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Democrats In Washington Push For $12 Minimum Wage By 2020 and Receive Praise From Labor

12 by 2020 (Patty Murray)

Bill introduction by Sen. Patty Murray. Image from Sen Patty Murray on Twitter.

(WASHINGTON, DC) –  “We are introducing this bill because we believe hard work should pay off,” said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) as she introduced a bold new plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour by the year 2020. “Let’s help more families make ends meet, expand economic opportunity, and grow our economy from the middle out.”  A matching House bill was introduced by Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.).

According to Economic Policy Institute analysis, “37.7 million workers would benefit from this increase, including 21.1 million women. 37 percent of African American workers and 40 percent of Hispanic workers would receive wage increases. 90 percent of workers who would be affected by the Raise the Wage Act are 20 years old or older, 27.6 percent have children, and half have total family incomes of less than $40,000 a year. 47 percent of workers who would be affected by the Raise the Wage Act have at least some college experience. Over the last 40 years, the federal minimum wage has lost more than 30 percent of its buying power; if it had kept pace with the increased cost of living, the minimum wage would currently be $10.80 per hour.”

After the bill was introduced, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement:

“Today’s introduction of new minimum wage legislation represents significant progress in the powerful, collective movement to raise wages. It’s inspiring to see the momentum generated by working people across the country influence some of the largest corporations and the most powerful political forces.

Raising wages for working people is the defining issue of our time and workers are capturing and expanding it. While we strongly encourage Congress to support this effort, we must remember that a minimum wage increase alone will not remedy decades of failed policies that have only benefitted those at the very top. The true measure of progress must include opposing Fast Track and bad trade deals and a dedication to expanding the rights of workers to collectively bargain.”

In response to the new legislation, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, released the following statement:

“The Raise the Wage Act would boost our economy and strengthen our families. This bill would raise wages for more than 37 million people: 1 in 4 workers, 1 in 3 wage-earning women and more than 1 in 3 working people of color. Higher wages will help ensure that no one who works full time lives in poverty, and help working people provide a better life for their children and their families.

“This bill shows that working men and women, standing up and speaking out, are being heard. They’re taking their case to the streets and to the ballot box for an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.

“Low wages are the crisis of our time. To solve this crisis, our country needs a minimum wage that families can live on, and workers must be free to join together in a union and fight for the higher pay they deserve. I applaud Senator Murray  and Congressman Scott  for their leadership.”

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)  is an original cosponsor of the Raise the Wage Act, would increase wages for nearly thirty eight million Americans. The legislation would be particularly beneficial to New Hampshire, which does not have a state minimum wage law and instead relies on the current federal minimum wage.

“No one who is working full time should live in poverty,” Shaheen said. “Hard working people and families in New Hampshire and across the country are long overdue for a raise. Nationally, nearly two-thirds of minimum wage earners are women, and in New Hampshire seventy percent of minimum wage earners are women. I hope my colleagues in the Senate will join me in supporting the Raise the Wage Act so that we can help lift families out of poverty and improve our economy.”

Of course NH’s other Senator, Kelly Ayotte has opposed an increase in the minimum wage in the past.

“Kelly Ayotte has consistently voted against a minimum wage increase that would help working families make ends meet,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary (see references at the bottom)


. “Men and women who are willing to work hard for a living deserve a livable wage that doesn’t leave them and their families struggling, and Kelly Ayotte is going to have a hard time defending her callous votes against a minimum wage increase.”

Raising the federal minimum wage to $12.00 would result in an average annual raise of $2,800 for more than 147,000 Granite Staters. The Raise the Wage Act would put more than $411 million into New Hampshire worker’s pockets, improving financial security for families and boosting the economy.

The Raise the Wage Act would also index the minimum wage to the national median wage starting in 2021. It would also eliminate the tipped minimum wage by gradually raising the cash wage over ten years from the current $2.13 per hour to match to the new regular minimum wage of $12 per hour.

Almost everyone agrees that something needs to be done and that we must raise the minimum wage. The question is, is $12 by 2020 enough of a raise?

“We are encouraged to see that our elected leaders are beginning to hear our calls for change and discussing wages and inequality in our country,” said Sacramento Walmart worker Shannon Henderson. “While $12 by 2020 would be a good first step, it still falls short of what working Americans need to raise our families. At just $10 an hour with no guarantee of full-time hours, I’m struggling today to care for my two young children. I simply can’t wait until 2020 for a decent wage. That’s why we’ll keep standing up for $15 an hour and access to full-time consistent schedules at Walmart.”


