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Metal Trades Council endorses Shea-Porter

Carol Shea porter 2In case you missed it: Portsmouth Herald: Metal Trades Council endorses Shea-Porter

PORTSMOUTH – With the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as a backdrop, Paul O’Connor, president of the Metal Trades Council, gave Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter an endorsement from the shipyard workers in her bid for re-election to New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.

O’Connor recognized Shea-Porter’s efforts to keep the shipyard open and minimizing the impact of sequestration as well as working with the shipyard leadership and labor management with many issues including workplace rights.

He said only one of the two candidates running for the 1st Congressional district “supports the working men and women.”  She is a strong, hardworking, roll-your-sleeves up fighter for the middle class, for our shipyard, for the community, for New Hampshire and for our nation.

Read the full article here.

Labor Day: A Day To Reflect And A Day To Look Forward

“The labor movement is people. Our unions have brought millions of men and women together, made them members one of another, and given them common tools for common goals. Their goals are goals for all America – and their enemies are the enemies for progress. The two cannot be separated.” President John F. Kennedy

free-digital-signage-media-labor-day

Today is our day and we need to bask in our proud history.  Every year people across our great nation stop and look back to what labor has done.

One of America’s greatest resources is its people.  And when we work together and speak with one voice we can accomplish great things.

“It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.”   President Barack Obama

Even those who oppose unions now have trouble denying the fact that labor built the middle class.  Together we fought for some of the basics that all workers are utilizing today like weekends, workplace safety, and overtime.  These are only a few of the hundreds of things that labor unions fought for on behalf of all workers.

Labor unions came out of great economic struggles — much like the situation we are currently pushing through.  Vast income inequality and high unemployment.  In the early days of the Industrial Age, mill owners treated workers like slaves, forcing workers to stay on the jobs for 14-16 hours a day while the owners collected enormous profits.   This prompted workers to think about their own safety and prosperity.

This vast income inequality solidified workers to stand up and fight back.  Thomas Donahue (AFL-CIO Treasurer 1979-1995) summed it up perfectly when he said, “The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor.

This is truer today than in the years after the Great Depression.  Workers are living in poverty while corporations are raking in untold billions.  Right now, CEOs are making 185 times the amount of the average worker.   This has lead to countless protests and organized efforts for a living wage.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

As we celebrate this Labor Day, let us reflect on where we have come from.  Look back at all the great things we have accomplished together.  Then look at all we need to do.  America is still the greatest nation in the world — yet we can be even greater.

We need to band together and fight back against the corporate machine that demonizes workers.  They want to take us back to the days when workers had no rights and no voice.  That is just unacceptable.  If we do not stand together like our brothers and sisters of the past have taught us, we will never be able to overcome the grasp of corporate greed.

Unemployment For Younger Granite Staters More Than Double The State Average

The NH Labor News has always been pushing to highlight how workers are continuing to be screwed by corporations and low wages.  Today a new group who call themselves the Young Invincibles are pushing back for young workers.

Young Invincibles is a national organization committed to amplifying the voices of young Americans, aged 18 to 34, and expanding economic opportunity for our generation.  Young Invincibles ensures that young Americans are represented in today’s most pressing societal debates through cutting-edge policy research and analysis and innovative campaigns designed to educate, inform and mobilize our generation to change the status quo.

The Young Invincibles just released their first report about the unemployment problems facing young workers in NH.  They highlight that the national unemployment level for workers between 16.2% which is over twice the national average (7.6%).  In NH, the unemployment for these young workers is 14.0% (NH unemployment rate 5.5%).

Youth Unemployment in NH

 

These numbers are bad enough but it is not the worse part.  Nationally workers have continued to see their paycheck to decline.  For younger workers in NH the numbers are even worse.  Young Granite State workers are making on average $3000 dollars less per year since 2005.

NH Youth make 3000$ less

 

The report also highlighted full time employment of these younger workers has dropped eight percent (8%) since 2005.  Studies show that the inability to gain early work experience dims career prospects for a lifetime; if we do not act now, this crisis could have far-reaching economic consequences for all Granite Staters.

AFGE Calls For Pentagon To Cancel Furloughs Now!

Services, Defense agencies have enough flexibility to avoid disruptive furloughs

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees is calling on the Department of Defense to do the right thing for its employees and the country by cancelling the planned furlough of civilian workers.

