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A Senator Should Care Deeply About the State

Mark Mackenzie at PNS RallyBy MARK S. MacKENZIE

As the clock winds down toward Election Day, the TV ads and phone calls will have reached a fevered pitch. Yet many Granite Staters couldn’t care less about the mass advertising being directed their way. What they have been looking for – and might still be looking for – are answers to some very basic questions: How will this candidate help me and my family weather tough times? How will this candidate help me and my neighbors find jobs? How will this candidate help ensure that the jobs we have pay enough to keep up with the rising cost of living?

For so many of us, it comes down to economic opportunity. Over the past 30 years, the richest 1 percent in this country has taken home nearly 50 percent of all income gains. Meanwhile, our roads and bridges are crumbling, taxes on the middle class have risen, and working people have struggled more and more to pay the bills. The economy is slowly recovering, but too many men and women in our state have yet to feel that things have gotten better.

The Senate race between Scott Brown and Jeanne Shaheen is one race where the contrast is clear. As a two-term governor who was elected to the Senate in 2008, Shaheen has a record of creating jobs, pooling resources to help our communities and small businesses, and working around the gridlock in Congress to deliver for New Hampshire working people.

As governor, she was a careful steward of taxpayer dollars and a strategic financial manager. She established a $1 million-a-year job-training fund that helped businesses upgrade the skills of their current employees and train new ones. She tripled New Hampshire’s rainy day fund and put together the state’s first economic plan.

As senator, Shaheen created jobs for hundreds of workers when she fought for a federal prison to be built in Berlin. She connected 1,200 Granite Staters to homeowners’ assistance in order to help them avoid foreclosure. She has worked across the aisle with U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte to fight furloughs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and reopen the government after it shut down in 2013.

Contrast that with Scott Brown, whose interests don’t go much further than Scott Brown. He set his sights on New Hampshire after losing his seat as a Massachusetts senator and only moved north after looking at several bids for public office in other states. During his tenure in Massachusetts, he held up crucial aid to unemployed workers and opposed tax cuts to middle-class Americans if they didn’t include huge tax breaks for the rich.

As a member of the board of directors of Kadant, an equipment supplier for the paper industry, he collected $270,000 after the company shipped American jobs overseas. Two months ago, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO and the State Employees Association of New Hampshire asked Scott Brown to resign from the board of directors. He has yet to honor that request.

Serving as senator is not about reaching for that next rung on the career ladder or making your next million; it is about helping the men and women who have trusted you to represent their best interests. Jeanne Shaheen understands New Hampshire – its unique culture, economy and political significance. For Scott Brown, however, it is little more than a consolation prize.

Election Day is days away, and we are facing a stark choice. Super PACs have been bombarding New Hampshire with ads for months, but when it comes down to it, this election is about people. Your family. Your co-workers. Your neighbors. It’s about the community we share here in the Granite State.

When making the decision to vote on Nov. 4, we should not only look at what candidates’ ads say or what their proxies say, but what their records say. Our next senator should care about this state as much as we do. Granite Staters deserve nothing less.

(Mark S. MacKenzie is president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.)

Also published in the Concord Monitor: Friday, October 31, 2014
http://www.concordmonitor.com/home/14135229-95/my-turn-a-senator-should-care-deeply-about-the-state

NH AFL-CIO Pres MacKenzie: Casino Bill Means Good Jobs And Serious Revenue

As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now is the time for our elected leaders to step up to the plate and take real, immediate and concrete steps to create good new jobs for thousands of workers in our state.

The New Hampshire House will soon have the opportunity to do just that. In fact, our legislators will be presented with a bill, HB 1633, that will guarantee the creation of a half-billion-dollar construction project, every penny of which would come from private investment.

HB 1633 would create more than 2,000 jobs for New Hampshire construction workers and more than 1,000 good, permanent jobs. Furthermore, this bill will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax revenue for the state, allowing us to keep critical programs like education, public safety and infrastructure off the budgetary chopping block. Plus, polls show that a big majority – nearly 60 percent – of Granite Staters favor the approach HB 1633 takes.

HB 1633 would bring expanded casino gaming to New Hampshire. Now, I know some members of our Legislature don’t personally approve of gambling, and that’s their prerogative. But we must come to terms with the fact that we are stuck in a situation where job growth continues to be sluggish and the state budget continually presents our elected officials with extremely difficult choices between cutting programs and finding needed revenue.

