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Congresswoman Shea-Porter Works To Address NH’s Manufacturing Woes

Shea-Porter Announces UNH Project to Address State’s Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Needs

Rep Shea-Porter at the 2016 NH AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast showing her support for working families.

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today announced that the University of New Hampshire has been awarded a $300,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to launch a pilot project in collaboration with the state’s community colleges and advanced manufacturing partners. The partnership will work to address the workforce needs of New Hampshire’s advanced manufacturing sector.

“This innovative project will leverage New Hampshire’s strengths to address the pressing need for in-state advanced manufacturing workers,” said Shea-Porter. “I congratulate UNH on launching this unique partnership, which will also support low-income students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs at our community colleges.”

UNH’s pilot project will be a collaborative effort with the Community College System of New Hampshire, local advanced manufacturing businesses, and the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs to address workforce development in the advanced manufacturing sector in the state. The grant will provide mentorship, paid internships and job placement for students as well as work with businesses throughout the state. Advanced manufacturing is the use of innovative technology to improve manufacturing products or processes. It’s a leading industry in the Granite State and a $1.7 trillion industry nationwide.

“We are grateful for the support we have received from NSF and Congresswoman Shea-Porter,” said P.T. Vasudevan, senior vice provost for academic affairs at UNH and the principal investigator on the $300,000 grant. “We believe working to support and retain low-income students currently in the degree programs that will help us to grow the pipeline of advance manufacturing workers will benefit not only students and industry leaders in the state, but the state as a whole.”

UNH received one of 27 new awards through NSF’s INCLUDES program, aimed at enhancing U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discoveries and innovations through a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

In 2009, Shea-Porter helped initiate New Hampshire’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership in Education (AMPEd), which was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and has successfully helped New Hampshire businesses and colleges partner to invest in the state’s manufacturing workforce.

Leo W Gerard: Subjugation in Steel

Image of USW member at EVRAZ North America by Steven Dietz

One cost of freedom is steel. To remain independent, America must maintain its own vibrant steel industry.

Steel is essential to make munitions, armor plate, aircraft carriers, submarines and fighter jets, as well as the roads and bridges on which these armaments are transported, the electrical grid that powers the factories where they are produced, the municipal water systems that supply manufacturers, even the computers that aid industrial innovation.

If America imports that steel, it becomes a vassal to the producing countries. It would be victim to the whims of countries that certainly don’t have America’s interests in mind when they act. In the case of China, the attempt to subjugate is deliberate. Beijing intentionally overproduces, repeatedly promises to cut back while it actually increases capacity, then exports its excess, state-subsidized steel at below-market costs. This slashes the international price, which, in turn, bankrupts steelmakers in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Spain and elsewhere. Then, China dominates.

To his credit, President Donald Trump has said America can’t be great without the ability to make its own steel. He ordered the Commerce Department to investigate the extent to which steel imports threaten national security. Commerce officials are scheduled to brief Senate committees on the inquiry today. That’s because they’re being second guessed by a handful of federal officials, exporters and corporations whose only concern is profit, not patriotism. To protect national security, American steel and family-supporting jobs, the administration must stand strong against foreign unfair trade in steel that kills American jobs and creates American dependency.

Imports already take more than a quarter of the U.S. steel market. They rose in May by 2.6 percent, seizing a 27 percent market share. That is dangerous. America can’t rely on unfairly traded foreign steel as it tries to expand manufacturing jobs or when it faces foreign threats. Defense needs are the basis of the administration inquiry, called a Section 232 investigation under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

National security relies on dependable, modern transportation and utility systems as well as armaments. To produce defense materials, factories need supplies to arrive routinely and electricity to flow consistently. Steel is just as crucial for roads, bridges, airports and utilities as it is for armor plate.

Some importers are pressuring Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross not to recommend imposing limits or tariffs on steel imports, asserting that the only consideration should be price. They contend that if China, South Korea, Japan and Turkey subsidize their steel production, which lowers the cost of exports, then American builders should benefit – no matter how much that damages national security or destroys steelworkers’ family-supporting jobs. Their preoccupation with profit at their country’s expense should disqualify them from consideration.