2014: Ayotte Voted Against Bill To Increase The Federal Minimum Wage To $10.10. [Vote 117, 4/30/14]

  • Increasing The Federal Minimum Wage To $10.10 Would Have Meant A Raise For More Than 100k Workers In New Hampshire. Increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 would mean a raise for 113,000 New Hampshire workers. [Economic Policy Institute, 12/19/13]

2015: Ayotte Voted Against An Increase In The Minimum Wage. [Vote 93, 3/26/15]

Over 5,000 Rally In Boston In The #FightFor15, Kicking Worldwide Day Of Action On Wages And Inequality

Massachusetts Kicked Off the Largest Ever
Global Mobilization of Underpaid Workers Protest on Six Continents;
Adjunct Professors, Home Care, Child Care, Transportation, Fast Food, Janitorial, and Walmart Workers to Rally Coast to Coast.

Thousands of underpaid workers frustrated by low wages rallied, walked out in strike, and marched throughout the city of Boston yesterday to call for higher wages and to kick off a global wave of protests against wage inequality. Two-and-a-half years ago Boston was one of the first cities in the Fight for $15 calling for higher wages for fast food workers.  The growing movement has spread across the country, and around the world, and now includes low wage workers from various occupations like home healthcare workers and adjunct professors. Boston became the launching point for the largest ever global mobilization of the underpaid when workers, students, and their supporters took to the streets on Tuesday.

(Time Lapse Video of March by @SEIU)

 

The two-and-half-year-old Fight for $15 has continued to grow on local college campuses as well.  Students from Boston University, Northeastern University, UMass-Boston, UMass-Amherst, Roxbury Community College, Harvard University, Emerson College, Tufts University, Clark University, Lesley University, Boston College, and Brandeis University joined with low wage workers to rally for higher wages.

 

College students are not the only ones who are feeling the pain of low wage jobs, many of the adjunct faculty at these colleges are paid just above minimum wage and are forced to live in poverty. In May of 2014 the Boston Globe reported:

“Nearly 15,000 contingent and adjunct faculty teach in greater Boston. Many work at multiple schools, trying to make enough to support themselves and their families on low pay with no benefits. All have advanced degrees, and many live at or below the poverty level.”

This is why adjunct professors from across the city joined the march and spoke out for higher wages. “We are supposed to be the college professors raising up the next generation,” said one adjunct professor in the video posted by Faculty Forward.

 

A recent Brookings Institution study shows that Boston is the third most inequitable city in the nation, with the top 5 percent of households earning 15 times what the bottom twenty make. Massive income disparity is badly hurting this country and on April 14, low wage workers and their allies will take action to address the growing wage inequality crisis.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts is leading the nation with three groundbreaking pieces of legislation intended to lift up low wage workers.

Home care workers bill

  • Provides $15 an hour to nearly 20,000 workers who provide home care to seniors and people with disabilities through “agency” home care employers.
  • Requires annual cost reporting from home care agencies, including detailed financial disclosures of executive compensation and overhead costs.

Fast food and big box retail workers bill

  • Requires big box retail and fast food corporations to pay their employees at least $15 an hour by 2018.
  • Applies to hourly wage workers at corporate fast food chains and Big Box stores over 25,000 square feet and with 200 or more employees in Massachusetts.

Tipped wage bill

  • Gradually eliminates the subminimum wage for tipped workers.
  • Mandates that after 2022, tipped employees would have the same hourly minimum wage as workers in all other industries in Massachusetts.

Following the global kick off event in Boston on April 14, protests will stretch around the globe the next day, with demonstrations expected in more than 200 U.S. cities, 100 international cities, in 40 countries, and on six continents, from Sao Paolo to Tokyo.  Follow the worldwide events on twitter at the #FightFor15 hashtag

Below are images from yesterday’s rally in Boston, provided by SEIU 1199 Massachusetts. All images were taken by Rose Lincoln, 1199SEIU.  More images and tweets of support for Massachusetts workers can be found on the #WageAction hashtag and on Youtube.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leo W Gerard: The High Cost Of Fighting For $15

2014 Fast Food Strike NYC (FLIKR Annette Bernhardt)

2014 Fast Food Strike NYC (FLIKR Annette Bernhardt)

This is no plea for pity for corporate kingpins like Walmart and McDonald’s inundated by workers’ demands for living wages.

Raises would, of course, cost these billion-dollar corporations something. More costly, though, is the price paid by minimum-wage workers who have not received a raise in six years.  Even more dear is what these workers have paid for their campaign to get raises. Managers have harassed, threatened and fired them.

Despite all that, low-wage workers will return to picket lines and demonstrations Wednesday in a National Day of Action in the fight for $15 an hour. The date is 4 – 15. These are workers who live paycheck to paycheck, barely able to pay their bills, and certainly unable to cope with an emergency. They know the risk they’re taking by participating in strikes for pay hikes. They’ve seen bosses punish co-workers for demonstrating for raises. To lose a job, even one that pays poverty wages, during a time of high unemployment is terrifying. Still, thousands will participate Wednesday. That is valor.

