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New Hampshire Issue Advocacy Groups Join Forces, Rally Ahead of Democratic Presidential Debate

Rally and Downtown March Called on Democratic Candidates to Articulate Vision for a Clean Energy Future, Invest in Economic Security for Families and Small Businesses, and Put Voters Ahead of Special Interests

2015-12-19 march 1MANCHESTER, NH – Today, more than 20 issue advocacy groups gathered in Manchester to share a collective vision for a better future in advance of the New Hampshire Democratic Primary Debate.  The march and rally, titled “The Future We Want,” made its way down Elm Street in a show of unity. The march began at the Radisson Hotel, where leaders from across the region discussed how the activist community is coming together to demand action on the issues that matter to New Hampshire and the nation.

“There are so many great organizations doing important work in the state,” said Mike Padmore, State Director for NextGen Climate New Hampshire. “Every group here is working together for justice and progress, by protecting our planet, restoring democracy through campaign finance reform, supporting reproductive rights, investing in economic security for working families and defending the refugees seeking safety and a better life.”

Close to 200 people attended the event. Participants discussed how their work supports a unified vision to move our state and country forward and the importance of working together to ensure a fairer and more just future for all Americans. New Hampshire has a long tradition of using its First-in-the-Nation Primary status to vet candidates on the issues that matter most to Americans and for months Granite State “bird dogs” – issue advocates that follow the candidates and pin them down on the tough questions – have worked the Democratic Primary field. Rally speakers pointed to tonight’s Democratic Primary Debate, happening just two miles away at St. Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics, calling it an opportunity for candidates to be champions of justice and progress.

“In New Hampshire, we have a unique opportunity to be in the spotlight of the national conversation in the months leading up to the First in the Nation primary” said Will Hopkins, Executive Director of New Hampshire Peace Action. “With that opportunity comes an important responsibility to engage with the candidates and articulate a vision for the future that demands strong leadership on the issues that matter to Granite Staters.”

The participating organizations from today’s rally and march will continue to work together to articulate and demonstrate a fair, just, and progressive vision for America during the Presidential Primary.

2015-12-19 march 2

 

NextGen Climate NH is a non-profit, non-partisan dedicated to averting climate disaster and promoting prosperity for all Americans. NextGen is calling on our elected leaders to get America to 50% renewable energy by 2030.

350 Action is pushing presidential candidates during the New Hampshire Primary to keep fossil fuels in the ground. It empowers New Hampshire residents to use creative direct action and bird dogging to influence our leaders.

Granite State Progress is a progressive advocacy organization that addresses issues of immediate state and local concern. Granite State Progress works as a communications hub for the progressive community to provide a strong, credible voice in advancing progressive solutions to critical community problems.

People For the American Way is dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American: Equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American Way. Our operational mission is to promote the American Way and defend it from attack, to build and nurture communities of support for our values, and to equip those communities to promote progressive policies, elect progressive candidates, and hold public officials accountable.

Moms Clean Air Force is a community of parents working together to combat air pollution, including the urgent crisis of our changing climate – to protect our children’s health.

The American Friends Service Committee’s “Governing Under the Influence” project is a non-partisan, educational effort to raise awareness about the excessive power held by the ultra-wealthy and major corporations, especially those that profit from militarism and incarceration.  To date the project has trained more than 1000 NH people to be effective “bird dogs,” brought its giant GUI banners to dozens of political events, sponsored educational programs with hundreds of participants, and engaged all major presidential candidates in substantive discussions about nuclear weapons spending, the immigrant detention mandate, the influence of the military industrial complex, and other issues.

The cross-partisan NH Rebellion has mobilized thousands of citizen rebels to #FightBigMoney in politics by walking the talk for democracy all across the Granite State – 30,000 miles and counting. #NHRebellion educates candidates and voters on how our democracy could be fixed through its We the People pledge,  including overturning Citizens United, ending the Legislator to Lobbyist revolving door, requiring donation transparency, and other reforms. #NHRebellion is part of Open Democracy, the nonpartisan organization founded by legendary reformer Doris “Granny D” Haddock.

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO is a strong statewide voice for all working people, bringing together the unions of New Hampshire under one banner to fight for economic and social justice in our workplaces and communities.

Rights and Democracy is bringing people together to take action to build healthy communities and make the values of our communities guide the policies of our government. Together, we create change through grassroots organizing, educating and mobilizing around the issues that affect our communities, recruiting and training candidates to run for office, and working through the political and electoral process to advance progressive policies that lead to happy, healthy, and just communities for everyone.