To be clear, American steel companies and my union, the United Steelworkers, have tried repeatedly to resolve the problem of trade cheating through normal channels – filing trade enforcement cases against the violators. But the United States has refused to take currency manipulation by countries like China into account. And every time an American company wins an enforcement case against a trade law violator and tariffs are imposed on a particular type of steel import, China and other cheaters begin subsidizing a different type of steel and exporting that.

American companies  have won dozens of cases – welded stainless steel pressure pipe, rebar, line pipe, oil country tubular goods, wire rod, corrosion-resistant steel, hot-rolled steel, cold-rolled steel, cut-to-length plate, grain-oriented electrical steel. But in every case, countries like China and South Korea find a way to circumvent the rulings by subsidizing some new steel product and exporting that or by trans-shipping – sending the product to another country first to make it look like the steel originated there to evade the tariffs.

American steel producers and steelworkers can compete successfully against any counterpart in the world, but they can’t win a contest against a country.

The USW and American producers are looking for a broader solution now, something that will prevent cheating and circumvention across-the-board. And they have good reason to believe they can count on Commerce Secretary Ross. This is a guy who knows the industry and has a track record of saving steel mills and jobs.

At the turn of the century, as recession and the Asian financial crisis pushed more than 30 U.S. steel companies into bankruptcy, Secretary Ross bought a half dozen failing steel firms and restored them to solvency.

Because of his experience, Secretary Ross can be trusted to know the difference between China and Canada. American steelworkers and steel producers aren’t looking for blatant protectionism. American firms and Canadian companies have relationships in which steel from Canton, Ohio, may travel to St. Catherines, Ontario, where it is converted into engine blocks that are then shipped back across the border to Detroit, Mich., for installation in cars. Canada doesn’t illegally subsidize its steel industry or manipulate its currency. Only countries like China, Russia, South Korea and others that flagrantly violate international trade rules should be subject to the Section 232 sanctions.

Secretary Ross experienced the hell of 30 steel bankruptcies. He knows just how bad it can be for workers, companies and the country. With President Trump at his back, Secretary Ross now is key to ensuring American steel doesn’t descend back into that hell and that America remains steel independent.

Kuster Announces Introduction of Legislation to Improve Workforce Development Programs

(Nashua, N.H.) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) visited Nashua Community College to announce the introduction of her legislation, the Workforce Development Investment Act. Kuster was joined by Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess, representatives of New Hampshire’s community colleges, and others to discuss the importance of the legislation to expanding New Hampshire’s workforce. The group visited the Microelectronics Boot Camp at Nashua Community College, which trains students in wire bonding and helps connect students with local employers.

“Companies know what they’re looking for in employees and if we can help them train workers in the skills they need it’s a win-win for all involved,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “This bill expands job training and makes it easier for community colleges to partner with employers to make sure we are training students in the skills they need for the 21st Century economy. Innovative programs like the Microelectronics Boot Camp at Nashua Community are exactly the types of collaborative efforts we need more of and my legislation would bolster these types of productive partnerships.”

The bill is supported by the New England Council, a nonpartisan business alliance that promotes economic growth across New England.

“In New England, equipping workers with the right set of skills in a timely manner is crucial for the success of our workforce and our economy. The tax credit in this legislation will help encourage employers to support partnerships which address our skills gap in creative and collaborative ways. It provides tax credits for partnership models that have proven successful, and while these models are continuing to be improved upon, incentivizing their development will help strengthen these types of partnerships at a time when they are greatly needed.” – Jim Brett, President and CEO, The New England Council

Kuster’s legislation would create tax incentives to encourage companies and educators to partner in training programs to help workers gain the skills needed for careers in the 21st Century economy. Specifically the bill would create a credit to encourage employers to partner with community colleges and career and technical training schools to develop workforce training programs for skills that are in demand within their community or region.  It would also create a separate credit for the cost of direct training conducted as part of an educational partnership or licensed apprenticeship program.

BUSTED: Chris Sununu Caught Lying About Creating Jobs

Sununu’s new ad says he created ‘hundreds of jobs’ but NHPR reports ‘the overall number of jobs at Waterville Valley has actually decreased over the last five years’ 

Concord, N.H. – In a devastating article, NHPR reports that Chris Sununu lied when he claimed in his new ad that he created “hundreds of good-paying jobs.” Rather than creating jobs, during Sununu’s tenure as Waterville Valley CEO “the overall number of jobs at Waterville Valley has actually decreased over the last five years.” 

