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Trump Re-Opens NAFTA, Activists Fear It Is The TPP In Disguise

Like a steady drumbeat, candidate for President, Donald Trump, said he would “renegotiate NAFTA,” the North American Free Trade Agreement that has cost millions of American jobs.   As talks begin this week to make changes to NAFTA some fear that this “new NAFTA” will just be another “grab bag of corporate handouts.”

“NAFTA was a radical experiment,” said Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “NAFTA subsidized offshoring, making it easier for corporations to move American jobs overseas.”

Working people across the country blamed NAFTA for destroying our manufacturing base. “910,000 jobs have been lost due to NAFTA and we have seen our trade surplus with Canada and Mexico shift to a trade deficit,” Wallach added.

“NAFTA went far beyond what we think of as trade,” said Ben Beachy of the Sierra Club. “NAFTA is a grab bag of corporate handouts.”

Beachy explained how this new NAFTA negotiations are being conducted in the same way the Trans-Pacific Partnership was conducted, in complete secret by corporations. There are no representatives for labor or the environment allowed to be a part of the negotiations.

The Sierra Club has been fighting the harmful pollution policies laid out in NAFTA. Due to weak environmental protections in Mexico, NAFTA allowed corporations to export their hazardous waste. The number of toxic waste facilities in Mexico, owned by foreign corporations, grew by over 40% in the last 25 years.

“Underweight babies are being born with elevated levels of lead in their blood because of led battery exports,” said Beachy.

The Sierra Club also opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s poor environmental protections and fears that Trump’s new NAFTA will fail to raise environmental protections.

When a country does try to fight back against these corporations they take their case to the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The ISDS has been incorporated into more than 3,000 trade agreements worldwide 50 of which the United States is included in.

The ISDS is a corporate court, where three corporate lawyers decide the outcome of the dispute. Murshed Zaheed, the Executive Director of Credo Mobile said, “The ISDS puts corporations over people.”

If the corporation wins their case in the ISDS, the taxpayers of the State (i.e. the country being challenged) are forced to pay for the “damages.” The United States alone has already paid out over $400 million in ISDS disputes.

“The ISDS circumvents American sovereignty,” said Rep Keith Ellison (D-MN). He explained who Phillip Reynolds won their ISDS dispute with the country of Uruguay over the labeling of their cigarettes. Uruguay wanted to put a warning label on all cigarette packages, however they were shut down by the ISDS.

(Watch this video from Credo Mobile featuring Senator Elizabeth Warren, explain how the ISDS works in her opposition to the TPP.)


The prior history of NAFTA is well known. It crushed our manufacturing and cost millions of people their jobs. But every story has two sides.

Erika Andiola, an immigration activist and a director in Our Revolution, talked about how NAFTA “decimated the Mexican economy” which forced a massive Mexican migration

“Local farmers lost their farms due to the influx of cheap American corn,” Andiola said. After they lost their farms, these farmers were forced to move into the cities to find work. “The economy shifted as local shops and markets were replaced with Wal-Mart and Costco.”

Ultimately, when they could not find work in Mexico, some headed north to the United States in search of work.

Andiola added, “We must talk to our members of Congress to ensure that NAFTA will help American workers but raise the living standards for the workers in ALL countries.“

Yesterday, the Trump administration began the first round on negotiation on NAFTA. Beachy said, “Trump wants to begin by copying the Labor and Environmental protections from the TPP into the new NAFTA.”

We beat the Trans-Pacific Partnership and if we use our collective voices we can make our demands for a better NAFTA heard.

“As renegotiations begin today, there is an incredible opportunity to replace this fundamentally flawed trade deal with new rules that work for working families,” said AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka in a statement. “But how we do it matters. The administration can choose to use this opportunity to benefit working families, or it can further rig the rules to favor corporations and CEOs.”

Rep Ellison said “we must demand”:

  • No ISDS
  • Labor standards are lifted instead of dropped.
  • Environmental standards are lifted instead of dropped.
  • Food standards are lifted instead of dropped.

“We are setting the bar high. We will only accept a deal that is renegotiated the right way. That means having a transparent process in which working families have a seat at the table, and ensuring that our freedom to stand together is protected and that all of us can receive a fair return on our hard work. We need to replace benefits for the few with a fair deal that raises wages, stops outsourcing and provides a path to the middle class, no matter where working families live or what their background is. America’s working people have earned this. We deserve nothing less,” Trumka concluded.