2015-04-12-1428857661-6865200-Fightfor15graphic.jpg

Kip Hedges exhibited that courage. He’s a 61-year-old with 26 years of service as a baggage handler for Delta at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. He wanted better wages for young workers and a union. He said so in a video, noting that “probably close to half make under $15 an hour.”

Delta fired him. The airline said he’d disparaged the company. Apparently Delta believes it has been disparaged if the flying public learns the truth about the way Delta treats workers.

Clearly, Delta planned to shut Hedges up and intimidate other workers. The message to his co-workers was clear: “You wanna talk about the paltry wages you get? Well, let’s talk about this pink slip.”

But when Delta messed with Hedges, it messed up big time. The firing failed to silence him. He continued to protest low wages. His co-workers rallied round him. The media covered his firing and his appeal. He looked like a low-wage worker hero. Delta looked like a vindictive heel.

Unlike Hedges, Shanna Tippen was no activist before she got fired from her minimum-wage job in Pine Bluff, Ark. She was just trying to get by, and falling short by about $200 a month. Her boss at the Days Inn where she worked as a night shift jack-of-all-trades asked her to talk to a Washington Post reporter who had dropped by the hotel to discuss the state’s newly instituted 25-cent increase to the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Fast Food Strike 2014 (FLIKR Annette Bernhardt)

Fast Food Strike 2014 (FLIKR Annette Bernhardt)

Tippen told the reporter, Chico Harlan, that she hoped the little bit of extra money would help her pay for her grandson’s diapers.

After the Post published the story, the manager of the Days Inn, Herry Patel, telephoned Harlan to complain about being quoted in it. Then he fired Tippen. She recounted it to Harlan:

“He said I was stupid and dumb for talking to [The Post].”  Even though, of course, Patel had told Tippen to talk to the reporter. Tippen continued: “He cussed me and asked me why you wrote the article. I said, ‘Because he’s a reporter; that’s what he does.’”

Patel told Harlan that Arkansas voters, who approved the pay increase in a referendum by 66 percent, should not have done it. “Everybody wants free money in Pine Bluff,” Harlan quoted him as saying.

Patel apparently did not understand that Tippen performed work that kept the hotel running every night, which means she earned the money. The truth is that Patel, like so many other employers, believes that employees should work for free.

The Post and other papers wrote about Tippen’s firing, making her an icon for ill-treated, low-wage workers and Patel the personification of miserly bosses.

 

Worker-exploiting employers like McDonald’s, Chipotle and Walmart have shown themselves to be craven in the face of courageous workers’ wage protests as well.

Over the past few months, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed charges against McDonald’s and Walmart alleging they violated workers’ rights, including threatening retribution against those who participated in strikes.

In December, the NLRB in California ruled that Walmart illegally punished workers for striking and seeking to unionize. The judge determined that Walmart managers illegally intimidated workers by, for example, telling one, who had tied a rope around his waist to pull a heavy load, “If it was up to me, I would put that rope around your neck.”

In the Chipotle case, the NLRB ruled that a manager in St. Louis illegally fired worker Patrick Leeper for participating in Fight for $15 demonstrations and for talking about wages at work. After the decision, a company spokesperson told the news website Think Progress: “Generally speaking, it is always a top priority for us to remain compliant with all local and federal labor laws.”

“Generally,” Chipotle tries. Generally. Not in this particular case involving low-wage workers demonstrating for better pay. But, you know, generally Chipotle tries to obey the law.

In the original Washington Post story about the tiny increase in the minimum wage in Arkansas, Dominic Flis, whose company owns 18 Burger Kings in central Arkansas, said raising the minimum wage pushes up pay for other workers too. Here’s what he said:

“If somebody was already making $7.50, and minimum wage goes to $7.50, they’ll have some expectation of a raise as well,” Flis said. “And I have to maintain my workforce.”

The Brookings Institute calls this the ripple effect. The pay increase at the bottom ripples all the way up the pay scale.

Hedges, the fired Delta worker, put it another way: “a lot of the better paid workers also understand that the bottom has to be raised otherwise the top is going to fall as well.”

If for no other reason than self-interest, join the gutsy minimum-wage workers at a Fight for $15 event Wednesday.

AFL-CIO Worker Wins Update: Wages and Numbers Rise for Working Families

WASHINGTON, DC– Workers across the country have stood up in the past month to fight for better wages and working conditions.

Worker Voices Raise Worker Wages: Under pressure from workers, major corporations such as Walmart, Target, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, and McDonald’s have raised their minimum wage over the past months, addressing America’s national wage stagnation crisis. From coast to coast workers have held actions calling on employers to raise wages, and national leaders have echoed calls in favor of a raising wages agenda.