New Hampshire Sierra Club represents over 15,000 Members and Supporters who care about the environment and the future of the Granite State. NHSC supports pollution-free clean energy future that can benefit the local economy and create jobs, like energy efficiency, wind and solar energy. Our goal is to have a zero carbon polluting economy by the year 2050.

The members of New Hampshire Peace Action are dedicated to making a contribution to world peace. We envision a world in which nuclear disarmament, mutual security, global understanding, international cooperation and respect for human rights create social, economic, and environmental benefits for all humanity.

Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including legislative education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy. Follow us on Twitter.

After nearly 40 years NH Citizens Alliance continues to lead the movement for social and economic justice in the Granite State. We focus on creating a more engaged electorate through issue education, leadership development and voter engagement and mobilization. Central to our work is a women’s economic justice framework. We must take action now to ensure that women have equal rights and receive fair treatment on the job, in health care and in the new economy.

Better Future Project works to build powerful grassroots movements to address the climate crisis and advance a rapid and responsible transition beyond fossil fuels in Massachusetts and beyond.

350 Massachusetts for a Better Future is building a powerful statewide social movement to confront the climate crisis, hold our politicians accountable and undermine the destructive influence of the fossil fuel industry.

 The UNH Peace and Justice League is a social justice advocacy group.  We have worked on issues ranging from the student debt crisis at UNH to the nationwide issue of money in politics.

Divest UNH is pressuring the University of New Hampshire to divest their endowment from fossil fuels.  No one, especially universities, should be profiting of the devastating effects of climate change.  Our goal is not just to push the University of New Hampshire to divest but to create a long lasting student movement to fight for climate justice.

At the Organic Garden Club we manage an organic farm on campus.  Our goal is to provide a place for students to learn how to garden and to educate our community on where their food comes from.

The UNH Student Environmental Action Coalition is a collaborative of sustainability initiatives and committees seeking to promote a better environment and a stronger community

350NH is a climate movement of neighbors. We work as a community to turn off new fossil fuel infrastructure and turn on New Hampshire’s potential for a renewable energy future.

Raising The Minimum Wage Is Long Overdue

moon design studio co. presents

I used to say, “It is time to raise the minimum wage.” However that moment has passed and we are seriously behind the 8-ball. We must raise the minimum wage now to help the millions nation-wide who are suffering through life, in poverty, working 40,50, even 60 hours a week.

Right now the National Minimum Wage law is set at $7.25 an hour, and that is completely unacceptable. People are working more hours now than at any point in our history and yet they are still losing ground as Congress and our State Legislatures fail to increase the minimum wage.

Just look at this image from the Economic Policy Institute that shows if the minimum wage would have kept up with productivity they would be earning over $18.00 an hour.

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Over 50,000 Granite Staters are earning at or below the Federal Minimum Wage, yet our Republican controlled Senate refuses to raise the NH Minimum Wage.

The economists at MIT calculated what a “living wage” would be in New Hampshire and the results are staggering. A single worker would need to earn $11.51 an hour. If your break that down to todays numbers that is almost 60 hours a week at $7.25 an hour. But it gets much worse. A single parent working would need to earn $24.66 an hour. That equates to about 137 hours a week at minimum wage. Considering there is only 168 in a week, that would leave a whopping 31 hours a week to sleep, raise their child, cook, clean, grocery shop, and whatever else needs to be done.

I know what your thinking, “the minimum wage is for teenagers and part-time employees.” You would be half right, because the majority of these workers are considered part time, not because they do not want to work full time, but because their employer refuses to make them full time to avoid having to pay for any healthcare or retirement options.

As for being only teenagers, yes teenagers make up a quarter (24%) of the minimum wage workforce, but how many of these teenagers are working at Dunkin Donuts at 8 am on a Tuesday? Not many because most of them are still in school.

The fact is that another 25% of minimum wage workers are between 20-24 and 50% of minimum wage workers are over 25. In 2013 it was reported that 27.9% of those effected by raising the minimum wage to $10.10, are parents raising at least one child.

It is time to take action. The New Hampshire AFL-CIO will be hosting a “Raising Wages Summit” with special guest speaker, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO.

Raising Wages SummitThe summit will include information sessions and workshops designed to expand your knowledge of who is effected by raising the minimum wage, how to talk to legislators (and your crazy Uncle Joe) about why it is important to raising the minimum wage, and to start building a coalition of activists who will stand up for working families here in the Granite State.