“We are encouraged to hear that Pentagon leaders may be rethinking their foolish and reckless policy to furlough nearly every civilian employee for 14 days,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

“Many of the services and Defense agencies say they can reduce or eliminate the number of furlough days for their workers, and they should be allowed to exercise this flexibility,” Cox said. “Forcing all employees off the job without pay for the same number of days out of some misguided notion of fairness is damaging to employees and undermines mission.”

Defense initially proposed furloughing more than 700,000 civilian employees for 22 days due to budget cuts required under sequestration. In March, it announced that it would reduce the number of days employees would be forced off the job without pay to 14 days. The Associated Press reported yesterday that the Pentagon is considering further cutting furloughs to 7 days.

AFGE has already demonstrated to the department that furloughing any employee for any length of time is unnecessary and would disrupt the military mission that civilian employees help carry out each and every day.

“This game that DoD is playing with the lives and livelihood of civilian employees is a travesty,” AFGE Defense Conference Chairman Don Hale said. “The morale of our workforce has never been lower. Morale is lower than it was during the A-76 outsourcing competitions and when DoD tried to replace existing pay and performance management policies with the National Security Personnel System.

“Employees feel as though they have no control over their future. Hell, they can’t even plan their work schedules for the next few months because of the unknown that DoD has created,” Hale said. “DoD has continuously said that they want to minimize the adverse impact that furloughs have on civilian employees, but what they are doing is having the opposite effect.”

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

.@NHAFLCIO Host High-Stakes Safety Net Roulette Game to Protest Manufactured Fiscal Crisis

NH AFLCIO Medicare Action

Image from NH AFL-CIO (Nora Fredrickson)

A group of workers, labor leaders and community members gathered outside Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Manchester office on Thursday, January 31st for a high-stakes game of safety net roulette. Demanding that fringe Republicans in Congress stop holding the economy hostage to their own radical agenda, they called on Senator Ayotte to close tax loopholes for Wall Street and the richest 2% of Americans instead of cutting Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare for families.

Participants delivered an invitation to Senator Ayotte to try her hand at a roulette wheel set up outside her office, offering her a choice of red chips, representing safety net programs like Medicaid, or black chips, representing outsized tax breaks and loopholes for corporations.

“We want our elected leaders to address the real problems facing our economy,” said Charles Balban, retiree and president of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans. “Demanding benefit cuts to programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, just so that corporations and the richest 2% don’t pay their fair share, isn’t the right way to go. Republicans in Congress need to stop holding the middle class hostage to their radical agenda.”

“Tens of thousands of Granite Staters depend on safety net programs, yet our elected leaders are still choosing to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations over the deficit,” said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie. “It’s time for our elected officials to stop gambling with our future, stop making drastic cuts to the services their constituents need to get back on their feet, and close tax loopholes that only further benefit the wealthy and corporations.”

Image from NH AFL-CIO (Nora Fredrickson)

The NH Labor News Looks Back Over The Last 12 Months

As we close out another year everyone is taking a moment to look back over the last year.  The New Hampshire Labor News has been focused on issues surrounding labor and the middle class in New Hampshire (and beyond).  I wanted to take a few minutes to go back and highlight some of our greatest posts and a few you may have missed.

What will you remember about 2012? 

For many of us the Presidential election was the biggest thing that happened this year.  For the NH Labor News the statics back that up.  Our biggest winner of the year was a post written by NHLN Blogger Bill Brickley.  As a Letter Carrier (NALC) Bill explained the issues surrounding the funding problems and the fallacy that the USPS is going bankrupt.  It was not until Bill connected Mitt Romney to the USPS that the NHLN became a facebook phenomenon with over 6,000 ‘likes’.  The post titled, Romney working to eliminate the USPS (July 2012) racked up over 13,000 views in one day and over 30,000 views overall.

Not to be outdone, fellow Letter Carrier and labor advocate Wayne Alterisio chimed in with his post on why we need to ‘Occupy the Election‘.  While Wayne’s post did not generate the same numbers as Bill’s it still rounded out the top ten overall.

The New Hampshire Tea Party Experience

As I said we try to focus on the issues in New Hampshire first and foremost.  The extreme right wing agenda in the New Hampshire House of Representatives created lots of content.  With Speaker Bill O’Brien at the helm, labor was on the front of every newspaper on a weekly basis.  O’Brien started with his straight forward repeal of collective bargaining and ended up taking up Right To Work (for less) for a second time.  There are too many posts to talk about them all (see some here) but my favorite was when the Speaker took aim at the USPS.   He made the claim that ‘Union Thugs’ at the USPS were deliberately delaying his mail in an effort to railroad his election (read post).  As it turns out the Speaker tried to blame the postal employees for his mistake.