37,000 Workers Get a Raise as Seattle Minimum Wage Hike Begins: Seattle’s minimum wage rose to $11 on April 1stas part of a multi-step process that will eventually result in a $15 minimum wage throughout the city by 2021.  This raise comes as over two dozen stateshave minimum wages above the federal minimum wages.

The Union Difference in Mining: Safety and Efficiency: According to a March report by SNL Energy, underground coalmines with union workers are safer and more productive than their non-union counterparts. Of the 16 miners who died on the job in 2014, only one was at a union mine, while union miners were found to be nearly 20 percent more productive per hour.

Workers Rev Up Organizing Efforts as UAW Membership Climbs: The United Auto Workers added more than 12,000 members in 2014 according to its Labor Organizing Annual Report released in March. UAW membership has grown for five consecutive years with nearly 50,000 new members since 2009.

NYU and UAW’s graduate teaching assistants reach “A+” agreement:  Last month, New York University (NYU) and GSOC-UAW Local 2110, which represents graduate teaching and research assistants, reached a tentative agreement that provides improved wages and benefits among other improvements. This week, GSOC members overwhelmingly ratified the agreement making it the only contract covering graduate teaching and research assistants at a private university.

Workers Fight For Schedule Stability in California: Workers in California ramped up a fight last month to ensure that service industry employers give their workers at least two weeks’ notice before scheduling shifts. This law seeks to provide predictable work schedules to millions of workers in industries such as fast food and retail, where workers often have no notice of hours they’re expected to work.

President Obama Says ‘No’ To GOP Efforts to Weaken Union Rules: President Obama blocked Congressional GOP efforts last month to overturn NLRB rulings to streamline the union election process, making it easier for workers to have a voice. The NLRB regulations were issued last December and take effect on April 14th.

 

Meet SHRM – The HR Association Lobbying and Suing To Roll Back Workers Rights

This article was republished with permission from Political Research Associates. The original article can be found here. 


“If it happens that you don’t agree with one of SHRM’s positions, we ask that if you disagree you please refrain from that discussion.” –Kathleen Coulombe, SHRM Senior Associate for Government Relations, speaking to dues-paying SHRM members at its recent legal and legislative conference on how to lobby members of Congress

 


By Mariya Strauss for Political Research Associates

Human Resources doesn’t usually conjure up images of adversarial political activism. Yet contrary to its politically neutral image, the innocuously-named Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM, pronounced “sherm”) campaigns for public policies and mounts legal efforts to block workers’ rights. The group, which claims to have grown from 130,000 members in 2000 to now having 275,000 members globally, purports to represent individual human resources professionals across all industries. And indeed, it produces HR resources such as tip sheets and reports on how to comply with the law, workshops and trainings to earn professional certification, a trade magazine, and statistical analyses about the HR industry and the job market.

But lobbying to change the regulatory climate for business is one of its major unspoken goals.

Back in 2000, union-busting lawyer and then chair of SHRM Michael Lotito (from whom we will hear again later), said “If we had a market penetration—let’s say SHRM had 500,000 members, and 250,000 of them were in grassroots networks—we would be heard not because we shouted, but because we threatened to whisper.”  SHRM has quietly and steadily grown its lobbying operation to include a half-dozen staffers, a nationwide member lobbying network, a major legal and legislative conference, and even a satellite office in Sacramento, whose sole purpose appears to be lobbying at the California statehouse.

Though its stated mission is to “serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management,” SHRM’s legislative agenda is instead aligned with that of big corporations such as McDonalds, and major GOP donors such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the Koch Brothers’ Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. Openly working in concert with dark-money business lobbying groups such as the International Franchise Association, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Business, SHRM has been speaking out in the press, filing lawsuits, and pushing state and national bills. These efforts are aimed at blocking the rights of workers to do everything from forming unions, to having guaranteed paid sick days, to getting health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

UNDERCOVER AT SHRM’S LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE

So how does SHRM speak to its own members about the need to block workers’ rights? I went undercover for Political Research Associates to SHRM’s annual gathering, the Legal and Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. March 22-24 to find out. More than 650 people attended the conference from all 50 states and D.C., each having paid between $1200 and $1500 for the ticket.

“We’re not going to see successful efforts to mandate paid leave at the federal level,” Mike Aitken, SHRM’s Vice President for Government Affairs, told the assembled members at the conference.  Aitken briefly outlined a sophisticated, multi-state strategy for fighting paid leave and higher wages, and not only defunding the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) – but suing in court to block its decisions. Aitken also alluded to SHRM’s use of member focus groups and questionnaires to form its policy positions. Though we were unable to locate any focus group or questionnaire results regarding policy positions, SHRM did this past week publish the results of a survey of its state legislative directors with questions about how engaged they are with SHRM. However, no actual SHRM members we spoke with said they have ever been contacted for their input on actual policy—and Aitken acknowledged that  “our Board is what shapes our policy positions.”1

Mike Aitken, SHRM VP for Government Affairs.

