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Feb. 11th Is Your Chance To Help Raise The Minimum Wage In NH

from http://standupfl.org/event/national-raise-the-wage-day/

The fight over raising the minimum wage is heating up.  During President Obama’s State of the Union address he announced that he would use an executive order to mandate that all government contractors pay a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour.  This falls in line with the $10.10 per hour proposal that the President and Democrats have been pushing for months.

During the State of the Union called for more local legislation to push for a higher minimum wage since Congress in unable to pass the proposed increase.

Tonight, I ask more of America’s business leaders to follow John’s lead and do what you can to raise your employees’ wages. To every mayor, governor, and state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act.”

Now is your chance to help pass a minimum wage increase right here in New Hampshire.

from http://standupfl.org/event/national-raise-the-wage-day/

On February 11th the NH House Labor Committee will hear testimony for and against raising the minimum wage.  This is where you can help.  We need people to show up and talk with legislators about why it is important to raise the minimum wage.

The specifics of HB 1403 are to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 in 2015 and then to  $9.00 per hour in 2016.  The bill will also tie the NH minimum wage to inflation, which insures that workers will continue to see an increase as their cost of living increases.

Even if you are not comfortable testifying to the committee about raising the minimum wage, we still need your help.  Just being there to show your support is important.

There are multiple events going on Feb 11th as part of this consolidated push to pass HB 1403.  The Voices of Faith for Humane Public Policy and the NH Faith-Labor Dialogue Project are hosting an ‘Interfaith Prayer Breakfast Calling for the Dignity of All Workers’ at
Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, (21 Centre Street, Concord) at 8am.
(Please RSVP if you are planning to attend:
economicjustice.nhcucc@gmail.com)

After the interfaith service the NH AFL-CIO is holding a Raise the Wage Press Conference.  Those who support raising the minimum wage are encouraged to attend the press conference, which begins at 9:30 am in the Lobby of the Legislative Office Building.

Then at 10:30 everyone is encouraged to attend and sign in supporting the passage of HB 1403 at the public hearing (Room 305-307 in the Legislative Office Building). If you are interested in offering testimony for this bill, contact Kurt Ehrenberg, kurtehrenberg@nhaflcio.org for information and tips on delivering testimony.

Thousands of minimum wage workers need your help and your support to ensure the passage of HB 1403 to raise the minimum wage here in New Hampshire.

The State Employees’ Association Recaps The Right To Work For Less (HB323) Hearing

Right To Work 2

A message from our friends at the State Employees’ Association of NH (SEIU 1984)

O’Brien and Co. Continue RTW Crusade

Rep. William O’Brien continued his crusade to bring right-to-work (for less) to New Hampshire on Wednesday, testifying in favor of his bill before the House labor committee.

While the bill may have a new name – the Franklin Partin act, after an anti-union activist – the arguments and attacks are the same. Sponsors promised economic growth if the state adopted the legislation.

As an example, the unseated NH Speaker of the House pointed to the case of Caterpillar Inc.’s relocation to Indiana after that state adopted right-to-work (for less) legislation. But SEA President Diana Lacey tore up that example during her testimony, noting Caterpillar pays its Indiana workers poverty-level wages.

“The move had nothing to do with Indiana’s right-to-work bill,” Lacey said. “Those two things coincided in 2012, although this process started in 2009,” when Caterpillar opened a factory there to take advantage of the depressed economy.

Despite his own twisting of facts, O’Brien still charged that opposition to right-to-work (for less) is often emotional, “because that’s where you turn when you’re short on facts.” O’Brien was then followed by the bill co-sponsors, including an, at-times, rambling Rep. Al Baldasaro, whose testimony was heavy on emotion and light on facts.

In arguing that the bill would make the state more fertile for job creation, Baldasaro mentioned that his children had to leave the state to find jobs.

“They can’t come back home, because the jobs aren’t here,” Baldassaro said.

Rep. Sally Kelly then pointed out that the states Baldasaro’s children work in, Massachusetts and Maine, are not right-to-work (for less) states, either.