“Chris Sununu lied about his business record,” said NHDP Press Secretary Evan Lukaske. “Not only did Chris Sununu not create ‘hundreds of jobs,’ but Waterville Valley actually lost jobs under his failed leadership. Chris Sununu has run Waterville Valley into the ground and he can’t be allowed to do the same to New Hampshire.”

NHPR released information directly refuting that his false claim that he created “hundreds of good-paying jobs.”

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Screenshot of Sununu Ad

 From the article: 

“But, according to information provided by Sununu’s campaign to NHPR earlier this year, the overall number of jobs at Waterville Valley has actually decreased over the last five years. There were 872 employees at the resort in 2011 and, after several years of fluctuation, 809 employees in 2015.”

5c54244c-1771-4f7d-8ca5-3a67e7fdd1abLukaske concluded, “No matter how you slice it, Chris Sununu’s claims that he created ‘hundreds’ of jobs is ludicrous. He should apologize to New Hampshire voters for lying to them.”

Leo W Gerard: Morning In America Delivered By Democrats

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Nine years after the Great Recession began during the tax- and regulation-slashing Bush administration, some startlingly good economic news arrived from Washington, D.C., last week.

The incomes of typical Americans rose in 2015 by 5.2 percent, the first significant boost to middle-class pay since the end of the Great Recession, and the largest, in percentage terms, ever recorded by the Census Bureau. In addition, the poverty rate fell 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968.  Also smaller were the numbers of Americans without health insurance and suffering food insecurity.

That sounds good, right? Especially after all it took to pull out of the Bush recession. During the month Bush left office, 818,000 Americans lost their jobs. Unemployment increased to 10 percent before President Obama’s stimulus programs started ratcheting it down to the current 4.9 percent. Now, wages are beginning to rise again. It seems like an event that Ronald Reagan might call morning in America. But not the current Republican nominee. Trump says, “This country is a hellhole, and we’re going down fast.”

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To hoist America up out of that bogus hellhole, Trump proposes the same tired-and-untrue tax- and regulation-cutting formula that Bush did. The one that actually did drop the country into a hellhole – the Wall Street collapse, massive foreclosures and high unemployment.

Trump offered yet another tax plan last week – the third of his campaign. This one, just like Bush’s, lavishes tax cuts on the rich. He would hack the 35 percent business tax rate to 15 percent. He would eliminate the estate tax paid only by the nation’s richest 0.2 percent. So, basically, Trump would cut taxes for himself – a 10 billionaire.

In Trump’s previous tax plan, low-income people, those in the lowest tax bracket, would have paid 10 percent, but now Trump makes them pay more. They’ll have to cough up 12 percent.

At the same time, Trump said, he’d eliminate all that pesky government regulation that’s getting in the way of business doing whatever it wants. So, for example, he’d abolish that annoying regulator, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s the one that just fined Wells Fargo $100 million, part of a total of $185 million in penalties, for issuing credit cards and opening accounts without customers’ consent, sham accounts that customers learned about only after they started accumulating fees and damaging credit. Republicans like Trump have tried to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the day Democrats created it.

By cutting taxes on the rich and letting businesses run roughshod over consumers, Trump claims he would create 25 million jobs over a decade. This is Reagan and Bush trickle-down economics. It worked great for the rich. They got richer and richer. It never worked for the rest. The rest always do better when there’s a Democrat in the White House, as there is now. The Census report issued last week showing progress on wages is testament to that. But there’s more. Far more.

Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson found in 2013 that since World War II, the economy performed significantly better under Democratic presidents, regardless of the measurement used. For example, Democratic presidents average 4.35 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Under Republicans, it was 2.54 percent.

Democratic presidents presided over higher stock market returns and corporate profits, greater compensation growth and productivity increases.

Economist Steven Stoft analyzed 72 years of jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, during which Democrats controlled the White House for 36 years and Republicans for 36 years. He found that 58 million jobs were created under Democrats and 26 million under Republicans. That means Democratic presidents created more than twice as many jobs.