Other presenters at the conference included employer-side labor lawyers and HR consultants, each delivering a message of “we’re not an anti-union organization, but…” with confidence and uniform consistency. Unlike organizations such as the US Chamber of Commerce and the International Franchise Association(IFA) who co-sign and help to push SHRM’s anti-workers’ rights positions (who explicitly exist only to represent business interests), SHRM brings a grassroots base of HR professionals—people who are used to being peacemakers and finding compromises. In their regular professional practice, they are charged with complying with the law, rather than changing it to restrict the rights of employees. But SHRM tells members that it is also their job to pressure members of Congress and federal agencies to change the regulatory regime in favor of the largest employers.

THE CHICKEN LITTLE APPROACH TO “GRASSROOTS” ANTI-WORKER LOBBYING

How is SHRM selling its members the case for blocking employees’ rights, such as the right to earn paid sick leave and the right to choose a union? By telling them the sky is falling.

Lotito is now a shareholder in the employer-side labor law firm Littler Mendelson.  He gave a session at the conference entitled “The NLRB: New Relevance and New Challenges.”  During the session, his voice rising from a conspiratorial whisper to a roar of outrage, sermonizing on how a recent decision from the NLRB’s general counsel to treat McDonald’s franchisees as jointly liable with the headquarters could damage other businesses. He suggested that the joint-liability decision threatens the business-to-business relationships many companies have with their cleaning services, gardeners, and so forth, suggesting that any company could be viewed as somehow liable for the treatment of its subcontractors’ employees.

But the NLRB general counsel’s decision on joint liability narrowly applies only to cases brought by McDonald’s employees against the hamburger chain. As Steven Greenhouse recently reported in TheNew York Times, “’The Golden Arches is an employer, plain and simple,’ said Micah Wissinger, a lawyer who filed complaints on behalf of several McDonald’s employees in New York. ‘The reality is that McDonald’s requires franchisees to adhere to such regimented rules and regulations that there’s no doubt who’s really in charge.’”

Lotito, who co-chairs his law firm’s “Workplace Policy” subdivision, also criticized the NLRB’s recent decision to significantly shorten the 25-day window of time between when a union files for an election and when the election takes place. The new rule, which SHRM (echoing a US Chamber of Commerce talking point) dubs the “Ambush elections rule” in its printed policy statements and Powerpoint slides throughout the conference, goes into effect April 14.

Lotito’s old firm, Jackson Lewis, has made a lot of money advising employers on how to run an anti-union campaign during the existing 25 day window. As journalist David Bacon wrote in an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle back in 2008:

“Campaign tactics include: In the weeks before these tainted elections, 51 percent of employers threaten to close if the union wins; and 91 percent force employees to attend one-on-one anti-union meetings with supervisors. This conduct is effectively unpunishable, making a mockery of free elections. Signing cards is a safer, calmer process that workers control themselves, and workers keep the option of using either the cards or the election – their choice, not their employer’s.”

SHRM is one of a handful of business lobby groups that is suing in federal court to block the rule’s implementation.2

Lotito explained that his firm also provided members of Congress with questions to use in a House Appropriations committee hearing the following day, March 24, on the NLRB’s budget. (You can watch that hearing here. Though we don’t know specifically which questions were provided by Littler, SHRM VP Mike Aitken told those at the conference that SHRM may attempt to fight the NLRB by adding a “rider to defund them through the appropriations process.” )

Having framed SHRM’s participation in the assault on workers’ rights as a matter of defending employers from onerous government regulations, Lotito was ready to unveil the Goliath that he says HR professionals should fear: unions. (He conveniently omitted the fact that unions now only represent just over 6% of the private sector workforce.) Again referring to the McDonald’s joint employer finding, Lotito explicitly named the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as the enemy:

“What I think is going to happen, what I would do if I were the SEIU, is on April 14th I would file 100 petitions in 20 different states against a whole bunch of franchisees alleging that there is a joint employment relationship between those franchisees and McDonald’s. I will win at least 50 percent of those elections and then I will demand… all kinds of information from McDonald’s Corp with respect to the underlying economics because they are the ones who are really controlling the purse strings with respect to the franchisee, so in order to have meaningful collective bargaining in theory I gotta have the franchisor with me, and I would use that as additional attack points. Or if I was really really really really tricky, on April 11th or 12th I’d go to McDonalds and say that on April 14th I’m going to file for elections, and as a result of that I’m going to bring your organization to a standstill. I’ve got an out for you though. I can be your best friend. I can tell everybody how great you are. All you have to do is agree to neutrality and card check…This is all about increasing union market share.”

Despite its studiously politically neutral and “we’re not anti-union” claims, SHRM has entered the public policy ring unmistakably on the side of big business and against workers’ rights. Whether its members accept its characterization of who the enemy is—and how many of them will unquestioningly sally forth to help block workers’ rights in the ongoing state and federal policy battles—remains to be seen.