This, of course, isn’t the first time O’Brien has pursued right-to-work legislation in New Hampshire. The last time, in 2011, he repeatedly delayed a final vote in order to get enough support. Still, the bill, that former Gov. John Lynch vetoed fell short of the votes needed to override the veto.

Ray Buckley, the state Democratic Party leader, noted the consistent rejection of such legislation here in his testimony.

“The reality is, there has always been a consensus in state government that they should not interfere in the rights of management and labor to collectively bargain,” Buckley said. “There is absolutely no evidence this legislation will give any benefit to New Hampshire companies, its workers and its families.”

There were some lighter moments, a marked difference from the intense hearing on the bill that took place two years ago.

Former Rep. David Welch drew laughs when he noted that he his eventual opposition to the bill came with consequences.

“I lost my election because of this issue,” Welch said, though he eventually realized “all the emails I got about the union thugs, it turns out the thugs are not in the unions.”

The biggest laughs, though, came when John Kalb, the director of New England Citizens for Right to Work, was asked if he could name any high-paying non-union shops.

Kalb’s completely straight-faced answer? “Goldman Sachs.”

The two hour and forty-five minute hearing ended without the committee making any recommendation on the bill.

Testimony of NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie on HB 323 (Right To Work for Less)

NH AFL-CIO Logo

Chairman White and members of the committee,

My name is Mark MacKenzie and I am the President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. We represent over 40,000 union members in the state of New Hampshire in the private, public and federal sectors. We appear today in opposition to House Bill 323.

First of all, it is clear beyond any doubt that based on the economic data alone, this bill is bad policy for our state.

The Economic Policy Institute’s report, Right to Work: Wrong for New Hampshire, by University of Oregon economist Professor Gordon Lafer, found that the impact of adopting a RTW is to lower wages and benefits by about $1,500 per year – for both union and non-union workers – and to lower the odds of getting health insurance or a pension through one’s job, while having no impact at all on job growth.

Professor Lafer’s study was updated in 2012 and will be distributed to the committee today.

I would like to highlight some of the more compelling findings in the report that merits the committee’s attention.

To a large extent, globalization has rendered RTW impotent. In the globalized economy, companies looking for cheap labor are overwhelmingly looking to China or Mexico.

The most important case study for any state considering RTW in 2013 is that of Oklahoma, the only state to have newly adopted RTW in the post-NAFTA era (Indiana and Michigan have just recently implemented their new laws).

When Oklahoma was debating RTW in 2001, a series of corporate location consultants told legislators that the state was being “redlined” because up to 90% of relocating companies “won’t even consider” locating in a non-RTW location. If Oklahoma adopted RTW, these consultants promised, the state would see “eight to ten times as many prospects.”

But instead of growing, the number of new companies coming into Oklahoma has actually fallen by one-third in the eleven years since RTW was adopted.  The state’s manufacturing employment has also decreased by 30%, and Oklahoma’s unemployment rate in 2010 was twice as high as when the law was passed.  Every promise made by RTW boosters has proven false.

Employer surveys confirm that RTW is not a significant draw; in 2009 manufacturers ranked it fourteenth among factors affecting location decisions. It slipped even lower as a factor in 2011 to 16th.

In addition, the report found that New Hampshire’s economy is far superior to the right-to-work average. New Hampshire has seen significant growth in the number of new companies incorporating in the state, including both local startups and out-of-state companies opening locations in New Hampshire.

Partly due to its economic success, New Hampshire’s quality of life is far superior to that in RTW states.  In 2010, New Hampshire ranked among the top 10 states in median household income; share of population with health insurance; share of population receiving dental care; number of primary care physicians; low violent crime rate; and low incidence of heart attacks, strokes, infectious disease, diabetes, low birth weight babies; and occupational fatalities.  New Hampshire’s school system performs above national standards, with math and reading scores significantly above the national average in 2009. The median weekly earnings of New Hampshire employees are not only higher than the average of RTW states, but higher than every single one of the RTW states. So too, New Hampshire’s median household income is higher, and its poverty rate lower, than all of the 23 states with right-to-work laws passed before 2011.

For all these reasons, New Hampshire would do far better maintaining our existing system rather than imitating the RTW states.