Significantly, because Trump is telling African-Americans how horrible their lives and their communities and their schools are, and how great he would be as a Republican president for them, a study published by the American Political Science Association found that that over 35 years of Republican presidents, black unemployment rose 13.7 percent. On the other hand, over 22 years of Democratic presidents, black unemployment fell 7.9 percent.

And here’s another noteworthy fact as Trump runs around claiming he’s going to bring manufacturing back, even though he manufactures his own signature suits and ties and shirts offshore in places like China and Mexico and Bangladesh: Democrats create manufacturing jobs; Republicans destroy them.

Bloomberg news service analyzed data from the past eight decades and found manufacturing jobs increased under each of the seven Democrats and decreased under the six Republican presidents.

Even as employment expanded, manufacturing jobs declined under Republican presidents. The largest losses occurred under Reagan and the two Bushes – an average of 9 percent.

Republicans are bad for jobs. They’re bad for manufacturing. They’re bad for the GDP in general. Trump’s 25 million job promise? Malarkey.

Moody’s Analytics looked at his tax, trade and immigration policies and projected they’d cause a recession and eliminate 3.5 million jobs. That was before he changed his mind on taxes again and released the third plan this week, but it’s virtually unchanged from the previous two, other than costing low-income people more.

Americans should reject Trump’s Republican trickle-down promises that have done nothing for workers in the past but swipe their cash and flood it up in torrents to billionaires like Trump.

Americans who want a job, a raise, improved GDP, more American manufacturing, better health insurance – just improved security in general – should look to the Democrats. They’ve got a long track record of actually delivering on those promises.

As Union Density Declines Nonunion Workers Suffer Low Wages

Decline in union density costs nonunion workers
$133 billion annually in lost wages

In the new report, Union decline lowers wages of nonunion workers: The overlooked reason why wages are stuck and inequality is growing, Washington University sociologist Jake Rosenfeld and co-authors find that the dramatic decline in union density since 1979 has resulted in far lower wages for nonunion workers, an impact larger than the 5 percent effect of globalization on their wages found in recent research. Specifically, nonunion men lacking a college degree would have earned 8 percent, or $3,016 annually, more in 2013 if unions had remained as strong as they were in 1979.

Between 1979 and 2013, the share of private sector workers in a union has fallen from about 34 percent to 11 percent among men, and from 16 percent to 6 percent among women. The authors note that unions keep wages high for nonunion workers for several reasons: union agreements set wage standards and a strong union presence prompts managers to keep wages high in order to prevent workers from organizing or their employees from leaving. Moreover, unions set industry-wide norms, influencing what is seen as a “moral economy,”

“Working class men have felt the decline in unionization the hardest,” said Rosenfeld. “Their paychecks are noticeably smaller than if unions had remained as strong as they were almost 40 years ago. Rebuilding collective bargaining is one of the tools we have to reinvigorate wage growth, for low and middle-wage workers.”

Rosenfeld, along with co-authors Jennifer Laird and Patrick Denice, find that the effects of union decline on the wages of nonunion women are not as substantial because women were not as heavily represented in unionized private sector jobs. The authors note, however, that any substantial growth in collective bargaining would be expected to have as much or more impact on women as men. Specifically, the authors find that women’s wages would be 2 to 3 percent higher if unions had stayed at their 1979 levels. Their study also reveals that private sector nonunion men of all education levels would earn 5 percent ($52) higher weekly wages in 2013 if private-sector union density (the share of workers in similar industries and regions who are union members) remained at its 1979 level, an increase of $2,704 in annual paychecks for full-time employees.

This is the first study providing a broad estimate of the wage decline for nonunion workers as the result of the erosion of unions.

This decline in unions has eroded wages for nonunion workers at every level of education and experience, costing billions in lost wages. For the 32.9 million full-time nonunion private sector women and 40.2 million full-time private sector men, there is a $133 billion loss in annual wages because of weakened unions.

Given dramatically weakened unions, their effect on nonunion wages has declined over time: these effects have fallen to between one-half and two-thirds of their late-1970s levels.

Union decline has exacerbated wage inequality in the United States by dampening the pay of nonunion workers as well as by eroding the share of workers directly benefiting from unionization: union erosion can explain a third of the growth of wage inequality among men and one-fifth of the rise of wage inequality among women. At least for middle-wage men, the impact of the erosion of unions on the wages of both union and nonunion workers is likely the largest single factor underlying wage stagnation and wage inequality.