The Raising Wages Summit will be held at the IBEW 490 Hall, 48 Airport Road, Concord, NH, on Saturday November 7th, from 9:30a-1:30p.

(More information can be found on the NH AFL-CIO’s Facebook event, or by contacting Judy Stadtman at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, (603) 632-7302 x19 or email 2015wagesummit@nhaflcio.org.)

Ahead Of Labor Day, NH AFL-CIO And NH Democrats Blast GOP Candidates Anti-Worker Agenda

RAND PAUL (Stump Source FLIKR CC)

RAND PAUL (Stump Source FLIKR CC)

Ahead of the holiday weekend dedicated to honoring the sacrifices made by workers, the NH AFL-CIO and the NH Democratic Party, blast Republicans over their failed and out of touch policies that harm working families.

Labor Day is the annual holiday to “celebrate the progress of American workers,” said NH AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett. “American workers are what make our country great.”

Labor Day honors the decades of progress gained through the blood, sweat and tears of American workers who fought for policies like weekends, paid time off, sick days, maternity leave, social security, on the job safety programs like OSHA, and dozens of other policies that would never have been without American workers standing up for them.

Earlier this summer, Jeb Bush told the Union Leader that people just need to “work longer hours” showing just how out of touch he really is.

Americans are still suffering the effects of the Great Recession that stemmed from the failed policies of the George W Bush presidency and the deregulation of Wall Street.

Not to be outdone, Senator Rand Paul recently said, “Income inequality is from people not working hard enough,” and also said, “if you work all day long, you don’t have time to do heroin.”

American workers have pushed their productivity to the highest levels in history, yet all of those gains have gone to the wealthy instead of working families.

Many Americans have been forced to work two or even three jobs just to pay the bills as wages have declined over the last thirty years (adjusted for inflation). I highly doubt Jeb Bush has ever had to take on a second or third job to pay his bills.

NH Democratic Party Chair, Raymond Buckley, said that it is “Democrats who are fighting for working families.” Democrats are pushing for a higher minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, and protecting Social Security to ensure that workers can retire with dignity.

“Jeb Bush wants to “phase out” Medicare and John Kasich wants to change Social Security for those close to retirement age, jeopardizing their future. Not to mention failed Republican policies of the past that favor the wealthiest few and leave the middle class behind,” said Buckley.

In New Hampshire it is Republicans who blocked a minimum wage increase and now are holding the state hostage with their draconian budget that would repeal healthcare for 50,000 hard working Granite Staters, to preserve tax breaks from wealthy corporations.

Brackett highlighted that under President Obama’s leadership “America has had 64 straight months of private sector growth.’

“The GOP economic plan seems to be demanding that middle class workers work even longer, while refusing to do anything to help middle class workers and their families get ahead. If they keep this up, it won’t be difficult for hard-working Granite State families to see that putting the White House back in GOP hands would be a disaster for our middle class,” concluded Brackett.

RALLY 3-14-15: Tell Scott Walker Attacking The Middle Class Is Un-American

(Image by WisPolitics.com FLICKR CC)

(Image by WisPolitics.com FLICKR CC)

Governor Scott Walker is waging a war on working families in Wisconsin – and now he wants to take his anti-middle class agenda all the way to the White House.

10403517_1569337943317333_874964271976823317_nOn Saturday, March 14, Scott Walker is coming to New Hampshire to test the waters for a presidential primary run. But you know and I know that Governor Walker isn’t Presidential material – after all, this is the same politician who recently compared hard-working Americans to militant terrorists who have committed horrific crimes against humanity.

Working people and our community allies have a crystal clear message for Mr. Walker when he arrives in the Granite State: Attacking the middle-class is downright un-American.

Please join New Hampshire AFL-CIO, our labor partners and community allies in Concord on March 14 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. for a visibility action to hold Scott Walker accountable for his plans to lower wages and crush good jobs for American workers.

WHAT: Stop Scott Walker | Stand Up for America’s Middle Class Visibility Action

WHEN: Saturday, March 14, 2015, 8:30-10:30am

WHERE:Outside Concord High School, 170 Warren Street, Concord, NH

DETAILS: Concord High School is located on Warren Street between N. Fruit Street and Westbourne Road. Street parking is available in the area. We’ll have signs to share, or bring your own.

MORE INFO: Call New Hampshire AFL-CIO, (603) 623-7302 or email jstadtman@nhaflcio.org

You can sign up on the Facebook event page and find more information about the event and  meet-up location: https://www.facebook.com/events/889491181109164/

Don’t like Facebook? No problem! You can sign up with this user-friendly web form to get information and updates about the 3/14/2015 Stop Scott Walker action in Concord, New Hampshire:http://goo.gl/forms/gXpoHd893t

We’ll have signs to share – or bring your own. We hope to see you there!