The local elections presented more chances for the NH Tea Party to show their true anti-worker position.  Well known Tea Partier, Ovide Lamontagne, decided to make a run for the states highest office.  As a candidate for NH Governor, Ovide received endorsements from many different organizations.  None of the endorsements were as vile to union members as the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Endorsement. This endorsement and his statement ‘I will be Walker on steroids‘ was all it took for union members in NH to mobilize against him.

The ABC also made another endorsement that caused a stir among union members in NH.  The ABC endorsed Congressman Frank Guinta. Guinta lead the charge in the US House to repeal Project Labor Agreements on Federal projects.  His anti-union advocacy even won him an award from the ABC.  Middle class families did not buy into Guinta’s Tea Party rhetoric either.  Now he is spending his last few days in Washington D.C.

ALEC Exposed

2012 was also the year that many Americans realized what an influence ALEC (the American Legislative Echange Council) has in State House’s throughout the country.  New Hampshire was no exception.

The NHLN worked closely with Granite State Progress to help bring awareness to ALEC’s influence.  GSP released their in depth research on ALEC in NH over the last 30 years.  This research reveled the connections between ALEC and Right to Work (for less), Voter ID, School Vouchers, and Union Wage Deductions. As Granite Staters became more aware the people of New Hampshire began to oppose ALEC and ALEC’s model legislation.  Throughout the year corporate sponsorship also began to distance themselves from ALEC.

Moving on

Now as we start 2013 I am hopeful that things will be different this year.  With the election of Maggie Hassan as Governor and a Democratic majority in the house, we can rest assured that Right To Work legislation will not pass.  This does not mean that we can relax in our due diligence on holding our elected officials responsible for their actions. We at the NHLN will continue to keep pressure on both sides to continue to do what is right for the middle class families in NH.

We Want To Hear From You

What was your favorite post from the NHLN this year?  What would you like to see more (or less) of in the coming year.  Go to our Facebook Page and let us know what you think.

 

NH Small Businesses Speak Out Against Fiscal Cliff

Every day we move closer to the so-called ‘Fiscal Cliff’.  The deadline that could instantly change the tax rates for every American.  Middle class Americans are being held hostage by the Republicans in the US House who refuse to raise the taxes on the ultra wealthy in order to reach a deal.

Many of the Republicans in Congress are concerned that tax increases on the ‘top 2%’ would end up hurting small businesses.  This is a complete fallacy.  ‘The Action’ in conjunction with other labor and community allies are encouraging Congress to reach an agreement to put ‘the middle class, over millionaires’.

Yesterday in a press conference in Concord small business owners came together to explain what the ‘fiscal cliff’ would mean to their businesses.  All of which agreed raising taxes on the middle class would hurt their businesses. Most of the concern from small business is that consumer spending would drop due to a higher cost of taxes.

Consumer spending is what drives our economy. It fuels our small businesses.  If the middle class does not have money to spend, or is afraid to spend it due to economic concerns, that is when small businesses are hurt.

In an interview with WBIN, Laurie Miller said “economy is turning a corner.”  She mentioned gas prices being lower and stock markets doing better.  Miller also send a message directly to our political leaders.  She said, “people need to get down and dirty and sit in a room and do what is best for this country instead of politics.”

I could not agree more.  Our elected officials are in Washington to represent us not corporations and personal agenda.  They should be acting on what is best for the country not 2% of the country.

The President and Speaker Boehner are set to meet over the weekend to try to resolve the ‘fiscal cliff’ before the sequestration cuts are triggered and the middle class tax cuts expire.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Be sure to check out all the interviews with NH small business owners who are urging Congress to take action before taxes go up on the middle class.

Sue McCoo, owner of the Capital Craftsman and Romance Jewelers

Laura Miller, owner of Imagination Village in Concord

Don Brueggeman, a manager at The Works Bakery Cafe

Lorrie Carey, owner of Marshall’s Flowers

The Action to urge lame ducks Bass, Guinta to get back to work

Here is your chance to encourage your Congressional Representatives to get back to work and the Bush Tax Cuts.

Activists working with The Action, a joint project of Granite State Progress and the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance for Action, will demonstrate outside the Concord office of lame duck Rep. Charlie Bass and the Manchester office of lame duck Rep. Frank Guinta tomorrow, Friday the 28th, to demand that the House get back to work to stop the country from going over the fiscal cliff and protect the middle class by maintaining the current tax rates for 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses.