“Unions have functioned to raise the wages of all workers, union and nonunion,” said Lawrence Mishel, EPI President. “The erosion of collective bargaining has clearly taken a huge toll on nonunion wages in the United States, and is a major factor in the wage stagnation of the last four decades.”

Top Small Business Democrats in Congress Back Clinton’s New Plan

Woman Working Business

The two top Democrats on the House and Senate Small Business Committees both released statements praising Hillary Clinton’s newly released small business plan. Hillary Clinton is proposing a comprehensive, job-creating package of reforms and innovations to make it easier to start, grow and sustain a small business. 

“Supporting small businesses is fundamental to growing the economy and creating good paying jobs,” Senate Small Business Committee Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said. “As a former small business owner and the current ranking Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee, I’m pleased to see Secretary Clinton’s comprehensive plan to strengthen and grow small businesses by simplifying the tax code, providing access to credit and unshackling the next generation of entrepreneurs from student debt. Hillary Clinton’s plan shows she will be a true Small Business President.” 

“Hillary Clinton has been a fighter for all Americans and this extends to Main Street small business owners,” House Small Business Committee Ranking Member Nydia M. Valazquez (D-NY) said. “She knows entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of our economy. Her small business plan will empower more Americans to pursue dreams of launching their own business, while creating good jobs locally and ensuring our nation remains globally competitive. By contrast, Donald Trump has a history in the private sector of repeatedly shortchanging small firms that did work for his company.  The choice in this election could not be clearer: Hillary Clinton has the experience and vision to strengthen our small business sector and boost entrepreneurship.”

The new proposals reflect what Clinton has heard since one of her first events of the campaign at an Iowa bike shop and across nearly 100 visits to small businesses since. Over a year ago, Hillary Clinton pledged that she would be the “small business president” if elected. Small businesses create around two-thirds of all new American jobs.

Clinton’s plans are aimed at making it easier to start, grow and sustain a small business in America. Her proposals will streamline the process of starting a small business; improve access to financing for small businesses; provide tax relief and simplification for small businesses; incentivize more health care benefits for small businesses and their employees; ensure the federal government is more responsive to small businesses; and, make it easier to fight back when small businesses get cheated.

Clinton and Senator Tim Kaine both grew up in small business-owning families. Clinton’s father ran a small drapery business in suburban Chicago where she grew up, and Kaine’s father ran a small ironworking business in Kansas City where he grew up. Kaine will discuss the new plan during a roundtable with small business owners this morning in Lakewood, Colorado, and Clinton will discuss it on a nationwide conference call with small business owners from all across the country this afternoon.

“Watching my father run a small business in Chicago, and working side by side with small business leaders throughout my career, I’ve seen firsthand how small business owners lift up their communities — but I’ve also seen the daily struggles they face. This is why I am putting forward a plan that will make it easier for people to create a business and for existing business owners to grow and hire,” said Hillary Clinton. “Whether it’s our efforts to streamline regulation and cut red tape so existing small businesses can hire more or our plans for new tax incentives that help new small businesses get off the ground, this plan is a comprehensive look at what small businesses need to succeed.  It’s clear that small businesses are the engine of our economy and strengthening them is key to making an economy that works for every American, not just those at the top.”

Clinton’s new plan would:

