NH Congresswomen Vote For Sandy Relief Bill

Hurricane Sandy

Today, almost 80 days after Hurricane Sandy ripped apart much of the Northeast, Congress has finally approved the full relief package.  I am please to report that both Congresswoman Shea-Porter and Congresswoman Kuster voted for the relief bill.

The bill passed today, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, provides relief to families and businesses damaged by the storm and assists with the rebuilding of homes, hospitals, roads, and essential infrastructure. The legislation also helps communities reinforce structures and shorelines in order to mitigate damages from similar disasters in the future.

In a written statement from Congresswoman Kuster she stated:

Ann-Kuster (1)“Nearly eighty days after Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast, the House has finally passed bipartisan legislation that will deliver critical relief to the victims of the storm,” said Kuster. “This is welcome news for the families, communities, and businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and I’m pleased that members of both parties were able to put politics aside to get this done.”

After the vote Congresswoman Shea-Porter had this to say:

Carol Shea-Porter_Official.2010-300x288“This funding is critical to help rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “There is a long tradition in Congress of passing disaster aid and I am glad that we were able to continue that today. There is no place for politics when helping our communities recover from a disaster.”

Congresswoman Shea-Porter was also pushing for the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 to include a language to help the NH commercial fishing industry.

The Northeast groundfish fishery received a disaster declaration from the Department of Commerce in September because, despite fishermen’s efforts, certain fish stocks have not rebuilt.  Now, drastically reduced catch limits are being considered for the coming year.  This would means millions of dollars in lost income for New Hampshire’s commercial fishing industry, and New Hampshire would suffer the most severe economic impact of any Northeast state.

“Commercial fishing is a heritage industry in New Hampshire, and it is vital that we preserve it for future generations.  The disaster funding passed by the Senate will help the industry survive during these difficult times,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “I have urged Speaker Boehner to pass the disaster aid as approved by the Senate.  Since the current bill before the House contains no relief for commercial fisheries though, I have also cosponsored Representative Tierney’s amendment to reinstate the funding.”

Unfortunately the bill did not have funding for the fisheries resource disaster for New Hampshire commercial fishermen. Congresswoman Shea-Porter had written to Speaker Boehner, urging him to include the funding as passed by the Senate, and also co-sponsored a bipartisan amendment in an attempt to restore it.

NYC Teacher (AFT) Pension Fund Pledges $1 Billion to Investments in Post-Sandy Reconstruction and Other Critical Infrastructure

Via twitter UFT  President Michael Mulgrew and AFT President Randi Weingarten

Via twitter UFT President Michael Mulgrew and AFT President Randi Weingarten (http://pic.twitter.com/bMH4UbO8)

New Funding is Progress in Meeting a $10 billion Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action to Invest in American Infrastructure

New York – In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Teachers Retirement System has pledged $1 billion to new investments in infrastructure projects, including improvements to transportation, power, water, communications, and housing in New York City and throughout the tri-state area.

While all projects will be rated on the basis of their return and the fund’s fiduciary standards, potential investments could range from repairing bridges to rebuilding housing destroyed by the hurricane. In addition to repairing and upgrading facilities used by hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, the infrastructure fund could create thousands of jobs.

This pledge is part of a multi-year Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action made by the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and partners at the inaugural CGI America meeting in June 2011. The AFL-CIO, AFT, AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, Union Labor Life Insurance Company, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO’s Housing Investment Trust, AFL-CIO Working for America Institute, and other partners committed to encourage both workers’ capital and skilled labor to contribute to large-scale investments in the reconstruction of America’s built environment. Working with money managers, asset consultants, pension funds, developers, and federal, state and local governments, the Commitment to Action will finance the construction and repair of quality public infrastructure which will result in at least $10 billion in workers’ capital invested in this area within five years. The CGI Commitment also includes a pledge to invest $10 to $20 million in energy efficient retrofits and an effort to train 40,000 new apprentices and 100,000 mid-career construction workers in the skills necessary to work on 21st century infrastructure projects.  To date, the commitment has reached more than $2.7 billion of its total goal.

