Granite Staters Ask Senator Ayotte To Take The Minimum Wage Challenge

Image from NH Alliance For Retired Americans

Image from NH Alliance For Retired Americans

This week members of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired American, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) challenged Senator Kelly Ayotte to live on minimum wage for a week.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour that leads many to make choices between feeding their families and filling their gas tanks. This is why millions of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

Senator Ayotte supported the GOP filibuster that blocked an “up and down” down of raising the minimum wage.

Activists argued that Senator Ayotte should spend a week in the shoes of a minimum wage worker by joining Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Tim Ryan, Barbara Lee, Mark Takano, and former Gov. Ted Strickland in taking the Minimum Wage Challenge and living on $77 for a week, the take home pay of a minimum wage worker.

“In 1992, my family and I fled our country, the former Yugoslavia, due to the civil war,” said Nina Mujakovic, small business owner. “Since 1998, my family and I have worked very hard to 77 dollars a weekgain back what we lost. We have obtained our American Dream and others need to have the opportunity to achieve theirs. An increase in minimum wage will help them along that path.”

Activist displayed what the reality of a $77.00 food basket looked like.

“Raising the minimum wage is a no-brainer in so many ways,” added Lucy Edward, a member of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Better incomes lead to a better standard of living, and better health, reducing health care costs. Better incomes lead to better funding for schools, leading to more educated young people who will again have better jobs and even start their own businesses. Raising the minimum wage, and other policies that support working families, are a positive feedback economic engine.”

At the event, Lucy Edwards highlighted how raising the minimum wage will help strengthen our Social Security system.

“Once you understand that the Social Security benefit is calculated on lifetime earnings, and that the Trust Fund is funded from current earnings, you can immediately see that if a person makes more money, not only do their benefits on retirement increase, but the amount they pay into the Social Security Trust Fund increases today. Raising the Federal minimum wage, passing the Paycheck Equity legislation through Congress, and funding projects that create jobs all bring immediate returns to the Trust Fund, extending its ability to pay full benefits into the future.”

You can read Lucy’s full statement at the NH Alliance For Retired Americans Blog.

Activists vowed to watch and wait to see if Senator Ayotte would accept the challenge to live on minimum wage for a week. They are hopeful that she will then understand the difficulty of getting by on $77 a week.

Will Senator Ayotte accept the Minimum Wage Challenge and take one week to see what it is like for the millions of Americans struggling to survive on the minimum wage?   Odds are against it, but with pressure from people like you, that could change.

Linda Tanner A Real Candidate For Working Families

One of the goals of the NH Labor News is to help Granite Staters get to know the candidates who are running for office in New Hampshire. We focus on candidates who support working families, particularly those candidates who are working to rebuild the middle class and strengthen our rights as workers.

This week’s focus is on State Senate District 8 candidate Linda Tanner.

Linda Tanner NH Senate Candidate District 8
Background Information for Rep. Linda Tanner

Linda is longtime community activist, teacher, and coach. Linda has dedicated her entire life to helping others and improving her community. For over 30 years as a teacher and coach at Kearsarge Regional High School, Linda worked tirelessly to help her students succeed in and out of the classroom. During her career at Kearsarge, she served as a Department Chair, worked with the School to Work program and developed a state championship tennis program. She was honored by the NH Interscholastic Athletic Association for her years of service and elected to the NH Coaches Hall of Fame for Girls Tennis. She received her Bachelor of Science in Health Education from East Stroudsburg University and her Masters from Dartmouth College. In 2012 she was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives from Sullivan County, District 9.

 

As a public school teacher, were you involved with your local union?

I was president of my local association, the Kearsarge Regional Education Association for three terms. I participated on many negotiation teams, worked with members on issues at the local level, and worked with management towards better working conditions. I am a lifetime member of the NEA NH and have their endorsement for this campaign.

 

As a former teacher, I am sure you have a lot to say about the current public education system. Can you give me two things you would like to see changed?  And are these changes that you can enact from the NH Senate?

Public education has been under attack by those who would privatize education, eliminate compulsory education, and eliminate teachers’ unions. I ran for my House seat because I wanted to stop these political maneuvers that were undermining what, I feel, is the most valuable institution for maintaining democracy.