  • Streamline the process of starting a small business. It takes longer to start a business in the U.S. than it does in other countries like Canada or Denmark — often because of unnecessary red tape and licensing requirements at the state and local level. Hillary Clinton will offer state and local governments a deal – new federal incentives if they streamline unnecessary licensing and make it less costly to start a small business.
  • Improve access to financing for small businesses. Small business loans comprised just 29 percent of total bank loans in 2012, as compared with 51 percent in 1995. Clinton will work to boost small business lending by streamlining regulation and cutting red tape for community banks and credit unions, which are the backbone of small business lending in America — while also defending the new rules on Wall Street. Clinton’s plan also would allow entrepreneurs to defer student loan payments with no interest while they get their ventures off the ground.
  • Provide new tax relief and simplification for small businesses. Hillary will create a new standard deduction for small businesses—like the one available to individual filers—so they get tax relief without filing as many forms documenting their overhead costs, potentially including transportation, computer and phone use, maintaining an office and more. She will simplify the rules so small businesses can track and file their taxes as easily as filling out a checkbook or printing a bank statement. And the new plan would quadruple the start-up tax deduction to significantly lower the cost of starting a business.
  • Incentivize health care benefits for small businesses and their employees. Clinton would simplify and expand the healthcare tax credit for small employers in the Affordable Care Act, so that even more employers can provide quality, affordable healthcare to their workers. She will make sure that small businesses with up to 50 employees can be eligible for the credit, and she will simplify complex phase-out and eligibility rules so that it’s easier for many more small businesses to get the credit and cover their workers.
  • Ensure the federal government is more responsive to small businesses. Clinton will push the federal agencies to make government more user friendly and treat small businesses like the customer, including by guaranteeing a 24-hour response time to small business with questions about federal regulations and access to capital programs.
  • Make it easier to fight back when small businesses get cheated.  Clinton will stop large companies from using expensive litigation hurdles to deny small businesses their right to a remedy when they’re denied payment for services—and give small businesses recourse to take on predatory behavior.

The full comprehensive proposal is available here.

Defense Workers Update: 5 Things Lawmakers Must Resolve During NDAA Negotiations

AFGE Federal Workers

Policies affecting working people’s pay, benefits, and jobs top AFGE’s priority list in National Defense Authorization Act.

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 270,000 civilian Defense employees nationwide, is highlighting five priorities for House and Senate lawmakers who will be meeting soon to resolve differences in their versions of the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

“The NDAA is a critical piece of legislation that establishes personnel and operational policies for the Pentagon to follow for the coming year,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. “Every civilian and military employee in the Department of Defense should be paying close attention to this bill as it moves through the legislative process, because the decisions made here will affect their jobs.”

AFGE has identified five key issues that must be resolved between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA. They are:

1. Pay parity: Ensure equal pay raises for military and civilian workers

Federal civilian employees often work side-by-wide with military personnel and are crucial to ensuring our nation’s defense and security. Therefore, they should be afforded the same annual pay increases as those for the military. AFGE encourages lawmakers to retain the House-passed provision that would provide service members with a 2.1% pay raise in 2017 and to maintain the long-held tradition of pay parity between military and civilian employees.

2. Outsourcing: Maintain privatization ban and oppose commercialization of DoD purchases

Since fiscal 2010, Congress has banned DoD from conducting public-private contracting studies under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76. This privatization ban was instituted because of systemic problems with the contracting out process and DoD’s failure to produce a full and meaningful inventory of its contractor workforce. Those issues persist, so Congress should reject Senate proposals to remove the A-76 ban and effectively gut the requirement for DoD to produce a contractor inventory.

Lawmakers also should remove provisions in both the Senate and House versions of the NDAA that would allow more defense goods and services to be labeled as “commercial.” This would result in DoD paying higher prices for these goods and services, which would hurt taxpayers, civil service employees and the military.

3. Travel costs: Reverse cuts in travel allowances for military and civilian workers

Thanks to a DoD policy change two years ago, thousands of military members and civilian DoD employees who travel for more than a month at a time now have to dip into their own pockets to pay for routine expenses like lodging and meals. Rather than covering 100 percent of an employee’s nationally established per diem allowance, like other federal agencies, DoD now covers just 75 percent of the per diem for employees traveling between 31 and 180 days, and only 55 percent for employees on travel for longer than 180 days. A provision in the House-passed NDAA would stop DoD from reducing the per diem allowance. This provision should be included in the final bill.

4. Pay and benefit cuts: Oppose downgrading commissary jobs and privatizing Voice of America

In a misguided attempt to cut the costs of operating military grocery stores, lawmakers have proposed downgrading the pay and benefits of the Defense Commissary Agency’s 15,500 civilian employees by changing their funding status from appropriated to non-appropriated. This change would cut employees’ pay by as much as one-quarter, force them to pay significantly more for health care insurance, render them ineligible for retirement benefits, and make it easier to fire them and privatize their jobs. Many of these employees are veterans or spouses of active-duty service members. This proposal must be removed from the NDAA.

