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NH Labor News 6/20/12: Lynch Pushes For Nashua Rail, Saving MHT School Jobs, Redistricting, ALEC in Your Town, and More


Lynch renews push for commuter rail service in Nashua speech – NashuaTelegraph.com: “NASHUA – Gov. John Lynch made a renewed push Tuesday for bringing commuter rail service to and from Boston and warned about the impact of state aid cuts to higher education.

In a State of the State speech to the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, Lynch said state officials are trying to decide which area group should manage a $1.6 million grant to study feasibility of commuter rail.
“It’s not a decision to do it; it’s a decision to study it and that’s why I was really upset at the Executive Council for turning it down,” Lynch said.”

VIDEO Exit Interview: 5 Questions for Governor Lynch – Nashua, NH Patch: “One thing he did say was that he’d like to see his next governor be someone who can work through bi-partisan issues, something he addressed during his speech. In fact, Lynch called for a return to civility in Concord during his remarks – not in the Senate, he qualified his remarks, but in the House specifically, where civility “has been greatly lacking.”

That was the only line of his speech which garnered applause from the crowd.
“As I travel around New Hampshire, people tell me that they want us to work together; they want us to put partisan politics to one side and focus on solving problems and creating opportunities for them. Unfortunately, when you have a lack of civility and a lack of trust, that doesn’t happen, so I hope we return to that,” Lynch said.”

Which Manchester school jobs will be saved? | New Hampshire NEWS06: “MANCHESTER — Now that aldermen have appropriated $152 million to the Manchester School District, the school board has the task of deciding how it will be spent.

The Board of School Committee is scheduled to discuss the district’s fiscal year 2013 budget tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Earlier this year, the board voted to lay off 161 employees and leave open all vacancies. Board members said Tuesday they will look to Superintendent Thomas Brennan for recommendations as to which positions should be maintained. Committee member John Avard said last week he has a list of priorities he will bring to the meeting, but wants to hear from Brennan.
“It’s easy for us to say we want this restored and that restored, but we need to get the final numbers,” Avard said.”

Supreme Court upholds House redistricting plan – NashuaTelegraph.com: “CONCORD – The state’s highest court Tuesday unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the state law redistricting all 400 seats in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
The Supreme Court rejected the arguments of five lawsuits that maintained the plan ignored a 2006 amendment to the state constitution meant to ensure that town and city wards with a certain population threshold would get their own legislators.”


Many American Workers Are Underemployed and Underpaid – NYTimes.com: “These are anxious days for American workers. Many, like Ms. Woods, are underemployed. Others find pay that is simply not keeping up with their expenses: adjusted for inflation, the median hourly wage was lower in 2011 than it was a decade earlier, according to data from a forthcoming book by the Economic Policy Institute, “The State of Working America, 12th Edition.” Good benefits are harder to come by, and people are staying longer in jobs that they want to leave, afraid that they will not be able to find something better. Only 2.1 million people quit their jobs in March, down from the 2.9 million people who quit in December 2007, the first month of the recession.”


NYT: When ALEC Takes Over Your Town: “The two Woonsocket legislators quickly decided to apply Rahm Emanuel’s famous maxim about never letting a crisis go to waste. The fact that their town had a big budget deficit meant that if they played their cards right, they could do a lot more than just fix the schools’ problem. They could actually shrink the town government!

And how does one go about doing that? By refusing to go along with tax increases and forcing the city to the edge of bankruptcy, thus raising the possibility of bringing in a receiver. “You never move faster than when you have a piano hanging over your head,” Brien told me. “The receiver is that piano.”

He went on to say that the municipal unions – police, firefighters, teachers – “have been given pensions and benefits the city can no longer afford” but have no incentive to renegotiate. But a receiver, with the wave of a magic wand, can instantly cut their pensions, and there isn’t a thing they can do about it. When I asked Brien how bad the pension problem was in Woonsocket, he told me he didn’t know. “I’m a state legislator,” he said. “I don’t get into that level of municipal finance.””


MASS NEWS :City Council favors union-backed contractors rule – Worcester Telegram & Gazette – telegram.com: “WORCESTER —  The City Council voted 9-1 tonight to advertise a new Responsible Employer Ordinance that would require contractors on municipal projects to maintain union-style apprenticeship programs. 

The move came after almost two hours of testimony from ordinance and union supporters who argued the measure would open up jobs and opportunities to local residents on local public construction projects.”


I wanted to share some great news from our neighbors to the south. SEIU 888 Signs First Contract!  Hopkinton paraprofessionals win year and half long effort to form union and improve conditions

Hopkinton, MA – School paraprofessionals declared victory on Thursday, June 14 in their 19 month effort to form a union and improve working conditions after an overwhelming majority of the workers voted to ratify their first union contract.

The union agreement with School District management will improve paid time off by increasing holidays from five to eleven per year and allowing workers more sick time if needed. The contract ensures workers a voice on-the-job and increases their job security with an enforceable grievance and arbitration procedure. Paraprofessional will also receive regular scheduled wage increases.

School Paraprofessionals provide opportunity for students to have individualized instruction in the classroom. There are about 80 employees in the Hopkinton Paraprofessional Chapter.

“We are really excited to finally have our first contract and get the recognition for all the hard work we do,” said Ken Marin, a twelve year employee of the school district. “Now we are on our way to get the respect we deserve.”

“This will benefit all the paraprofessionals and our students going forward,” said Linda Smith, a Hopkinton paraprofessional who helped negotiate the union contract with a team of six co-workers. “And it puts us on an equal footing with the rest of district. A lot of what we were looking for was respect. Our new contract is a good start”

Employees decided to form their union in October of 2010 and won certification for collective bargaining on May 31, 2011. Bargaining began second week of June 2011.