The fact is, New Hampshire will be experiencing the downsides of casino gaming whether or not we build a new casino within our borders. Our state already has a $75 million-per-year casino industry under the guise of “charitable gaming,” and there will soon be several casinos just over the border in Massachusetts. Without HB 1633, we’ll leave thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

HB 1633 was drafted by a bipartisan, multiagency independent panel known as the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority as part of last year’s state budget process. In consultation with independent experts, the authority reviewed best practices in the gaming industry across the country to develop a true New Hampshire solution for expanded gaming.

This bill was crafted specifically to address concerns lawmakers had with last year’s gaming bill. As such, HB 1633 includes a comprehensive regulatory structure and robust provisions to ensure that the jobs will go to New Hampshire workers.

Although we have always supported creating good jobs for Granite State workers, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO has never officially endorsed a casino proposal before. Our executive committee recently voted unanimously to fully endorse HB 1633 because we are convinced this bill represents what’s best for New Hampshire’s working families and for our state.

We had questions about whether that was true of previous bills, but our concerns have been addressed in HB 1633.

Creating jobs shouldn’t just be a talking point or a political slogan. Growing our economy and putting people to work should be real, tangible goals for our elected leaders. HB 1633 is the only bill before the New Hampshire Legislature this year that would accomplish those goals, and I urge lawmakers to support it. Together we can help rebuild New Hampshire’s middle class by focusing on creating good jobs for workers in our state. Passing this bill will contribute to that cause.

NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie Is One Of Many Appointees To Economic Development Advisory Council

CONCORD, NH – Continuing her efforts to help New Hampshire’s businesses grow and create good jobs that can support a thriving middle class, Governor Maggie Hassan today announced 26 appointees to the Economic Development Advisory Council.

“Through its work to assist and advise New Hampshire’s Division of Economic Development, the Economic Development Advisory Council is critical to our efforts to support innovative economic growth and help businesses create good jobs,” Governor Hassan said. “These appointees have a diverse track record of success in a variety of sectors across our economy, and I am confident that their service will help build a stronger, more innovative New Hampshire.”

Established by a 2008 act of the Legislature sponsored by Governor Hassan during her time in the Senate, the council is charged with assisting the Division of Economic Development by providing advice on the trends and the needs across all sectors of industry and government to aid in the strategic planning efforts of the division.

The members of the council serve three-year terms and represent industries across the state, including manufacturing, education, tourism and retail, among others.

“With these appointments, the Economic Development Advisory Council will have broad representation of industries from every corner of the state,” said Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeffery Rose. “This is very important as we seek their counsel in developing our economic strategy and I appreciate their time and commitment to serving on this board.”

The Governor’s appointees are:

  • Zenagui Brahim, director of the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership, representing manufacturing;
  • Kendall Buck, vice president of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association, representing residential building;
  • Dean Christon, director of New Hampshire Finance Authority, representing state/local housing authority;
  • Patrick Clark, president/CEO of BurstPoint Networks, representing information technology/software;
  • Jaime Coughlin, director of New Ventures and incubator programs, member-at-large;
  • Eric Crainich, president of Design Standards Corp., representing biotechnology;
  • Katharine Eneguess, president of White Mountains Community College, representing higher education;
  • Phil Ferneau, founder/director of Borealis Ventures, representing venture capital formation;
  • Jeffrey Hayes, director of the Lakes Region Planning Commission, member-at-large;
  • State Senator Jeanie Forrester;
  • Judy Gove, director of the New Hampshire Electric Coop, representing electric/energy;
  • Stephen Heavener, director of the Capitol Regional Development Council, representing regional/municipal development;
  • Gale Hennessy, director of Southern New Hampshire Services, representing workforce development;
  • Chris Hodgdon, director of government affairs for Comcast, representing telecommunications;
  • State Representative Naida Kaen;
  • Carmen Lorentz, director of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development;
  • Daniel Lee, associate professor of economics at Plymouth State University;
  • Patrick McDermott, director of external affairs for Hinkley Allen & Snyder, member-at-large;
  • Mark McKenzie, president of New Hampshire AFL-CIO, representing organized labor;
  • David Mullen, director of Pease Development Authority, representing real estate/commercial real estate development;
  • Jayne O’Connor, president of White Mountains Attractions, representing travel and tourism;
  • Eric Proulx, general manager of Tanger Outlet Center, representing retail;
  • Kathleen Reardon, vice president of Citizens Bank, representing insurance/banking/financial services;
  • Tim Sink, president of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, representing chambers of commerce;
  • Sarah Smith, extension professor at the University of New Hampshire, representing forest-based products;
  • Philip Suter, director of the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Keene State College.