I think there is a great deal we could do to promote and fund our public education system in New Hampshire. I definitely feel the move from the punitive No Child Left Behind to the Common Core is a move that will help students. The Common Core sets standards but does not dictate pedagogy, deals with progress instead of achievement or failure and is the right course towards improvement and consistency. Just like other programs, it needs to be tweaked and re-visited. I would like to see educators who are working in the schools as teachers have a larger input into programs and initiatives.

As a high school teacher, I worked with a school-to-work program for the average student to encourage them towards further education and give some basic instruction in job skills. I taught Health Occupations Co-op for several years. I feel this is a very valuable program that should be expanded to teach not only content but job skills such as being on time, being able to speak to people, shake hands, show respect for co-workers and your product.  Recently I visited the Job Corps Training facility in Vermont. We are currently building a facility in Manchester. This type of program, which targets low income youth, is vital to providing vocational training in a setting that also emphasizes those job skills. It gives an opportunity for young people to better their position and at the same time provide workers for key jobs in our State.

As a Senator I will work to help New Hampshire schools become a model system that supports innovation, is relevant to the world of work and careers, and maintains rigorous standards for all school children.

 

You are running for the NH Senate Seat in District 8 that is currently held by Sen. Bob Odell. In what ways are you similar or different from Sen. Odell?

I found my voting aligned in many areas with Senator Odell.  I voted to repeal the death penalty, expand Medicaid, and deal with the issues around the Medical Enhancement Tax. However, Senator Odell voted against returning the period for teachers to be fired without cause or hearing from 5 to 3 years, voted against medical marijuana, and voted for the repeal of automatic continuation requirement for public employees’ collective bargaining agreements. These are three examples of bills he opposed that I would have supported.

IMG_0067This Senate seat has been, under Senator Odell, a moderate vote in a 13 to 11 Republican majority. My election to the seat will balance the parties at 12 all, which would make a major shift – especially on Labor issues. Medicaid expansion has a clause that requires renewal during this next session. Both Republican candidates have stated that they will try to repeal the Medicaid expansion, fight ‘Obama Care,’ and make NH a ‘Right to Work State’ as a priority. If either of the candidates opposing me wins this seat: Medicaid will be repealed, leaving thousands without medical insurance; and ‘Right to Work” for less will be passed along with other legislation that will hurt working men and women.

 

The current minimum wage is $7.25 and the GOP-led legislature repealed the NH Minimum Wage law. What would you do as Senator to help push NH toward a real living wage? Last year, one proposal was to raise the state minimum wage over two years to $9.00/hour. Do you think $9.00 is the right number? Or do you think it should be $10.10 as the POTUS is pushing, or even higher? 

First, we need to reinstate a NH Minimum wage that was repealed under the Republican leadership of Speaker O’Brien. I served on the House Labor Committee in this past term. The bill that was introduced should be reintroduced in this next term. This bill offered modest increases over time and originally had a provision for further increases based on economic indicators. I think we need to have a bill that will pass both The House and Senate. I hope to be one of those Senators to move this piece of legislation forward.

Do you have any legislation that you would like to see or have ideas on proposing if you are elected?  

I want to defend against the so called ‘right to work’ bills. If those bills pass it will let non-union workers benefit from our hard work in negotiations without paying their fair share. It’s a union-busting tactic.

I want to ensure fairness in workers’ compensation laws for those hurt on the job – so if they can’t work, they will still be able to keep their homes and survive. At the same time, I want to see how we can reduce the rate for employers. I want to establish a minimum wage and increase it above the present $7.25 so everyone has the dignity of a decent wage. I want to protect workers from pay cards and title loans that are stripping away hard earned money with excessive fees and astronomical interest rates. I want to offer solutions for the current lack of affordable and accessible elderly and work force housing.

 

If you could pick one issue from your campaign to highlight, what issue would that be?  

I am a person who is running for this Senate seat not to be someone special or advance a radical agenda but to work on legislation that will help the working men and women of this State. I taught for 35 years in the NH public schools and over that time, you see the communities, the State, through the lives of your students. I know the successes, the struggles, and the heartbreaking issues many of our citizens face. I want to be their voice in the Legislature.