This story compiled from speeches by Rep Keith Ellison, Lori Wallach, Murshed Zaheed, Ben Beachy, and Erika Andiola at Netroots Nation 2017.

Full video of panel here or below.

NEA’s Vice President, Becky Pringle, Delivers A Powerful Speech At Netroots Nation

Becky Pringle, Vice President of NEA. Image from Netroots Nation Facebook. Photographer Kerry Maloney – TravelerBroads.Com

While attending the Netroots Nation convention in Atlanta this week I heard from many different speakers and I have to say one of my favorite speeches came from Becky Pringle, the Vice President of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor union in the country, with over 3 million members.

Her amazingly powerful speech called on the members of Netroots Nation to stand up and take action.

“It is you, who will engage and inspire; lift up and connect our collective voices to create the kind of schools and communities and country that reflect our hopes; our dreams; our possibilities.“

“We need you to stand in the gap for our children, when the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights refuses to protect their most basic of human and civil rights.”

She continued by showing how President Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are working together to “decimate” our public school system.

“President Trump and Sec. DeVos made it very clear that their educational priority was to decimate our public schools, and destroy the dreams of those students who come to us with the greatest needs.”

She highlighted how the Trump/DeVos agenda attacks some of the most vulnerable children in our public school system. Together they slashed education funding by $10 billion dollars and repealed protections that provided a “safe learning environment for our trans students.”

“From jeopardizing Title IX protections to refusing to agree to not privatize the education of our students with special needs, to making the case for guns in the classroom to fight off the attack of the grizzly bears, Betsy DeVos demonstrated that she knew absolutely nothing about schools and kids and education.”

Once again she called on Netroots Nation to be bold and unafraid, to take a stand and to help fight to ensure that every child has healthcare, has strong civil rights protections, and to address the institutional racism.

“This is our time to demand what’s right, just like Mother Jones, that great labor organizer, who many called the most dangerous woman in America, because she proudly proclaimed: I’m not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I will tell the truth wherever I please.”

“Netroots Nation, let’s be the most dangerous collective voice in this country. Let’s tell the truth wherever we please.”

“It is us, who must stand and be a witness. We must use our collective power, and with righteous indignation demand justice for our children.”

You can see Ms. Pringle’s entire speech here or below thanks to Netroots Nation.

IronWorker And Congressional Candidate Randy ‘IronStache’ Bryce Rallies The Crowd At Netroots Nation

This morning, Randy “IronStache” Bryce spoke to the progressive crowd at Netroots Nation. Netroots Nation is the largest gatherings of progressive Democrats in the country with over 3,000 attendees this year in Atlanta.

Bryce opened his remarks by saying, “I am here to repeal and replace Speaker Paul Ryan.”

With over twenty years of working as an IronWorker in Wisconsin, Bryce has always been an outspoken advocate for working families.  As the political director for the Ironworkers local 8 in Wisconsin, Bryce has been on the front lines in the attacks on working people from the Republican Legislature and the anti-worker Governor, Scott Walker.

After announcing his run for Congress, Bryce launched his first, powerful campaign video that has already surpassed over 500,000 views in just over a month.

Bryce told the audience at Netroots Nation, this campaign “is not about me, it is about all of you” and referred to the GOP in Washington as “Banana-Republicans” for their failure to hold town halls or speak to the people they claim to represent.

The people of Wisconsin do not seem to be happy with Speaker Ryan’s “repeal and replace” plan for healthcare and have made public calls for him to hold a town hall to hear them.

Slate magazine reported that Ryan is afraid to hold a town hall “due to the fear of protestors.”

In one early campaign appearance, Bryce called out Speaker Ryan for not holding “an in-district town hall for 600 days.”  Politifact Wisconsin corrected Bryce when they fact-checked his statement and found that “Ryan has gone more than 650 days without holding” a traditional town hall within the district.

Bryce made his position on healthcare completely clear by saying, “Medicare For All should be the number one priority for this country.”  Bryce praised his union supplied healthcare which helped he battle and ultimately beat cancer, but now will forever have a “pre-existing condition” that would block him from getting healthcare under Speaker Ryan’s new healthcare plan.

Lastly, Bryce talked about the recent bombing on a Muslim Mosque in Minnesota.  He called the bombers, “cowards” and “should be convicted of hate crimes.”