New Hampshire AFL-CIO Calls For Minimum Wage Hike As Part Of 2014 Legislative Agenda

CONCORD – AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler joined New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie and progressive legislators in laying out the New Hampshire labor movement’s priorities for the 2014 legislative session.

This year, we are calling on our legislature to lift up working families and lift up New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie.

“By raising the minimum wage, establishing prevailing wages, paying men and women equal wages, and making sure that temporary workers, construction workers, and those paid by payroll card aren’t cheated out of their pay, we can ensure that every worker in New Hampshire takes home what they have rightfully earned and can support their families on their wages.”

Raising the minimum wage would help small businesses, President MacKenzie stated, citing a poll by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute released last year that found that a majority of small business owners, 67 percent, would back an effort to increase the minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour and to adjust it annually for inflation.

The plight of low-wage workers is in the spotlight like never before, Secretary-Treasurer Shuler said in her remarks. After a year marked by nationwide walk-outs at Walmart and strikes by fast food workers, workers in thirteen states saw increases in the minimum wage on January 1st of this year. Worker-based coalitions in eight other states are mounting ballot initiatives or legislative campaigns to raise the minimum wage.

Work in this country should be valued, rewarded, and respected,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler. “It is not a question of whether we can afford to reward hard work – we can’t afford not to. Income inequality is greater today than it’s been since the Great Depression. The rich have never been richer, while the middle class is falling further and further behind. Working people have to do better than that – and we can, starting with a proactive push to raise the minimum wage and pass a working family agenda in Concord.”

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO announced that it will be pursuing the following legislative priorities in 2014:

  • Minimum Wage Increase to $9/hour (HB 1174)Raises the state minimum wage to $8.25 an hour in January 2015; raises the state minimum wage to $9.00 an hour in January 2016 and thereafter raises the minimum wage annually based on increases in the Consumer Price Index.
  • Paycheck Fairness (HB 1188, SB 207)Defines the conditions in which employers may legitimately pay differential wages to men and women who perform equal work; prohibits employers from barring an employee from disclosing information about his or her wages, salary and paid benefits as a condition or employment; prohibits retaliation against an employee who discloses the amount of his or her wages.
  • Temporary Workers Rights (HB 1189)Increases transparency concerning employment conditions and compensation for temporary workers procured for worksite employers through a temporary staffing company; establishes record keeping and reporting requirements for temporary staffing companies; defines allowable fees charged to temporary workers by the staffing company in relation to employment; addresses workers compensation coverage requirements.
  • Personal Credit History Privacy (HB 1405, SB 295)Prohibits employers from requesting a personal credit history check as a condition of employment, with some exceptions for positions that involve substantive responsibility for managing business funds.
  • Payment by Payroll Card (HB 1404)Defines disclosure requirements and employer reporting obligations for payment of wages by payroll card; limits fees that can be charged to an employee for using his or her payroll card account.
  • Social Media Privacy (HB1407)Prohibits employers from requiring access to private social media account or other online communication accounts as a condition of employment. Does not prevent employers from monitoring or requesting access to business accounts.
  • State Prevailing Wage Law (HB 1592)New Hampshire is the only state in the Northeast without a current prevailing wage statute for state-funded public works projects. This bill aims to replace and modernize the NH prevailing wage law repealed in 1985 but limits covered projects to those funded only or substantially by state funds.
  • Certified Payroll Reporting Requirement (HB 1576)Requires contractors on state-funded construction projects to file certified payroll reports that include worker classifications and rates of pay with the government agency responsible for project administration.

Raising The Minimum Wage Would Lift Families Out Of Poverty (By NH AFL-CIO Pres Mark MacKenzie)

NH AFL-CIO LogoWhen thinking about the minimum wage, it is easy to conjure up the outdated image of teenagers flipping burgers or making milkshakes at the neighborhood restaurant. Minimum wage jobs are seen as a rite of passage into adulthood, something to be left behind once young people graduate from school and settle into permanent jobs.