Over the course of the last two years, significant new information has come to light, all of which confirms the negative impact of RTW legislation.

·         A new study by independent economists from the University of Nevada and Claremont McKenna College confirms RTW results in lower wages for non-union workers.

·         An Oklahoma corporate think-tank admitted RTW has failed to create jobs.  The Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs – a think tank affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, that played a leading role in promoting that state’s 2001 RTW law – now admits that “manufacturing is lower today than it was before RTW.” Furthermore, the same organization reports that Oklahoma has become a net job exporter.

·         RTW has been shown to increase construction fatalities.  A new study shows that, in addition to its negative impact on wages and benefits, RTW also makes for less safe workplaces, including increased fatalities for construction workers.

·         New Hampshire continues to outperform RTW states.  As of December 2011, unemployment in New Hampshire was lower than in all but three of the 23 RTW states. 

The South Carolina Model:

In the past year, South Carolina has frequently been promoted as a model of economic development due to its RTW law. But at the end of 2012, South Carolina’s unemployment rate was 8.4 percent; While New Hampshire’s was 5.4 percent. South Carolina’s poverty rate is also double that of New Hampshire; while its median income is $23,000 lower.  The rate of new business openings was 25 percent faster in New Hampshire than in South Carolina. When it comes to “new economy” firms – the high-tech, high-wage employers that every state seeks – New Hampshire is ranked much higher than South Carolina.  By any measure, South Carolina should be trying to figure out how to be more like New Hampshire — not the opposite.

The past two years have also produced evidence that shed light on some misleading claims that had been put forth on behalf of RTW.

Texas’ growth was entirely in the public sector, unrelated to RTW. For the last four years, job growth in Texas has come entirely through government jobs, while the private sector shrank—clearly a trend that cannot be credited to RTW.

Evidence presented as current was actually thirty-five years old.  The National Right to Work Committee produced a Powerpoint presentation in 2011 that quotes an executive of Fantus, a site-location firm, warning that “approximately 50 percent of our clients … do not want to consider locations unless they are in right-to-work states”. The Committee neglected to mention that the quote is based on a report from 1975, and that by 1986, the firm’s executive vice president reported that the figure had fallen to 10 percent.

With all this evidence it would seem that those advocating in favor of this bill are actually driven by an Ideological belief system with no real regard for the true impact this bill will have on New Hampshire’s middle class working families and our state’s economic future.

I urge the committee to reject this legislation.

Thank you for your consideration.

Bills to Increase NH Minimum Wage Heard Today by Susan Bruce

Minimum Wage Vs Rent

NH Minimum Wage: HB 127 and HB 241

The two bills were lumped together in a January 29, 2013 hearing in the Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee.

Both bills call for an increase in the minimum wage. Last legislative session, the NH specific minimum wage was eliminated. NH complies with the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The federal minimum wage has been increased exactly 3 times in the last 30 years.

HB241 would increase the state minimum wage to $9.25 an hour. HB127 would increase it to $8.00 an hour.

There are some 14,000 minimum wage workers in NH. 78.8% of them are over the age of 20.  Contrary to what many believe, fewer than a quarter of them are teenagers. More than a third of them are married, and over a quarter are parents. These are people who are earning $15,080 annually, if they work a steady 40-hour week.
Minimum Wage Vs Rent
The number of states (and NH counties) where a min. wage worker can afford a 2-bedroom apartment?  ZERO.

The chances that a minimum wage worker is a woman? 64 in 100.

If minimum wage kept up with increases in CEO pay, it would be over $23 an hour.

It was obvious that some of the committee members as well as those offering testimony today believe that minimum wage is the sole province of teenagers, but the facts from the Economic Policy Institute prove otherwise.

Rep. Shawn Jasper testified (in opposition) on behalf of House GOP leadership. He said that what NH needs is a training wage, and repeated several times that not everyone who is earning minimum wage is living on minimum wage. It is Rep. Jasper’s assertion that no one is worth $8 an hour when they’re 8 years old or even 13. The minimum wage does not help our youth, it does not allow them to push a broom or move up the rungs of the employment ladder. In fact, Jasper asserts, teens are unemployed BECAUSE of the minimum wage. Thanks to the min. wage, those jobs aren’t being created. He reiterated that there are a substantial number of people who do not need to live on the minimum wage.