 

Why should the labor community support your campaign?  

I am a lifelong union member. As a teacher for 35 years and continuing through retirement, I have been a member of the National Education Association. During my years at Kearsarge Regional High School, I was President of my local for three terms. I served on many negotiations and collective bargaining teams working for high quality education, good working conditions, livable salaries and benefits.  I proudly served as a State Representative for Sullivan County and as a member of the House Labor Committee.  I have the experience, knowledge and the political will to help the working men and women our State.

 

What can people do to help your campaign?

I can’t win this election alone. The opposition is well-funded and as committed to winning this seat as we are. I need your help to win this election. I need your vote and I need you to talk with family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to urge them to vote for me. Also, with this large, rural district, we need funds for mailings, ads, and signs. Any amount you can send to us will help us get our message out.

Please see our website lindatanner.org for more information

 

 

 

 

Watch Scott Brown Dance Around The Minimum Wage Yet Again

 

Dance Magic Dance!

That’s all I could think of, after watching a video of Scott Brown dancing his way around questions raised by New Hampshire voters.

Brown used to be the junior Senator from Massachusetts, until Elizabeth Warren beat him.  Now he’s up here in New Hampshire, running for Senate again, and recently appeared at a “Town Hall” style gathering in Franklin.

Janice Kelble, an APWU member and resident of Franklin, asked Brown where he stands on raising the minimum wage.  “Speaking of struggling working Americans, what’s your position on increasing the federal minimum wage after all these years?” she asked.

Cue the music, and watch Scott dance his way around actually answering the question.

Didn’t quite catch it? This is what Brown said:

“Something I’ve– In a prior existence, I supported an increase, that being said – what’s the key to an increase in the minimum wage? Well you can’t have the Federal government mandating and dictating all the time.  What you need to have is everybody at the table.  You need to have the job creators the people who are actually signing the front of the check at the table.  Now is this something that should be periodically reviewed, absolutely.  I’ve said that publicly and have felt that.  And as a result of those discussions where everybody was at the table, I actually voted to increase the minimum wage because it was agreed upon by everybody – they worked, they sat, they figured it out.  By mandating and not including our job creators it’s not something that is effective.  We need to have not only the employees but the job creators at the table to make determination and if in fact something comes up I hope to be at the table to have that opportunity to be part of that conversation and then we can make the determination as to what’s an appropriate amount.”

His response was very similar to the canned responses he gave to other NH voters at an event in Concord earlier this year.  I will give him this: he is consistent in avoiding actually answering questions on where he stands on raising the minimum wage.

Kelble tried again, with a more direct question:

I understood that you that you voted for increasing it in the past but I don’t understand what your position is now.  You kind of talked around job creators but you didn’t talk about your position on minimum wage.”

Brown: “Yeah I did actually.”  (We beg to differ.)

Then he tried again.  (Second dance, same as the first!  Play it again Sam.)

Got it, this time?  What he said (and no, this is not a cut-and-paste):

Let me say it again.  I actually said that we need job creators and employees at the table to make those decisions so everything’s on the table because when you look at the issue of minimum wage what are the challenges right now facing people who actually are hired.  You have right now the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, we have a state profit tax here in our state, you have Obamacare and the tentacles of that and the amazing challenges that are coming in after the election with the business mandate.  And then you throw in the high cost of energy.” 

(FYI, there is a significant difference between “corporate tax rates” and the effective tax rate, which is what corporations actually pay.  But that is another post.)

“Scott Brown is ducking New Hampshire voters, refusing to answer questions, and hiding his opposition to a responsible increase in the minimum wage,” said NH Democratic Party Communications Director Julie McClain. “Scott Brown has been cashing in on his Senate candidacy and lining his own pockets with Wall Street cash he collected from speaking to a hedge fund conference. But when it comes to answering New Hampshire’s families’ questions on the minimum wage, he runs and hides. That makes him wrong for New Hampshire.”

Refusing to answer a simple question does not make you good candidate, it makes you look like an imbecile.

Raising the minimum wage would affect over 100,000 Granite Staters.

Why is it that… what was “good policy” for Scott Brown when he represented Massachusetts… is not good enough to even have a position on now? (Now that he’s stumping around New Hampshire.)