Lawmakers also should reject a provision in the House-passed NDAA that would create a private, nonprofit organization to carry out all of the broadcasting and related programs currently performed by the Voice of America (VOA). AFGE opposes this provision because it would result in VOA workers losing their federal employee rights and protections. It is also likely to increase taxpayer costs significantly, as a similar move to de-federalize VOA’s Arabic Service in 2003 resulted on a 10-fold increase in costs without a resulting increase in benefit.

5. Workforce management: Increase financial incentive for employees to retire or resign

Federal agencies that are downsizing or restructuring can offer employees lump-sum payments as an incentive to voluntarily retire or resign. The maximum buyout has been capped at $25,000 since the Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP) authority was established in 1993. The Senate version of the NDAA would raise the maximum payment for DoD employees to $40,000 to account for inflation and help DoD efficiently reduce the workforce without affecting mission or readiness. Lawmakers should include this provision in the final bill.

Legislative Committee Fails To Act On Governor Hassan’s “Gateway To Work” Program

Republicans Block The Proposal That Is Strongly Supported by New Hampshire’s Business Community 

CONCORD –Today, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal, which would have strengthened workforce development in our state and has strong support from the NH Business and Industry Association. An attempt to remove the proposal from the table was defeated by the Republican majority on the Fiscal Committee.

Announced in Governor Hassan’s State of the State Address earlier this year, Gateway to Work will use repurposed existing federal funds to help New Hampshire’s citizens succeed in the workforce through strengthening job training, creating new apprenticeship opportunities, helping remove the barriers that cause too many citizens to fail in the workplace, and helping young people in the Granite State get a leg up on their futures.

“As we educate our young people and build the highly skilled workforce of the future, innovative businesses looking to grow here in New Hampshire need more workers now,” Governor Hassan said at the Gateway to Work kickoff event in March. “We have an opportunity to better use the talent of our own people right here in New Hampshire, helping our businesses thrive while closing the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

“Through Gateway to Work, we can provide more of the workers our businesses need to thrive,” Governor Hassan said. “We can help give more of our families the opportunity to work their way to self-sufficiency and into the middle class. And we will do so using only existing federal funds, while achieving long-term savings for taxpayers by moving people off of public assistance,” added Hassan.  

The New Hampshire business community has continued to say that New Hampshire does not have enough skilled workers to fill the open jobs currently available now.  Recently the Washington Post highlighted New Hampshire’s growing need for skilled manufacturing workers as the majority of the workforce heads into retirement.

“While New Hampshire’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate is largely a good thing — it’s one of the nation’s lowest — it also means the labor pool is shallow. It’s created a squeeze for manufacturing companies in particular for two reasons: The industry’s workforce is aging at a faster than average rate, while fewer young workers have the proper skills — or interest — to fill the void of retiring workers,” wrote the Washington Post.

Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“New Hampshire’s continued economic growth depends on our ability to meet the workforce needs of our businesses. As we work to retain existing businesses and attract new ones, the number one concern that I consistently hear from employers is their need for skilled workers.

“Gateway to Work has strong support from the business community because it would move people off of public assistance into sustainable careers, saving taxpayer dollars and providing innovative businesses with the workers they need to grow and thrive. With a strengthening economy and an unemployment rate that is among the lowest in the nation, the business community is desperate for workers. I am disappointed by the Fiscal Committee’s repeated delays with transferring the existing federal funds to launch Gateway to Work, and I am concerned that Republicans on the committee are allowing politics to prevent us from moving forward with this common-sense initiative to fill jobs at growing companies and help close the opportunity gap for New Hampshire’s children and families.”

After the vote, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), member of the Fiscal Committee, released the following statement: 

“I am frustrated and disappointed that the Joint Fiscal Committee played politics with our state’s economy today by voting against transferring TANF dollars to fund the innovative Gateway to Work program.  This program that has strong support from New Hampshire’s business community would have gone a long way towards strengthening our economy by providing potential employees with the skills and services they need to successfully gain employment.”  

“We hear constantly that with an improving economy, the most significant challenge our employers face today is finding skilled workers who are able to take jobs when offered. Gateway to Work targets potential employees who have barriers to employment such as reliable child care and transportation and helps lower those barriers to get them into the workforce. Every day that we delay implementation of this program, we leave both our unemployed constituents and our businesses behind.  We should be doing all we can to help Granite Staters escape poverty and move off of public assistance and towards self-sufficiency, and the vote by the Fiscal Committee today is a step in the wrong direction.” 