Yet for too many workers, these minimum wage jobs are permanent jobs. Every day, millions of Americans struggle to support families while earning the minimum wage. These workers are frequently forced to forgo basics — food, housing, clothing — or even rely on public assistance to make ends meet. As we approach the new year, legislation has been proposed on both the federal and state levels to increase the current $7.25 per hour minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and New Hampshire’s minimum to $9. The New Hampshire AFL-CIO supports these proposals as good economic policy and a much-needed boost to millions of families struggling to make ends meet.

As our economy struggles out of recession, many Americans have been forced to take jobs previously held only by teenagers or housewives looking to earn a little extra money. Today, less than a quarter of minimum-wage workers are teenagers. Most are breadwinners in their families, and 55 percent work full time. The median age of a low-wage worker is 34 years old. And 56 percent of all minimum-wage earners are women, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Even as the demographics of minimum-wage workers have shifted, their pay remains too low to support a family. The annual income for a full-time employee making the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is $15,080. Living below the poverty line, that is not enough to afford rent on a two-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire and all of the other 49 states, The New York Times has reported.

According to a study by researchers at the university of California-Berkeley, more than half (52 percent) of front-line fast-food workers must rely on at least one public assistance program to support their families. As a result, the fast-food-industry business model of low wages, non-existent benefits, and limited work hours costs taxpayers an average of nearly $7 billion every year, the National Employment Law Project reports. Jobs should lift workers out of poverty, not trap them in poverty.

If the federal minimum wage had kept up with inflation, today it would be about $10.75 an hour, instead of $7.25. If the minimum wage had kept up with productivity, it would be $18.75. If it had grown at the same rate as wages for the wealthiest 1 percent, it would be over $28 per hour.

Raising employee wages would increase purchasing power, create more jobs and lift the economy.

On the federal level, the benefits of the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would incrementally increase the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015, are more than apparent. More than 30 million workers would be positively affected by this bill. It would boost consumer demand, generate $32 billion in new economic activity, and create 140,000 new full-time jobs, NELP has shown. The law would have a significant impact on the millions of children living in poverty in this country, as 23.3 percent of all children in the U.S. have a parent who would be helped by a raise in the minimum wage, according to Economic Policy Institute data.

More than four out of five economists say the benefits of increasing the minimum wage would outweigh the costs. Further, a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would create jobs while causing no reduction in the availability of minimum wage jobs.

Raising the minimum wage is crucial to our future economic growth. Five of the six fastest-growing sectors of the American economy are in low-wage industries — home health aides; customer service representatives; food preparation and serving workers; personal and home care aides and retail salespersons, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. To rebuild a strong middle class and create an economy of shared prosperity, our country must pay fair wages in these growing sectors.

More than 80 percent of the American public supports raising the wage to $10.10 an hour, and 74 percent say it should be a top priority for Congress. It is time for the actions of our elected representatives to reflect the wishes of their constituents. Only by ending this vicious cycle will we be able to help America achieve an economy that truly works for all Americans.

Mark S. MacKenzie is president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

Working Families Can’t Afford Another Shutdown Style Crisis (by Richard Trumka & Mark Mackenzie)

By Mark MacKenzie and Richard Trumka

NH AFL-CIO LogoLast month, we saw Washington at its worst. Driven by the Tea Party, Republican leaders, including Senator Ayotte, recklessly shut down our government and brought our nation to the brink of default. Ignoring voices of reason from working families across New Hampshire, some of our leaders in Congress listened to shouts of “shut it down” and inflicted unnecessary damage to our economy.

The shutdown cost 120,000 jobs in the first two weeks of October and will reduce economic growth by at least .25% in the fourth quarter. Here in New Hampshire it directly impacted 4,069 federal workers and countless residents who rely on federal services.

Thankfully, reason prevailed, Republican leaders relented and Congress appointed negotiators to work on a new budget agreement.

Now it’s on to the next fight in Washington.  But before we get caught up in another news cycle where extremists convince us we shouldn’t invest in our future, it is worth noting that a congressional budget is a vision. It is a blueprint that outlines our priorities as a nation. A good budget invests in America. It doesn’t rob our government of the resources it needs to succeed. A good budget properly funds its obligations and promotes the creation of well-paying jobs. It doesn’t bargain away protections for our seniors and it isn’t balanced on the backs of working families.