He also talked about how as an Ironworker he has build many walls, but if he was called to build Trump’s border wall, he would tell him to “stuff it! I will not going to build some stupid border wall.” Bryce said we should not be spending money on a border wall if we are not willing to spend the money to ensure that all Americans have healthcare.

You can find out more about Randy Bryce’s campaign to repeal and replace Paul Ryan from his website.

My Point Of View: Black Lives Matter Protests #NN15 Town Hall With O’Malley And Sanders

A lot of people have been messaging me about the events that transpired during the Netroots Nation town hall event with Governor Martin O’Malley and Senator Bernie Sanders.

For those that did not see the news about it, NBC News had a good write up of what transpired.

Long story short, as Governor O’Malley was speaking a group of protestors gathered at the bottom of the stage chanting “Black Lives Matter.” They demanded to be heard. They completely took over the town hall and demanded answer from O’Malley, and later Sanders, to the most pressing issues facing the African-American community.

The biggest question that came from the group was, what are you going to do police brutality and rampant racism in America’s police departments? To his credit, O’Malley waited patiently and listened to what they were saying did attempt to answer them. At one point he said, “Black lives matter, white lives matter, and all lives matter.” They were obviously not happy with O’Malley’s response and the fact that Baltimore, the city that O’Malley was Mayor of, sparked riots after and African-American man was killed while in police custody.

After O’Malley left the stage knowing he had said something wrong, the moderator welcomed Senator Sanders to the stage. Once again the protestors began demanding answers. As NBC News explained: “I will answer your question, but I’d like to speak for a couple of minutes.” Sanders began rolling right into his main talking points about income inequality and the corruption in Washington.

The protestors wanted him to answer their question and began chanting again.   To answer their question he started to talk about how African-Americans have the highest unemployment rate in the country and that that we need a jobs plan to help reduce crime and poverty.

In my opinion, he is right about how to lift people out of poverty and by pushing a comprehensive jobs program that will provide jobs to millions of Americans it will help these struggling communities. The problem is that Sen. Sanders was not addressing the African-Americans’ real concerns about safety from the people who are sworn to protect them.

Sen. Sanders has been an advocate for civil rights for fifty years and walked with Martin Luther King in the March on Washington. This is something that is not as well know about Sanders as his stance on breaking the Wall Street banks. In my opinion he is your ally, not your enemy.

(Read also: Why Bernie Sanders Got Twice as Much Applause as Hillary Clinton When He Spoke to La Raza: Sanders connects at the Latino civil rights group’s big convention.)

So what was the point of all this? I had vigorous discussions about this with many people over the last 24 hours as was this good or bad, and my response is both.

Good: The Black Lives Matter protesters were successful in bringing their issues to the forefront of the news.

Bad: Their protest destroyed the town hall and the news only focused on the protest because the candidates were never really given enough time to explain their positions and what they would like to do to correct these problems.

Neither candidate handled this situation well. I am not sure if either of them have been confronted with this type of protest before and I am sure they never expected it from what should have been a friendly environment for them. O’Malley did talk about having more transparency and report all police involved shootings, complaints, and brutality complaints.

Good: Bringing national attention to Black Lives Matter campaign efforts.

Bad: Black Lives Matters is not the only issue that needs attention and by overwhelming the town hall all of the other groups (who already support the Black Lives Matter campaign) did not get to her the candidates answer questions about their issues.

There is another issue here, and that is that the mostly white progressives at Netroots Nation do not know or care about the racial injustices in the African-American community.

This is absolutely false!

One thing is for sure, we as progressives can always do more to help support Black Lives Matter and fighting racial injustice in our communities.

We can Monday morning quarterback this situation to death but the truth is that the repercussions and results of this action have not fully been realized yet. Only time will tell what will happen next.

  • Will the media continue to talk about Black Lives Matter or was this just a flash in the pan?
  • Will Netroots Nation be able to attract high-level candidates, and elected officials, to speak to the attendee’s knowing there is a potential that they will have their speech hijacked by protesters?
  • Will those who found the protest inappropriate, overcome their feelings of disgust and return to Netroots next year?

Only time will tell.

The NH Labor News Needs Your Support

NH Labor News QuotedAnother year has passed and as we begin the First in the Nation primary the New Hampshire Labor News is hard at work combating the anti-worker messaging stream that the Republicans are pushing in house parties and town halls in every corner of our state.

Every day I sift through hundreds of emails, news articles, blog posts and Facebook updates to help keep you informed about what is going on in that place where labor and politics collide.

