By Matt Murray
Why is it that right wing editors are using the recall elections in Wisconsin as if the “prophet” has returned. What Governor Walker did to the working men and women of Wisconsin infuriated millions of Americans for many reasons. Many people believe that the right to collectively bargain is a fundamental part of keeping balance. Workers deserve a voice in their workplace. By stripping them of their right to collectively bargain, you are silencing that voice.
For many years, workers have joined together on the job to improve their workplaces and to ensure that all workers have access to good jobs. Union members build our roads, teach our children, and protect our homes. Through their unions, hardworking men and women have led our country to be the most innovative and efficient in the world.
Frankly I am tired of the attacks on unions and their leaders. Today Fosters Daily Democrat posted an editorial attacking Mark MacKenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO.
It struck us a bit incongruous then that New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie would verbally storm the barricades in criticizing Lamontagne for wanting to reproduce some of Walker’s Wisconsin success here in the Granite State.
From an AFL-CIO press release dated June 13: “Ovide Lamontagne has already positioned himself like Bill O’Brien on steroids. He’s already vowed to take O’Brien’s agenda to attack workers one step further if elected governor. Now he’s tying himself to the most anti-labor politician in America.”
Let me ask: What success has Governor Walker accomplished other than holding his elected position in a very highly contested recall election?
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has dropped. While New Hampshire’s has also fallen, it must continue in that direction.
Walker has been talking about all the jobs he has created and how well the state is doing. The real data shows that he is on the same track as the national average. It has had very little to do with what he has done. One reason that unemployment is down in Wisconsin is because many organizations on both sides of the political aisle are pouring money into organizing for the election. Over 100 Million dollars was spent during the recall elections. (note: Walker won the recall by the same margin as in 2010, the difference this time was that over 500,000 more people voted. Barret got more votes in the recall than Walker did originally)
Among the extreme anti-labor issues mentioned were the attempted passage of a constitutional amendment freeing up the legislature to financially help poor school districts, right-to-work legislation, and the elimination of a state-level minimum wage law.
These are issues that are crucial to the workers in New Hampshire. Right To Work has been proven time and time again to lower wages and has done nothing to increase jobs.
The Constitutional Amendment I am assuming he is referring to is CACR 12. An amendment that was destroyed in the NH House by a bi-partisan vote. CACR 12 would have repealed the Claremont Decision which mandated all schools in New Hampshire would be funded fairly and equally in the eyes of the state. This decision came down because the Legislature at the time failed to fund the schools fairly.
Really? You attack the New Hampshire President of the AFL-CIO for saying that we need a higher minimum wage and that repealing the minimum wage law was wrong. I would like to see the editor of Foster’s live on minimum wage for a few months. In New Hampshire a person must work over 100 hours a week to afford a two bedroom apartment.
MacKenzie was picking up on a red-meat speech Lamontagne recently gave Salem Republicans.
Perhaps that is what MacKenzie was doing in his press release — throwing some red meat to labor’s faithful. If so, fair is fair, so we take no exception to MacKenzie trying to rally his base.
If Mr MacKenzie was rallying his troops, the fact is that people need to know what the candidates for the states highest office are saying. Lamontagne is making back room promises to the republicans of Salem and thats okay? No,
That said, Lamontagne has promised to lead, to use the bully pulpit to push what he promises voters.
How are the voters supposed to know what he plans to push if nobody is telling them? Would Fosters Daily Democrat published that Lamontagne said he would be “Walker On Steroids”? After the backlash that Governor Walker received?
While Wisconsin asked union membership for givebacks in an over-the-top fashion, New Hampshire’s history with unions has not been as rocky. That does not mean, however, unions no longer need pushback.
Take for example the recent decision by the Obama Administration to relent on its quest to force the inflated costs of labor unions on the yet-to-be-built Manchester Job Corps Center. Perhaps a strong advocate in the governor’s chair could have helped that decision come about sooner.