As Democrats and Republicans spend this month negotiating how to avoid another government shutdown, it is important to remind Washington politicians about what working families need.

The recovery is still being dragged down by the repeated budget crises manufactured by Republicans in Congress.  Budget austerity in the Tea Party Congress has already slowed annual economic growth by 0.7%, cost 1.2 million jobs, and increased the unemployment rate by 0.8%, according to Macroeconomic Advisers.

First, Congress should repeal the sequester it created, not replace it. The sequester’s dumb across-the-board cuts have hurt everything from education to child care to medical research. Here in New Hampshire, much attention has been given to the hardworking workers at our Shipyard and National Guard members who have faced furloughs as a result of defense cuts. But sequestration is also forcing layoffs and cutbacks to other critical programs that provide job training, education, and other services.

Repealing the sequester would generate 800,000 jobs by this time next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  The next budget should undo this painful damage— and not replace it with other harmful cuts.

Most importantly, policymakers in Washington must reject proposals to cut Social Security, Medicaid, or Medicare benefits.  They should avoid deficit hysteria promoted by billionaires and the 1%. Instead of terrifying our parents and grandparents with threats to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve earned, politicians should protect these vital programs that have shielded the elderly and vulnerable from poverty for generations. Our nation’s safety net should be strengthened, not weakened, because working people need more economic security, not less.

Instead, Congress should look to raise new revenue by repealing the tax subsidies that encourage corporations to send jobs overseas and ending special tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.  When the average CEO’s salary for the first morning on the job is the same amount the average worker makes in a year, it’s clear that the wealthiest Americans and corporations making record profits can pay their fair share.

Ending these undeserved and wasteful tax breaks would allow us to invest in our workforce and create the well-paying jobs millions so desperately need. By rebuilding our infrastructure, education, and manufacturing base, we can create good jobs with good benefits and provide relief to our struggling working and middle class. This is America, after all.  No job should trap anyone in a vicious cycle of poverty.

By focusing on helping working families instead of how to score political points, Congress can produce a budget that supports an economy that works for all. It is time for Senator Ayotte to realize that instead of shutting down progress, she needs to listen to the needs of the hardworking voters who sent her to Washington.

Richard Trumka is President of the AFL-CIO. Mark MacKenzie is President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

The NH AFL-CIO Holds Bi-Annual Convention

On May 4th, the New Hampshire state federation of the AFL-CIO held their bi-annual convention at the Grand Hotel in North Conway, NH.  The event was attended by over 50 delegates, representing many different unions from around the state.  They were teachers from AFT, to film and sound techs from IATSE,  electricians from IBEW, to air traffic controllers from NATCA.  The focus of the convention was to talk about the great things that the NH AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions have done in New Hampshire over the last two years. And to talk about how we need to change and grow to move into a new generation of unions and organizing.

Over the past two years the NH AFL-CIO and organized labor have fought back against the extreme right wing of the New Hampshire Legislature who were pushing every anti-union and anti-worker bill they could dig up from ALEC.  Most notably was the nearly two year battle over Right To Work.  Upholding Governor Lynch’s veto was the single greatest legislative accomplishment for the NH AFL-CIO and all working families.

AFLCIO Convention Mark MacKenzieAfter a short trip down memory lane by NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie, the tone shifted.  “At no time has labor’s role been more important” said President MacKenzie.

Now we as organized labor need to work with our communities for real immigration reform.  We must ensure that every worker is treated fairly, is paid accordingly, and has the protections we fought so hard to get in place.

This theme also lead right into how do we begin to organize those places that have never been able to be organized before?  Places like Wal-Mart, Fast Food and Restaurant workers. These are the jobs that need help from organized labor the most right now.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler spent  most of her time talking about how we need to fight back against the attacks from the right wing extremists and expand our base.  This is a battle for all working people, not just those who are covered by a union contract.  We need to do everything we can to stop the austerity budget plans from Washington that are slowly pulling our country apart.  The Tea Party lead House is trying to continue this race to the bottom with more cuts to programs like Head Start and Meals on Wheels.  “What about the children who have been kicked out of Head Start due to the Sequester” said Shuler.  “Sequester is just a fancy word for stupid idea” Shuler continued.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter knows all to well how the sequester is effecting people.  She hears about it every day.  People calling her office to get her to do something about it.  “Can’t you just pass something to end the sequester” people would ask.  Yes, she told the crowd, if we could get our bills onto the floor of the US House.  Congresswoman Shea-Porter told the crowd, “there are three political parties in Washington right now.  The Democrats, the Republicans and the Republican study group also know as the Tea Party.”  The power of the Tea Party and their leader, Speaker John Boehner is what is creating this disfunction in Washington.