“SEIU Local 888 unites over 500 paraprofessional educators in Massachusetts for the good jobs and quality education our communities need,” said local president Mark DelloRusso. “In today’s challenging environment for public service workers, gaining strength through unity is the key to maintaining standards and advancing in your career.”

SEIU Local 888 unites more than 8,500 public service, higher education and not-for-profit workers in Massachusetts.

NH Labor News 6/19/12: Vetoed Vocuhers, Guinta and PLAs, Teacher Evaluations, and more

Governor’s Veto Message Regarding SB 372 | Press Releases | Governor John Lynch: “SB 372 establishes an education tax credit against the State’s business profits tax for business organizations that contribute to non-profit “scholarship organizations”, which award scholarships to be used by students to defray the educational expenses of attending an independent school, as well as grants to defray the cost of home-schooling. Beginning in the first year of the program and for several years thereafter, a majority of the scholarships, which initially average $2,500 per student, must be awarded to students who are switching from public to private schools. For each contribution to a non-profit scholarship organization, a business is eligible for an 85% tax credit against the business profits tax.

This bill shifts limited state funds away from public school districts, it will downshift the cost of reduced adequacy payments to local communities and property tax payers, it allows private organizations to determine the use of public education funds, and does not fully target scholarship funds to students most in need of help with tuition and other educational expenses. For all of these reasons, I have decided to veto this legislation.”


Lynch vetoes voucher tax credit | Concord Monitor: “Strafford Republican Sen. Jim Forsythe, the bill’s primary sponsor, said Lynch’s veto was “incredibly disappointing,” and he accused the governor of including “false and misleading statements” in his veto message. However, it seems unlikely Lynch’s veto will prevent the bill from becoming law.

The measure passed the House with a veto-proof majority and the Senate also initially voted with the necessary two-thirds margin. Four senators were missing for the vote last month to concur with the House’s amendments, but none of the members present that day switched their votes.”


Hassan Praises Governor’s Veto of Private School Tax Credit
MANCHESTER– Democratic candidate for Governor Maggie Hassan released the following statement on Governor Lynch’s veto of the private school tax credit.

“I applaud Gov. Lynch’s veto of legislation that would have diverted millions of dollars in taxpayer money from our public schools to private schools, including religious schools. This legislature has said the state can’t afford to support public education. It has cut in half funding for higher education and reduced aid to local public schools, shifting costs to property taxpayers. Now the legislature, and the Republican candidates for governor, want to send millions in taxpayer money to private schools. Ovide Lamontagne, Kevin Smith and this legislature have the wrong priorities for New Hampshire’s middle-class families and economy. Our educational system, including our public colleges and universities, are crucial to ensuring we have the best-trained workforce in the country, ready to tackle the jobs of an innovative and growing economy. We should be focusing our state resources on our public schools, colleges and universities.”


Guinta’s so-called victory a loss for N.H. workers | SeacoastOnline.com:
In fact, by standardizing contract terms with various crafts, PLAs achieve significant cost savings. Any contractor (non-union or union) can bid on a project. PLAs promote job stability and productivity by banning strikes, coordinating work schedules, mandating skilled, well-trained workers, and requiring a common contract expiration date.

Shame on Mr. Guinta for pushing, at taxpayer expense, to inflate the profits of contract bidders (whose construction-industry lobby contributes to his campaign). The Cornell study reminds us, “It is the public interest—not the business interest of individual contractors—that is to be protected by securing, through fair and open bidding, the best work for the money” (p.3). Guinta forgets — public office is a public trust. He continues to abuse that trust!


Teacher evaluation plan OK’d | New Hampshire NEWS04: “The teachers had several concerns, many of them related to the language of the new plan. The two main concerns regard a change in the district’s prior teacher evaluation policy in which much of the evaluation was based on observation of teachers during class, Lawrence said.

The new plan is based in part on student test scores in a teacher’s class as a measure of student progress, which the teachers believe should not be used as an overall true indicator of student growth, she said. It also requires teachers to develop goal plans, which would prove very time-consuming to teachers who already have a heavy workload, she said.


Another View – Kathy Sullivan: Rather than decimate schools, aldermen did the right thing | New Hampshire OPINION02: “The mayor may consider school employees mutinous, since they would not give the health care concessions he wanted. However, his failure to convince the city’s educators to do so is his failure. Throughout his years as an elected official, he has given little praise to the work of the city’s teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, support staff and the rest of those who work in the district. Instead, he has focused on whether teachers are wearing the appropriate footwear.”

The association requested that their grievances go to an arbitrator, claiming the school board needed the teachers’ consent before adopting the plan.”


Henniker / Weare: Teachers’ pacts come up again | Concord Monitor: “In March, voters rejected new contracts for Weare and John Stark Regional High School teachers, all of whom worked without contracts this school year. But in both cases, voters approved warrant articles that allowed for another vote if the contract failed.

Weare residents will vote on a contract for elementary and middle school teachers that is $8,000 less than one that failed by nine votes in March. Voters in both Weare and Henniker will weigh in on the same John Stark teachers’ contract that they rejected by a margin of 17 votes.”


When you vote, pay attention to O’Brien’s ‘enablers’ | Concord Monitor: “However, as the election cycle picks up speed, I am frightened by the notion that, in the last budget process, more than 250 enablers supported a budget that was constructed based on the simplistic notion that financial management focuses only on reducing expenses. Now the enablers have begun to run on a platform that claims that, as fiscal conservatives, they were the only ones capable of balancing the budget and that their wisdom of a singular focus on expense reduction was a uniquely wise choice.”

