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Congrats to the UFCW

Congratulations to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union on negotiating a good contract with Hormel.

“Our communities need good jobs with pay and benefits that can support a family,” said Vincent Perry, a four-year veteran at the Hormel plant in Algona, Iowa. “Good union contracts like ours help build more stable and secure communities.”


PRESS RELEASE
Sept. 15, 2011, 11:30 a.m. EDT

UFCW Members at Hormel Ratify New Contract

New Four-Year Agreement Preserves Past Gains, Sets New Standards for Workers in Meatpacking and Food Processing Industries

WASHINGTON, Sep 15, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union who work at Hormel Foods Corporation in five states, including Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Georgia, voted this past Tuesday to accept a new four-year contract with the company.

The new collective bargaining agreement provides for, among many other significant gains, a substantial base wage increase of $1.50 over the term of the agreement, significant improvements in health care including 100 percent coverage for transplants and an increased allowance for hearing aids, improved retirement security including a 401(k) match increase from $300 to $500 and a pension increase to $27.
“The strong contract that we secured with Hormel is a pretty big deal,” said Dick Schuster, who has worked at the company’s Fremont, Neb. facility for the past 38 years. “At a time when pensions are under attack nationwide, we were able to bargain for significant improvements to our retirement security. Our contract is a testament to why sticking together and speaking with one voice benefits all workers.”
“Our communities need good jobs with pay and benefits that can support a family,” said Vincent Perry, a four-year veteran at the Hormel plant in Algona, Iowa. “Good union contracts like ours help build more stable and secure communities.”
Nationwide, the UFCW represents 8,000 Hormel workers. The current agreement covers about 4,000 workers at the company’s facilities in Austin, Minn.; Algona, Iowa; Fremont, Neb.; Beloit, Wis.; and Atlanta, Ga.
The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers, 250,000 in the meatpacking and poultry industries. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org .
SOURCE: United Food and Commercial Workers Union

UFCW Marc Goumbri, 202-257-8771


Dover’s association with LGC called into question

Riddled with controversy over 100 million dollars in reimbursement due to cities and towns all across NH. Some cities are choosing to continue with LGC services? What will happen when they loose and go bankrupt? Where will the towns money go then? What about all the Workers who are relying on the Health Insurance they get?

Dover’s association with LGC called into question – Fosters: “The city recently renewed its health insurance contract with the Local Government Center and some are questioning if, given the legal issues currently surrounding the LGC, it’s time for them to part ways.

Councilor Catherine Cheney has raised several concerns about the contract, which according to City Manager Mike Joyal extends the city’s health insurance agreement with LGC for the next five years.

“It’s not in the employees’ best interests to do business with the LGC,” said Cheney.

The contract initially went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008.

City Councilor Dot Hooper said the contract with the LGC was the “best contract we could get,” and that it’s premature to discuss using another vendor until the case with LGC is completely closed.

“We have to give them the benefit of the doubt because the issue is not totally closed yet,” Hooper said. “You have to wait for all the facts, then you can shoot the messenger.””

‘via Blog this’

Dover’s association with LGC called into question

Riddled with controversy over 100 million dollars in reimbursement due to cities and towns all across NH. Some cities are choosing to continue with LGC services? What will happen when they loose and go bankrupt? Where will the towns money go then? What about all the Workers who are relying on the Health Insurance they get?

Dover’s association with LGC called into question – Fosters: “The city recently renewed its health insurance contract with the Local Government Center and some are questioning if, given the legal issues currently surrounding the LGC, it’s time for them to part ways.

Councilor Catherine Cheney has raised several concerns about the contract, which according to City Manager Mike Joyal extends the city’s health insurance agreement with LGC for the next five years.

“It’s not in the employees’ best interests to do business with the LGC,” said Cheney.

The contract initially went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008.

City Councilor Dot Hooper said the contract with the LGC was the “best contract we could get,” and that it’s premature to discuss using another vendor until the case with LGC is completely closed.

“We have to give them the benefit of the doubt because the issue is not totally closed yet,” Hooper said. “You have to wait for all the facts, then you can shoot the messenger.””