I’d ask him why he seems to have changed positions (along with his residence address), but I figure I’d just see that same dance one more time.

Have a favorite Dance GIF that’s appropriate here?   Leave in the comments.

Worker Wins Update: Increased Wages and Organizing Successes Highlight Banner Month

WASHINGTON, DC – From increases in the minimum wage to successful organizing efforts at some of America’s largest companies, workers have led notable wins over the recent months.

The following are a sample of victories won by workers:

Organizing Victories

AFSCME Sets Organizing Goal, Almost Doubles It: AFSCME President Lee Saunders announced that the union has organized more than 90,000 workers this year, nearly doubling its 2014 goal of 50,000.

Tennessee Auto Workers to Create New Local Union at VW PlantAuto workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee announced the formation of UAW Local 42, a new local that will give workers an increased voice in the operation of the German car maker’s US facility. UAW organizers continue gain momentum, as the union has the support of nearly half of the plant’s 1,500 workers, which would make the union the facility’s exclusive collective bargaining agent.

California Casino Workers Organize: Workers at the new Graton Resort & Casino voted to join Unite HERE Local 2850 of Oakland, providing job security for 600 gambling, maintenance, and food and beverage workers.

Virgin America Flight Attendants Vote to Join TWU: Flight attendants at Virgin America voted to join the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), citing the success of TWU in bargaining fair contracts for Southwest Airlines flight attendants.

Maryland Cab Drivers Join National Taxi Workers Alliance: Cab drivers in Montgomery County, Maryland announced their affiliation with the National Taxi Workers Alliance, citing low wages and unethical behavior by employers as their reason to affiliate with the national union.

Retail and Restaurant Workers Win Big, Organize Small: Small groups of workers made big strides as over a dozen employees at a Subway restaurant in Bloomsbury, NJ voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Meanwhile, Cosmetics and Fragrance workers at a Macy’s store in Massachusetts won an NLRB ruling that will allow them to vote on forming a union.

Minnesota Home Care Workers Take Key Step to Organize: Home health care workers in Minnesota presented a petition to state officials that would allow a vote on whether they will form a union for more than 26,000 eligible workers.

New York Television Writers-Producers Join Writers Guild: Writers and producers from Original Media, a New York City-based production company, voted to join the Writers Guild of America, citing low wages, long work schedules, and no health care.

Raising Wages Victories

Fast Food Workers Win in New NLRB Ruling: The National Labor Relations Board ruled that McDonald’s could be held jointly responsible with its franchises for labor violations and wage disputes. The NLRB ruling makes it easier for workers to organize individual McDonald’s locations, and could result in better pay and conditions for workers.

Workers Increasingly Have Access to Paid Sick Leave: Cities such as San Diego, CA and Eugene, OR have passed measures mandating paid sick leave, providing workers with needed flexibility and making workplaces safer for all.

Student Athletes See Success, Improved Conditions: College athletic programs are strengthening financial security measuresfor student athletes in the wake of organizing efforts by Northwestern University football players. In addition, the future is bright as the majority of incoming college football players support forming a union.

San Diego Approves Minimum Wage Hike, Portland, ME Starts Process: Even as Congress has failed to raise the minimum wage, localities throughout the country have delivered action. San Diego will raise the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2017, and the Portland, MEMinimum Wage Advisory Committee will consider an increase to their minimum wage which would take effect in 2015.

AFL-CIO President Trumka On The 5th Anniversary of Last Minimum Wage Increase

Today is a reminder of what is possible with just an ounce of political will.  If our leaders have the courage, they can lift millions of hardworking Americans out of poverty by raising the minimum wage. It’s a tragedy that workers have been trapped in a poverty-level minimum wage for five years. It must not go a day longer.

We are working harder than ever, while our wages are flat or falling. Over the past five years, the cost of living has continued to increase across the country, while the federal minimum wage has stayed flat. Raising the minimum wage is a critical and simple way to address a crucial underlying weakness in our economy. It will create jobs, grow our economy and increase the purchasing power of millions of workers.

The movement to raise wages is happening all around us. States are doing it. Cities, counties and little towns are doing it. Smart business owners are doing it. It’s time for Congress to get it done.

