN blogger Liz Iacobucci pointed out in her Thanksgiving Day post, “arguing won’t get you anywhere.”

I’d also like to remind you of what’s gotten forgotten in all the infighting: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley are all basically saying the same thing. They’re all saying: We need to raise the minimum wage, protect workers rights to organize, protect women’s reproductive rights, pass modest gun reforms to reduce gun violence, pass paid family and medical leave, and reign in the Wall Street gamblers who wrecked our economy.

There are minor differences in the specifics, like an $11 dollar minimum wage vs. a $15 minimum wage, but the fact is they all want the same thing: to raise the minimum wage.

The most important consideration of all is not which Democrat wins the White House. The lesson we’ve learned over the past seven years is that controlling the White House only limits the bad legislation that gets through. Controlling the White House – by itself – cannot restore America’s Middle Class and it can’t advance family-friendly policies.

Congressional Republicans have done everything in their power to stop every piece of progressive legislation submitted in the past seven years. If those same Republicans are re-elected to Congress, then NONE of these worker-friendly campaign ideas are going to pass. Many of them will never even get a vote!

Each of us, as individuals, should actively support our chosen candidate. Highlight their progressive policies and how they will make a great President. Leave the attacks to other people. (We’ll hear more than enough attacks in the paid political advertising, thank you very much.)

When the primary is over, working people are going to have to stand side-by-side if we want to have any chance of winning the White House and taking back the US House and Senate.

Remember you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Stay positive and together our policies will help win over those undecided voters.

DNC and NH Democratic Party Pull WMUR Sponsorship Of Debate Over Labor Dispute

Generic-News-9-Image-updateWASHINGTON – Following WMUR’s decision to not move negotiations forward with IBEW Local 1228 ahead of next Saturday’sDemocratic debate, Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley issued the following joint statement:

“The DNC and the NHDP are excited about next Saturday’s Democratic presidential candidates debate in New Hampshire, and look forward to a spirited performance by all of our candidates.

Regrettably, as a result of WMUR’s unwillingness to move forward on scheduling negotiations between the Hearst Corporation and Production Department employees represented by IBEW Local 1228 prior to the debate, we will no longer include WMUR as a co-sponsor of the debate, and their talent will not be participating in any way.

The right for workers to form and organize a union is a key principle of the Democratic Party, and is key to ensuring the economic safety of the American people by protecting their rights and benefits. It is the right to organize that made it possible for the middle class in America to grow over the past century, and it is as important today as it has ever been to keep our economic growth as a nation moving forward.

We remain confident in our strong partnership with the ABC network and know that our Democratic candidates will have a robust debate, with a focus on the issues that matter most to hard working Americans across the country.”

Updates from WMUR, IBEW, and NH AFL-CIO below.

Jeff Bartlett, President and General Manager of WMUR-TV, issued this statement in response to the UNION LEADER:

“Needless to say, we’re disappointed that the efforts of the 140 WMUR employees in helping organize this debate will now be undone. Nevertheless, we’ll continue to cover the debate, and the candidates and campaigns. As for the negotiations with this particular union, we will continue with the policy we’ve followed with the many prior union negotiations we’ve successfully concluded – to negotiate in good faith, and directly and not through third parties.  To that end, we have a mutually agreed-upon date for another meeting, which has been scheduled and confirmed for some two weeks now.” 

It is unclear what future negotiations Bartlett is referring to. The fact is that no negotiations were scheduled prior to Senator Sander’s meeting with Jeff Bartlett on December 4th.

 IBEW Applauds DNC Decision to Drop WMUR Sponsorship of Next Debate

IBEW leaders are applauding the decision of the Democratic National Committee and the New Hampshire Democratic Party to drop television station WMUR as a co-sponsor of the next Democratic presidential debate scheduled for December 19.

“The right to collectively bargain has been a key part of every Democratic Party platform for more than a half a century,” said IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson.   “WMUR management’s refusal to meet in good faith with its employees stands in gross violation of that principle so I’m pleased that DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and N.H. Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley have taken this step.” 

Nearly two dozen members of IBEW Local 1228 have been resisting efforts to strip them of their retirement benefits. Management has ignored the union’s request for negotiations. 

All three Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders – have called on WMUR, which is owned by Hearst Media, to hold negotiations before the scheduled debate.

“We’re grateful for the support we’ve gotten from the DNC and from the candidates themselves,” said Local 1228 Business Manager Fletcher Fischer. “We hope this puts us one step further towards a fair resolution of the issue.”