Quick diversion: an informal poll of my friends with kids shows that teenaged babysitters are earning somewhere between $7 and $10 an hour.

Also, the reason for teen unemployment is simple. There are still millions of adults out of work. The teens are competing with them for jobs. It has nothing to do with minimum wage, and everything to do with what we’re still not calling a depression.

Businessman Steve Grenier of Rye has a seasonal ice cream business. He lives year round on those earnings. He states that he would be adversely affected, and would have to raise his prices. It wouldn’t be fair to the kids who worked their way to higher wages, if new kids came in at this new entry-level minimum wage. His employees are all students.

Representative Daniels from the committee wondered how many of the minimum wage workers are under 18 and still living at home. He also wondered how many are working min. wage jobs as a second job, “just for something to do.” Apparently those who work second jobs don’t merit higher pay.

Chris Williams of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce opposes both bills. He told us of several small businesses that have closed in Nashua recently (which had nothing to do with this, btw) as a warning example of what will happen. Of course, if people earn more, they spend more at those small businesses – but that isn’t factored in to the thinking of business/industry groups and their lobbyists.

Another thing to consider: if wages don’t go up, than the cost of safety net services do.

Dan Juday (not at all sure of the spelling) of the BIA testified in opposition. This will have a ripple effect on all employers, increasing labor costs across the board. This is why we have outsourcing – because of labor costs. Also, he told us that an increase in minimum wage could bankrupt the unemployment insurance trust fund. This is no time to burden employers with more costs.

Beth Mattingly of the Carsey Institute pointed out that the federal poverty guidelines were developed in the 1960’s, based on the cost of food. They do not factor in the cost of housing or childcare, which are the biggest expenses for today’s working people. A single person would need to earn $9 an hour just to reach the federal poverty guidelines. Naturally, there were other folks there to speak in support of increasing the minimum wage. For me, today, the focus is on those who defend sub-poverty wages.

There are some wage subdivisions in place already. Restaurants are allowed to pay tipped workers substantially less than minimum wage. These are also people who don’t get paid sick days, so they come to work sick, because they have to, and then handle your food. Achoo!

There is a mechanism in place to pay people with developmental disabilities less than minimum wage. The business lobby would love to create a “training wage” in order to pay kids (and probably adults too) slave wages.

Curtis Barry of the Retail Merchants Association described the minimum wage working base as students and “retired people, looking for a little extra money.” Apparently those older people don’t deserve a decent wage, either. Fortunately no one mentioned housewives working for “pin money.”

There was almost no respect expressed for workers at this hearing. That was disheartening.

I did hear from a bill sponsor that there is a lot of support for an increase in the minimum wage. On behalf of 14,000 NH workers, let’s hope that there will be one.

CROSS POSTED with permission from Susan The Bruce Blog

The Next Session Of The NH House Has Begun. New Leaders, Same Fireworks

NH House-2

Yesterday was the official start of the 2013-2014 legislative session in the New Hampshire House. As we all know the house completely flipped from a GOP super majority to a Democratic majority.  We also see a return of speaker Terri Norelli.

The first day brought, what seems to becoming the norm in the House, fireworks.  Yesterday’s inaugural session opened with fierce debates.  The very heated debate from the radical Tea Party Republicans over the new House ban on guns.

The Republican opposition to the ban revolved around safety in the House. “By removing handguns from the Statehouse, you will create a gun-rich target much as was done at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn. (Rep. Lenette Peterson, R-Merrimack).” This ridiculous statement implies that a place full of gun wearing extremist is a safer place than one where only law enforcement are packing.  We have completely disproved this mentality in our previous post, on Guns in the State House.

After the debate, Granite State Progress released a statement “Legislators Who Wasted Taxpayer Time Opposing Deadly Weapons Ban Have Record of Extreme Guns Votes” highlighting that the legislators who opposed the gun ban have been working over the last two years to reduce all legislation around gun ownership.