Working People Score Major Victories Throughout The Country

Working people scored major victories over the last several months, organizing new workplaces and winning fights to raise wages.

The following are a sample of some these victories:

Organizing Victories

Texas Machinists Win Back-to-Back Organizing Drives: Union growth continues in Texas as members from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers successfully organized their second consecutive workplace in Texas this month adding nearly 1,000 new members.

Point Park University Faculty Organize Hundreds to Gain Benefits: Over 300 part-time faculty members at Point Park University in Pittsburgh now have access to essential benefits and protections thanks to a successful vote to join the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers (AFA-USW).

Missouri EMS Workers Win Organizing Fight: An overwhelming majority of Emergency Medical Service (EMS) professionals in Independence, Missouri voted to join EMS Workers United-AFSCME, strengthening the local union and providing essential protections for Missouri workers.

Raising Wages Victories

Massachusetts Workers Help Push Minimum Wage Hike: Working people in Massachusetts scored a big win as Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017.

Newark, NJ Paid Sick-Leave Ordinance Goes Into Effect: A new paid sick-leave law in Newark, NJ will allow full and part-time employees to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick-leave per year. Similar paid sick-leave laws have passed in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Momentum Builds for Minimum Wage Hike in Nebraska: Workers in Nebraska put a measure on the 2014 ballot to raise the minimum wage to $9 and hour by 2016.

California Workers Benefit from Minimum Wage Increase: An increase in California’s minimum wage to $9 an hour has taken effect, with the wage set to increase again in 2016 to $10 an hour. Meanwhile, efforts continue in Los Angeles to increase the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour.

Community Victories

Philadelphia Building-Trades Go to Work with New Housing Deal: A deal between Philadelphia building-trades unions and the Philadelphia Housing Authority will put people to work in union jobs while creating new affordable housing for Pennsylvanians.

Letter Carriers Complete Successful Food Drive: Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers completed their annual food drive, collecting more than 72 million pounds of food for families in need.

Union Volunteers Help Aspiring Americans Earn Citizenship: On June 28th at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, DC, volunteers helped nearly 100 people through the U.S. citizenship process, enabling them to file paperwork with the help of legal and immigration experts.

SEIU’s Henry: Seattle Workers Show the Way by Winning $15/Hour Wage Floor

Image by Wonderland Flickr

Image by Wonderland Flickr

WASHINGTON, DC - After the Seattle City Council voted to lift the minimum wage in Seattle to $15 per hour, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“Like working Americans across the country, the 2.1 million members of SEIU are tremendously inspired by today’s breakthrough vote by the Seattle City Council to lift the wage floor there to $15 per hour. Congratulations to everyone in the coalition who fought to make this victory possible.

“We are all better off when working-class families have enough money in their pockets to pay for their basic needs and put money back into their neighborhoods to strengthen their community.

“This landmark victory happened because fast food workers stood with janitors, nurses, hospital workers, child care workers and home care aides to fight for wages that boost the economy. They stuck together, went on strike, and made their voices heard. They spoke out to say that it’s wrong that ordinary people work hard but live paycheck to paycheck so that irresponsible corporations can set new records for profits.

“This victory in the Seattle shows the way for workers in other cities who are fighting to lift their local minimum wage rates. The courage of fast food workers is inspiring for other people working in service jobs who are fighting to boost pay standards across an industry.

“It is a huge step forward as workers across the country build a movement to make sure that fast-growing service jobs pay people enough to become the foundation of the next American middle class. Together we will fight to build an economy that works for everyone, with broadly-shared prosperity for all of us.”

SEIU’s President Henry And 100 Workers Arrested at McDonald’s Shareholders’ Meeting

SEIU Protest TWITTER

Image from @SEIU on Twitter

WASHINGTON, DC – Following her arrest at the McDonald’s shareholders’ meeting outside of Chicago, Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement:

“Earlier today, I was arrested outside of McDonald’s world headquarters alongside more than 100 McDonald’s workers from across the country because we engaged in a peaceful, nonviolent act of civil disobedience.

“I was arrested because I want McDonald’s workers to know that 2.1 million members of SEIU — home care workers, child care workers, adjunct professors, security officers, hospital workers and many others — proudly stand with them.

