This Morning: The “Give America a Raise” Bus Tour Comes to Nashua

Give America a Raise

Give America a RaiseWashington DC – Americans agree: No one who works should live in poverty. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening to workers around the country who are earning the current minimum wage. While the federal minimum wage has stayed the same since 2009, the price of food, gas, utilities, and basic necessities has, with inflation, made it nearly impossible to live anywhere in America on $7.25 an hour or $15,000 a year.

 It’s long past time for Congress to give America a raise. And to help drive the point home, Americans United for Change has hit the road with the 11-State “Give America a Raise” Bus Tour supporting President Obama’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.  The tour will end outside the U.S. Capitol on April 3.

Next stop: in front of the Nashua Public Library TODAY, Tuesday, March 25 at 9:30 AM, with Rev. Gail Kinney of South Danbury Christian Church and US Department of Labor official Laura Fortman.

It’s been more than five years since minimum wage workers have gotten a raise – workers that include child care providers, janitors, and nursing assistants and who are 35 years old on average. It was hard enough to live on $15,000 a year in 2009, and it’s near impossible in 2014.

All that stands in the way of stronger economy – built from the middle out – are Tea Party Republicans in Congress who only seem to care about voting for minimum tax responsibility for huge corporations that outsource jobs.

Raising the minimum wage would provide a needed boost not just for the millions of struggling low-wage American workers that can barely survive on $7.25, but for the U.S. economy as a whole.  It will create jobs because it puts more money in the pockets of workers who will quickly inject it back into the economy. Millions of people with more money to spend on goods and services means businesses will need to hire more workers to meet the demand.  Decades’ worth of research done after previous minimum wage increases shows nothing but net economic benefits as a result, which is why so many successful business leaders and over 600 economists are calling on Congress to raise it again now.

No one who works a full-time job should have to live in poverty.

According to MIT, the living wage in Nashua is $21,422 a year be able to afford housing, medical care, transportation and food. If full-time New Hampshire workers made $10.10 an hour, they would earn $21,008 a year.

#RaiseTheWage

Granite Staters Rally At Sen Ayotte’s Office In National Day Of Action To Protect Social Security

Ayotte Dec. 3, 2013

Ayotte Dec. 3, 2013Statement from New Alliance for Retired Americans President Lucy Edwards at the National Day of Action event in Nashua NH 

As the president of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans, a grassroots volunteer group of senior citizens representing 13,000 NH retirees, I am here today with others fighting to save our Social Security and Medicare benefits from any “grand bargain” between the President and Congress.  Right now in Washington DC, a committee of House and Senate members is trying to agree on a budget that could pass both houses of Congress and get the President’s signature.  Our junior Senator, Kelly Ayotte, is one of these members and that is why we are here today.

For many of us, including me, cuts to these earned benefits would mean the loss of our economic security in retirement.  Do not be fooled by those who tell you that there are no seniors in NH who are all or mostly dependent on Social Security for their income, or for whom turning Medicare into a voucher program to buy insurance on our own would most likely mean increased ill-health and even early death.  We’re out here today because we must be getting the word out. This is not some political game played in DC, this is very real and very frightening to many of us.

And let me say that I and my fellows worry about our children and grandchildren as well.  We are not “greedy geezers!”  When a politician says to me that any changes to the programs will not affect anyone over 55, the first people who pop into my mind are my daughters and their husbands!  When a politician says to me that raising the eligibility age for these programs would be fine because people are living longer, I think of all the people I know who have been without health insurance until now, and wonder if they will even be able to work til 65.

What we really need in this age of the 401(k) and “you’re on your own” retirement plans, and proposals such as the Chained CPI, is something like Senator Harkins’ bill, the Strengthen Social Security Act of 2013, which would fit a Consumer Price Index for us seniors to our true costs, including healthcare costs.  The Chained CPI would cut benefits now AND in the future, leaving us with shrinking incomes just at the time when we need the funds the most.

We are here to remind Senator Ayotte of this, and even more important, to remind our fellow citizens that we need to fight for our rights, including the right to a secure retirement.  Don’t let a “grand bargain” steal what we worked so hard for!

Thank you all for coming!

Lucy Edwards

(You can follow the NH Alliance for Retired Americans on twitter @NH_ARA and via their blog)

Kuster to Host Career and Opportunities Fair Next Month in Nashua

Ann-Kuster (1)

Jobs fair to feature manufacturing, retail, recreation employers from across the Granite State

NASHUA, N.H. – As part of her commitment to helping create jobs and opportunity for middle class families, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) today announced that she will host a Career and Opportunities Fair next month to help connect local residents with jobs and employment opportunities throughout the Granite State. The fair, which will be held on Friday, November 22, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua, will feature employers from the manufacturing, retail, recreation, and postal industries, among others.