First of all it was the politicians in Washington who were fighting the Project Labor Agreements that President Obama instituted. That political football has gone back and forth. Part of the reason that PLA were created was to ensure that workers are protected and have a voice in the construction process. Any company can bid on a federally funded project it does not have to be a union who does it. Unions tend to win these contracts because they have the knowledge, the skilled workers and the understanding to operate inside of the PLA.
PLAs also help to ensure that LOCAL workers get hired at the pay they should earn. This is called prevailing wage. This means a worker in New Hampshire building a project like this would earn X amount per hour. Removing the PLA allows out of state companies to bring out of state workers to do the job at a fraction of the prevailing wage for the area. You might say “That’s Capitalism”, and you would be right. The problem is that this federal funding is supposed to help workers and families and businesses in New Hampshire. If the workers are from out of state, they do not spend their money here either. When they job is done, they take their paycheck and drive back to Texas or Arizona where they came from and that money never makes its way into the New Hampshire economy as it was intended.
As for Lamontagne being extreme on the issues, New Hampshire can easily operate under the federal minimum wage; labor unions still hold too much sway; and given the dying ranks of labor unions we would rather see the governor lean toward serving the masses instead of a select few who cling to union membership cards.
For nearly a century labor unions have the be balance to the wealthy and greedy businessmen. They represent all workers in a factory wether they are union or not. They push to ensure a safe place to work, and push back against the greedy businessmen to ensure a fair wage.
If MacKenzie wants to call this extreme, so be it. But we think all this is rapidly becoming mainstream, if it is not already.
I would say that it is not mainstream. The people support unions, and believe that collective bargaining is needed. In last years poll 62% of Granite Staters agreed. Thanks to Governor Walker the slow moving attacks on unionized labor was brought to the main stage. People are talking about it and people are realizing that unions are still very much important. We need unions to fight for all workers, fight for the 99%, and fight so we can all survive.
Are you like me. Living in New Hampshire and wishing you could be there on the front lines in Wisconsin. Well now you can be! The AFL-CIO has launched a new Friends and Neighbors web based tool to help you spread the word of labor this year.
That’s why we have launched a great new tool, called the Friends and Neighbors, to make it even easier for you to connect with the people you know—and other Wisconsinites—about why we must recall Walker, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Senators Scott Fitzgerald, Van Wanggaard, and Terry Moulton.
This is a very interactive platform that allow you to make calls that to people in Wisconsin and tell them to Get Out The Vote in the Recall of Scott Walker. They need our help!
A recent poll shows the race is a dead heat1 and it is going to come down to the side that turns out the most people from now until June 5.
Walker and his political allies are relying on millions in out-of-state donations from corporate donors and right-wing billionaires to blanket the state with misleading ads.
They may have unlimited money, but we can cut through the noise by having real conversations with Wisconsinites about how Walker’s policies are wrong for them and their communities.
Here is a short intro video to how the FAN system works and how you can use your online presence to help those people in Wisconsin and in our own towns during this election.
Click here now to sign up for the FAN and get started connecting with Wisconsin voters.
Yesterday, a Federal Judge in Wisconsin threw out sections of the Act 10 amendment that removed collective bargaining rights on the workers in Wisconsin. While this was not a complete win for the workers, it does make a statement.
The court sided with state officials in upholding limitations on what can be bargained, but found the two other provisions violated the union members’ equal protection and First Amendment rights, considering that the same rules did not apply to unions for public safety workers such as police and firefighters.
“So long as the State of Wisconsin continues to afford ordinary certification and dues deductions to mandatory public safety unions with sweeping bargaining rights, there is no rational basis to deny those rights to voluntary general unions with severely restricted bargaining rights,” wrote U.S. District Judge William M. Conley.”
What they did say is that you cannot say one union is different from another. If you say that Public Safety Unions have rights to bargain, then all Unions have the right to bargain. They did however say that the State maintained the right to limit what could be bargained. Therefor unions will not be able to bargain over pay.
Peg Lautenschlager, the attorney for the Wisconsin State Employees Union, called the decision a “great victory” for her client.
“Obviously, we’re thrilled,” Lautenschlager said. “The collective bargaining part is a disappointment. But the notion that a federal judge has said to Scott Walker that he’s gone too far on this law is fabulous.”