“We came to McDonald’s world headquarters because this is where the real decisions are made. It’s time for the McDonald’s corporation to stop hiding behind its franchisees and to stop pretending that it can’t boost pay for the people who make and serve their food. It’s time for this company to stop systematically stealing its employees’ wages. McDonald’s is the world’s second largest private sector employer. It is extraordinarily profitable. It has an obligation to pay the people who run its stores enough to afford their basic needs.

“Members from across our union tell me over and over that they fully support fast food workers’ call for a $15 wage floor and their right to form a union without retaliation. When these workers win, they will boost their families’ purchasing power and that will strengthen the economy for all of us. They will show that workers can stick together and fight to make sure they are paid a fair share of the profits they create.”

Granite State Rumblings: 1 in 5 Children Are In Poverty, Now Is The Time To Raise The Minimum Wage

Child in poverty (Image Tim Grable FLIKR)Right now, more than 46 million people are living in poverty in America, including more than 1 in 5 children; another 60 million people are just a single hardship away from falling into poverty. This is the sad news from a new collaboration of poverty experts called TalkPoverty.org.

Here are the numbers:

  • U.S. poverty (less than $18,284 for a family of three; less than $23,492 for a family of four): 46.5 million people, 15 percent of U.S.
  • Poorest age group: children, more than 34 percent of all people in poverty are children.
  • Children in poverty: 16.1 million, 21.8 percent of all children under 18.
  • Poverty rate among children in single parent families: 42 percent.
  • Number of married parents in poverty (raising minor children): 5.8 million.
  • Number of never married parents living in poverty: 4.6 million.
  • Educational attainment of adults in poverty: approximately 70 percent have a high school degree or above.
  • Costs of child poverty: $550 billion per year, or 3.8 percent of GDP.
  • Households without sufficient net worth to subsist at the poverty level for three months in the absence of income, 2011: 25.4 percent.
  • Jobs in the US paying less than $35,100 a year: 50 percent.
  • Jobs in the US paying below the poverty line for a family of four (less than $23,000 annually): 25 percent.
  • Poverty-level wages, 2011: 28 percent of workers.
  • Economic gains since 2009: 95 percent to top 1%; 60% to top .1% (people with annual incomes of more than $1.9 million.)
  • Federal minimum wage: $7.25 ($2.13 for tipped workers—not raise since 1991)
  • Federal minimum wage if indexed to inflation for past 40 years: $10.86.
  • Federal minimum wage if it kept pace with productivity gains since 1968: $18.67
  • Hourly wage needed to lift a family of four above poverty line, 2011: $11.06

Source: http://talkpoverty.org/basics/

In April the United States Senate had an opportunity to do something positive for the millions of children living in poverty and their hard working low-income parents, by supporting Senator Tom Harkins’ (D-Iowa) bill to Raise the Minimum Wage. But they failed when they could not reach the  60 votes needed to even debate the measure. Both Senator Ayotte of NH and Senator Collins of Maine were among the 42 Senators casting votes to quash the debate.

And over in the House of Representatives, leadership has shown little interest in giving a vote to the bill sponsored by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.)

Economists and other researchers investigating the minimum wage agree that raising the minimum wage would reduce poverty. That’s the conclusion of a major paper by UMass Amherst economist Arin Dube  titled “Minimum Wages and the Distribution of Family Incomes.”

A February 2013 poll conducted by PEW Research found the following:  Public Support for Raising the Federal Minimum Wage

  • 71 percent of Americans support a federal minimum wage increase to $9.00 per hour including
    • 87 percent of Democrats
    • 68 percent of Independents
    • 50 percent of Republicans

A March 2014 report by the Center for American Progress found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and tying it to inflation, could reduce federal spending on food stamp benefits by $46 billion over 10 years. Also, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that by putting more income in low-wage workers’ pockets, the higher minimum wage would cut back their reliance on public assistance, to the tune of $4.6 billion annually. That amounts to roughly 6 percent of current food stamp spending, or about a tenth of 1 percent of the federal budget.