NH Labor News 6/18/12: Support for Newington Fire Chief, New Endorsement For Maggie, Defense of Nashua Schools and more

Show of support for injured fire chief | SeacoastOnline.com:
NEWINGTON — Townspeople and a brotherhood of firefighters from around the region are pulling for Fire Chief Dale Sylvia after he received a serious head injury Saturday in a motorcycle accident in Lee.

According to area officials, Sylvia was in stable condition and in an induced coma at Maine Medical Center on Sunday. Fire chiefs from multiple departments visited the Newington station Saturday evening to extend a helping hand to the department after its officers were called to an emergency meeting to discuss the accident.

“We’re just waiting like everyone else,” Newington Fire Lt. Jeff LeDuc said. “There’s a lot of people out there who have him in their thoughts and prayers.”


New Hampshire Labor News: BREAKING NEWS: Teamsters Local 633 Endorse Maggie Hassan for Governor: “MANCHESTER– Saying she will work for economic growth and to help ensure middle-class families have the opportunities they need to succeed, the Teamsters Local 633 today endorsed Maggie Hassan for Governor.  “We are proud to endorse Maggie Hassan for Governor,” said David Laughton, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 633.  “In the state Senate, Maggie consistently stood up for middle-class families and we know she’ll do the same as our next Governor. As Governor, Maggie Hassan will bring people together to make New Hampshire an innovative, business-friendly state where companies can create good jobs and families can succeed.””


Nashua education is a two-way street – NashuaTelegraph.com: “I took offense at the recent Nashua Telegraph newspaper article that stated 78 percent of Nashua School District students need remedial English or math upon entering Nashua Community College (June 11: “Many grads are forced to play catch-up”). I believe this is a severe distortion of reality.
My daughter graduated from Nashua High School South in 2010, and I personally believe she received an excellent education. She studied hard, thus achieving a high GPA, but still found time to play high school sports. She also participated in various school and community activities throughout her high school years.
My daughter was so impressed with her teachers at NHSS that she is now studying to become a teacher herself. She will graduate from college next year with a double major, one semester early thanks to the AP courses she took at Nashua high.”


New Hampshire Labor News: The NHLN Response To Foster’s Editorial Attacking NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie And Labor: 

By Matt Murray

Why is it that right wing editors are using the recall elections in Wisconsin as if the “prophet” has returned.  What Governor Walker did to the working men and women of Wisconsin infuriated millions of Americans for many reasons.  Many people believe that the right to collectively bargain is a fundamental part of keeping balance.  Workers deserve a voice in their workplace.  By stripping them of their right to collectively bargain, you are silencing that voice.

For many years, workers have joined together on the job to improve their workplaces and to ensure that all workers have access to good jobs. Union members build our roads, teach our children, and protect our homes. Through their unions, hardworking men and women have led our country to be the most innovative and efficient in the world. 
Frankly I am tired of the attacks on unions and their leaders.  Today Fosters Daily Democrat posted an editorial attacking Mark MacKenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO.”

Expect a presidential battle in N.H. | SeacoastOnline.com:
“New Hampshire is really emblematic of the way the primary season hurt Mitt Romney’s appeal to Democrats and independents,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “Barack Obama’s position there has improved tremendously.”


The last WMUR Granite State Poll, conducted by Smith and the UNH Survey Center, was released in late April and gave Obama a 9-point lead over Romney (51 percent to 42 percent), but a favorability approval of 36 percent of independents. While Obama’s personal favorability rating topped 50 percent, he only got a 47 percent approval mark on his handling of the economy in the Granite State Poll.


Schools: Teacher evaluations upheld | Concord Monitor: “The union representing teachers in the Winnisquam Regional School District has lost its fight to block a method of evaluation that could include student test scores.”


Romney’s New Hampshire Tour Meets the Outside World – Policy on Young Immigrants – NYTimes.com: “The candidate kicked off a five-day bus tour, an ambitious barnstormer through small-town America that was billed as an effort to introduce Mr. Romney to a new set of voters. And the first two events, including an ice cream social on the village green here, kept him solidly in his comfort zone.
But the effort to connect with voters amid folksy New England imagery competed with the unpredictable news cycle, as Mr. Romney was forced to wade gingerly into the debate about a new White House policy paving the way for the granting of work permits and temporary residency to some young illegal immigrants.”

NH Labor News 6/17/12: Sunday Editorials and Politics Round Up, Voter ID, RTW, and more

The Must Read Editorial Of The Day!!!

State Of The Unions: Labor And The Middle Class | New Hampshire Public Radio: “For many full-time employees in the United States, the five-day work week, paid overtime and holidays are expected benefits. This wasn’t always so, and many workers’ benefits today are the achievements of labor unions.

Just five decades ago, unions were on the frontline of the fight for the rights and wages of the middle class. But today, unions are on the decline.”


Voter ID bill resisted by town, city clerks – NashuaTelegraph.com: “There’s another glitch in the voter ID bill that’s headed to the desk of Gov. John Lynch.
The compromise bill enjoys strong Republican support in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
But this was predicated on the measure not facing opposition from the city and town clerks across the state or Secretary of State Bill Gardner.
That’s where the hang-up comes in.
At the 11th hour, the legislation was changed by House and Senate negotiators. The key language deals with what happens at the general election this November if you don’t have an ID.”


Voter ID bill resisted by town, city clerks – NashuaTelegraph.com:

“Hassan’s advantage

Who would have thought that Republican legislative leaders would unwittingly give a nice gift to the Democratic front-runner for governor?