Mariya Strauss is PRA’s economic justice researcher and a former guest editor for The Public Eye magazine. A Maryland-based freelance writer, her investigative journalism and commentary have been published in The Nation, at the GlobalComment blog, and The Public Eye magazine, among others. You can follow her on Twitter at @mariyastrauss. 


END NOTES

[1] SHRM’s website explains its process for determining policy positions thusly: “SHRM’s Government Affairs team partners with our Research Department to develop survey questions to take the pulse of the membership on what it feels about the issue.  Our Research Department may utilize the full SHRM Survey Report or a shorter Question of the Week format to obtain input from our members. In addition, Government Affairs staff gathers information by convening a series of public policy focus groups at the various SHRM national conferences, regional conferences and chapter meetings.

Once this input is gathered, staff develops a proposed public policy statement that is then subject to review by several SHRM Special Expertise panels who have jurisdiction over the subject area for their comment and review. The proposed public policy statement is then presented to the Board of Directors for its review and approval.”http://www.shrm.org/advocacy/publicpolicystatusreports/federal/pages/default.aspx#sthash.rXJAGapV.dpuf

[2] As economist Ross Eisenbrey noted in the Economic Policy Institute’s blog earlier this month, “The NLRB’s rule does away with an automatic 25-day delay between when employees file an election petition and the election occurs. The National Labor Relations Act does not mandate any such delay, but the anti-union lawyers treated it as a God-given right and claimed its elimination was ‘blowing up the election process’ and a denial of employer free speech rights. You’d think they were kidding, but they at least pretended to be serious.” In actual practice, the old rule has given employers enough time to harass, intimidate, and illegally fire workers involved in a unionization campaign, effectively lowering the number of union elections in US workplaces to 1453 in FY 2014– approximately two one-hundredths of a percent of all US workplaces.

Statement of Rep. Jackie Cilley on the vote on HB 684 (Minimum Wage) 

(Barrington, NH ) While I am disappointed by the votes in the House and Senate today, I see reasons for optimism going forward. At the beginning of this session, everyone predicted that legislation as far-reaching didn’t have a chance and that any serious effort to permanently fix New Hampshire’s minimum wage wouldn’t win over everyone. Today’s result demonstrates that, with a well-researched and bipartisan approach, people in Concord will listen and judge a proposal on its merits.  Next time, we’ll get the 27 more votes necessary to give our hardest working neighbors a long-overdue raise.  

But make no mistake; this represents a missed opportunity and more fall-out from the disastrous reign of Speaker O’Brien. We had a chance to return control of our minimum wage from Washington DC to our citizens legislature in Concord and we didn’t. We had a chance to insert more money into our recovering economy and increase its momentum and we didn’t. And most importantly, we had a chance to stabilize the finances of thousands of our neighbors while allowing them to move off of food stamps and other forms of public support and we didn’t. 

I have learned a good deal in this, my first term back after a six-year absence, that I will take with me when I introduce this again. And I promise both my supporters and my critics, I will reintroduce legislation to raise our minimum wage to a livable level and get it signed into law. 

About Jackie CilleyBorn in Berlin, New Hampshire, Jackie Cilley was raised with four siblings in a third-floor walk-up tenement before graduating from Berlin High School. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNH and has served as an adjunct professor at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics since matriculating from there in 1985. In 2004 she ran for a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives and won, serving one term in the House before being elected twice to the  New Hampshire Senate, representing the 6th District from 2006 – 2010. In 2012, she ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor, losing to Gov. Hassan. She was re-elected to the New Hampshire House in 2014 where she serves on the Committee on Executive Departments and Administration. Rep. Cilley was recently named by veteran NH political reporter John DiStaso as one of the “‘Most wanted’ NH Democrats for the 2016 presidential campaign.

Senator Soucy Condemns Senate GOP for Failing to Raise the NH Minimum Wage

Republicans Kill Minimum Wage Increase that Affects More Than 76,000 people    


CONCORD – Senator Donna Soucy of Manchester issued the following statement today after Senate Republicans defeated her prime sponsored, Senate Bill 261 on a party-line vote of 14-10.

“Today, the Republican-led Senate failed to strengthen the financial security of hard working Granite Staters and expand opportunity for more than 76,000 people who would have been affected by raising the minimum wage,” said Senator Soucy. “Senate Democrats support restoring and increasing the minimum wage, so everyone will have an opportunity to succeed and support themselves and their families.”

A NH Fiscal Policy Institute report shows that 72% of the New Hampshire minimum wage workers, who would directly or indirectly benefit from this bill are age 20 and older with nearly 40% being 30 and older. Fifty-nine percent are women and 14% are parents.