*   *   *   *   *   *

Looking Forward

With the new House seated and the session begins I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to this sessions House Labor Committee.

The committee will be Chaired by Andrew White(d) and Vice Chaired by Sally Kelly(d)

Members:

There are many new names on the list and some repeat offenders as well. The links above will take you to the NH House website and provide you with contact information on each of the Reps.  If you would like more information on some of these Reps, check out Granite State Progress’s Legislator Report Card site where you can see how they voted in previous years.  It is yet to be seen as to how this committee will play out under new leadership.

While the bills to be referred to the Labor Committee have yet to be announced we know that Right To Work (for less) will once again be debated.  Former Speaker O’Brien personally sponsored the legislation this year.  Another bill that could spark huge debate will be the proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage law.  To raise the state’s minimum wage law they first will have to pass a law stating that the NH minimum wage can be higher than the Federal Minimum. Then they have to determine how much they want to raise it.  These are only two of the many bills that will go through the House Labor Committee and the NH Labor News will do our best to cover all the bills that progress through the committee.

 

ALEC, What is Their Influence in NH House?

A very important piece of research came out this week from Granite State Progress.  Through deep research of ALEC Exposed and the New Hampshire General Court websites they have connected the two.  For over 30 years Right To Work legislation has been pushed in the New Hampshire House.  In fact, over the last 30 years Right To Work legislation has been proposed thirteen times.  Even before that legislators discussed a “Right To Work for Less bill”.

In 1983 during the debate on SB 71, Sen. Jim Splaine references that a right to work for less bill – though not necessarily in this exact verbiage -­‐ has been discussed every term of his 14 years in the legislature and comes from a firm based out of Virginia. Other Senators note that support for the bill is mostly from out-­‐of-­‐state, including additional references to “telegrams from Virginia” – the home of the National Right to Work Committee.

For many of these years both Republican and Democrat legislators have rejected this amendment until 2011.  In 2011 it took a Governor’s veto to stop Right To Work.   Why has the NH House been pushing Right To Work so hard especially over the last few years? Four words, the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC).

ALEC is a corporate funded organization that puts state legislators together to help pass laws that are favorible to the corporations and the 1% who own them.  I will let them explain:

“Our members join for the purpose of having a seat at the table. That’s just what we do, that’s the service we offer,” explains Dennis Bartlett, an ALEC task force head who is also the executive director of the American Bail Coalition. “The organization is supported by money from the corporate sector, and, by paying to be members, corporations are allowed the opportunity to sit down at the table and discuss the issues that they have an interest in.”

You might say this is corporate lobbying, but it is more than that.  ALEC also helps to create the legislation that state legislators then submit in their home state as their own laws.  Why would they do this? Granite State Progress explains in their brief:

Corporate Power and Workers’ Rights“ALEC works fervently to promote laws that would shield corporations from legal action and allow them to limit the rights of workers. The group’s model legislation would roll back laws regarding corporate accountability, workers compensation and on the job protections, collective bargaining and organizing rights, prevailing wage and the minimum wage. ALEC is a main proponent of bills that undermineorganized labor by stripping public employees of collective bargaining rights and “right to work” laws. They also push “regulatory flexibility” laws that lead to massive deregulation. It is no surprise that the director of ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force previously worked as a Koch Associate at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.”

Is it really suprising that our current House Labor Committee is pushing Right To Work and other ALEC legislation? Not really when you consider that the chair of the Labor Committee is Gary Daniels
who is in his 8th term in the house.  Daniels was also the “American Legislative Exchange Council Labor & Business Task Force (1990-­‐1992) ~from the Handbook of New Hampshire Elected Officials 1993 & 1994 ALEC State Legislator “.I wonder if we will see any Anti-ALEC legislation in the New Hampshire House like they have proposed in Minnesota?

All quotes are from GSP Research
NH Labor News Previous Posts on ALEC

Union Wage Deductions laws proposed from ALEC?
State Reps getting Taxpayer Money to attend ALEC conferences?
ALEC Exposed Voter ID laws in New Hampshire.

Anger Blogger Ahead! Labor Committee Moves More Anti-Worker Legislation to the House

Warning Angry Blogger Ahead!!!