“My top priority is helping create jobs and opportunity for middle class families in the Granite State,” Kuster said. “That’s what this jobs fair is all about – connecting local job seekers with a wide variety of New Hampshire employers who are looking to grow their businesses and hire new workers.”

Job seekers wishing to attend the Career and Opportunities Fair can register here. Employers looking to take part in the fair should contact Collin Lever at 603-595-2006 or Collin.Lever@mail.house.gov, and members of the media wishing to attend should email Jake Berry at Jake.Berry@mail.house.gov to RSVP.

A member of the House Small Business Committee, Kuster has prioritized efforts to foster job creation, grow the economy, and expand opportunity for middle class families. The first bill she authored would incentivize public-private partnerships to improve workforce development for New Hampshire students. Last month, Kuster introduced legislation to extend and expand a federal pilot program to help boost small businesses exports. She has also supported legislation to make permanent the federal research and development tax credit, helped lead the fight to prevent pending regulations from harming New England farmers, and worked to protect New Hampshire small businesses from burdensome online sales tax collection requirements.

WHO:                  Congresswoman Annie Kuster
WHAT:                Kuster to host Career and Opportunities Fair
WHEN:                Friday, November 22, 10:00am to 1:00pm

 

WHERE:              Crowne Plaza Hotel, 2 Somerset Parkway, Nashua, NH

Granite State Moms Tell Senator Ayotte “No Mother Should Have to Bury Her Child”

Mothers Day Cards

Mothers Day Cards Just Days Before Some Families Face First Mother’s Day Without Child Due to Gun Violence, Mothers and Concerned Family Members Deliver Cards to Senator Kelly Ayotte Calling on Her to Support Life-Saving Background Checks

 NASHUA, NH – New Hampshire mothers, children and others publicly delivered Mother’s Day cards to Senator Kelly Ayotte’s Nashua office today, calling on the Senator to support life-saving background checks. The event was created by local gun violence prevention advocates who wanted to do something in solidarity for families who would be spending their first Mother’s Day without a child or family member due to gun violence.

Last month Senator Ayotte voted against bipartisan legislation proposed by NRA A-rated Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey that would have closed the loopholes that make it easy for criminals and dangerous people to get guns. Over 89 percent of Senator Ayotte’s constituents support background checks.

Reading a statement on behalf of New Hampshire mothers and allies, Nona Storer of Nashua said:

“Senator Ayotte, no mother should have to bury her child. This Mother’s Day, our hearts go out to all the mothers whose children were murdered with guns. The moms of Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson. Aurora. Newtown. And the mothers of the 33 people who are murdered with guns every day in this country. Now is the time for Congress to stand with moms across the country instead of with the NRA. Please support background checks for all gun sales.”

Storer and others then delivered more than 250 Mother’s Day cards signed by constituents from across the state, each bearing a similar message to the Senator. Several local community members also delivered their own, handmade cards urging Senator Ayotte to take action to reduce gun violence.

To mark Mother’s Day, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has also released a video message by Roxanna Green, whose nine year-old daughter Christina-Taylor Green was killed in the 2011 Tucson mass shooting.

Voter ID: Yes It Is Unreasonable To Require ID To Vote

get out and vote

Today the Nashua Telegraph posted a letter to the editor entitled “It’s not unreasonable to require ID to vote“.  This letter is obviously pushing for an ID to vote.   The writer, W. B. Heffernan Jr. of Nashua, talks about how many people have ID’s to have their taxes done.

“My job is processing taxpayers seeking to get their tax returns prepared at no charge, and that job includes determining that they have valid photo IDs.

The program is open to all, but caters to seniors and low-income taxpayers. The latter category includes “minorities.” These people, who the “anti-voter ID crowd” claims will not be able to vote because they won’t have a valid photo ID, have no problem in presenting one to obtain free tax preparation.”

I find a few thing wrong with this. First you cannot say that the people who are using your program accurately represent the state of New Hampshire.  The state of New Hampshire is a relatively small state but W.B Heffernan could not possibly know all of the people in New Hampshire.  Talking to a few dozen or even a few hundred people at the Nashua Public Library does not represent all of New Hampshire.

In northern areas of New Hampshire it could be a 30-45 minutes to the nearest DMV office.  For a senior who does not drive, this is a waste of time and money.