‘via Blog this’

NH Labor News for 9/14/11

An Op/ED from Teamsters President James Hoffa: Is common sense returning to state politics?

It appears common sense may finally be returning to New Hampshire politics. In state houses across the country, including New Hampshire, corporate-backed politicians used the past legislative session to wage war on the middle class. They tried to pit union versus non-union, worker versus worker. New Hampshire’s workers are remaining vigilant, expecting more from their elected leaders. And it’s working.

Taken by themselves, the August numbers are favorable when compared to the forecast. The following sectors stood out over budget estimates — business tax collection at $3.3 million; the real estate transfer tax at $2.2 million, cigarette tax collection at $1.8 million; and rooms rental tax at $1 million.


Boston Globe: NH House meeting to introduce bills

The House session Wednesday will be to accept the bills so hearings can be scheduled over the next few weeks. The House could act on committee recommendations on the bills when it meets again Oct. 12.

State Rep. Neal Kurk, a Weare Republican, is the sponsor of the bill to make $35 million in budget cuts. The federal government says New Hampshire must repay $35 million in Medicaid money used in 2004 to help 26 hospitals offset costs of treating their most vulnerable patients. The state is appealing.

Fair Point could be stetting up to cut another 400 jobs  

Pursuit of such efficiency could mean FairPoint cuts another 400 jobs, most in northern New England, after the current cuts of 400 jobs go through.
“By the company’s own estimates, (FairPoint) could release an additional 400 employees, in order to reach the industry average of voice access-lines/employee – 344 lines/employee,” the company wrote last week when announcing the current reductions.

Nashua Telegraph: LTE: Legislature off-target on deadly force bill

New Hampshire is not the Wild West. We don’t have a gun problem, and we certainly don’t need to loosen our gun laws. I join with every law enforcement group in the state in opposing this dangerous bill.Republicans were elected to create jobs, not increase the number of shooting victims, though maybe these are indirectly related.


Huntsman in NH: Obama jobs plan irrelevant

Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman said Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s $450 billion jobs package is irrelevant because the president has missed his chance to deliver a significant plan.

OSHA Fines Concord Company $176,000

Unions throughout history have always stood for safety in the workplace.  The safety of the workers is one of the most important thing a Union can do.  This becomes more evident when you see a press release (below) from US DOL (OSHA) who is fining a Concord company $176,000 in fines.  It should be noted that the fines proposed “reflect both the severity of these hazards and the fact that the company was well aware of the machine gaurding and lockout hazards”.  

Remember that without Labor Unions we would have no OSHA. And without a Union and OSHA you could end up working in a place like this that is willfully placing you health at risk.



Region 1 News Release: 11-1295-BOS/BOS 2011-311
Sept. 8, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074
Email: fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

US Labor Department’s OSHA proposes $176,000 in fines
against Stowe Woodward LLC for hazards at Concord, NH, plant

CONCORD, N.H. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Stowe Woodward LLC for 16 violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection at its Concord plant. The company, which refurbishes large metal rolls for the paper industry, faces $176,000 in proposed penalties.

Inspectors found several instances where operating machinery – including grinders, extruders and lathes – lacked proper guarding to prevent workers from coming in contact with moving parts. The machines also lacked adequate procedures to lock out their power sources to prevent unintended startup during maintenance. As a result of these conditions, the company was cited for two willful violations with $125,000 in fines. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

“The sizable fines proposed here reflect both the severity of these hazards and the fact that the company was well aware of the machine guarding and lockout hazards,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director. “Stowe Woodward has been cited in the past for similar or equivalent hazards, including citations issued in 2005 and 1999 for machinery-related fatalities at its facilities in Louisiana and Georgia. For the safety and health of its workers, this employer must take effective steps to correct and prevent these hazards not only in Concord but at its other locations.”