(This update is also a stand alone post via this link: http://wp.me/s2yHP6-50346)

The NH AFL-CIO Praises DNC & NHDP’s Decision To Pull WMUR Sponsorship 

New Hampshire AFL-CIO President, Glenn Brackett’s statement on DNC & NHDP’s decision to remove WMUR as a co-sponsor of the December 19th Democratic Debate in Manchester: 

Hooksett – Glenn Brackett, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO issued the following statement in support of the Democratic National Committee and the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s decision to remove WMUR as a sponsor of the December 19th Democratic Debate due to WMUR’s refusal to negotiate in good faith with their workers. 

“I am proud of our brothers and sisters of IBEW 1228 for standing up for their rights as WMUR workers. I am grateful to the DNC, New Hampshire Democratic Party, and the Presidential candidates for their decision to stand with New Hampshire workers and hold Hearst Corp. accountable for their refusal to negotiate in good faith with their employees. I would like to thank DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz and NHDP chair Ray Buckley for their support throughout this endeavor. The New Hampshire AFL-CIO would also like to thank Democratic Presidential candidate Martin O’Malley for the statement he released yesterday calling on WMUR to be removed as a sponsor of this debate. 

Although we regret the Hearst Corporation’s repeated unwillingness to move contract negotiations forward with their employees, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO and its fellow brothers and sisters in organized labor look forward to the upcoming debate and the opportunity to see three great candidates make their case to New Hampshire, and working men and women across the country.”


Kelly Ayotte Votes Against New Hampshire’s Best Interests In Budget

Senator Kelly Ayotte 2 (Gage Skidmore)

Senator Kelly Ayotte at CPAC in 2013 (Image by Gage Skidmore FLIKR)

As the Senate wrapped up a slew of budget amendment votes Kelly Ayotte’s priorities were on full display, and now she has to begin the difficult work of trying to explain her indefensible votes to her constituents back home.

Below is just a sampling of where Kelly Ayotte voted against New Hampshire’s best interests:

  • Voted against an amendment to prevent companies from getting tax benefits for shipping jobs overseas. Over 106,000 jobs in New Hampshire are at risk of being outsourced
  • Opposed an amendment to adopt the Paycheck Fairness Act to give women more tools to fight pay discrimination.
  • Voted against measures to protect Social Security against privatization and benefit cuts and prevent Medicare from being turned into a voucher program
  • Voted against an amendment that would let young people refinance their student loans, which would help 129,000 borrowers in New Hampshire, and against restoring cuts to the Pell Grant program
  • Opposed a measure to provide two free years of community college by raising revenue through requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes

Kelly Ayotte’s priorities are clear, and New Hampshire students, seniors families and workers don’t make the list.

“If anyone wasn’t clear about how extreme Kelly Ayotte truly is, they don’t need to look any further than her votes on this budget against New Hampshire students, seniors, families and workers,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “New Hampshire voters deserve better than Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to stand up for their best interests and they’ll hold her accountable in 2016.”

These are not the priorities of New Hampshire working families.  These are the priorities of the rich, elite 1% who want to take more from the hard working middle class and refuse to pay their fair share.

“From voting to protect tax benefits for companies that outsource jobs to opposing a measure that would let young people refinance their student loans, Kelly Ayotte proved once again that her focus in Washington is looking out for her special interest allies and not the best interests of New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley.

This budget will not help Granite State families, it will only hurt them.  Slashing social programs that low income families rely on, reducing benefits to seniors who are already struggling to pay their bills on a fixed income, and gives more tax breaks to wealthy corporations who skirt paying their fair share in taxes.

It is obvious that Senator Ayotte is more interested in following her out of touch party leadership than doing what is right for New Hampshire families.  She is also setting herself up nicely for a potential GOP Vice President nomination, building a hefty war chest and voting right down party lines.

Merrimack County Democrats Announce Candidacy for NH House of Representatives

Bow, NH, June 9, 2014 – Last week, three Merrimack County Democrats announced their candidacy for the NH House of Representatives in District 23.  Anne Baier and Dennis D’Ovidio of Bow and Bob Martel of Dunbarton each filed their intent to run for office with the NH Secretary of State.

Baier and D’Ovidio are first time candidates, but neither is a newcomer to public service. Baier, a 27 year resident of Bow has served on the local School Board for 11 years, actively participating in the negotiation of teacher and support staff contracts; and has been a Trustee of the Concord Community Music School for six years.

“My collaborative nature, my experience in business operations and contract negotiation, will help me find common ground for the good of our State and communities and allow me to represent the voters of Bow and Dunbarton in a bipartisan way,” said Baier.

She and her husband, Dr. Clete Baier, have six children and two grandchildren.