So, if economists and researchers conclude that raising the minimum wage would reduce poverty and the dependence on government assistance programs, and 71 percent of Americans support raising the minimum wage, why has it met such resistance from some of our elected leaders?

During a February 2014 town hall meeting in Cheshire County, Senator Ayotte was asked if she would support an increase to the minimum wage.

Senator Ayotte responded that her concern with the federal government raising the minimum wage is that it would cut young people out of the workforce who seek entry-level positions. Instead of increasing the minimum wage, she would like to see Congress work together on policies that would put the country in a position to have better jobs.

Would raising the minimum wage cut young people out of the workforce who seek entry-level positions?

No. A recent rigorous study by economists at the University of California examining the impact of minimum wage increases on teen unemployment found that even minimum wage increases implemented during times of high unemployment – such as the recessions of 1990-1991, 2001 and 2007-2009 – did not result in job losses for teens or slow employment growth.

Critics like to suggest that the last increase in the federal minimum wage in 2009 caused a spike in teen unemployment.  But as a NELP report demonstrated in 2011, teen unemployment rises faster than adult joblessness during every recession – whether or not the minimum wage goes up. This is because teens are the last hired, and so are always the first fired when the economy shrinks and adults compete with them for scarce jobs.

Senator Collins was hoping to find support from fellow Republicans to support a minimum wage increase under the proposed $10.10 per hour, but was unable to do so.

“I’m confident that the votes are not there to pass a minimum wage increase up to $10.10 therefore it seems to me to make sense for senators on both sides of the aisle to get together and see if we can come up with a package that would help low-income families with causing the kind of job loss that the Congressional Budget Office has warned against,” she said.

What impact would raising the minimum wage have on our struggling economy and businesses?

Raising the minimum wage right now is more important than ever. Minimum wage increases stimulate the economy by increasing consumer spending, without adding to state and federal budget deficits. Consumer spending drives 70 percent of the economy, and increasing demand is key for jumpstarting production and re-hiring. A raise in the minimum wage puts money into the pockets of low-income consumers, who immediately spend it at local businesses.  The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, would generate $22 billion in new economic activity in communities across the country. Strengthening the minimum wage can help build a sustainable economic recovery – without increasing costs for taxpayers.

And more families than ever are relying on low-wage and minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. This is because job losses during the Great Recession hit higher-wage sectors like construction, manufacturing and finance hard, while new job growth has been concentrated disproportionately in low-wage industries. Fully 58 percent of all jobs created in the post-recession were low-wage occupations, according to a 2012 report by the National Employment Law Project. This is not a short term trend – six of the top ten growth occupations projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for next decade are low-wage jobs, including home health aides, customer service representatives, food preparation and service workers, personal and home care aides, retail salespersons, and office clerks. Raising the minimum wage would boost pay scales in these types of jobs where millions of Americans today spend their careers.

The most rigorous economic research over the past 20 years shows that raising the minimum wage boosts worker pay without causing job losses – even in regions where the economy is weak or unemployment is high. A recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research reviews the past two decades of research and concludes that raising the minimum wage had no adverse impact on employment.

What can you do and what is the message?
Make phone calls, send e-mails, apply pressure.

Create better jobs Senator Ayotte. Build a package to support low-income families, Senator Collins. But at the same time, dignify work for those who want to work, by making it pay. No person working 40 hours a week or more, should be earning poverty wages.

 GROWING UP GRANITE

Those who know me well will tell you that I am passionate when it comes to the subject of poverty, especially child poverty. I am privileged to work for an organization that allows me to invest my time and energy in advocating for children who live in poverty, working on solutions to poverty and the programs that serve our most vulnerable population, and educating our elected officials and the public about the hazards of growing up in poverty.

Sometimes I go to bed wondering why this work has chosen me as there are many days that I feel burned out and frustrated and powerless. But then I see the smiling face of a child in a Head Start program when he proudly shows me how he has learned to write his name, or I listen to a mom who is struggling to find a job that will pay her enough to keep food on the table and a roof over the head of her children, and the fire ignites once again.

There are a lot of great people who work on this issue. They proudly wear their orange badges in the Legislative Office Building and State House of New Hampshire. They sit in committee hearings, testify on bills, call and meet with legislators and the Governor’s office, meet and strategize with others who are working on the issues, and rally the troops.