Call it collateral damage.

As we know now, the effort failed to pass constitutional amendments to alter education funding and to place a super-majority barrier to increase state taxes and fees.

Both could not get the three-fifths majority vote in the House of Representatives.

But they did overwhelmingly pass the proposed ban on an income tax.

Thank you very much, said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan, of Exeter.

Hassan gets to come out against the amendment while pledging to veto a state sales or income tax.

This surely isn’t enough to appease those ardent income tax backers. But it surely can help Hassan placate many in the liberal base of the Democratic party.

She’ll need this, as primary rival Jackie Cilley, of Barrington, has attracted many income tax Democrats to her campaign.”


 Garry Rayno’s State House Dome: Money and politics are still partners | New Hampshire NEWS0604: “BIG MONEY: The Super PACs have dominated the airwaves in the presidential campaign, trashing one candidate or another and leaving a path of bloodied competitors stretching from New Hampshire to Texas.

The Super PACs are new to the political game this election cycle, though outside money pouring into races is not.

Most observers expect the money to continue to flow into New Hampshire for the presidential race, the congressional races, the governor’s race and on down the ticket.”


Votes on Lynch vetoes will end session | SeacoastOnline.com:
Only 241 bills were passed as written, while 329 were passed only after being amended.

Among the bills that did not make it through this year were those that inspired the hope for the establishment of gaming in the state, the much heralded Right-to-Work bills and several attempts to repeal same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

Among the bills passed and signed into law this session was legislation that allowed union negotiators to speak directly to the board of the employer in the event of an impasse, a bill requiring hospitals and other health care facilities to pay a fee to support a Web site that would make infection rate information available to all residents and authorizing nano-breweries to sell their wares at farmers markets.


Control of N.H. Legislature up for grabs » New Hampshire » EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA: “Control of the New Hampshire Legislature is a dominant campaign theme following a controversial two-year term.

Provocative reforms pushed by tea party, Libertarian and Free Stater blocs in the House highlighted the session.

A majority of respondents to a University of New Hampshire poll this spring disapproved of the job the Legislature is doing, 42 to 40 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 4.2 percent.

There will be 400 House seats and 24 Senate seats at stake. Republicans hold commanding majorities. They rule the House, 290-104, with six vacancies. They control the Senate, 19-5.”


NHLN: O’Brien Stumps Around that the Legislature is doing well and can do more! Scary!
Cookout in Dover raises funds for GOP – Fosters: “He said two to four years ago, and even last year, New Hampshire was having a conversation about which services would need to be cut, and which public employees would need to be laid off.

The reasons for those difficult conversations, said O’Brien, is that Democratic leaders were overestimating revenue and were not being fiscally responsible. As lawmakers were composing the state budget last year, he said, Gov. John Lynch’s budget proposal overestimated the budget by $200 million. O’Brien said a fiscal crisis was avoided after a budget proposed by the House passed instead.

O’Brien noted that those who ran in the 2010 election promised to do things differently, and “It turned out to be a revolutionary thing.”

“Promises were made and promises were kept,” he said.”


Fact Checker: Does Romney’s assessment of the economic impact of Obama’s health-care law hold up? – The Washington Post: “David Corn of Mother Jones first spotted it when Romney made a victory speech in New Hampshire, arguing, “With Obamacare fully installed, government will come to control half the economy, and we will have effectively ceased to be a free enterprise society.” Corn quoted a number of economic experts finding fault with Romney’s reasoning, such as former Ronald Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett saying, “This analysis is so stupid, it is hard to know where to begin.”

FactCheck.org then weighed in when Romney had tweaked the language somewhat, but it also found it wanting, saying it was “a pure partisan fantasy” and “patently false and misleading.””


Right-To-Work Laws: A GOP Assault on Unions | Fog City Journal: “And according to Gordon Lafer, an economist at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center, there is no evidence that RTW laws have any positive impact on employment or bringing back manufacturing jobs. Commenting on Oklahoma’s passage of a RTW law in 2001, Lafer, noted that rather than increasing job opportunities, the state saw companies relocate out of Oklahoma. In high-tech industries and those service industries “dependent on consumer spending in the local economy” the laws appear to have actually damaged growth. At the end of the decade, 50,000 fewer Oklahoma residents had jobs in manufacturing. Perhaps most damning, Lafer could find no evidence that the legislation had a positive impact on employment rates.

Why do we need unions anyway? Because they are essential for America. Unions are the only large-scale movement left in America that persistently acts as a countervailing balance against corporate power. They act in the economic interests of the working class. But the decline of unions over the past few decades has left corporations and the rich with essentially no powerful opposition.

You may take issue with a particular union’s position on an issue, but remember unions are the only real organized check on the power of the business community in this country. RTW laws are anti-union, pro-business.”

NH Labor News 6/16/12: Romney’s New Tour Bus, O’Brien Statement Reviewed By PolitiFact, More People Join Unions, and much more

Dems counter Romney event with ‘Middle Class Under the Bus’ tour in Exeter – Fosters: “EXETER— The “Romney Economics: The Middle Class Under the Bus” tour kicked off in Exeter Friday morning before Mitt Romney’s scheduled appearance at Scamman farm in Stratham later that morning.

The bus tour is following Romney as he makes campaign stops throughout the country intending to take the message of Romney’s economic record to communities in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan.

Speakers highlighted the broken promises they said Romney made while running for governor of Massachusetts for more jobs, less debt and smaller government.

Making sure children get the help they need for a quality education was the priority Laura Hainey, American Federation of Teachers New Hampshire president, spoke about.