I can barely put into words my disgust for the NH Labor Committee today. Yesterday the NH House Labor Committee voted 12-5, “ought to pass” on a slew of obviously anti-union legislation.  With the exception of Herbert Richardson (R- Lancaster) the committee voted right down party lines. I have talked about most of these bills in great detail since they were introduced.

These were the bills voted out of committee included (from NH AFL-CIO PR):

  • HB 1677: a new right-to-work for less bill similar to last year’s bill (Vote 11-6, 4 Dems, Rep. Richardson and Rep. Sullivan R-Hampton)
  • HB 1685: a second right-to-work bill that is a backup in case HB 1677 fails
  • HB 1645: a bill that once repealed collective bargaining rights for teachers, firefighters and other public workers; was stripped and amended in committee to allow employers to lead decertifications of public unions
  • HB 1663: a bill that strips the requirement for a union to be the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit out of the collective bargaining law
  • HB 1237: a bill that gives the Legislature veto power over state and municipal employee contracts
  • HB 1206: a bill that prohibits automatic payroll deduction of union dues, but was stripped and amended to split increases in health insurance 50-50 between employers and employees if a contract expires
I even spoke to some of the people on the Labor Committee the other night at a town meeting.  One of them told me that the Committee was doing what WE (unions) wanted.  WHAT? Are you kidding me?  He explained to me that last year they tried to pass Right To Work and the unions said it was “unfair to have freeloaders”.  He continued to tell me that “now we are going make it so you do not have to cover them, and the unions complained about that”.   He honestly believed that bills like Right To Work and Exclusive Bargaining are going to INCREASE union membership.  He told me that he is trying to help the unions.  I wanted to scream (Expletives Deleted)!!!

What is the purpose of these bills? After 30+ years does the Labor Committee want to dismantle labor in NH?  Has something changed in the collective bargaining process that would warrant these actions?  YES, and it is not from NH.  PAC’s like Americans for Prosperity (Koch brothers) and other TEA Party organizations are pushing to get all of these bills through.  They use other organizations like ALEC to write the bills (example).  It is just another example of these Anti-Union, Anti-Worker, and Anti-Middle Class republicans pushing their Anti-Union ideologies on the rest of us in NH.

Tell them how you feel about their decision to move forward with these bills.  Email them at NH Labor Committee.  Tell them how disgusted you are that they would do this.  While you are there be sure to thank the five people who voted to kill these bills: Jeffrey Goley (d) Charles Weed (d) Chip Rice (d) Andrew White (d) and Herbert Richardson (r)!  Thank them for standing up to the TEA Party leaders in the house and working to protected the rights of the working class from the extreme “Right”.

Statement from the NH AFL-CIO: NH HOUSE LABOR COMMITTEE PASSES WAVE OF UNION-BUSTING BILLS

For immediate release
Contact: Nora Frederickson, New Hampshire AFL-CIO, 603-785-4211
NH House Labor Committee passes wave of union-busting bills
As even Republican and independent voters turn away from Republican agenda, House leadership advances pledge to dismantle NH’s collective bargaining rights law
At a time when the Tea Party-driven Republican agenda in Concord is more unpopular than ever with voters on both sides of the aisle, Chairman Gary Daniels and his allies on the House Labor Committee have ramped up their attacks on working people. In a work session yesterday, the House Labor Committee took another step towards dismantling New Hampshire’s collective bargaining rights law by voting no fewer than five anti-worker bills ‘ought to pass’. 
The work session was complicated by the fact that amendments totally altering the nature of two of the bills were added just prior to the session, forcing legislators to assess them in committee.
The bills voted out of committee included:
  • HB 1677: a new right-to-work for less bill similar to last year’s bill
  • HB 1685: a second right-to-work bill that is a backup in case HB 1677 fails
  • HB 1645: a bill that once repealed collective bargaining rights for teachers, firefighters and other public workers; was stripped and amended in committee to allow employers to lead decertifications of public unions
  • HB 1663: a bill that strips the requirement for a union to be the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit out of the collective bargaining law
  • HB 1237: a bill that gives the Legislature veto power over state and municipal employee contracts
  • HB 1206: a bill that prohibits automatic payroll deduction of union dues, but was stripped and amended to split increases in health insurance 50-50 between employers and employees if a contract expires
“Instead of moving on after last year’s divisive fight over right-to-work for less, the House leadership and members of this committee voted yesterday to neuter New Hampshire’s collective bargaining rights law,” said Mark MacKenzie, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. “Chairman Daniels has admitted that his plan is to throw this handful of bills to the wall and see what sticks. Clearly, they have not listened to the thousands of working men and women in New Hampshire who have pleaded with them to stop attacking workers and move on to fixing the economy and creating jobs.”
The House Committee’s vote comes at a time when the Tea Party-driven Republican agenda in Concord is increasingly unpopular with voters on both sides of the aisle. Over half of New Hampshire voters oppose bills to eliminate or alter the collective bargaining rights law. According to a poll from the Beneson Strategy Group. Since November, Democrats or pro-labor Republicans have won five of five special House elections, indicating that voters will take their frustrations with the Tea Party-driven Republican leadership with them to the polls in November.
###