“Paying decent wages is a good investment for our businesses,” said Senator Soucy. “Well-paid workers are better employees and better customers; their spending helps sustain our businesses and our economy.”

This vote puts Senate Republicans on the wrong side of the vast majority of NH residents. 76%  Granite Staters support an increase in the state’s minimum wage, which includes 70% of Independents and even 64% of Republicans.


Update:

Governor Hassan’s Statement on Senate Minimum Wage Vote

 

CONCORD – Following the New Hampshire Senate’s vote today to reject SB 261, a bill that would restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage, Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement:

 

“It is disappointing that Senate Republicans voted down a common-sense measure to restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage, which would have a ripple effect on wages higher up the pay scale while supporting businesses and encouraging job creation by putting more money in the pockets of consumers so that they can buy goods and services.

 

“Individuals working full-time in New Hampshire should be able to earn enough to pull themselves above the federal-poverty threshold and support their families, but for too long, wages have failed to grow with the cost of our families’ needs. In order to boost our economy and strengthen the economic security of thousands of Granite Staters, I will continue fighting to restore and increase our minimum wage.”

 

Bi-Partisan Group Of State Legislators Met With Community Members From The Nashua Area

 

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From Left: Efstathia Booras – D Hillsborough 33, David Murotake – R – Hillsborough 32, Martin Jack – D – Hillsborough 36 Suzanne Harvey – D Hillsborough 29, C. Lee Guerette – D – Hillsborough 33, Kenneth Gidge – D – Hillsborough 33, Daniel Hansberry – D- Hillsborough 35

Community Members from the Nashua Labor Coalition and the Granite State Organizing Project discussed issues ranging from Right To Work, to capping title loans, to raising the Minimum Wage.

(Nashua, NH) — Thirty to forty people attended an open forum with seven Nashua area State Representatives to discuss the issues that are weighing on the minds of the community. Community members asked a variety of questions like how they plan to vote on the “right to work” legislation, charter schools, public transportation, and raising the minimum wage.

“No contract can include an agency fee or fair-share agreement that was not agreed to by both the employer and the union collectively,” said Deb Howes, Chair of the Nashua Labor Coalition. “Right To Work would allow people to benefit from a collective bargaining agreement without paying for it, and that is just wrong.”

“We are voting on this Right To Work legislation later in week, and you need to reach out to your legislators and ask them to vote it down,” stated Representative Dan Hansberry.

Everyone in the crowd was looking forward to hearing about where the Representatives’ stand on raising the minimum wage. Throughout New Hampshire over 70% of people polled supported raising the minimum wage, a truly bi-partisan issue. All of the Representatives who attended support raising the minimum wage.

Last year, the House passed a minimum wage increase, and the Senate killed it in a 12-12 tie. “I am a Republican and a small business owner, and I support raising the minimum wage,” stated Rep. David Murotake. He implied that the bill could get through the House, but would most likely be killed by the Senate again. “I suggest you talk to your Republican Senators and urge them to support a minimum wage increase.”

One of the other questions that generated lots of discussion came from David Lamb, a Nashua local, who asked about increasing public transportation throughout New Hampshire. The Concord Rail Study laid out a number of different options that New Hampshire could choose to expand rail services in New Hampshire.

“If you want to attract people, if you want to attract companies, and brings jobs we need to expand the rail system throughout New Hampshire,” said Representative Kenneth Gidge.

All of the Representatives in attendance seem to support expanding rail service throughout New Hampshire, including the lone Republican, Rep. Murotake who stated, “I have supported rail for a long time and I don’t think support for rail is a partisan issue.” Rep. Murotake concluded his statement on the rail project with a message of hope for those who support expanding rail service in New Hampshire. “Maybe not this year, or next year, or four years from now, but I believe it is going to happen.”

Paul Belanger a letter carrier of forty-two years, proposed the idea of “no-excuse absentee” balloting and voting by mail. He asked the Representatives if they would support a move to vote by mail like they do in Oregon. “In Oregon, over 80% of registered voters voted in the last election,” said Belanger. Rep. Murotake quickly voiced his support for the idea referring back to his days in the military where he always voted by mail.

“People are busy, we work hard, and getting to the polls can be difficult. We should be looking into ways to expanding access to the ballot box,” said Matt Murray, a member of the Nashua Labor Coalition. “Voting by mail and early voting are two very good and viable options for New Hampshire.”

Rep. Gidge explained that there is currently a bill in the House to expand absentee voting, but currently it would only allow family members to drop off absentee ballots.

The issue of charter school funding sparked some slightly heated debate from some of the teachers in the audience. The majority of the Reps. said they supported public charters and some thought we should be increasing funding to these charter schools. The overwhelming response from the crowd was that the money spent on charter schools is eroding the rest of the public school system. Nashua schools have seen programs like the “Gifted and Talented (GATE)” eliminated due to budgetary cuts at the state and local levels. One teacher suggested moving the charter schools back into the public schools, giving more access to more students and eliminating the costs of a separate school.