“Today’s action by the Republican majority forces our unemployed constituents to stay on public assistance programs instead of finding good employment and leaves our businesses without the workers they need to thrive and expand our economy.”

Representative Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord) issued the following statement after the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee failed to act on Governor Hassan’s Gateway to Work proposal:

“I am extremely disappointed that Republicans continue to obstruct the implementation of the Gateway to Work initiative. It is a common sense program critical to New Hampshire’s future and should be approved as quickly as possible.

The Gateway to Work initiative would help workers, businesses, and the economy as a whole by investing in job training, apprenticeship opportunities and other supports for hard-working Granite Staters. There is no reason to delay an initiative that benefits everyone: Gateway to Work would help workers to get good-paying jobs, help businesses utilize a skilled workforce, and reduce government spending by moving people off public assistance and into stable careers. Republicans need to stop playing politics with our state’s future and approve Gateway to Work.”

By continuing to block programs like the “Gateway to Work,”  Republicans in Concord are showing that they are less interested in doing what is best for working people and businesses in New Hampshire and more interested in chasing wild conspiracy theories from doctored videos and sticking to their partisan opposition to Governor Hassan.

Republicans routinely complain about having too many people “living off the system” on public assistance and yet oppose one of the strongest proposals to help people “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” by providing them with the skills necessary to find a lasting career that will help lift them out of poverty.

New England Protesters Call Out Donald Trump’s Outsourcing Record and Divisive Rhetoric

Concord, N.H. — Donald Trump’s visit to New England concluded with a stop in Manchester yesterday. Protesters were on hand at every turn to stand against his divisive rhetoric and his businesses outsourcing jobs overseas, despite his claims of favoring American workers.

“Donald Trump’s claims of being for American jobs are utterly disingenuous,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “His companies employ low-wage workers in China, Bangladesh and Honduras, among others, because it means more money in his pockets. It is has been clear that throughout his career and his presidential campaign, he is only out for himself.”

Protesters also sounded the alarm on Trump’s racist and insulting rhetoric on Latinos and Muslims. At the Manchester event, Trump joked that a “Mexican plane” was flying overhead, “ready to attack,” and suggested that he was “looking into” banning TSA workers from wearing hijabs.

Highlights of the protests

New Hampshire

WMUR

 

Eagle Tribune: Trump talks trade in NH visit

Trump and his trade remarks came under fire from the Clinton campaign and Democratic leaders, including New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley.

“New Hampshire, and the United States, deserve a president who will fight for workers and their families, not a fraud who will do anything to get ahead and cares only about himself,” Buckley said. “Donald Trump is unfit to serve as president of the United States, and voters across America will make that quite clear come November.“

NH1


Maine

WLBZ

Portland Press Herald: Trump takes aim at Clinton during raucous rally in Bangor

[Maine Attorney General Janet Mills] said Trump and his companies represent the outsourcing of jobs that has hurt manufacturing in Maine and other states. None of the products he touts or wears is made in the United States, she said.

“Donald Trump has nothing in common with the working men and women of Maine and no interest in helping them,” Mills said. “He has lined his pockets with cheap foreign labor at the expense of Maine workers and American workers. The ‘King of Debt,’ so-called, who says wages are too high, will be no help to the people of Maine.”

WGME


Massachusetts

CBS-Boston: Donald Trump’s Private Boston Fundraiser Target of Protestors

A group of about 100 protesters that included Congressman Michael Capuano and Ayanna Pressley held signs and chanted across the street from the hotel in Post Office Square more than an hour before Trump’s arrival.

NECN: Protesters Gather Outside Trump’s Closed Fundraiser in Boston

“Donald Trump needs to know that his disastrous message on the economy and is bigoted hate speech is not welcome in Boston, it’s not welcome in Massachusetts and that’s what people here want to let him know,” said Dan Hoffer of the Service Employees International Union Local 888.

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano was among those protesting the real estate mogul outside the Langham.

“This is his welcome to Boston,” the Democrat said of Trump.

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