Eleven serious violations with $49,000 in fines involve a lack of frequent crane inspections, ungrounded fans, inadequately guarded grinders, propane cylinders stored near an exit door, blocked access to an electrical disconnect panel, respiratory protection deficiencies and the company’s failure to inspect forklifts. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Three other-than-serious violations with $2,000 in fines were cited for inadequate record keeping. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

TheStowe Woodward LLC citations are available at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/StoweWoodwardLLC_314046335_0906_11.pdf* andhttp://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/StoweWoodwardLLC_29229_0906_11.pdf.*

Stowe Woodward LLC has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Concord Area Office; telephone 603-225-1629. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov


A message from Mark MacKenzie and the NH AFL-CIO

Statement from New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie on Labor Day and the New Hampshire Economy
New Hampshire’s workers have fared better than many in this recession, but it hasn’t been easy. As we approach the beginning of a new session in our Legislature, I ask our legislators to refocus their efforts on creating jobs and strengthening our state economy.
It’s clear that the policies that our Legislature pushed in its last session are not working for Granite Staters. According to the New Hampshire Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau, 3,000 workers lost their jobs in July, sending the unemployment rate climbing by 0.3 percent. Private-sector jobs simply are not growing at a rate high enough to replace the public sector jobs being eliminated — in fact, nearly 1,900 private-sector jobs were lost in July alone.
The latest jobs data also raises concerns about a fundamental restructuring of our economy toward one dominated by low-wage, low-skill jobs that can’t sustain our state in the long term. In July alone, the most recent month for which data is available, 1,300 private-sector jobs in management, science and technology, paying an average of $27 an hour, dried up.
Meanwhile, job growth has been concentrated in low-wage, no-benefit professions like food service and tourism, even accounting for seasonal adjustments.
Legislators victorious at the polls last November were given a mandate to create jobs and keep our economy strong. But instead of delivering on their campaign promises, many legislators launched a relentless series of attacks on working people.
Instead of creating jobs, legislators disenfranchised students and seniors, cut Medicaid for seniors and the disabled, and passed a budget that eliminated 9,000 jobs. What was passed off as a jobs bill, the wrongly named right-to-work law, is not a proven job creator, but has been proven to lower wages for workers across the board.
Worse, Granite Staters weren’t even given a chance to object. When we flooded the State House to disagree with the direction that our Legislature was heading, House Speaker Bill O’Brien shut the doors in our faces.
Rather than represent the interests of all of his constituents during this last session, O’Brien has pandered to an extreme tea party agenda at the expense of New Hampshire’s most vulnerable residents.
And sadly, the upcoming session promises to be no different. The tea party enthusiasts in our Legislature have already vowed to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto of right-to-work and to repeal our best-value contracting law — legislation that keeps costs down and creates jobs in our state by pushing state government agencies to be smarter about awarding contracts.
This fall, we need to step back from partisan struggles and refocus on what really matters. As our economy recovers, our government has a responsibility to foster an environment where people have access to good jobs and can support their families. The results from our last legislative session are clear: Without a strong commitment from our legislators to invest in job creation, New Hampshire cannot move forward.
We ask our lawmakers to create jobs, instead of slandering the people looking for one.
We ask for concrete proposals to spend our state dollars smarter.
And we ask our lawmakers to work to protect good middle-class jobs, to ensure a better future for our children.
###
For immediate release
Contact: Nora Frederickson 603-785-4211

Our friends at the APWU asked us to share this with all of you. This Op/Ed explanes the real problems the US Postal Service is facing.  To my surprise it is not due to the messages coming from Washington.  The post office is in trouble, real trouble, because they are being forced to fully fund their retirement system for the next 75 years by 2016.  This means that the USPS must pay 5.5 Billion Dollars a year to fund retirements for people who do not work for the USPS yet in some cases have not even been born yet.  

Another of the biggest problems with the spin coming out Washington is that it is “Labor Costs” that are making this problem worse.  When in reality the APWU signed a new contract with major concessions and a reduction of “Labor Costs” of over 4 Billion dollars.  The APWU did this to ensure that nobody would be laid off.  Now the Postmaster General is calling on Congress to break their newly agreed contract in order to lay off over 100,000 postal employees.

