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NH-SEA and Governor Hassan Reach Agreement For Employees Impacted By Federal Shutdown

Association, Governor Agree to Allow Furloughs for Workers Who Would Otherwise Be Laid Off

The irresponsible and senseless shutdown of portions of the federal government has entered into its third week and state government is beginning to feel the effect on federally funded programs.  “As the funding for programs begins to dry up, the state of New Hampshire is left to mitigate the after effects to critical programs like WIC, which provides critical assistance for pregnant women, infants and children, or the Social Security disability determinations,” said SEA President Diana Lacey.

Working closely with Governor Hassan, the SEA and the State of New Hampshire have reached an agreement to reduce the harm the shutdown will cause to citizens and state employees if Congress continues its shutdown. The action provides workers that may otherwise face layoff the ability to be partially or fully furloughed on the temporary and unknown basis the shutdown has created. The agreement will only impact workers that are already in positions that are partially or fully funded by federal programs whose funding has run out thanks to the shutdown. The best way workers can help is to call Congress and demand that they end the shutdown. You can reach your representative and senators by calling 1-866-426-2631.

To see Governor Hassan’s press release, click here: http://bit.ly/1cpBY7e.

President Lacey addressed the shutdown’s impact at the SEA Board of Directors meeting on October 10.  After thoroughly discussing the options the contract provides and the uncertainty the shutdown poses, the Board authorized President Lacey to negotiate and enter into such agreement.  “I am so proud that we’re moving together to address this crisis in a way that will have the least impact on critical services.  The State Employees are committed to the work they do even if Congress is not.  We are putting people first, not politics,” said Lacey.

The agreement makes clear that the Board, the Governor, agency heads and employees are all going to work hard to protect NH’s citizens and employees.  A copy of the agreement can be found here: http://bit.ly/1cSdMgv.

NH’s Congressional delegation is working hard; there are at least four votes in Washington  that are keeping us all in mind. Depending on how long the shutdown continues, there may be efforts made to help citizens and employees through this crisis. SEA members have stepped up in other times of crisis, doing food drives for those hardest hit. That may happen again if things don’t turn around.

It is important to note that not all employees that are in federally funded positions will be impacted.  Even those employees that receive a furlough notice may not actually face furlough if the shutdown ends before their two week advanced notice expires.  Different federal programs will run out of money at different times, so employees should not anticipate widespread furloughs at this time.

Some workers may end up with a shortened or modified workweek, depending on which federal program is impacted, particularly if the workers are involved with multiple programs.  That’s why we are developing a frequently asked question document that will be released tomorrow.  Additionally, contracted services may be similarly impacted depending on the funding source, service delivery and payment schedule, and other provisions.  The agreement with the SEA will not prevent contracted services from being harmed; the Governor is working to minimize all impact from the shutdown and we will continue to work together through this crisis.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Says “No Congressional Spa Until Shutdown Ends”

 GYM StockWASHINGTON, DC – The government has been shut down for eleven days, but Members of Congress continue to have access to an exclusive gym and spa while workers face furloughs and taxpayers foot the bill. Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) cosponsored the Shutdown Prioritization Act (SPA) which would force House Speaker John Boehner to remove the Members-only gym and spa from his list of “essential” House services.

paul-ryans-workout-plan“It is absolutely outrageous that John Boehner refuses to end the government shutdown but continues to give Members of Congress access to an exclusive spa,” Shea-Porter said. “It’s ridiculous for Paul Ryan and John Boehner to keep this taxpayer-funded luxury open while New Hampshire families and business are denied access to their government.”

Congresswoman Shea-Porter has strongly denounced the shutdown and has repeatedly called on House Leadership to allow a vote on a clean funding bill to reopen the government, put people back to work, and get our economy moving again.

To date, Speaker Boehner and Tea Party Republicans have refused to allow an up or down vote on noncontroversial legislation to reopen the government. But Boehner has deemed cushy perks like the House gym, sauna, and steam room – which are used exclusively by Members of the House of Representatives who pay a nominal membership fee – “essential” during the shutdown.

Members of Congress should not be able to access the taxpayer-supported gym, sauna, and steam room while tens of thousands of federal employees remain furloughed.

“How can Speaker Boehner decide that a steam room is essential but a paycheck for workers is not?” Shea-Porter added.

Additional details about the Shutdown Prioritization Act are available here.