The NH AFL-CIO also welcomed State Senator Andrew Hosmer to speak. He talked of the current situation in the NH Senate.  He pushed for the passage of the expanded gambling bill to help create new jobs for the NH Building Trades.   That message was echoed by State Representative (and former AFGE member and Federal Marshal) Steve Shurtleff.  Rep Shurtleff reminded us how times have changed now that Speaker O’Brien is not in control.  He ws there every session waiting for the Speaker to pull Right To Work up for a vote.  Both Sen. Hosmer and Rep Shurtleff said they would do whatever was needed to stand up for working families and the workers rights to organize.

(More in-depth stories on each of the speeches at the NH AFLCIO convention later this week)

New Hampshire AFL-CIO honors Gallus, backs Woodburn for State Senate

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the confederation of local labor unions, has honored retiring State Senator John Gallus (R-Berlin) for his ten years of service on behalf of working people in the North Country and thrown their support behind Democratic State Senate candidate Jeff Woodburn.

Mark MacKenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO praised Gallus for opposing so-called right-to-work legislation, that would weaken unions and cut wages, and benefits for all working families in New Hampshire. “John has never forgotten organized labor. We’ll miss his leadership,” he said.

MacKenzie said that Democratic State Senate Candidate Jeff Woodburn is a good choice to replace Gallus.  “Jeff Woodburn has alway been a friend and strong voice for working people,” said McKenzie.  He noted that he has known and worked with Woodburn for 25 years — since he served in the Legislature’s Labor commitee in the 1980s.

“There is a clear choice in this race,” MacKenzie said. “Debi Warner is anti-union, supports so-called right-to-work legislation, and her election would be bad news for wage-earners.”  Coos County legislators from both parties have consistently opposed right-to-work legislation, including Gallus and Republican Reps. Marc Tremblay, John Tholl, Bill Remick and Herb Richardson.

New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie on Mitt Romney’s Upcoming Visit to Nashua

Just a few short weeks before the election, Romney is returning to New Hampshire without having presented Granite Staters with a clear picture of what the country would look like under his leadership.

At this point in the campaign, New Hampshire’s working men and women deserve to know just what Romney stands for. What is Romney’s plan for the economy? How will he create the twelve million jobs he has promised us? What are the real consequences for our seniors if his plans for gutting Social Security and turning Medicare into an unafordable voucher program are adopted? How will Romney, if he repeals the Affordable Care Act, ensure that insurance companies do not deny coverage to Americans with preexisting medical conditions?

We cannot afford a President Romney who will not be honest with American workers about his political positions, who willfully spreads untruths about the state of Social Security and Medicare and who refuses to “let his campaign be dictated by fact-checkers”.

While Romney has openly promised to give billions of dollars of our tax money to the richest 2% of Americans, he has repeatedly failed to present any solid evidence that he would be a good choice for working people. We are not stupid, and if Romney really wants to win the presidential election in New Hampshire, he will use his time in Nashua tomorrow to give Granite Staters some answers.

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.

It struck us a bit incongruous then that New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie would verbally storm the barricades in criticizing Lamontagne for wanting to reproduce some of Walker’s Wisconsin success here in the Granite State. 

From an AFL-CIO press release dated June 13: “Ovide Lamontagne has already positioned himself like Bill O’Brien on steroids. He’s already vowed to take O’Brien’s agenda to attack workers one step further if elected governor. Now he’s tying himself to the most anti-labor politician in America.”

Let me ask: What success has Governor Walker accomplished other than holding his elected position in a very highly contested recall election?

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has dropped. While New Hampshire’s has also fallen, it must continue in that direction.