“President Obama understands how important small class sizes and teachers are,” she said. “Every child deserves a world class public education.”

David Kang, president of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire, said he expects the same from the leaders of this country as the citizens of it expect from emergency responders. “I stand before you as a firefighter. I will tell you that firefighters care about one thing and that is when you call, we respond,” he said.”

Speakers said there were many things Romney didn’t understand as governor, naming issues such as education and the services of safety personnel such as firefighters and police officers.”



From PolitiFact 

“The latest evidence of Republican success is that since the beginning of the current legislative term, state unemployment has gone down almost 20% to 5% adjusted.”
William O’Brien on Thursday, June 14th, 2012 in a letter to The Telegraph

MOSTLY FALSE
Doing the math, these figures fall short of the “almost 20 percent” drop that O’Brien cites. The .8 percent loss from November 2010 to May 2012 amounts to a 13.8 percent slide, and the .6 percent drop from January 2011 equals 10.7 percent.

And then there is the question of credit.

In his statement, O’Brien attributed the drop in unemployment to the Republican legislature, and in a follow-up email, he credited GOP efforts to reduce taxes, fees and surcharges on businesses and to limit regulations, among other actions.
Read Full Article


New Hampshire Health Insurance Exchange Ban Headed to Gov. Lynch | Heartlander Magazine: “The New Hampshire legislature has sent a ban on the implementation of the health insurance exchanges mandated under President Obama’s health care law to the desk of their governor.

The New Hampshire House agreed to Senate changes to a bill blocking implementation of the exchanges, sending the legislation to Democratic Gov. John Lynch. HB 1297 would prevent state officials from implementing a state-run exchange, but some Senators worried the bill would hamstring the Insurance Department from even talking with federal officials. The Senate version allows state officials to work with Washington if the Obama administration decides to set up a federally facilitated exchange.”

“Rep. Andrew Manuse (R-Derry), the lead sponsor of HB 1297, says the bill would make it more likely ObamaCare would be repealed or replaced, because Congress will be forced to reevaluate the law if enough states opt against setting up their own exchanges.”


A great post about some of the newly organized locals in the AFL-CIO
More than 2,000 Workers Join AFL-CIO Unions: “College professors, cable television installers and employees at donut shops, a hotel and in telecommunications are the latest workers to join AFL-CIO unions.

Nearly 400 AT&T Mobility retail store workers in Mississippi and Wyoming have chosen Communications Workers of America (CWA) representation. AT&T which has agreed to management neutrality, recognized the workers’ choice of CWA when majorities signed union authorization cards. The Mississippi unit includes 314 workers.

Some 60 workers at two Dunkin Donuts stores in New York City’s Penn Station have joined The Newspaper Guild-CWA. The donut shops are in Hudson News stores at the station where workers have been TNG-CWA members for more than a decade.”
READ MORE


Senate panel votes to block new Labor Department rules on seasonal foreign workers: “The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 19-11 Thursday to block the Obama administration’s rules for one year while debating the Department of Labor’s budget. Four Democrats, including liberal Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, voted with Republicans to block the rules.

The rules are designed to make it more difficult for businesses like seafood processors to exploit foreign workers and to get more Americans into seasonal jobs.

But business groups say the new requirements, like paying transportation costs and visa fees for imported workers, are too costly. Employers also oppose a requirement to pay workers for three-quarters of the length of a contract, even if weather or other circumstances mean there isn’t that much work.”


A better explanation of the Senate Vote on Labor Rules:
 » Picking Crabs Over People: Dems Join GOP in Stifling H-2B Wages, Working Conditions: “When the story of dozens of Louisiana crawfish pickers being forced to work 24 hour shifts began to make the rounds online late last week, two things happened: 1) the labor and progressive communities were outraged 2) people had to Google “H-2B guest worker.”

See, the temporary foreign workers being threatened by C.J.’s Seafood (a Wal-Mart supplier) with shovels and deportation wound up on the Gulf Coast through a hard-to-monitor Department of Labor program that “allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs” when an employer can “demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.” The program is well-known for creating unsafe, low-wage jobs that are filled through devious hiring practices including misrepresentation of skills requirements and absurd application processeses”


Stephanie Harnett, Walmart Public Relations Worker, Fired For Posing As Reporter: “”I’m so disappointed Walmart sent a spy instead of sitting down to discuss things,” said Castaneda, who had worked at a Walmart warehouse for 3 1/2 years until about a month ago. Castaneda said he got involved with Warehouse Workers United because of low pay, long hours and bad working conditions. “I felt like I wasted my time,” he said. We’re here fighting and she’s making fun of us.””


We Don’t Need No Education –Paul Krugman: “In the remarks Mr. Romney later tried to deny, he derided President Obama: “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.” Then he declared, “It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

You can see why I was ready to give points for honesty. For once, he actually admitted what he and his allies mean when they talk about shrinking government. Conservatives love to pretend that there are vast armies of government bureaucrats doing who knows what; in reality, a majority of government workers are employed providing either education (teachers) or public protection (police officers and firefighters).

So would getting rid of teachers, police officers, and firefighters help the American people? Well, some Republicans would prefer to see Americans get less education; remember Rick Santorum’s description of colleges as “indoctrination mills”? Still, neither less education nor worse protection are issues the G.O.P. wants to run on.”

Daily Kos: Why EFCA? Union Density Decline 1964-2005

Daily Kos: Why EFCA? Union Density Decline 1964-2005: “The maps above show just how far we’ve fallen. In 1964 nearly 1 in 3 American workers (29.3%) was a unionized, by 2005 only 1 in 8 workers belonged to a labor organization. Bearing in mind that public sector union density has either increased or remained stagnant during that same period the collapse of workplace democracy in the private sector is all the more dramatic.  What’s even more shocking is the realization that the red state/blue state bullshit has little historical basis. Consider that in 1964 the top 10 states by union density included neither New York nor California.”