Peg is right! This is a reason to celebrate. The courts have stated that Governor Walker went to far. This could also has implications in other states as well. What does this mean to current legislation being pushed in the New Hampshire House?
However, Conley found that the two other changes – annual recertification and the ban on automatic dues deduction – violated the First Amendment rights of the affected workers.
“The court would be remiss not to at least note the likely burden the annual recertification process imposes on the members’ speech and association rights,” he wrote.
This statement alone could mean that if the NH House passes HB1645 it is likely that it would be overturned in a court of law. HB 1645 includes provisions similar to Act 10 that mandate a de-certification vote initiated by the employer. With significate and recent federal case law to back it up the argument could here in NH that HB 1645 is unconstitutional.
Do we really want to spend more of New Hampshire’s valuable time and resources to fight this battle in court. I think the State Legislature should look at this recent ruling and what it would mean to the current batch of collective bargaining laws amendments. It would be in the best interest of the State and the Taxpayers of New Hampshire to reject these laws now. The ball is in your court NH Senate!
Are you ready for something appalling? In Saturday’s Post Crescent newspaper, the Post Crescent President and Publisher posted an article about how employees signed a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker.
Today, in the interest of full transparency, we are informing you that 25 Gannett Wisconsin Media journalists, including nine at The P-C, also signed the Walker recall petitions. It was wrong, and those who signed were in breach of Gannett’s Principles of Ethical Conduct for Newsrooms.
The principle at stake is our core belief that journalists must make every effort to avoid behavior that could raise doubts about their journalistic neutrality. Political activity is foremost.
It is of little consolation to us that none of the news employees who signed petitions is involved with directing or reporting political news coverage. (None of the employees serves on the investigative team, nor are any of the Appleton employees reporters or assigning news editors.) The fact that any of our 223 Wisconsin news employees signed the petition is disheartening. It has caused us to examine deeply how this happened, how we will address it and how we will prevent future breaches.
First and foremost, we decided to inform our readers and be as open as possible. We have decided not to name the employees. Had they had direct connection to political reporting we would have made a different decision.
We are now in the process of addressing discipline and presenting supplemental ethics training for all news employees. (http://post.cr/H5Ia5H)
It is widely know that Federal Employees are prohibited from participating in “Partisan Politics” while on government property or while working. It is a law called “The Hatch Act”. This is a ver serious offense in the government and many people have been disciplined or fired for violating the Hatch Act. With this rule employees are allowed to do whatever they want politically OUTSIDE of work. They can picket campaign stops, sign petitions to impeach an elected official, or even volunteer to work on a campaign. So I find it completely appalling that the publisher of the Post Crescent Newspaper would be considering disciplinary actions against their employees for exercising their rights as citizens of the United States.
Some friends of ours at the “1 in One Million + to See Scott Walker Out of Office in WI” campaign are working to bring attention to this outrageous attempt to use their position as employer to sway the outcome of the recall elections. They are asking people to send an email to the publisher. Feel free to copy this email or send your own.
Subject: Will Boycott If You Punish Your Employees
If you punish your employees for signing the recall petitions, I will call for a boycott of Gannett and any of its local papers who do so. This paper ENDORSES candidates for office. How dare you tell your employees that they can’t be involved in a spectrum of electoral activities. If all of your employees lived in 1 district, would they all be disenfranchised from their vote? This is nothing more than corporations getting into their employees’ private business. Just because VTR made a searchable database, doesn’t make it right to use it, nor to use it against your employees. It is no different than employers asking potential employees for their Facebook log-in and pass-words. There are those at VTR that are encouraging others to use the database to harass people, to discriminate against potential employees, and worse. You owe your employees an apology and stop trying to intimidate them with the threat of discipline or job-loss. Will we see “transparency” on what Gannett and The Post-Crescent decide to DO TO their employees for exercising their right as citizens?
How about you “investigate” VTR (Verify The Recall)? How about you stand up for private citizens and their voting rights? How about you call for a FED investigation into the public display of voters’choices and the need for expanded protection?
Your code of conduct needs to be reviewed and changed. Leave your employees alone.