Much of what I have learned about how the Internet works and how to shape our message, I have learned at conventions like Netroots Nation. Netroots Nation is an annual convention that brings in progressives from across the country to discuss, strategize, and continually improve our message. It is also an opportunity to meet and build relationships with fellow progressives to help our message spread even farther.

This is why I need you help!

Netroots Nation is not a free event, and the hotel costs alone will be close to $1,000 dollars. This is why I am asking you to help me win a scholarship to attend Netroots Nation for free thanks to generous donations from organizations like the AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, CWA, and Democracy for America.

All you need to do is click this link and vote for me.

I want to thank all of those who have already taken the 30 seconds to vote for me, but we still have more work to do.

As I write this, I am currently in 9th place and only the top five will receive a full ride scholarship to Netroots Nation. The scholarship contest is a test of your social reach. How effective is your messaging and how engaging are your social media followers. With hundreds of dedicated email followers and thousands of social media followers, I would easily be in the top five if everyone took 30 seconds to vote.

This is why it is so important for you to vote in this contest!

I also want to say that, I adore all of the fans of the NH Labor News. Every day I post articles and messages and I watch as YOU push that information to the far reaches of the Internet. It is YOU that makes what I do worthwhile.

Just like the work you advocating for working families, all of the work I do for the NH Labor News is voluntary. Once a year, I ask for your help to send me to Netroots Nation and to help offset the cost of running the NH Labor News. 

Use this PayPal button to make a donation
to help keep the NH Labor News running .

Every donation helps, and I am grateful for all the donations I have received in the past.

This year all of my fundraising efforts are going to pay for a much needed new computer. I have been using the same white Macbook for the better part of a decade and it has finally come to the point where I need to get a new one.

Will YOU help me get a new computer by
making a donation to the NH Labor News?

Lastly, I would like to remind you that Advertising on the NH Labor News is always available. We can work out a price that works for you and your organization and is the right type of advertising for your company or campaign.

Click here to read more about how to advertise on the Labor News.

As always, keep spreading the message. Together we can fight back against the attacks on working families!

In Solidarity,


Creator and Editor of the NH Labor News

The Government Is The Largest Creator Of Low-Wage Jobs

Rep Keith Ellison at NN14“The government doesn’t create jobs,” said Mitt Romney about one month before he suffered a blistering defeat in the 2012 Presidential election.

Of course this out-right lie has been repeated over and over and over. “Government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

As a former Governor, and a (soon to be former) Congressman they should know that the government does create jobs.  The federal government alone spends $3.6 trillion dollars annually, state and local governments spend another $3.2 trillion.  Eventually all of that money goes into our economy, creating jobs and providing much needed services to our communities.

The federal government spends over $500 billion dollars on government contractors alone.  For spending all this money, the federal government is “the largest creator of low wages jobs” said Joseph Geevarghes, Deputy Director of Change to Win, a labor coalition and strategic organizing center.

These government contractors created over two million low-wage jobs.  “Over 70% of these workers are women and nearly 45% are people of color,stated Demos in a report created for Change To Win.

So we create a lot of jobs, but they are crappy low wage jobs.  We are like a Super-Wal-Mart!!! Wait, that is not really good at all.

Take for example, Erika Gales.  Erika works for the government contractor who runs the food court at the Pentagon.  She makes a whopping $7.50 an hour.  Erika told the crowd at Netroots Nation that she had to drop out of college because she could no longer afford it.  She is now responsible for taking care of her mother whose health is deteriorating.

Erika was one of the many workers who walked off the job in protest last year calling on President Obama to raise the minimum wage for government contractors.

Or take Aaron, who is a wheelchair assistant at the Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport.  He makes $7.25 an hour with no healthcare, no time off, and no benefits at all.  To support his wife and two children, Aaron was forced to take a second job.  Now he works 60-70 hours a week, and still has to collect food stamps to feed his family.   “I work so much, I hardly get to see my children,” Aaron told the crowd at Netroots Nation.

Congress is always looking to protect your tax dollars, by always choosing the lowest contract bidder.  They appear to save the government money by slashing wages, stripping workers of their healthcare, retirements, and sick days, and then putting back in the same job they had before.   That is pretty much how government contracting works at every level.

On the surface it may appear that the government is saving money by privatizing these services, however they are merely trading a reduction in one area for an increase in another.  When employers do not pay a living wage, workers are forced to collect money from the government’s social programs just to feed their families.