Labor News: Gorham Paper Mill, Outlet Mall Protests, MHT School Budget Saves Jobs, and more

Once-shuttered N.H. paper mill regains workers | SeacoastOnline.com: “CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A paper mill that fell silent in New Hampshire’s North Country a couple years ago is humming once again, experiencing a rebirth reflected in a renovation, the rehiring of formerly jobless employees, and a search for new workers.

Nearly a year after re-opening, Gorham Paper and Tissue has many of its workers back again — and is even advertising for some production jobs as a group of workers prepares for training on a new machine. The deadline for applications is June 20. Some people who were eligible to return to the mill have found other jobs or opted to retire.

“Hopefully, long term, we’ll have roughly 250 people at the mill,” the highest number yet, said Willis Blevins, plant manager.”


Battle of the giants: Obama, Romney plan N.H. appearances – Fosters: “”Too many American families have experienced a lost job, faced foreclosure, or been forced to spend their kids’ college savings just to make ends meet. These are not statistics — these are our fellow Americans.”

Romney won’t receive a warm reception from all who visit the farm on Friday. Members of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO were scheduled to hold a rally on Route 108 ahead of Romney’s appearance. According to an announcement, the group will demonstrate “in support of teachers, police officers and firefighters.””


Manchester School Budget Saves 54 Teacher Jobs | New Hampshire Public Radio: “The Manchester Board of Alderman has approved a school budget that will save at least 54 teacher jobs.  The city’s Board of Alderman voted Tuesday night to pass the budget with about $2 million more than the mayor’s proposed school budget of $150 million dollars.  The extra money will save at least 54 of the 161 teachers and staff members slated for layoffs by July 1.

The school budget passed with the ten votes needed to override Mayor Gatsas’ earlier veto. The approved $152 million dollar budget for the Manchester school district is still $10 million shy of what’s necessary to continue school programs at current levels.  The aldermen also approved a $134 million city budget.”


Merrimack outlets make town a destination | New Hampshire NEWS02: “Despite a demonstration by about 50 union-affiliated tradesmen and construction workers protesting the lack of New Hampshire workers used to build the outlets, officials said they were pleased with the first day of operations. “

New Hampshire Labor News: Members of Local 668 Picket and Pass Out Flyers At New Merrimack Outlet Mall: “Members of Local 668 Picket and Pass Out Flyers At New Merrimack Outlet Mall
    Cross Posted from the Nashua Patch
VIDEO: Union Workers Protest at Outlets
Workers say Simon reneged on promise to use local labor to build the Merrimack Premium Outlets.”


America without unions nearly here – NashuaTelegraph.com: “Already, the economic effects of a union-free America are glaringly apparent: an economically stagnant or downwardly mobile middle class, a steady clawing back of job-related health and retirement benefits and ever-rising economic inequality.
In the three decades after World War II, the United States dominated the global economy, but that’s only one of the two reasons our country became the first to have a middle-class majority. The other is that this was the only time in our history when we had a high degree of unionization.
Today, wages account for the lowest share of gross domestic product and corporate revenue since World War II ended – and that share continues to shrink. An International Monetary Fund study released in April shows that the portion of GDP going to wages and benefits has declined from 64 percent in 2001 to 58 percent this year.”


CACR 12 By Raymond Gangnon: “For totally different reasons, conservatives and liberals came together as a block to defeat a constitutional amendment for the November Ballot regarding education funding that would have overturned the Claremont lawsuit. Some on the right thought that CACR-12 would be as one representative described it “Claremont on Crack” meaning if passed the present situation would become worse and more costly to the State. On the left side of the spectrum, members felt the amendment would make the Supreme Court merely a procedural onlooker and unable to protect the rights of citizens. Having spent the past two years mistrusting the motives and decisions of these libertarian minded colleagues, I must admit it was somewhat unsettling to find myself in concurrence (albeit for different reasons) over CACR 12. However, we are sent to represent the people of our district – and since I didn’t believe CACR-12 was in Claremont’s best interest both financially and constitutionally I couldn’t support this amendment.”


More On SB 48
Governor Signs Landmark Legislation Reforming Telecommunications Regulation in New Hampshire — MANCHESTER, N.H., June 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –: “Governor John Lynch has signed legislation that creates a level regulatory playing field for all telecommunications providers in the state in order to promote an environment that encourages innovation and continued investment in telecommunications services.
“Today’s communications landscape offers consumers more choice of providers and services than at any other time in history,” said Sen. Bob Odell (R-Lempster), the bill’s prime sponsor.  “This new law recognizes that the telecommunications industry has changed. The New Hampshire telecommunications industry is no longer a monopoly environment, but rather a competitive environment with more than 30 providers. The law reflects this transformation, so that we can encourage ongoing private investment in the state’s telecommunications infrastructure.”  “


Lowell Peterson: Telling Labor’s Story: “Like so many things in life, politics is about narrative. About which organization, or candidate, or policy offers the most compelling story. As I see it, the labor movement is trapped inside three tiresome story lines.

There’s the sentimental favorite, which many activists (including me) like to tell ourselves: Unions are the folks who brought you the weekend. Organized labor enabled working people to rise from the exploitive depths of the Depression, to beat back the worst ravages of unbridled corporate greed.

There’s also the story we hate: Union bosses are corrupt. This is the tale of venal titans who use their near-absolute power to coerce innocent executives and to steal lots of money.”