AFT-NH–BREAKING NEWS–February 21ST, 2012–Outrageous!

AFT-NH
BREAKING NEWS
February 21ST, 2012
Outrageous!

Dear AFT-NH Member,

The House Labor Committee just concluded their work for the day and they have taken the next big step towards dismantling unions in NH.

It was clear by the Committee’s action that out of state interests such as the National Right to Work Committee and ALEC (Koch brothers sponsored group) are replacing the voice of the NH voters. The attack on the middle class continues. The Committee is AGAIN recommending passage of Right to Work “for less” and also gutting public sector bargaining.

The theme of the day was last minute amendments not available to those in attendance, no public hearing on some of these amendments and a complete lack of regard for the hundreds of people who have appeared in opposition to these bills since the beginning of this session! They do not care what NH voters think!

In a nutshell, the Labor Committee has recommended Ought to Pass on the following bills:

•    HB 1206, new title: relative to continuing obligations under expired public employee labor agreements. The Daniels amendment would require public employees to pay 50% of any increase in health and other insurance costs if the union contract expires. However, there was an amendment which may require the employee to pay more than this. The amendment was not made available and we will provide details as soon as we get the amendment.  Vote 12-5 (4 Dems and Rep. Richardson voting no)

•    HB 1685-FN-L, relative to collective bargaining under the public employee labor relations statutes. No one has been able to see the Rep. Shawn Jasper amendment but Sections 1 and 2 would only take effect if HB 1677 does not become law. This appears to create different classes of agency fee employees and also exclude positions from the bargaining unit if no one in that classification is a member. More to come as we see the amendment. Vote 12-5 (4 Dems and Rep. Richardson voting no)

•    HB 1645-FN, prohibiting all public employees from participating in collective bargaining.  Amendment voted upon. Not a full repeal but must see details of bill. Based on the discussion it appears that if membership in a local falls below 50% the employer can ask for an election to decertify the union. The amendment has not been made available so more to come as we see the amendment and other details. Vote 12-5 (4 Dems and Rep. Richardson)

•    HB 1663, (Right to Work “for less” for Public Employees and Exclusive Representation): relative to payment of union fees by non-members.  Interim Study 12-5 (4 Dems and Rep. Richardson)

•    HB 1677 (Right to Work “for less” for Public Employees and Exclusive Representation): relative to choice as to whether to join a labor union and eliminating the duty of a public employee labor organization to represent employees who elect not to join or to pay dues or fees to the employee organization. This would divide the local and employees could negotiate individually. Non-members not entitled to any union rights. Promotes nepotism, favoritism and chaos in the workplace. Vote 11-6 (4 Dems, Rep. Richardson and Rep. Sullivan)

Committee will be Voting on 2/22/12 around noon

•    HB 1163, (amendment) new title: relative to disclosure of collective bargaining agency fees.

•    HB 1163, (original bill) relative to the withholding union dues from wages, this bill would make it illegal for the employer to withhold voluntary union dues.