Congressman Keith Ellison thinks we should be using our tax dollars more efficiently, and protecting workers at the same time.  Ellison and the rest of the Progressive Congressional Caucus have successfully added an amendment to four of the five appropriations bills that have come through the House to block contractors who violated labor laws from entering into contracts with the government.

If you have a history of wage theft you may not participate in this appropriations budget,” Congressman Ellison said to the crowd at Netroots Nation.

It is very simple, if you have ever been caught stealing from your workers in any way, then you will no longer be allowed to work as a contractor for the federal government.

Congressman Ellison also told the crowd that he plans to submit legislation making the right to form unions a “civil right,” allowing workers to take employers to civil court.  Workers inside and outside the government are working to form unions, and are being met with massive resistance.  The National Labor Relations Act protects workers from discrimination and retaliation as they work to form unions.  However the process is very slow, and very expensive leaving many workers to decide, “Is it worth it to fight for this job?” In many cases, workers are fired for their organizing efforts, and never take their case to the NLRB.

Do not fret there is hope, and John Nichols has a few suggestions to get us started.  As I stated before, the federal government spends over $500 billion dollars annually on government contractors.  “That is 14% of our national budget,” Nichols told the crowd. “That is enough money to leverage some serious social change.”

Just imagine the difference in our economy, if the worlds largest spender only shopped at places like COSTCO, instead of places like Wal-Mart.  COSTCO is now famous for their corporate model that pays workers almost twice the minimum wage, provides sick time and vacation time, healthcare, and retirement options all while bringing in strong annual profits.

Nichols said, “No private company would spend $500 billion dollars without setting demands on the investment.”  The government must ensure that anyone who enters into a contract with the government pays a living wage, provides healthcare benefits, time off, and the ability to learn and progress up the social ladder.  These simple demands would reverse the government’s race to the bottom.

By using the federal budget to ensure that contractors pay a living wage and provide health benefits, we as taxpayers will win in the long run.  Good Jobs Nation reports, “We will see additional GDP growth of about $31 billion annually along more than 260,000 additional jobs; $6.8 billion in new tax revenue and nearly $9 billion in fiscal savings from the SNAP, EITC, and Medicaid programs can be expected annually”

If we want to build a better community, a better economy, and a more effective use of our tax dollars then we need to push policies that create good paying jobs.  Just by using our tax dollars more effectively we can help to lift 21 million people out of poverty, create new jobs, invest in our economy, and reap a few fiscal rewards at the same time.

Labor of Love: How The American Labor Movement Is Securing LBGT Equality

Labor of Love

From Left to Right : Amanda Terkel, Congressman Mark Takano, Roland Leggett, Kate Childs Graham, Cari Stevenson

“Labor has been fighting for LBGT rights for the last 30 years,” Carli Stevenson told the audience of the “Labor of Love” panel at Netroots Nation.  Carli is an openly gay woman who has done communications for multiple labor unions and is currently working with AFSCME Indiana-Kentucky Organizing Committee 962.

The basis of the panel was talking about the direct influence that labor unions played in fighting for the rights of our brothers and sisters in the LBGT community.  There is no doubt that labor played a major role in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, working to end segregation, and fighting for equality.  Let us never forget that the reason Dr. Martin Luther King was in Memphis, where he was assassinated, was to march with AFSCME sanitation workers.

It is no coincidence that labor has been a leader in pushing for the current civil rights battle, the battle for equality and LBGT rights.  Congressman Mark Takano told the audience that “2013 may have been the gay-est year in history.”  He also said that younger members of the LBGT community do not remember the struggles in the past and who was there to help the LBGT community continue to move forward.

It was people like Cesar Chavez, who as President of the United Farm Workers union was the “first major civil rights leader to support gay and lesbian issues visibly and explicitly.”  Chavez also led the “Second National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights” in 1987.

Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay politicians elected to San Francisco City Council, helped the Teamsters organize a boycott of Coors in the mid ‘70s.  Milk organized the local gay bar owners to stop selling Coors while the Teamsters truck drivers were on strike.  In return, Milk asked the Teamsters to hire more gay and lesbian drivers.  The partnership was extremely successful, taking Coors from a 40% market share to 14% and ending the strike.