My other problem with this is that at no point does W.B. Heffernan say what is a valid ID.  Right now the Voter ID law is scheduled to change.  Durning the 2012 elections the Voter ID law required an ID to vote or a signed affidavit saying that you are who who you say you are.   This generated over 20,000 signed affidavits from people in New Hampshire that did not have an ID and wanted to vote.  Those 20,000 are the ones who continued to vote without an ID.  There is no way of knowing how many people who do not have an ID did not even try to vote.

Under the current State Senate I highly doubt that the Voter ID will be fully repealed.  What we can do is stop the further implementation of the second phase of the law.   Phase two requires polling stations to take the picture of a person who do not have an ID.  This is very costly and does nothing.  Are they going to post the picture on Facebook asking ‘do you know this person?’   If they move forward with phase two it will cost the state thousands of dollars every year to buy digital camera for every polling station and the training associated with it.

The second major issue with phase two is what is considered a valid form of identification.  In 2012 there were many acceptable forms of identification including personal recognition and college IDs.  So for those who do not have an ID but have voted in the same place for years the moderator can vouch for them with personal recognition.  Not is phase two, it is unacceptable along with college IDs and municipal IDs.

If we cannot overturn the Voter ID law then we must fight to stop phase two of the Voter ID law as it is written.  It will do more to disenfranchise voters than actually stop the fictional voter fraud problem in New Hampshire.  Not to mention it will cost the state more money, which is a serious problem in itself.  Would you rather see more money cut from our community colleges to buy cameras for every polling station in New Hampshire to be used once or twice a year?  I do not.

Nashua: Activists Rally For Immigration Reform (From Arnie Alpert)

Immigration rally Nashua 4-6-13 (credit Arnie Alpert)

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“The Time is Now”nashua 4-6-13 012 crop

More than a hundred immigrants rights supporters rallied today at Nashua City Hall  and marched to the offices of Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen to call for reforms centered on a clear and direct path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the USA. 

Rally speakers included Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees; the Rev. Tom Woodward of the Granite State Organizing Project; Juan Zamudio, a student at Derryfield School in Manchester; Marisol Saavedra, a Nashua student; and Carols Escobar of SEIU  nashua 4-6-13 040cropLocal 615.

In many years of working across the US, I saw time and time again bosses use the broken immigration system to mistreat, intimidate, underpay and over work undocumented workers,” said Escobar, an Ecuadoran immigrant who works as a janitor in Nashua. 

“When employers pay lower wages to some workers, all workers are affected and standards are lowered for everyone,” the Local 615 member added.

Participants included union members, faith community leaders, and otnashua 4-6-13 014cropher social justice activists adding their bodies and voices to the movement calling on Congress to act now for humane immigration policies. 

Following the brief rally, the crowd marched north into Nashua’s downtown shopping district and crossed over to the east side of the road by the office of Senator Kelly Ayotte.  There, they taped a giant letter to the window, where marchers added their signatures to a statement calling for commonsense immigration reform that fosters unity.

nashua 4-6-13 031“The time for action is long overdue and there is bipartisan agreement on moving forward,” the statement said.  “A reform package that includes a path to citizenship makes economic sense and is true to our ideals as a nation.  Taking action now makes sense politically, as well, since the American public supports immigration reform.”

Marchers continued northward to Senator Shaheen’s office where another letter was taped to the window for signatures. 

The program concluded with a statement from Germano Martins, a member of the State Employees Association (SEIU Local 1984) followed by a prayer led by the Rev. Sandra Pontoh of the Maranatha Indonesian United Church of Christ. nashua 4-6-13 109

The organizing committee included SEIU Locals 615 and 1984, the NH AFL-CIO, NH Civil Liberties Union, Lutheran Social Services, the Granite State Organizing Project, the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, the United Church of Christ Immigration Working Group, and the American Friends Service Committee.

Another rally will take place at State House Plaza in Concord at noon on Wednesday, May 1.

nashua 4-6-13 006crop

nashua 4-6-13 019  nashua 4-6-13 021  nashua 4-6-13 028  nashua 4-6-13 051  nashua 4-6-13 076crop

 

All images credit to Arnie Alpert and Inzane Times.

Reposted with permission from InZane Times (Original Link)

NH Citizens Alliance and NH Peace Action RALLY For Cuts To Wasteful Pentagon Spending

Pull The Pork Image

PULL THE PORK FROM THE PENTAGON! NH CITIZENS ALLIANCE & NH PEACE ACTION CALL FOR REINING IN WASTEFUL PENTAGON SPENDING IN ORDER TO INVEST IN AMERICA’S MIDDLE CLASS

Nashua, NH — As part of a National Day of Action across the U.S., NH Citizens Alliance and NH Peace Action will gather in front of the Office of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, 144 Main Street in Nashua on Wednesday, February 27th at noon to demand an end to wasteful Pentagon spending and to call on Congress to shift that spending into health care, education, housing and infrastructure.