Federal Workers Get A Promise To EVENTUALLY Get Paid As The HOUSE Goes Into Recess

Today in the U.S. House, Representatives voted to provide back pay to all furloughed federal employees when the shutdown ends.  The Hill broke the news; “members approved the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, H.R. 3223, in a 407-0 vote.”

This is great news for furloughed federal workers who can rest a little easier knowing that eventually they will get their pay back.

NH Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter was a co-sponsor of the bill.  Porter’s district includes the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard where over 4000 workers were forced into furlough by the shutdown.  These are the same DOD workers were forced to take unpaid furlough days last year due to the ‘Sequester’ cuts.

“I was proud to cosponsor this legislation to ensure workers are not unfairly punished due to Washington gridlock, and I’m glad the House passed it,” Shea-Porter said. “But this bill does not address the urgent need for Congress to do its job and reopen the full federal government. It’s time to put aside partisan politics and allow a vote on a clean funding bill that has bipartisan support and would put people back to work.”

NH Congresswoman Annie Kuster sent out this statement shortly after the vote.

“Hard working federal employees shouldn’t lose their pay because of gridlock in Congress, and this common sense bill will ensure that they don’t. Now it’s time for Speaker Boehner to let us vote on a bill to fully end the shutdown and restore services for New Hampshire families.”

This bill pays workers what is owed to them only AFTER the government reopens.  The question is when will the shutdown end?  The House has moved into recess to allow members to go home for the weekend.

Some Representatives in the House we not happy with this decision to go into recess.  Rep Shea-Porter spoke out against the recess!  In a short one-minute speech on the House floor, Shea-Porter said:

“Now I find out that we [the House of Representatives] are going home. Speaker Boehner has decided that Congress will go home tomorrow. How can we possibly go home? 

“There are people [in New Hampshire] who are not being paid. People here who are not being paid; police were not paid who work here every day. Across this country people are not receiving what they paid for, and we’re going home? 

“I’m embarrassed about this. We should stay here. And if they can’t agree to accept the fact that they lost the vote on the health care law, again and again, if they can’t agree to that, can they at least agree to work on jobs? There’s plenty of work to do in this country. And we have no right to go home until we get this job done.”

This is what every single legislator in Washington should be saying until they reopen the government.  Even though they will be eventually get paid that could mean weeks or months without a paycheck.  What are they supposed to eat until the government reopens?

Congress should stay in Washington, and stay in session until they resolve this shutdown.  Working families throughout the country are depending on them to fix this situation before they end up missing paychecks.

The actual federal workers are not the only ones being harmed by this shutdown. Melissa Roseboro is a federal contract worker at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  As a contractor there is still question as to whether she will be given any type of back pay.  Roseboro, along with many other low-wage federal contract workers spoke out against this shutdown in a sit-in at Speaker Boehner’s office.

“As it is, I am barely able to pay my rent and put food on the table with what I make at McDonald’s in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.”

“I am forced to rely on public assistance to get by.  But this shutdown is making it impossible for me to even scrape by. Every day the government is shut down is another day I don’t have any money to feed my family. So we are here to ask House Republicans, who continue to get paid while playing politics with my job and my wages, to help us pay our bills.  My rent was due yesterday. It’s not right, and I need Congress to end this shutdown and let us work.”

People need to get back to work so they can earn a paycheck and pay their bills.  Speaker Boehner has to power to end this shutdown.  All he has to do is call for a vote on a clean continuing resolution. A clean CR definitely has the numbers to pass.  It just has to be called for a vote by Speaker Boehner.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Republican Hostage Taking

As of today, it is clear that the Republican Party and the Tea Party have become one and the same when it comes to federal fiscal policy. House Republicans have decided that they will shut down critical public services, stiff public servants, hold America’s credit rating hostage and kill off jobs because they are upset that President Obama decisively defeated Mitt Romney last November. That some Republicans are participating in this fiasco against their better judgment does not obscure their responsibility. All responsible voices must speak and act against policy making by hostage taking.

It’s bad enough that Republicans’ intellectually dishonest austerity policies have starved the United States of the public investment necessary for shared prosperity in the future. Sequester was and remains a complicated name for a disastrous policy. But somehow Republicans have managed to go from pushing irresponsible policies to something even worse.

Shutting down the government would weaken demand, reduce employment and roil markets. Punishing federal workers and taxpayers to prove a point is a temper tantrum worthy of a four year old, not a policy choice of a responsible political party.

We stand with President Obama as he rejects unequivocally all Republican hostage taking. And we agree with the President that it would be a disastrous precedent for our democracy if we have any negotiations over the debt ceiling.