Deb Howes closed the night by stating, “On behalf of the Nashua Labor Coalition and Granite State Organizing Project, I would like to thank all of the Representatives for attending tonight and taking time out of your busy schedules to meet with us. We hope that this has been as informative for you as it has been for us.”

The Nashua Labor Coalition is a chapter of NH AFL-CIO. It includes Nashua Area Affiliated and Non-Affiliated Unions, as well as community organizations.

Granite State Organizing Project is a coalition of religious, community and labor organizations addressing the issues of affordable housing, jobs, access to health care, quality education and immigrant and refugee rights.

 

No Legislation That Represents The Will Of The People

By Ron Geoffroy
Retired NATCA member

Image from @OFA_NH pic.twitter.com/ZG7B0GfERQ

Image from @OFA_NH pic.twitter.com/ZG7B0GfERQ

If I remember my history classes, as far back as that may have been, I remember that the right of every American was to be able to go to polls on election day to vote for the person you believe represents the interest of the people. In a 2014 poll done by UNH, 74% of the people of the state of New Hampshire believe that we should increase the minimum wage.

On Tuesday March 3rd, I had the honor to sit in on sessions in both the New Hampshire House of Representative Labor Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, where recommendations on bills going to the larger bodies were made to reject bills SB 261 and HB 684, increasing the minimum wage. I ask you how is that possible? Isn’t it apparent that if 74% of the people in New Hampshire want an increase in the minimum wage, a vote which represents that should have been 74% in favor of increasing the minimum wage. I guess that assumes that the people who are going to Concord aren’t actually there to represent the interest of their constituents but just one faction of the population, business.

As I sat and listened during debate in both committees, I was reminded that many of the legislators were there to protect the interest of businesses and not the people. Some would argue that businesses are the people, well I guess if you standby the Citizen’s United decision sent down by the Supreme Court, yes business/corporations are people. However, Webster’s dictionary defines people as “the body of enfranchised citizens of a state”. I can’t remember, but when you register as a business in the state of NH is there a question on the form that asks if the business is a citizen of New Hampshire?

The citizens of New Hampshire should be making our representatives more accountable to the interest of the people.

 

Governor Hassan Urges Senate Finance Committee to Support Restoring and Increasing New Hampshire’s Minimum Wage

CONCORD – Continuing efforts to strengthen the financial security of hard-working Granite Staters and expand middle class opportunity, Governor Maggie Hassan today submitted a letter to the Senate Finance Committee in support of SB 261, a bill that would restore and increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage.

 

“Individuals working full-time in New Hampshire should be able to earn enough to pull themselves above the federal-poverty threshold and support their families, but for too long, wages have failed to grow with the cost of our families’ needs,” Governor Hassan wrote. “By restoring and increasing New Hampshire’s minimum wage, we can improve the economic security of thousands of Granite Staters.”

 

In 2011, the Legislature passed legislation repealing New Hampshire’s minimum wage law. Every other state in New England has its own minimum wage that is higher than the federal rate that governs New Hampshire.

 

“In order to truly accelerate our economic growth, working families and individuals must be confident in their own financial circumstances and able to purchase more goods and services,” Governor Hassan concluded. “Increasing New Hampshire’s minimum wage will strengthen the financial security of working families and wages up and down the pay scale, and by restoring this important protection, we can take a critical step forward for our economy and for hard-working Granite Staters.”

 

 

Governor Hassan’s full letter to the Senate Finance Committee is below:

 

Senator Jeanie Forrester, Chairman

Senate Finance Committee

Room 103

State House, Concord

 

Dear Madam Chair and members of the Senate Finance Committee:

 

I write in support of Senate Bill 261, relative to establishing a state minimum wage. Individuals working full-time in New Hampshire should be able to earn enough to pull themselves above the federal-poverty threshold and support their families, but for too long, wages have failed to grow with the cost of our families’ needs. By restoring and increasing New Hampshire’s minimum wage, we can improve the economic security of thousands of Granite Staters.

 

As you know, New Hampshire’s minimum wage was last increased six years ago in 2008, and in 2011, the Legislature repealed the state minimum wage law altogether. Restoring and increasing the minimum wage will have a ripple effect on wages higher up the pay scale, while supporting businesses and encouraging job creation by putting more money in the pockets of consumers so that they can buy goods and services.

 

In order to truly accelerate our economic growth, working families and individuals must be confident in their own financial circumstances and able to purchase more goods and services. Increasing New Hampshire’s minimum wage will strengthen the financial security of working families and wages up and down the pay scale, and by restoring this important protection, we can take a critical step forward for our economy and for hard-working Granite Staters.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

With every good wish,

 

Margaret Wood Hassan

Governor

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