The United Auto Workers pushed equality forward.   “The UAW was the first union to get same sex couple benefits into labor contract,” said Roland Leggett, the Michigan State Director for Working America.  After the UAW successfully got domestic partner benefits into their contracts in 1982, more and more Fortune 500 companies started to adopt similar policies.  By 2006, 49% of all Fortune 500 companies offered domestic partner benefits.

“The patchwork of legal protections across the country underscores the reason why a union contract is an LGBT worker’s best friend,” wrote T Santora, Co-President of Pride At Work, in a 2009 article.

Labor was bold and progressive in their approach to get LBGT protections for all workers, and was right there to fight back when workers were being discriminated against.  Labor used their influence in State Houses and on Capitol Hill to push for same-sex marriage provisions and to pass provisions against worker discrimination.

Before becoming a politician, Congressman Takano was a public school teacher for over 20 years.  He talked about the importance of the partnership between the LBGT community and the teachers unions.  In 1978, they fought back against the Prop 6, the “Briggs Amendment” that would have “banned gays and lesbians from working in the California public schools.”

Together the labor movement and the LGBT community celebrated as the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.  This monumental decision is leading to the destruction of the anti-gay marriage provisions passed throughout the states.


Pushing To End LBGT Discrimination

From the beginning labor and the LBGT community have been working to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  However, after the Hobby Lobby decision, the “religious provisions” in ENDA took on an entirely new meaning.

The Supreme Court’s decision allows Hobby Lobby a “religious exemption” from a provision of the federal Affordable Care Act.  Within days of that ruling, “closely held corporations” and religious institutions wanted to use the religious exemption to discriminate against the LBGT community.  (Read the story “Hobby Lobby’s harvest: A religious exemption for LGBT discrimination?” from the LA Times)

Just as quickly as religious institutions began to file for the ability to discriminate, national gay rights advocacy groups began pulling their support for ENDA.

“While we fully support strong protections for LGBT workers in the workplace, something that for many workers is currently only afforded by a union contract, after the recent Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, it is clear that these broad religious exemptions would gut the intent and purpose of ENDA,” said Pride at Work interim Executive Director, Jerame Davis, in a written statement. “LGBT workers deserve strong, enforceable workplace protections and we look forward to supporting a bill to that end.”

The current version of ENDA has a religious exemption clause that would allow the “closely held corporations” and religious institutions to openly discriminate against workers because they are gay.

Carli Stevenson laid out the perfect example at Netroots Nation, when she explained that her partner works for a Catholic organization.  If the administration learned that Carli’s partner was in a same sex relationship, she could be immediately fired, and unable to collect unemployment.   “We’re not just talking about marriage, we’re talking about basic workers’ rights. Many of these religious and ministerial exemptions are an attack on basic protections most of us take for granted.” Carli continued. “We should not be pushing for any bill that will leave out any members of our LBGT family.”

Congressman Takano said that the staff from the Equality Caucus is working on the right language to protect the workers and the religious beliefs of religious institutions.

Roland Leggett, whose husband is a Lutheran minister, talked about the how “religious exemptions have been used a way to discriminate against people throughout history.”  He continued by saying, “there is a difference between a baker who does not want to make a cake for a gay wedding, and being fired for being gay.”

Some of this anti-gay messaging comes from the Catholic Church.  Kate Childs Graham, who does media affairs for the American Federation of Teachers, was raised Catholic and said she is “hopeful that this new Pope will make changes to move the church towards marriage equality.”


Moving Forward

After a long and moving discussion about how labor unions helped to push for many of the rights and protections that the LBGT community now enjoys, it was Kate Childs Graham who posed a question to the audience: “What can the LBGT community do to help labor?”

For decades, labor unions have seen a slow decline in membership and less of the private sector is covered by union contracts.  Over the past few years, labor unions have seen unprecedented attacks on workers rights.

Kate talked about the recent fight in Michigan, where Republican Governor Rick Snyder forced a “Right To Work (for less)” amendment through the state Legislature.  While that was happening, Kate talked to some of her friends at Equality Michigan, and asked for their help organizing people to rally against the legislation.  Without skipping a beat, Equality Michigan helped to gather hundreds of the LBGT community to a rally less than a week later.

In the 1970s when “gay rights” was a relatively new term, labor was there. Now these LBGT advocacy groups are very well organized, and very powerful.  Labor needs them to help push for better wages and better working conditions.  We need the LGBT community to help us push for a higher minimum wage.  We need the LBGT community to help us as we are organizing low-wage workers and restaurant workers.  We need the LBGT community to help us push for a single payer healthcare system. Sometimes, we just need people to stand with us at rallies. That is what the LBGT community can do for labor.