Others do their work outside of the legislative process, working in the departments, agencies, and programs that serve children and families. Their dedication to those families and their willingness to share their knowledge with advocates and others is essential to the process.

As the New Hampshire legislative session comes to a close, I want to take this opportunity to thank them for the work they do. I also want to thank all of you who have answered our requests to write letters, call your representatives, talk to your friends, co-workers, and neighbors and have gotten involved. We could not do our work without your assistance.

We also could not have done our jobs without the voices of those who have been willing to tell their personal stories. They are the true heroes.

They often open themselves up to stereotyping and mockery from some of the people who have been elected to serve them. Their voices are important and necessary, as they speak with the knowledge and urgency that an advocate who has not walked a mile in their shoes can even approximate.

The Legislature has formed several study committees that will be looking at some of the programs and issues that affect vulnerable populations and we will be sharing the information with you as they progress this summer.

One of the issues that will be studied this summer is the use of Electronic Benefit (EBT) cards. Three bills from this session are being wrapped into this study, SB 203, HB 1213, and HB 1299.  It is our hope that the voices of those who rely upon these programs will have an opportunity to be heard in these committee meetings as well.

In Voting Against The Minimum Wage Increase, The Only Person NH Sen Andy Sanborn Is Voting For Is Andy Sanborn

As an elected representative of the people, State Senator Andy Sanborn, should be working for the people, however his vote appear to tell a different story.

Last week the NH Senate voted against raising the minimum wage to $9.00 over the next two years.  Senator Sanborn spoke out against the minimum wage increase as a “job killer.” Sanborn stated, “How many jobs are going to exist in the State of NH, if there are no more employers?” Sanborn even went as far to say that raising the minimum wage ignites a “war on employers.

You can see his entire statement in this video:

Senator Sanborn knows a lot about how business works, so that means we should listen to him on this right?

Sanborn currently owns “The Draft” a sports bar where servers make the NH tipped minimum wage ($3.13 per hour), and other workers make a little more than minimum wage.

Personally I do not understand how Senator Sanborn did not at least declare a conflict of interest on the minimum wage vote, seeing that one could interpret his vote as protecting his own profits rather than representing his constituents (keep in mind 76% of Granite Staters support the legislation).  That is because Senator Sanborn is really doing what he does best, looking out for himself.

In late 2004 and early 2005 Andy and his wife (Rep) Laurie Sanborn were the owners of Banagan’s, a chain of bike and ski shops throughout New Hampshire.  The ultimate small business owner’s dream, a growing business and expanding to multiple stores.  Except that in 2005, Sanborn was forced into court after Banagan’s filed bankruptcy.   Sanborn and his company left his supplier holding the bag for over $600,000 dollars in claims.  The settlement allowed Sanborn to use the money from his “going out of business sale” to pay off part of his business debts.

The Concord Monitor reported on the story in 2008 and spoke with Jack White, the Nashua lawyer who took Banagan’s to bankruptcy court on behalf of four equipment dealers.

“White isn’t convinced that even Sanborn believed he could pay all his debts with a closing sale. He said he thinks Sanborn’s main goal was, instead, to make enough money in the closing sale to pay off his bank loan, for which he was personally liable. Once the case landed in bankruptcy court, White said, the bank had to stand in line for payment along with the other companies owed money. And Sanborn became responsible for any part of the bank loan left unpaid.” (emphasis added)

The Concord Monitor also reported that Banagan’s would only end up paying $31,000 of the over $600,000 they owed to equipment suppliers.

Thankfully Banagan’s had enough money in the bank to pay back the personal loans Andy took out for the business, otherwise he would not have been able to open The Draft restaurant.

Prior to the opening of The Draft, Sanborn said he spent over $100,000 on televisions alone.

Somehow Sanborn had $100,000 to buy televisions for his new business, but only had $31,000 to pay his previous business suppliers.

Now the Sanborns, a State Senator, and a State Rep (wife Laurie), are vehemently opposed to raising the minimum wage knowing full well an increase would effect their businesses bottom line.

The Sanborns are doing what is best for them, and ignoring what the people of New Hampshire want and agree is best for the state.