At a press conference this afternoon, President Bill Clinton, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and point person for the Obama Administration’s long-term Hurricane Sandy recovery effort Shaun Donovan, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Comptroller for the City of New York John Liu, and AFT President Randi Weingarten announced the $1 billion allocation, which will not only create jobs, but also strengthen infrastructure so New York is better prepared to protect vulnerable populations from the rising sea levels, droughts, and increased frequency of storms that coincide with climate change.

“Together the work will benefit our future not only in terms of more efficient buildings and reducing the threat of climate change, but also in the lives of teachers, construction workers, and in lowering energy costs for people all over America,” said President Clinton. “This is a remarkable commitment. It represents a very significant step forward in meeting the entire AFL-CIO CGI commitment to bring Americans back to work, to bring inefficient buildings up to speed, and in this case, to putting us on the path to a sustainable future for New York City.”

“The critical commitment of the Teachers Retirement System at this early stage is one that I hope will inspire and encourage others,” said Secretary Donovan. “This infusion of private capital is like seed money that will allow us to address not only the recovery from Sandy but also the underlying infrastructure challenges that our communities face.”

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said: “We have been working for months to create an investment strategy for the teacher pension fund that will help meet New York’s pressing needs for repairing and updating our roads and bridges, our water and power systems, and middle-income housing. Hurricane Sandy has brought those needs into keener focus, and I am happy to stand here today and say that the teachers of New York City are taking a leadership role in helping to rebuild our city and state.”

“New Yorkers prove their determination and ingenuity in times of adversity,” said New York City Comptroller John C. Liu.  “Sandy hit us hard, but the superstorm will not keep us down. This innovative plan could help us rebuild the City, create jobs, and yield solid returns on our pension funds. Together we can produce great projects that are also sound investments.”

“This investment is another example of America’s educators stepping up to not only educate and care for our children but to also revitalize our communities, create jobs, and strengthen our economy,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “New York City Teacher Pension funds have always taken a lead in tough times to rebuild our city, from buying city bonds to avert bankruptcy in the 1970s to investing hundreds of millions in the stock market to bolster the economy after 9/11when economic activity had pretty much stopped in lower Manhattan. This investment continues that tradition in the wake of superstorm Sandy and budget cuts that have stifled investment and is part of a broader effort by labor to invest in America’s future and create jobs. I couldn’t be prouder of my home city, my home local, of the labor movement, and to be doing this with President Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative.”

“Infrastructure investments are critical to maintaining our economic security, as has been brought into stark relief by Hurricane Sandy,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of New York.  “Today’s announcement of a $1 billion investment by the New York City Teachers Retirement System in our infrastructure underscores the leadership role that organized labor, working with the Clinton Global Initiative and our friends in business and government, can play in bringing the level of resources to bear that are needed to collectively meet this challenge and create thousands of jobs.”

Investments in infrastructure have the potential to provide enhanced fixed-income returns, while creating jobs, enhancing our nation’s competitiveness, and addressing the threat of climate change and foreign energy dependence. Recent estimates of the number of jobs created directly or indirectly by infrastructure investment vary from 18,000 jobs per $1 billion invested (American Public Transportation Association 2009 study) to 36,000 jobs per $1 billion invested (University of Massachusetts at Amherst 2009 report).

The Teachers Retirement System infrastructure investments could take the form of bonds purchased by the fund from owners of the projects, or in partial ownership of the projects themselves. Recommendations about actual projects or the form of investment in them will be made by investment professionals on the Comptroller’s staff to the trustees of the TRS, who will make the final decision. The Trustees of the New York City Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) are: Chairperson Melvyn Aaronson, United Federation of Teachers; Sandra March and Mona Romain, United Federation of Teachers; John Liu, New York City Comptroller; Kathleen Grimm, New York City Department of Education; Carolyn Wolpert and Frieda Foster, Mayor’s appointees. The New York City Teachers Pension Fund manages assets of approximately $46 billion for approximately 110,000 in-service members and nearly 80,000 retirees.

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About the Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which have improved the lives of over 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at more than $73.1 billion.