Pleas take a moment to fully this editorial written by Chuck Zlatkin. He is the Legislative and Political Director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union, the largest local of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO. After you read this article take a moment to contact your congressman and tell Co-Sign H.R1351. When the time comes tell them to Vote For H.R 1351 to save to USPS.
Please Visit this site to tell your Congressman to Support USPS Employees and H.R 1351



Destroying the Postal Service in Order to Save It?

The big lie seems to be working. Most Americans now believe that the U.S. Postal Service is on the verge of a financial collapse. The explanation seems logical: email, too many post offices, unnecessary six-day delivery, overpaid and underproductive workers. Unfortunately, these are half-truths, misinformation or outright lies.
It is true that the nature of mail has changed because of the Internet but it is also true that three biggest years in volume in the 236-year history of the Postal Service were 2005, 2006 and 2007, well into the Internet era. The bigger impact upon the Postal Service was the financial collapse of 2008.
But the root cause of the financial distress that the Postal Service is going through is overwhelmingly caused by Congressional mandates that were imposed upon the Postal Service. Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which was signed into law by President G.W. Bush on December 20, 2006. Under the guise of modernizing the Postal Service for the 21st Century, it actually doomed the Postal Service. If not for the PAEA, the Postal Service would be functioning fine even with the impact of email and the financial collapse of 2008.

The story continues here

What is a Union (long post)

What is a Union?

  What do you think of when someone says the word union? According to Dictonary.com the definition of a union is: “A number of persons, states, etc., joined or associated together for some common purpose.”  No matter who you are or where you live, whether you are rich or poor, you are more than likely a member of a least three unions.

  
First, if you live in the United States of America, you are member of a union.  Our founding fathers knew this when they wrote: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”.  Additionally, federal and state legislatures are also unions.  Members of these two unions are from different parts of the country that are chosen to represent the people from their area. 
In a recent town hall meeting in Iowa, President Barack Obama explained the importance of unions.   He said, “People joining together so they’ve got a little more leverage; so they’ve got better working conditions, better wages; they can better support their family.” This is the same way that labor unions became so powerful.  Over the past century labor unions have fought and died to get their voices heard.  One voice screaming outside of a factory does not get much attention.  Twenty voices will get more attention.  When you have every worker from the factory floor standing outside screaming, people will listen.  While strikes were an integral part of getting their voices heard, the true goal of the labor unions was just to have their concerns heard and for someone to take action to fix these problems.  Problems in working conditions, safety of workers, pay, and equality of workers are just a few items that they united to help solve.
Recently the conversation about labor unions has turned away from their long and continued struggles for workers rights, rather to political involvement.   Millions of union members across the country have helped voice their concerns in both state legislative chambers, as well as the halls of Congress.  Thanks to their dedication and political influence we now have a safe work place because of the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and competitive wages because of state and federal minimum wage laws.  Labor is not the only union that tries to change laws.
One of the largest unions in the United States actually has nothing to do with labor or workers rights.  It is the coalition of retired people more commonly knows as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).  Let’s compare the memberships of labor to AARP.  The Teamsters have roughly two million members. Add that with the approximately two million more State Employees International Union (SEIU) members and combine that with the approximately three million in the National Education Association (NEA) you would still have less than one-fifth of the members of AARP.  AARP has over 50 million members nation wide, and they are growing every day.  Labor unions charge their members dues, the AARP has annual membership fees.  Labor unions give you a membership card, the AARP also gives you a membership card.  Labor unions use the money they raise to influence politics and protect their members.  The AARP does exactly the same.  In 2010 they spent 22 million dollars in political lobbying against legislation that will directly affect the elderly, notably Social Security and Medicare.

The AARP is not the only non-labor union out there pushing their agenda.  According to OpenSecrets.Orgin 2010 the top six lobbying organizations were The US Chamber of Commerce, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), General Electric, FEDEX Corp, The American Medical Association, and AARP.   In 2010, labor in its entirety spent just over 14 million dollars in lobbing efforts.  That may seem like a lot but it is only lone-third of General Electric (39 million), one-third of PG&E (45 million) and just over one-tenth of the US Camber of Commerce (132 million).