The Exploitation of U.S. Worker Productivity » Sociological Images: “In capitalism, owners of the “means of production” (things like land, factories, technologies, and natural resources, or the money to buy these things) employ labor to do the work of actually producing things.  If the system is working correctly, the value of the labor that goes into making something is worth less than the value of the thing.  This way the capitalist can sell the thing, pay the worker, and skim some profit off the top.

But how much profit?  In a less exploitative system, the worker is paid close to what his work is worth (after accounting for the expenses of maintaining the means of production). In a more exploitative system, the capitalist takes a larger chunk of the enhanced value for himself and gives less to the worker.

What kind of system do we have in the U.S.? Let’s take a look at some data.”

“You wonder why the middle class is shrinking? This is one reason.”
From Sociological Images

NH Labor News 6/14/12: Manchester Education Association Makes Small Win In Budget, Shaheen Pushes Transportation Bill in DC, and more

A Must Read Editorial from Ben Dick, President of the Manchester Education Association.

Manchester’s teachers are not the problem (NH Labor News): “Twice in the last few months the Union Leader has seen fit to print the average salary of Manchester teachers, and in the same breath compare our pay to the pay of other groups in the state, most notably Bedford. In what seems to be an increasingly common practice, key omissions and misrepresentations play a large part in the paper’s piece.

In February of this year, the Board of School Committee was given a breakdown of the number of employees in the district. The number of teachers at that time totaled 1,256. Based on a breakdown by step and degree provided by the district at the same time, the average teacher salary worked out to $56,283. This is a difference of $1,066 to the number used by the Union Leader, which used older state data.”


Manchester’s school budget, by the numbers | New Hampshire NEWS06: “MANCHESTER— After weeks of negotiations, number-crunching and political wrangling, the aldermen have handed the Manchester School District a budget bottom line. The Board of School Committee will meet Wednesday to decide which teachers and programs will get the money.

The Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to appropriate $152,217,000 to city schools and to defer a $428,000 book loan payment owed to the city next fiscal year. Combined, the school district will get not only the $152.2 million it requested earlier this year, but nearly $500,000 in additional funding to put toward bringing back staff.”


Massachusetts pushes for an Equal Pay Amendment:
Women’s commission presses for equal pay, sick days bills – BostonHerald.com: “In 2010, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $669, or approximately 81 percent of the $824 median for men, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The earnings ratio has hovered in the 80 to 81 percent range since 2004.

Women in Massachusetts earn 80.5 percent to men’s annual averages, according to the Labor Bureau. Comparatively, women in Vermont make 86.2 percent, while women in New Hampshire pull in 77.1 percent and Maine 78.6 percent compared to men’s annual average salaries.”


New Hampshire Labor News: NH IronWorkers Local 7 Agent Shawn Cleary Responds To NH Union Leaders Attacks On PLAs: “On Saturday the NH Union Leader posted a horrible editorial about the Manchester Jobs Corps Center dropping the Project Labor Agreement restriction on the project.  This now allows companies to come in and bid for the project using below standard wages and other cost cutting measures.  This usually means lower safety standards and lower quality of work.  This is what the Union Leader had to say…”


Shaheen urges House to vote on transportation bill » New Hampshire » EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA: “Shaheen, responding to a question in a phone conference from Washington yesterday, told reporters she hoped Congressmen Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass, both Republicans, would use their influence with Boehner to allow the vote in the Republican-controlled House.

“We need to see the House move this legislation,” Shaheen said.

Bass said he agrees with Shaheen.

He said he has advocated to House leaders for several months to come to a resolution. Bass is part of a bipartisan group of House lawmakers who have been pressing leadership to allow a vote on the Senate plan.”


Industry calls for less regulation | New Hampshire NEWS02: ““Gone are the days of white collar and blue collar,” Guinta said, adding that improving education for manufacturing jobs must be more of a partnership among vocational programs, community colleges and employers.

Over the course of the series, Guinta said he’s heard from many constituents who have made their opinions clear.

“But we wanted to make sure we had engagement and participation,” Guinta said.

While the number of jobs in the manufacturing sector is no longer declining, Guinta said, “In my view, stability isn’t good enough.””


An example of one of the companies who is currently pushing for privatizing NH’s prison system. 
GEO Group Fined More Than $100,000: “The Occupational Health and Safety Administration says it has cited The GEO Group Inc. with six safety and health violations, totaling $104,000 in fines, at East Mississippi Correctional Facility.

A report released by OSHA Tuesday says the GEO Group exposed prison employees to workplace violence and failed to take measures to reduce the risk. It says while prisons are obviously dangerous workplaces, the employer is still required to take every reasonable precaution to protect corrections officers and other staff against safety hazards.

OSHA’s findings were based on a December 2011 inspection stemming from a complaint about the facility.

The report goes on to say the GEO Group also failed to provide adequate staffing, to fix malfunctioning cell door locks, or to provide proper safety training. OSHA says these were all willful violations, meaning there was intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements.”


A New Hampshire Republican State Rep who opposed Right To Work is running again.


Re-elect Tim Copeland for the N.H. House | SeacoastOnline.com:
I am announcing my candidacy for re-election to the New Hampshire House of Representatives for the newly formed Rockingham County District 19 — Stratham. Because the Census triggers redistricting every 10 years, Stratham will now be its own district. I am once again asking for the support Stratham voters showed me in 2010. I was very humbled and honored to have (polled) the top vote in Stratham out of the 16 candidates running.