President Clinton established the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) to address economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since its first meeting in June 2011, CGI America participants have made more than 170 commitments valued at $13.4 billion when fully funded and implemented. To learn more, visit cgiamerica.org.

About the American Federation of Teachers
The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

About the United Federation of Teachers
The United Federation of Teachers represents approximately 200,000 members, including approximately 75,000 teachers and 19,000 classroom paraprofessionals, along with school secretaries, attendance teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, adult education teachers, administrative law judges, nurses, laboratory technicians, speech therapists, and other employees, along with more than 28,000 New York City family child care providers.  The union actively supports policies, legislation and programs that promote attaining educational equity, closing the academic achievement gap and assuring parent and community voice in school governance.

About the Office of the New York City Comptroller
New York City Comptroller John C. Liu serves as the investment advisor to, custodian and trustee of the New York City Pension Funds. The New York City Pension Funds are comprised of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS), Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), Police Pension Fund (POLICE), Fire Department Pension Fund (FIRE) and the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) and are collectively valued at $127 billion as of 9/30/2012.

Stealing From The Victims Of Hurricane Sandy

PHOTO CREDIT: DNAInfo/Joe Parziale

PHOTO CREDIT: DNAInfo/Joe Parziale

Hurricane Sandy was nearly a month ago but her effects are still being felt.  People are still recovering from the largest storm to hit East Coast in decades.  Even now stories are still surfacing about different people are helping the victims of the hurricane.

Recently the NH Labor News posted a story about how the Teamsters are giving up their time and money to help the people of NYC.  Even the NH Firefighters have been making runs to NY to help victims.

However not all the stories from New York are good.  After many natural disasters, theft is problem.  Today, I am not talking about someones radio or tv. Today, I am talking about the theft of peoples sick days.

In a recent article union members from UNITE HERE Local 100 are fighting to get back paid sick days after Hurricane Sandy.

“(Bill) DeBlasio said the workers, who are employed by corporate dining services like Sodexo and Aramark, didn’t find out about having involuntary days off taken away until they got their most recent pay stubs.”

Some of these cafeteria’s are still closed due to hurricane damage.

“I feel like these companies think they can do whatever they want,” said Oscar Conca, 55, who has served food to Merrill Lynch workers for Sodexho for 17 years. “People with years, decades of service are being told to go to unemployment.”

How would you feel if you opened your bi-weekly pay check and found that your sick leave bank was empty?   Taking advantage of workers who are already struggling to recover after a deadly storm rips apart their homes is absolutely wrong.  All I can say is thank goodness these people are members of UNITE HERE, because without UNITE HERE who would be filing their complaints?

Read the full article from DNAInfo

This Thanksgiving (and every Thanksgiving) Unions Are Giving Back

Vintage-Happy-Thanksgiving-card

The “union-avoidance” industry isn’t taking the election results lying down.  The Andrew Breitbarts of the world are already busy spinning the Hostess Brands liquidation and Wednesday’s planned protest in Los Angeles.  (If you’re wondering: there may be delays on surface streets around LAX – but the protest is not expected to impact any air travel.)

In these days leading up to Thanksgiving, you’re probably going to hear a lot of other anti-union stories in the media.  (The union-busters have a lot of money to spend on PR.)

What you’re probably not going to hear is how union members nationwide are celebrating the holiday.  A quick sampling:

  • In Palm Beach, Florida, labor unions are part of “The Big Heart Brigade”.  Last Thanksgiving, the Brigade fed 100,000 people – and they are hoping to feed even more, this year.   “Several local unions have already donated time and funds to help, including Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA) Local 630, Ironworkers Local 402, Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 728, Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 3181 and Machinists (IAM) Local 971.”
  • Feed The Community Day

    Near Los Angeles, ILWU Local 13 is holding their 15th annual “Feed the Community Day”.  They will be distributing 1,500 turkey baskets with all the trimmings to help feed low-income families in surrounding communities.