With so many unions out there, why have some legislators decided to attack labor unions? They blame labor for everything from the state’s financial problems to corporations profits are not high enough.  Did the Ford corporation blame the United Auto Workers who built the Edsel, for the car’s huge failure? Then why would you blame a teacher for the problems created by state legislatures? The basic principles in unions are to work together to solve the problems.  The perfect example of this is the New Hampshire State Employee’s Association, who worked with Governor Lynch to cut 50 million dollars from their budget in creating their new collective bargaining agreement.  Some legislatures are working to revoke the collective bargaining rights of labor unions, yet nobody is working on legislation to limit the power and influence of all of the other unions in Washington or in your state capitol. 
People come together in unions – labor unions or otherwise – because we are stronger when we stick together. Instead of attacking our right to do that, we should go back to the core of why people form unions and focus on finding ways to work through our problems together.

New Hampshire Labor News Network Sunday News

More news on the LGC Scandal from Seacoast Online.

CONCORD — It was just weeks ago when the Department of Labor notified the Local Government Center that “we are watching,” while DOL lawyer Martin Jenkins said, “we’re not breathing down their neck.”
That changed last week when DOL administrator Ellery Hathorn wrote to the LGC with a demand for a detailed accounting of the LGC public employees’ compensation program and an imminent deadline to produce it.

The State Senate will be attempting to override the Governor’s Veto of SB 88 (deadly force bill).  This bill is be opposed by the Governor as well as most of our Brothers in Blue.  Concord Monitor

“Law enforcement has been adamant in their opposition to this bill,” Manning said. “They’re the experts in public safety, and they’re the ones we should be listening to.”

The sunday political round up from Kevin Landrigan. He explains a lot about the Senate override bills coming up this week, as well as many other state issues like “Kimball Resigning”.  Senate Veto vote on tap this week

It looks as if Gov. John Lynch will score some victories – but not all he wants – with the state Senate when it meets Wednesday to take up six of his vetoes.
The Republican-led Legislature broke Lynch’s unbeaten streak earlier this spring, overriding vetoes on three measures, including the mandate that a minor girl notify a parent before having an abortion. 

 Tom Fahey’s sunday round up of local and national politics. This week he talks about SB 88, SB 129 (Voter ID), SB 154 (repeal of RGGI).  He also mentions the NH AFL-CIO will be doing a demonstration at the State House Wed Sept 7th (Click here for information

“THE AFL-CIO plans a demonstration at the State House Tuesday evening to dramatize job losses and underemployment.
“This fall, the working people of New Hampshire need their legislators to focus on finding common-sense solutions to the jobs crisis instead of the political attacks that characterized the last session,” AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie said in announcing plans for the event.”

This just announced: Senator to participate in Labor Day Breakfast.

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire Sen.Jeanne Shaheen will be among those attending the annual AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.
Shaheen plans to deliver remarks at Monday’s breakfast in Manchester.
The breakfast is held to honor workers and this year an emphasis will be put on public workers who helped keep people safe during Tropical Storm Irene.

High Praise given to Police and Firefighers in Manchester after T.S. Irene. This article also includes a run down of the politics in Manchester from Beth Hall. Talks about Mayor Gatas and the 2012-2013 Budget requests and MHT PFF president calling him to “Fix this years Budget First”. Union Leader

“High praise went to city police, firefighters, highway workers and other staff for their efficient handling of the havoc the storm wrought”.

In case you missed it before, here is Mark MacKenzie (Pres of NH AFL-CIO) Labor Day Message. read the entire “Working Families: The real NH advantage”

“Labor Day is traditionally a day that conjures up images of cookouts, extra time with our families and a day off of work. But it’s also a day to recognize the dignity of work and the people who do it — our teachers and construction workers, our firefighters and small business owners, our scientists and manufacturing workers.”

From the Keene Sentinel a message from Democratic Leader Ray Buckley. 

Labor Day has commemorated the contributions of America’s working men and women for over a century. But this year, working men and women are under attack, and remembering the meaning behind this day is more important than ever.

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