NH Labor News 6/13/12: Northern Pass Revived, Prison Privatization, and More

VIDEO:
Study questions Northern Pass revenues | Project Economy – WMUR Home: “CONCORD, N.H. – A new economic study on the proposed Northern Pass project has one group concerned about higher costs to consumers and an unlevel playing field. The New England Power Generators Association controls a large percentage of the electricity in the region. It released a study Tuesday that said the revenue that Hydro-Quebec would receive from selling energy wouldn’t be enough to make a profit.”


NH Continues to work towards Privitzation of the Prison System even after the Senate killed the bill.

N.H. seeks ‘over the shoulder’ consultant in prison privatization decision: “The Senate nixed a bill to continue the study committee, which had hoped to get a peek at the bids in an attempt to oversee the process.

The demise of the committee is a good thing, according to Chris Dornin, a spokesman for Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform, who said the panel wasn’t listening to those making the case against privatization.

“Opponents of privatization are relieved that the Senate killed legislation to continue the work of a biased group of lawmakers who had already made up their mind they wanted privatization on ideological grounds,” he said.”


Outlet jobs may not pay as much, but still good news, analysts say – NashuaTelegraph.com: “The jobs, a range of sales, managerial, security and custodial positions, among others, may not pay as well as other industries, planners acknowledged. Around Nashua, retail jobs pay an average weekly salary of $566.27 – less than half of the average finance or manufacturing jobs, among other industries, according to state labor statistics.
Because of the limited pay, the jobs won’t cause ripples as far through the local economy as other industries, leaving employees with less to spend in local restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores, among other businesses.
“That just reflects the kind of work you do in that sector,” said Dennis Delay, an economist with the New Hampshire Center on Public Policy Studies.”


Amended bills pass: “Committees of conference reached a compromise on several controversial pieces of legislation on June 6. Bills regarding voter identification, medical marijuana, and withdrawal from RGGI now head to the governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 289 requires voters to show photo ID at the polls. Under the agreement reached between the House and Senate, numerous forms of identification will be accepted this fall, but the rules become more restrictive next year. Those without valid ID must sign an affidavit and be photographed by election officials.”


A different view on the ‘attack on education’ | SeacoastOnline.com:
Rep. (Will) Smith criticized the Portsmouth Herald today, June 11, for a lack of balance in the paper’s coverage of a forum Democrats held Wednesday night on “The Attack on Public Education in New Hampshire.” I participated in the forum and have a different view.

The reference to Rep. Smith was a handout that illustrated the legislative attack on public education by listing a number of his education votes:

He sponsored the voucher bill that will send public schoolchildren to private, religious and home schooling, funded by the State of New Hampshire and by local property taxes. (HB1607)
He supported a bill that would have given a property tax rebate to any family who kept their children out of the public schools. (HB340)…..

(More reasons listed in full LTE) 


Guinta balks at deal on super PAC money – NashuaTelegraph.com: “U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., recently rejected former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s wonderful idea to put New Hampshire residents ahead of outsiders by denouncing super PAC money.
An appalling 93 percent of super PAC money has come from just 726 individuals – 23 out of every 10 million people.
I’m not shocked that Guinta welcomes the coming avalanche of money from superwealthy outsiders. After all, Guinta is a fan of taking money wherever he finds it, then using it as wastefully as possible.
He was the No. 1 spender in the country for taxpayer-funded congressional mailings – which look suspiciously like campaign mailers – while closing one of our two district offices to help pay for them.
Guinta has yet to explain the $355,000 that mysteriously arrived in his campaign account in 2010 and is still being in investigated by the Federal Election Commission. These are some reasons why he was selected to the elite club of the 14 most corrupt legislators in our Congress by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.”


NJ.com : Johnson and Johnson becomes first N.J. company to part ways with ALEC: “Johnson and Johnson, the pharmaceutical giant based in New Brunswick, announced today that it has parted ways with the American Legislative Exchange Council. “We have been in dialogue with ALEC for some time, and while we acknowledge ALEC’s recent decision to focus only on innovation and growth-supporting policies, we have decided to suspend our participation and membership,” Carol Goodrich, Johnson & Johnson’s director of coporate communication, said in a statement today. Johnson & Johnson was one of ALEC’s top corporate members, with a seat on its private enterprise board. It is the first New Jersey-based company to sever ties with the group. More than a dozen others including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Wal-Mart Stores and Kraft have also ended their memberships over the last few months.”


Can unions bounce back? – Salon.com: “But even as Wisconsin highlights labor’s vulnerability, it shows how dynamic a true labor movement can become. The recall effort itself offers one measure of what labor and its allies accomplished: triggering the third such election in U.S. history, fighting Walker to a close race despite marked asymmetry in cash (and national party support), and seizing control of the state Senate. While Walker’s survival will embolden other anti-union politicians, they’d be far bolder already if labor had just rolled over as rights were stripped away last year.”


What happens if America loses its unions – The Washington Post: “In the three decades after World War II the United States dominated the global economy, but that’s only one of the two reasons our country became the first to have a middle-class majority. The other is that this was the only time in our history when we had a high degree of unionization. From 1947 through 1972 — the peak years of unionization — productivity increased by 102 percent, and median household income also increased by 102 percent. Thereafter, as the rate of unionization relentlessly fell, a gap opened between the economic benefits flowing from a more productive economy and the incomes of ordinary Americans, so much so that in recent decades, all the gains in productivity — as economists Ian Dew-Becker and Robert Gordon have shown — have gone to the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans. When labor was at its numerical apogee in 1955, the wealthiest 10 percent claimed just 33 percent of the nation’s income. By 2007, with the labor movement greatly diminished, the wealthiest 10 percent claimed 50 percent of the nation’s income.”
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