  • Throughout the country, IAFF Locals are giving coats to kids through “Operation Warm”. IAFF Local 157 is distributing more than 2,000 coats to needy children in Oklahoma City, OK.  IAFF Local 215 is giving away almost 1,000 coats in Milwaukee, WI.  In New Jersey, IAFF Local 2657 is donating 350 coats.  In Pennsylvania, IAFF Local 10 plans to give a new coat to every single child who attends George Washington Elementary School, after firefighters noticed that most students didn’t have anything warmer than a hooded sweatshirt (87% of the school’s families live at or below the poverty line).
  • And of course, Hurricane Sandy relief efforts will continue through the holiday.  Nationwide, union members are contributing to various Hurricane Sandy Relief Funds.  Union members in the hardest-hit areas will continue to do what they have been doing for weeks: cleaning up, fixing up, and taking care of the people around them.

This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for our union brothers and sisters.  Our union family is not just standing behind us in our workplaces – unions are giving back to our communities, making things better for families in need.

 

 

A Special Message From PFFNH and Upper Valley Firefighters

Picture2

Upper Valley Firefighters

Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort

Friends of Firefighters is a non-profit established in the days after 9-11-2001 to help our brother and sister firefighters in time of need.  They are located in an old firehouse in Brooklyn, NY and they themselves were affected by this storm as well.  The Hanover and Lebanon Fire Departments are establishing a donation drive in an effort to help out fellow firefighters of FDNY who were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Many of these men and women were out helping others as their own homes burned or were washed away by the rising floodwaters.  Clean up efforts are underway and much help is still needed.

A small contingent of firefighters from Hanover and Lebanon will be heading down to Brooklyn, NY on Sunday 25 NOV 2012 to spend a few days volunteering.  We are also hoping to fill a moving truck full of donations to take with us.  I have included a list of items they have specified a need for.   Unfortunately, we will only be able to accept items from this list.  The items are as small as plastic utensils to as large as a boiler to help rebuild Friends of Firefighters business space.  Please look over the included list and consider donating to our help our effort.   The donations can be dropped off at either the Hanover or Lebanon Fire Depts from now until Saturday 24 NOV 2012.

Please feel free to contact us at either of the avenues listed below with any questions or visit their website at www.FriendsofFirefighters.org for more info about their organization.  Thank you for your consideration in donating items and we look forward to sharing how this effort made an impact in helping others’ lives.  Stay safe.

Sincerely,

Eric James                                               TroyLeatherman

Lebanon Fire Dept                                 Hanover Fire Dept

603.727.8552                                          802.683.7324


Taken from PFFNH Web/Facebook Page


Telling the Truth About Unions And Hurricane Sandy

photo by Dan DeLuca via Flikr

photo by Dan DeLuca via Flikr
Have you heard the story about non-union utility crews getting turned away, after Hurricane Sandy?

The story isn’t true – but it’s still being spread.

It started before the election.  The story spread so far and so fast that five utility companies issued public statements saying it wasn’t true.

A full week later, the story was still being spread – by an anti-union newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Does this remind you of anything?  Maybe Mitt Romney’s infamous allegations about Jeep moving production to China?  Again, that story was immediately and thoroughly debunked – by the company – but Romney’s campaign kept spreading it, through television and radio ads.

Truth? Romney’s pollster said it didn’t matter:  “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

Yes, there’s a connection here.  Romney’s campaign was funded by many of the same people and corporations that have invested millions in the “union avoidance” industry.  Take a few minutes and read this analysis of the 2010 electionsIt’s the very same players, now:

  • Karl Rove, of election night meltdown fame, toured the country in 2009 opposing the Employee Free Choice Act;
  •  “Americans for Job Security” is a secretive group run out of a mail-drop box in a UPS store, but they spend millions on false advertising attacking candidates who support labor unions;
  •  “Americans for Prosperity” is run by the Koch brothers, spends tens of millions on misleading ads; and in 2009 sponsored a multi-state publicity tour opposing the Employee Free Choice Act;
  • and the list goes on, and on.

The “union-avoidance” industry doesn’t care about the truth – it just cares about results.  Haven’t heard of the industry before?  Read more about it here and here.


Looking for the truth about how labor unions responded to Hurricane Sandy?
  Read more here and here, and updates on the Teamster’s blog here.