The House, including lame ducks Bass and Guinta, remain on vacation while the Senate and Pres. Obama have returned to DC to try to find a solution to the on-going uncertainty created by the so-called ‘fiscal cliff.’ Activists from the Action will be urging Bass and Guinta to get back to work and help the president and Senate find a solution.  After the failure of Speaker Boehner’s ‘Plan B,’ the GOP leadership of the House has failed to offer any solutions while the Senate passed a bill over the summer to protect the middle-class. Speaker Boehner has refused to bring this bill to a vote.

The event will include a short speaking program and rally, followed by the building of snowmen to hold signs outside of the offices long after the action ends.

Who:             Activists with The Action, a joint project of NH Citizens’ Alliance for Action and Granite State Progress 

What:            Demonstration to urge Bass and Guinta back to work on fiscal cliff 

When:            Friday December 28th 12:00 noon  

Where:           Office of Congressman Bass, 114 North Main Street, Concord

Office of Congressman Guinta, 33 Lowell Street, Manchester

Citizens from across the state call Sen. Ayotte’s office urging her to reject Boehner’s so-called “Plan B”

Citizens from across the state call Sen. Ayotte’s office urging her to reject Boehner’s so-called “Plan B”

Activists working with The Action gathered in Concord to call, with an over 75% response rate

Concord – Activists working with the The Action, a joint project of Granite State Progress and the New Hampshire Citizens’ Alliance, spoke with  people from around the state asking them to help urge rejection of Boehner’s ‘Plan B’  – and nearly 80% of them of agreed to them to do just that. They agreed to call Senator Kelly Ayotte’s office in Washington, asking her to the so-called “Plan B” bill put forward by Republican House leadership.

“It seemed like everyone we called was eager to jump in and call,” said Melissa Bernardin, who captained the phone bank. “I’ve been involved in a lot of phone banks and I can’t remember a time when we got a more enthusiastic response – people are really fired up about the so-called ‘fiscal cliff.’”

The results speak for themselves – nearly 80% of the voters that The Action reached agreed to call Ayotte’s office and make their voices heard on Boehner’s so-called ‘Plan B.’

This measure, proposed by Speaker Boehner, would recklessly perpetuate tax cuts for the wealthiest few – and in fact would give millionaires an average $50,000 tax break – while at the same time raising taxes by an average of $1,000 on 25 million working families with children and students.

 

ABOUT THE ACTION: The Action NH is a joint project of NH Citizens Alliance for Action and Granite State Progress, and part of a national grassroots movement that demands Congress end the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest 2%—those making more than $250,000 per year. The Action is for critical investments that create and sustain jobs.

Changing the Conversation – Earned Benefits are NOT Entitlements

(Photo by Robert Neff)

Social Security and Medicare are not “entitlements” – except in the sense that everyone should be entitled to the money (including interest) that they deposit in a bank account.

Our grandparents, parents and now you and I pay into these programs with every check we receive.  Pull out your paystub and look.  You will see deductions for FICA and for Medicare.  Why are these programs being included in conversations surrounding the “Fiscal Cliff”? 

For decades now, right-wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation have been telling us we must “replace the culture of entitlements with one of mutual responsibility.”  But workers have always been responsible.  The only irresponsibility here belongs to Congress, who started borrowing from our fund  beginning in the Reagan years.

The Social Security Act of 1935 was a bipartisan accomplishment.  Politicians on both sides of aisle knew that disabled veterans returning from war, widows with dependent children and retirees to old to work, needed help.  This was not a government handout – it was a plan through which each employee would pay an income tax.  The money would be pooled together, and with interest, payments would be made to qualified recipients.

Why are some politicians trying to make us believe that Social Security is bankrupt?  The NH Sentinel Source.com reported in April 2011 that, “working Americans have paid so much in Social Security payroll taxes during the past three decades that they have built up a $2.6 trillion surplus in the account.”  Unfortunately, this account is now filled with “IOU’s” – and some politicians prefer to change the rules rather than looking at long-term solutions.

Senator Kelly Ayotte is one who believes that Social Security should be cut.  She voted for the Ryan Budet, which, according to the Kaiser Foundation, would harm 3.3 million people between the ages of 65-66.  This is not a reasonable answer or solution to the country’s fiscal situation.  Politicians should be protecting – not sacrificing – these programs that employees have paid into, all these decades.

It is up to all of us as American workers to ensure these programs will be there when we need them.  This begins with changing the conversation – and in particular, the wording.  Social Security and Medicare are not entitlements but Earned Benefits.  Our politicians must understand we will not give up on what is rightfully ours.

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