Walker has been talking about all the jobs he has created and how well the state is doing.  The real data shows that he is on the same track as the national average.  It has had very little to do with what he has done.  One reason that unemployment is down in Wisconsin is because many organizations on both sides of the political aisle are pouring money into organizing for the election. Over 100 Million dollars was spent during the recall elections.  (note: Walker won the recall by the same margin as in 2010, the difference this time was that over 500,000 more people voted.  Barret got more votes in the recall than Walker did originally)

Among the extreme anti-labor issues mentioned were the attempted passage of a constitutional amendment freeing up the legislature to financially help poor school districts, right-to-work legislation, and the elimination of a state-level minimum wage law.

These are issues that are crucial to the workers in New Hampshire.  Right To Work has been proven time and time again to lower wages and has done nothing to increase jobs.

 The Constitutional Amendment I am assuming he is referring to is CACR 12.  An amendment that was destroyed in the NH House by a bi-partisan vote.  CACR 12 would have repealed the Claremont Decision which mandated all schools in New Hampshire would be funded fairly and equally in the eyes of the state.  This decision came down because the Legislature at the time failed to fund the schools fairly.

Really? You attack the New Hampshire President of the  AFL-CIO for saying that we need a higher minimum wage and that repealing the minimum wage law was wrong.  I would like to see the editor of Foster’s live on minimum wage for a few months.  In New Hampshire a person must work over 100 hours a week to afford a two bedroom apartment.

MacKenzie was picking up on a red-meat speech Lamontagne recently gave Salem Republicans.

Perhaps that is what MacKenzie was doing in his press release — throwing some red meat to labor’s faithful. If so, fair is fair, so we take no exception to MacKenzie trying to rally his base.

If Mr MacKenzie was rallying his troops, the fact is that people need to know what the candidates for the states highest office are saying.  Lamontagne is making back room promises to the republicans of Salem and thats okay? No,

That said, Lamontagne has promised to lead, to use the bully pulpit to push what he promises voters.

How are the voters supposed to know what he plans to push if nobody is telling them? Would Fosters Daily Democrat published that Lamontagne said he would be “Walker On Steroids”?  After the backlash that Governor Walker received?

While Wisconsin asked union membership for givebacks in an over-the-top fashion, New Hampshire’s history with unions has not been as rocky. That does not mean, however, unions no longer need pushback. 

Take for example the recent decision by the Obama Administration to relent on its quest to force the inflated costs of labor unions on the yet-to-be-built Manchester Job Corps Center. Perhaps a strong advocate in the governor’s chair could have helped that decision come about sooner.

First of all it was the politicians in Washington who were fighting the Project Labor Agreements that President Obama instituted.  That political football has gone back and forth.  Part of the reason that PLA were created was to ensure that workers are protected and have a voice in the construction process.  Any company can bid on a federally funded project it does not have to be a union who does it.  Unions tend to win these contracts because they have the knowledge, the skilled workers and the understanding to operate inside of the PLA.

PLAs also help to ensure that LOCAL workers get hired at the pay they should earn. This is called prevailing wage.  This means a worker in New Hampshire building a project like this would earn X amount per hour.  Removing the PLA allows out of state companies to bring out of state workers to do the job at a fraction of the prevailing wage for the area.  You might say “That’s Capitalism”, and you would be right. The problem is that this federal funding is supposed to help workers and families and businesses in New Hampshire.  If the workers are from out of state, they do not spend their money here either. When they job is done, they take their paycheck and drive back to Texas or Arizona where they came from and that money never makes its way into the New Hampshire economy as it was intended.

As for Lamontagne being extreme on the issues, New Hampshire can easily operate under the federal minimum wage; labor unions still hold too much sway; and given the dying ranks of labor unions we would rather see the governor lean toward serving the masses instead of a select few who cling to union membership cards.

For nearly a century labor unions have the be balance to the wealthy and greedy businessmen.  They represent all workers in a factory wether they are union or not.  They push to ensure a safe place to work, and push back against the greedy businessmen to ensure a fair wage.

If MacKenzie wants to call this extreme, so be it. But we think all this is rapidly becoming mainstream, if it is not already.

I would say that it is not mainstream.  The people support unions, and believe that collective bargaining is needed.  In last years poll 62% of Granite Staters agreed.  Thanks to Governor Walker the slow moving attacks on unionized labor was brought to the main stage. People are talking about it and people are realizing that unions are still very much important.  We need unions to fight for all workers, fight for the 99%, and fight so we can all survive.

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