Closing Note

I have been running the New Hampshire Labor News for almost three years now.  My work has connected me with some wonderful people from around the country.  Many of the communications professionals inside the labor movement are gay.  They are some of the funniest, creative, and most dedicated people I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  I wanted to personally thank my friend Asher Huey (AFT Digital Media) for putting this panel together.  I also want to congratulate all the people who participated in this panel, and especially my friend, and fellow Granite Stater, Carli Stevenson, who plans on being married to the love of her life in 2016!


Can You Help Send Matt To Netroots Nation?


Matt Murray

Here’s the thing: my friend Matt Murray runs New Hampshire Labor News on a strictly volunteer basis. All the hours he puts in – on the blog site, on the Facebook page, the Twitter Feed, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pintrest – all his time is donated.  And he usually ends up paying costs out-of-pocket. Matt does this because he believes in the Labor Movement.  He saw a communication gap and decided to fill it: all of New Hampshire’s labor-related news in one place, 24/7/365.


Matt Murray and Richard Trumka
(President of the AFL-CIO)

But Matt hasn’t just “filled the gap” here in the Granite State, he’s given workers a voice.  He has helped hundreds of nurses in Orlando, Florida tell their stories.  Last year’s coverage of the Detroit bankruptcy went viral, and was quoted by the national AFL-CIO.  Privatization of the US Postal Service, public education, income inequality, CEOs dodging pension obligations at Patriot Coal and Hostess Brands, factory deaths in Bangladeshall these stories found a home at NH Labor News.

And Matt hasn’t taken home a penny for doing any of it.

NH Labor News Quoted

Matt has given the Labor Movement a lot.  I’d like to do something in return.  He wants to go to Netroots Nation 2014.  And I would like all those of us who benefit from Matt’s work at NH Labor News to chip in and send him there.

Matt Murray And Gov. Howard Dean

Gov. Howard Dean and Matt Murray at #NN13

Netroots is an annual convention of bloggers and social media communicators.  Matt has attended in past years, and he has brought home “best practices” and shortcuts.  He has also come back with renewed energy and enthusiasm (important things for a 24/7 volunteer to have). But in “real life” Matt is just another worker – he’s gotten hit by wage freezes, cutbacks, and increased pension contributions – and like most of the rest of us, his family budget is really tight. Can you help me raise enough money so that Matt can afford to go to Netroots Nation 2014?

Any amount, no matter how small, will help to get him there.

Thank you for helping me show Matt how much we value all his work on NH Labor News.

Can You Help Matt Murray Of The NH Labor News Win A Scholarship To Netroots Nation 2013?

Matt Murray and Richard Trumka

Matt Murray (NH Labor News) and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
Taken at Netroots Nation 2012

For over two years now I have been working to build the NH Labor News.  What started as a project with the NH AFL-CIO, the NH Labor News blog grew into a full social media presence.  The NH Labor News now has over 1000 Facebook fans and over 2100 followers on Twitter.

My main goal in creating the NH Labor News was to create a single stream of labor related information for union members (and union supporters), a place to get information about what is going in here in the Granite State and beyond.

Throughout the last two years we have covered everything from the funding problems with the USPS to local Public Employee Labor Relations Board hearings and everything in between. Over the last year I helped push for support of Governor Maggie Hassan, Rep Carol Shea-Porter, Rep Annie Kuster, President Obama and dozens of local NH candidates.

Now I am asking for you to help me.  I need your votes.

I along with over 3000 people, I  will be attending the annual Netroots Nation event in California this June.  For those who do not know about Netroots Nation, it is an annual event where bloggers and social media experts come to together to share their knowledge with everyone else.  This builds a large, strong social media presence when it comes to progressive issues.  The connections are invaluable, and the knowledge is unmatched.

Netroots Nation does have some costs associated with it. This is how you can help me.  Democracy for America is offering a scholarship to cover registration and lodging at NN13.  This would only mean that I would need to come up with transportation to California (if you want to sponsor my airfare contact me directly).

Please take one minute to Vote for MATT on the DFA website. http://nn13.democracyforamerica.com/applicants/64?complete=true


Then share this post on your Facebook walls and on your Twitter accounts.  The more votes I get the better my chances of winning a scholarship.  With you help I can attend this amazing event.


Matt Murray attending a rally for President Obama in Manchester NH


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