This is the moment for working people to bring pressure on behalf of a shared, popular and responsible agenda.  Repeal the job-killing sequester. Reject any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits.  Protect food aid for the poor.  And create jobs and raise hundreds of billions of dollars to invest in our future by ending all tax subsidies for outsourcing.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Condemns Government Shutdown

control towerWASHINGTON – The National Air Traffic Controllers Association today condemned the shutdown of the federal government and called on Congress to end it immediately.

As a result of the shutdown, 3,000 of NATCA’s aviation safety professionals, vital to the daily function, maintenance and safety of the National Airspace System (NAS) have been furloughed. 

“It is unacceptable that thousands of our aviation safety professionals have been forced to stay home due to partisan posturing in Congress,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. “I implore Congress to reach an agreement to end this shutdown, which is hurtful to our nation’s aviation system, our economy and the American people.”

During the shutdown, air traffic controllers are working without pay, but essential support staff specialists have been furloughed. Rinaldi said this is akin to a surgeon performing an operation without any staff to prep the room, clean the equipment or provide support during the surgery. In addition, controllers who train new hires will be unable to continue much of the training process. This could result in high controller attrition as frustrated trainees fall further behind in the training process. Controller hiring was already frozen due to sequestration.

Below are just a few of the thousands of projects that will be delayed or halted due to the government shutdown and furloughing of aviation safety professionals.

  • A delay in the opening of a new runway at Chicago O’Hare Airport.
  • A flight inspection scheduled for Janesville, Wis., Airport has been shut down due to the furlough of key personnel. Without an inspection, the approach into the airport will eventually be declared inoperative. This results in inefficiency for air traffic controllers and pilots, and a reduction in the margin of safety.
  • Thousands of certification projects performed by NATCA Aircraft Certification Engineers are now suspended.
  • A halt in the ELD Power Cable Replacement at Dallas Fort Worth Airport (DFW). The cable supplies power to the navigational aids on the diagonal runways at DFW. Construction planned for January will now be delayed for an undetermined amount of time.
  • A hold on hundreds of Aircraft Certification Office projects. This will result in a delay in the approval of safety related equipment modifications to aircraft going through the certification process.
  • A stop for work on Airworthiness Directives, NTSB safety recommendations and other vital safety related work performed by Aircraft Certification Engineers. This could delay the issuance and implementation of mandated safety fixes to aircraft.
  •  A delay of all projects affecting surveillance radars that feed the 100 busiest airports in the NAS.
  •  A halt in the development and implementation of navigational aids for a new runway at Fort Lauderdale airport.
  •  A halt on several runway safety projects, including glide slope relocation at Long Beach, Calif.
  • A delay in major mechanical upgrades scheduled for three air traffic control En Route Centers.

NATCA MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Dunn, 315-796-1560

Congresswoman Annie Kuster Pushes Locally For A Fix To Forced Budget Cuts

Annie Kuster at NE CouncilEmphasizing the need for common sense and compromise in Washington, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) today called on Republicans and Democrats to work together to find bipartisan solutions to our nation’s fiscal challenges during a speech at a New England Council Congressional Roundtable breakfast with local business leaders.

“Here’s my bottom line. Yes, Republicans and Democrats have real differences. Yes, we will disagree on some issues,” Kuster said. “But let’s work together on the things we do agree on. Let’s do our part to restore peoples’ faith that Congress can still do the right thing. Let’s start solving problems instead of creating new ones.

During her remarks, Kuster praised her fellow freshmen colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their early efforts to find common ground, noting that meaningfully addressing our fiscal challenges will require both parties to compromise.

“None of us expects to agree on everything,” Kuster said. “We’re not naïve. We’re not blind to our differences. But we’re also not willing to let the things we disagree on prevent us from making progress on the things we do agree on.”

“We want to be part of a new era in Congress where bipartisan solutions are the rule, not the exception…No more my way or the highway demands. No more lurching from crisis to crisis. No more demonizing people you disagree with. Just a laser-like focus on working together to solve problems.”

In February, Kuster helped establish the United Solutions Caucus, a new bipartisan coalition of Republican and Democratic freshmen Representatives focused on resolving our nation’s fiscal challenges in a common sense, bipartisan way. In a letter to President Obama and House leadership last month, the group outlined a framework for addressing our fiscal challenges that’s focused on streamlining government, simplifying the tax code, generating new revenue, and cutting spending – while protecting Social Security and Medicare.

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