D’Ovidio has lived in New Hampshire 40 years and has resided in Bow for 14.  He worked at the Laconia State School for nine years prior to working at NH State Hospital where he managed a multi- million dollar budget for over 20 years. All told, he devoted 34 years to state service. Currently, he is an Adjunct Professor in the Human Service department at NH Technical Institute in Concord.

“I am running to help preserve the American way of life and the democratic process; to give back to the community for the privilege of living in a democracy; to advocate for policies that support families; and the working women and men of NH and local business enterprises,” said D’Ovidio.

D’Ovidio and his wife, Beth, have four children and five grandchildren. D’Ovidio has provided “Grandpa Day Care” for each of the grandchildren at least one day a week since they were infants.

Martel has previously run for office and is currently a member of the NH Advisory Council on Unemployment Compensation.

399 Days Without Action on American Jobs Act

Today marks Day 399 of the Senate filibuster of President Obama’s American Jobs Act.

What’s a “filibuster”?  It’s a procedural method used by a minority of Senators to prevent a vote on proposed legislation.  In this case, Republican Senators have been blocking a vote on the American Jobs Act since October 2011.

The American Jobs Act would provide $132.6 million for highways, transit, rail and aviation here in New Hampshire.

It would provide $120.9 million in funding to pay for teachers, police and fire fighters, right here in New Hampshire.

More than $70 million in funding for public school construction, here in the Granite State.  Another $8.7 million to modernize facilities in the Community College System of New Hampshire.

Read more about how the American Jobs Act could benefit New Hampshire here.

Tomorrow will be Day 400.  It takes a two-third vote of the Senate to end a filibuster — and that’s not likely to happen if Senate Republicans continue to care more about party loyalty than they care about our nation’s economy.

One of those Senate Republicans represents us, here in New Hampshire — and you can call her to ask that she help end the filibuster on S.1660, so the Senate can finally vote on the bill.  Sen. Kelly Ayotte has offices in Manchester (603-622-7979), Nashua (603-880-3335), Berlin (603-752-7702) and Portsmouth (603-436-7161).


NH Democrats Jackson Jefferson Celebration

Submitted by Matt Murray

Last night I had the privilage of attending the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s  2011 Jefferson Jackson Celebration.  This annual event honors those who have done so much for the Democratic Party, especially over the last year.  For Democrats this has been especially hard year.  The 2010 elections brought in a huge wave of Radical Tea Partiers and Free Staters who have solidified behind their Speaker Bill O’Brien.  In spite of the constant barrage of Anti-Union, Anti-Family, Anti-Women, and Anti-Gay legislation coming from the GOP these faithful Democrats have stood strong.

This year the NHDP handed out many awards including a Grass Roots Activism Award to my personal friend and fellow Union Activist, Lew Henry (USPS). Some of the other award recipients include State Senator Sylvia Larsen, Ambassador Richard Swett,  and the entire Democratic Party Representatives in the State House.  There were many others and I am sorry if I did not mention you personally by name.

After the awards presentations NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen gave a rousing speech about ensuring that we work together to regain control of our State Legislature and send Bill O’Brien back to Massachusetts.  She talked about perserving workers rights and protecting the health of NH women through programs like Planned Parenthood.  She talked about the need to create good jobs, like the ones at the new Berlin Prison, to help get NH back to work.


Gov. Deval Patrick

The celebrations keynote speaker was Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.  Gov. Patrick is a true leader.  He has shown how by working with Labor Unions in MA. they corrected budget problems and the MA Retirement System.  He has shown by working with State Legislature, Massachusetts can provide affordable health care for all of the Commonwealth.  In MA., over 90% of adults and 99% of children are covered by the State’s Health Care program.  Gov. Patrick jested that a certain GOP Primary Candidate thought that state run health care was great for Massachusetts however it is not good for the other 49 states.  He continued by talking about how MA. is creating new “green” jobs while continuing to invest in public schools.  His education program has made MA one of the “Top Five States” for education.  He also poked a little fun at the NH GOP by saying: “In Massachusetts you can Marry whoever it is you love”.   (On a personal note, Gov Patrick is one of the best speakers I have ever had the privilege of seeing in person.)

All of the speakers and award recipients talked about the importance of the 2012 elections. (paraphrasing) We all must come together to show that the People of this country are more important than Corporations.  We need to get out there and show our support for our President, and take back Congress and the NH Legislature from the Radical Right.

NATCA member Matt Murray, Gov. Deval Patrick,
and NATCA member Patrick Sullivan
Matt Murray and
Former Mayor of Lebanon Karen Liot-Hill
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