These bills are recommended Inexpedient to Legislate (defeat):

•    HB 1427, relative to declaring that private contracting of governmental operations shall not be deemed an unfair labor practice,

•    HB 1570, relative to the duty of a public employee labor organization to represent employees who elect not to join or to pay dues or fees to the employee organization. [Note-Covered by other bills above.]

I will send out a complete update and recommended actions once we see the actual amendments.

But make no mistake about it
, the Committee’s actions today indicate they have no respect for your collective bargaining rights. This is outrageous.

These bills will move to the full house and we will send you updated messaging to send to your reps but that may not be enough. We will need members to CALL their state representatives and tell them enough! We can win this fight if we stick together.

For breaking news and updates,  please visit AFT-NH on FACEBOOK and click LIKE US!* Spread the word to all of your Facebook friends. This allows us to provide our members with real time updates and spread the word to community members.*Type in AFT New Hampshire to find us! You can also sign up for “GET-ACTIVE” updates by visiting  www.aft-nh.org  and click on the link on the left –”AFT-NH GET ACTIVE–sign up”.

In Solidarity,

Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President


 “Fighting For Our Future”
www.aft-nh.org

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Late breaking news appears on Facebook!

More Washington Style Tactics Used to Push Legislation Through the NH House

One of the biggest problems in our overall political system is “Earmarks”.  Now I know that I am not using this term quite as its defined.  I think of “earmarks” as legislation added to a bill that will eventually get passed in order to get something that could not survive the legislative process on its own.  On the Federal level this is usually done with funding to specific people or projects.   In the NH House we have seen this with Speaker Bill O’Brien pushing his ten cent tobacco tax cut into the budget.  Many of the people disagreed with this cut but felt there was nothing they could do because they had to pass the budget.   These are sneaky back alley politics that we do not usually see on the local level. That does not mean that it does not happen.

There is a more recent example of this in the NH House Labor Committee.  On Feb 15, Rep Daniels (also chair of labor committee) introduced an amendment to HB1206. Before I get into the amendment let me explain what HB 1206 is.  It is a Dues Reduction bill.  It is “AN ACT prohibiting the state from withholding union dues from the wages of state employees.” This is only one of the many anti-union legislations being tossed around the labor committee this session. In an effort to “sweeten” the legislation, Daniels added this: “AN ACT relative to continuing obligations under expired public employee labor agreements“.  Wait what does continuing obligations have to do with voluntary dues reductions? Absolutely nothing. So what does this amendment mean?

“Continuing Obligations. When no successor agreement has been accepted by the legislative body of the pubic employer at the time of the expiration of the prior contract, any cost increase necessary to fulfill continuing obligations for employee insurance benefits under such contract shall be shared equally by the public employer and the employee.”

While it obvious that health benefit changes have nothing to do with dues reductions, this amendment if passed would have huge impact on public employees and their negotiations.  For example, your union is negotiating with the public employer and your contract expires in one week.  The negotiations are stalling because the union will not accept a 10% increase on their health benefits.  Well if your contract expires you will now be forced to pay 50% of the increase.  If you are NH public employee you would have to check your contract to see exactly how this would effect you.  My guess is that it would be at least a 10%-20% increase. 

Now Rep Kurk has added another attack against the middle class workers in the State Employees Association.

From the NH GENERAL COURT:
AN ACT relative to legislative approval of collective bargaining agreements entered into by the state”.

Amend the bill by replacing all after the enacting clause with the following:
1 New Section; Legislative Approval Required. Amend RSA 273-A by inserting after section 3 the following new section:
273-A:3-a Legislative Approval Required. Every collective bargaining agreement entered into by the state shall be approved by the legislature before it can take effect.
2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.”

This new language makes negotiations even more difficult because now both the Senate and the House must approve of the collective bargaining agreement prior to taking effect.  What do you think the odds of getting anything through this NH House would be if they had this power.

So as you can see these amendments change the bill and changes like this should have a full public hearing right?  Well the Speaker thinks your wrong!

“House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, ruled House procedures were properly followed in amending the bill and in not requiring another public hearing. (1)”
Thats right, amend the bill on the floor of the house and pass it without any public hearing.  This is not how our government should be working!

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