“Pull the Pork from the Pentagon: Protect Our Priorities” events are taking place in Nashua, NH and across the country on February 27th. In Nashua, NH Citizens Alliance and NH Peace Action will have a rally with a brief speaking program, a petition signing, and calls to Congress on the spot in support of ending Pentagon waste.

The Feb. 27 National Day of Action is taking place as Congress faces a series of deadlines on our country’s budget priorities, including possible automatic spending cuts scheduled to take place on March 1.

“It’s time for Congress to commit once and for all to ending Pentagon waste and instead shift that spending into housing, health care, education, and infrastructure repair,” said Melissa Bernardin, Coordinator for NH Citizens Alliance’s Campaign to End Pentagon Waste. “We are calling for a fundamental restructuring of our priorities so that we can pay for programs that create jobs and protect our communities.”

Pull the Pork From the Pentagon

What:    Rally to End Pentagon Waste

Where: 144 Main Street, Nashua NH – Office of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte

When:   Wednesday, February 27th at Noon

Why:   Pending Congressional action, possible automatic spending cuts scheduled to take place on March 1. With all the attention focused on the national debt and deficit, the American public is paying attention, public opinion supports ending wasteful Pentagon spending, and the time for action is NOW.

Pull The Pork, Cut Pentagon Waste Event In Nashua

Pull The Pork Image

Pull The Pork ImageWith less than 8 days until automatic spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect, now is the time for Congress to Pull the Pork from the Pentagon — so that we can protect priorities like education, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Please join us this coming Wednesday in Nashua as we take part in a National Day of Action to tell Congress to Pull the Pork! Cut Pentagon waste!

What:    Rally to End Pentagon Waste

Where: 144 Main Street, Nashua NH – Office of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte

When:   Wednesday, February 27th, at Noon

Why:      With all the attention focused on the national debt and deficit, the American public is paying attention, public opinion is on our side, and the time to speak out against Pentagon waste is NOW.

RSVP:    Email Melissa ((603) 225-2097 x15)  so that we have a count of folks who will be joining us!

Join us as we talk about a positive vision for the real community security we could have if Congress committed once and for all to end Pentagon waste and shift that spending into housing, health care, education, and infrastructure repair.

We will have a rally with a brief speaking program, petition signing, calls Congress on the spot in support of ending Pentagon waste.  Join us!

Nashua Mayor Uses State Of The City To Bash Unions For Not Taking More In Concessions

Image courtesy of Inventorchris on Flickr
Image courtesy of Inventorchris on Flickr

Image courtesy of Inventorchris on Flickr

Like many large cities, Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau hosted the annual State of the City address. The local media organizations were quick to mention that Mayor Lozeau went right for the unionized workers at the Nashua Police Commission.

The Nashua Telegraph (NT) editorial board talked about this in their article, Two takeaways in mayor’s State of City address.

“The mayor called out the Nashua Police Commission and its five labor unions for being the only ones that have yet to approve a new contract that contains employee concessions for health care.” (NT)

Do you know why they have not accepted a new contract with the city? They are not willing to shoulder another pay cut, in the form of higher health care costs.

“This not only is unfair to their colleagues in other city departments, Lozeau said, but it has cost the city $438,415 in health care premiums that should have been shouldered by Police Department employees.” (NT)

What Mayor Lozeau is not saying is that all of the other Nashua unions she mentioned agreed to a 10% hike in healthcare costs. Now she wants the remaining five departments employees to take the additional $438,000 in healthcare costs.

“The five police unions, which all have contracts that expired in July of 2011, include a supervisor union, patrolmen union and three civilian unions consisting of a Teamsters group, communications union and United Auto Workers union. (UL)”

The five unions represent 250 employees, and why should they pick up the $430,000 dollar tab.

Today the NH Union Leader (UL) ran the article, Police chief blasts Nashua mayor’s union remarks.

“Ten other unions have found a way to do that with their employer boards. There is no reason for the Police Commission and their unions to fail to do so,” said the mayor.”

“I believe it was a little uncalled for, and a little unprofessional,” Chief John Seusing said on Wednesday”

“We certainly believe we are making a good-faith effort and have been for almost two years,” said Police Commissioner Thomas Pappas on Wednesday, adding that he has personally attended numerous mediation sessions. “We are trying hard. We are taking this very seriously. I can understand the frustration, as we are a bit frustrated ourselves.”