 

[Top image of ConEd workers is by Dan DeLuca via Flickr/Creative Commons]

 

Setting the Record Straight on Hurricane Sandy Response

Ibew logo

IBEW members and hundreds of other workers, union and nonunion, are pulling together to help the Northeast recover from the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy. The storm slammed coastal areas with strong winds and high seas, simultaneously flooding business and residential areas while knocking down trees and power lines – all in one of the most densely populated areas of the United States.

The recovery has been a massive effort that deserves praise, but instead, there have been erroneous reports that have cast the heroic efforts of IBEW members in a bad light.

There were reports, sketchy at first but then cobbled together with disconnected facts that formed a false and harmful picture of the recovery efforts.

Specifically, many people have been led to believe that the IBEW turned away nonunion workers from assisting in the restoration work and sought to force them to join the union. The reports are absolutely false and paint a picture of a situation that never existed.

No assistance was ever turned away by the IBEW or any of its employers. Reports that help was denied in New Jersey proved to be totally false, even being denied by those who allegedly were turned away.

(WAAY-TV, “UPDATED: Officials say local utility crews NOT ‘turned away’ in NY/NJ”, 11/2/12)

Decatur Utilities GM: Union Paperwork Was FromAlabama 11/2/12)

Some correspondence was sent, prior to the time Sandy hit landfall, by one of the IBEW locals in New York to small utilities that were contacted by the Long Island Power Authority at the urging of the New York Power Authority for assistance. When the full impact of the storm was clear, even these few letters were rescinded by the local, in consultation with the headquarters of the IBEW and the companies, so that they would not present an obstacle to the recovery.

And that recovery is proceeding as union and nonunion crews work together to restore power to the communities of New York and New Jersey and elsewhere – just as they have done emergency situations for nearly a century all across North America. These workers have put themselves in harm’s way to help, and in fact one IBEW member from Canada was killed on the job, and another, from New Jersey seriously injured.

Sandy was a human tragedy that should not be compounded.  The men and women in the electrical line trade do not do their jobs to receive thanks and praise. They routinely do their jobs out of the limelight and often under difficult and dangerous conditions.  However, neither they nor the organization formed by linemen to improve safety and professionalism in the industry deserve to have their reputations maligned through false and misleading reports.

 

Guinta cut FEMA money

Congressman Guinta has decided that it is important for congressional candidates to weigh in on state issues, yet in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he has dodged questions about why he voted to cut funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Congressman Guinta voted for the Ryan budget which cuts disaster preparation and response, and passed a continuing resolution that provided $3 billion less in disaster funding than requested by the President.

“Congressman Guinta has a heartless record of voting to cut the funding for FEMA, money that  communities depend on for disasters,” said Carol Shea-Porter.  “Now, he needs to explain whether or not he agrees with Mitt Romney that FEMA should be privatized or left to the states.  New Hampshire, which has just received a federal emergency declaration, deserves to know why he voted against protecting the state and its citizens.”

Background:

  • Romney’s budget cuts FEMA, on its face, by 40%.  Romney has vowed to cut federal spending to less than 20 percent of GDP by 2016 without touching entitlements or defense. That means that non-defense discretionary spending–which includes FEMA aid–would have to be reduced by an eye-popping 40 percent. The Romney campaign won’t say whether FEMA would be spared from those cuts but stresses that the necessary funding would be available.” Washington Post.
  • On September 23, 2011, Guinta voted in favor of HR 2608, a continuing resolution meant to fund the federal government through November 18, 2011. The legislation provided $3.65 billion for disaster assistance, roughly $3 billion less than what the Office of Management estimated the federal government needed in funding. [HR 2608, Vote #727, Office of Management and Budget, 9/5/11; The Hill, 9/23/11]
  • Ryan budget could hammer storm aid, critics say:  Mitt Romney says he wants to give states more power to deal with disasters like Sandy. But his running mate’s budget plan would threaten states’ ability to respond to massive storms, some experts say.  Paul Ryan’s House-passed budget would cut non-defense discretionary funding by 22 percent starting in 2014, according to the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which said in an August report that about one-third of that money goes to state aid for a range of needs including disaster response.  [Politico, 10/30/2012]