Why should they accept a bad deal from the Mayor if it will only hurt the members. It is obvious that the unions do not feel they are getting a fair deal in these negotiations, which is why they have not come to an agreement. Since the details of the negotiations are supposed to be confidential, I have no knowledge of what the city is offering in return for a 10% hike in healthcare. Given that the city seems to be in a money crunch and is trying to force employees to pay more for healthcare, I highly doubt they are offering any pay raises in the contract. Without a pay raise the city is trying to chip away at the pay of the workers and that is wrong.

Nashua Area Union Members Hold In-District Meeting With Legislators

NCC Legislative District Meeting 2-7b

NCC Legislative District Meeting 2-7cLast night members from the Nashua Teachers’ Union (AFT) and the State Employees’ Association (SEIU) hosted an in-district meeting with local Nashua legislators.

Around sixty union members that all work in the Nashua area came to speak directly with the legislators who represent different areas of the city. The legislators in attendance were Martin Jack, David Murotake, Jan Schmidt, Sylvia Gale, Daniel Hansbury, Susan Vale, Efstahia Booras, and Senator Bette Laskey.

The event was emceed by Deb Howes (NTU) a teacher from Nashua, and Magnus Pardoe (SEIU) from the Nashua Community College.

NCC Legislative District Meeting 2-7b“It is great to see so many people here and engaged in the legislative process. We need to keep an open line of communication with our legislators” said Deb Howes in her opening remarks.

The overall tone of the event was much calmer than a similar event held last year. With Right To Work (for less) already voted down by the Labor Committee, the teachers were still very interested in hearing what the legislators had to say on SB 37 (a bill to restrict collective bargaining rights) and HB 142 (a bill surrounding teacher evaluations). Deb Howes wanted legislators to understand that these bills would have significate impacts on the teacher evaluations in the Nashua School District.

Deb Howes said “We have worked very hard to have a say in how teacher evaluations are conducted in Nashua”

Overall all of the legislators in attendance were against SB 37 and HB 142, including David Murotake who was the only Republican to attend the event. Murotake is also a member of the Nashua School Board and does not like HB 142 for the potential impact on teacher evaluations. Murotake said “The Nashua Teacher Union’s involvement in teacher evaluations have really helped Nashua move ahead.”

NCC Legislative District Meeting 2-7aOne of the teachers in attendance wanted to make it very clear that the Department of Education officials are not ‘content experts’, they are more politicians. She said she would welcome anyone with real and practical experience into her classroom to provide feedback, however this bill does not provide for that.

The SEIU Members at the meeting also wanted to bring awareness to a couple of bills they are working on as well. The first is HB 445, a bill to allow all public entities to join in the state’s healthcare plans.

Magnus Pardoe, who is also the President of the Nashua Community College (NCC) chapter of the SEA/SEIU said, “this is a bill to help all public workers in NH. It would open up options for cities, towns and all municipal employees to have a choice in their healthcare options.”

Diana Lacey, President of the State Employees’ Association reminded the legislators that right here at the NCC, full time employees are being replaced with part time employees who have no benefit options. Lacey stated, “80% of the community college instructors are part time with no benefits.” This is a sad trend in many of the state agencies.

The other bill that sparked conversation was HB 591, a bill about ‘bullying’ of public employees. Currently there is no place for workers to report abusive behavior by their supervisors. This bill could be similar to those provided in the federal whistleblowers protections act.

As a former state employee, Rep Sylvia Gale is very much in favor of this bill. She is even a co-sponsor of the bill in the House.

Senator Laskey admitted she was unfamiliar this specific house legislation. She said this is why we need to have more events like this to ensure that legislators know what bills are really important to the people she represents. She encouraged everyone to take the time are reach out to your legislators and tell them how you feel on these bills.

Everyone was deeply interested in the soon to be released budget by Governor Hassan. All of the legislators were in favor of restoring the cuts made to education and especially the university programs.

Rep Gale was completely sincere when she said that the previous legislature “raped” our state budget with their draconian cuts. She said, “there are many people who were hurt by the last budget.”

Everyone agreed that the community college system is a great way for people gain the real world knowledge and experience to find work at a livable wage. Not everyone can afford or even want to attend a major four year university. The community college system is perfect for those people.

Senator Laskey said “NH has always been a frugal state, spend has never been our problem.”

This prompted some discussion on the current tax structure, however the conversation quickly ended when the crowd was reminded that Governor Hassan has already stated she would veto any broad base tax.

Overall the night was a success for the memberships and the legislators. Both gain an awareness and insight into what the people want, and what the legislative process truly entails.