Sen. Shaheen Explains How She Is Working To Protect NH Jobs From Outsourcers Like Scott Brown

Jeanne Shaheen at AFLCIO

Ever since Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown announced that he was selling his house in Massachusetts and moving to his second house in New Hampshire, I knew he had big plans to run for the US Senate again.  I never liked Senator Brown when he was elected to the US Senate from Massachusetts, and I like him even less as he attempts to carpetbag his way into a Senate seat from New Hampshire.

He is a massive flip-flopper and is trying really hard to convince everyone that he is from New Hampshire, and that he truly represents the people of New Hampshire.

The facts are very different.  Just listen to Brown from just a little while back.

Senator Scott Brown only cares about Scott Brown, and Scott Brown’s bank account.

Brown is doing he best to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen who has shown her dedication to New Hampshire as a State Senator, and as our Governor.

Scott Brown moved up to New Hampshire and as we are slowly finding out, he came with serious baggage.  First it was announced that he involved with a Florida company that was trying scam people using Brown as their front man.  Thanks to Kevin Landrigan we learned that Brown is being paid $270,000 to be on the Board of Directors of Kadant, a company that has made huge profits by outsourcing our jobs.

Yes, the same person who wants to be our Senator, serves on the board of a company that ships our jobs overseas.  It is a little known fact that New Hampshire was one of the hardest hit by these types of corporations, as we lost the largest percentage of our manufacturing base to outsourcing.

I wanted to ask Senator Shaheen what she thought about this, and I thought I would get the chance, as she was schedule to speak at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.  I planned to get Senator Shaheen to answer my question after her speech.

I had my question all ready:

“Senator, recently it has come to light that Scott Brown is making over $270,000 as board member of Kadant, a company known for outsourcing US jobs.  What are you doing to protect Granite State jobs from these vultures who are shipping our good paying jobs overseas?”

Then I sat a listened to Senator Shaheen speak and as she finished, I crumbled up my paper and told myself, well I guess that answers that question!

Do you want to know what Senator Shaheen has done to protect Granite State jobs?

Do you want to know how Scott Brown voted against a bill that would remove incentives for corporations who outsource good paying Granite State jobs?

All you have to do is watch this short 11 minute video of her speech at the NH AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast.

Will Senator Sanders Run? After This Speech, I Hope So!

Bernie Sanders

There is a war out there and whether you know it or not, you are a part of it.  This is a war between a few ultra-wealthy families and the rest of us living here in America.

These ultra-wealthy 1%’ers have been buying elections and forcing policy changes that weaken our labor laws, weaken environmental protections, and most importantly take money from hard working Americans and put it into the pockets of Wall Street hedge fund managers.

What is a middle class worker supposed to do?

Every year we sit and watch, as our paychecks appear to shrink and our grocery bills get higher and higher.  Corporate run healthcare is costing us more and more, and yet our employers refuse to increase wages.  Effectively Corporate is slowly eating away at our take home pay.

We need someone who will fight back against Corporate America, the Koch brothers, and the Walton family greed.  We need someone who will fight to rebuild the middle class, and reach down to help those who are not there yet.

Who could that person be? Hillary Clinton? Maybe, well have to see. Elizabeth Warren? Love her, but we need her in the Senate right now.

Have no fear, Bernie Sanders is here!  

The truth is that nobody knows if Bernie Sanders is officially going to run for President or not, and trust me I tried to ask him at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast.  Even though I did not get a straight answer, after watching Senator Sanders speak there is no doubt in my mind he is running. And that makes me very happy!

As an avid political commentator, and devoted follower of politics, sadly I do not think Bernie will win the Democratic Party nomination.  That being said it is vitally important that Senator Sanders puts his name in the race, because he is going to ask the questions that absolutely nobody on the right will dare answer, and he is going to change the entire debate on the left, which may make Hillary a little uncomfortable.

The fact that Senator Sanders is even considering to run has many 1%’ers running scared. The more Bernie talks about running, the more speeches like this one, get pushed into the mainstream media.  The 1% does not want you to know that they are secretly creating policies that suppress your wages, and boost their profits.  The 1% does not want you to know that they have been working to break our unions, and repeal the minimum wage. The 1% does not want you to know that they are secretly changing our environmental laws to make it easier to pollute our planet.

“The problems we face today are probable more serious than at any time since the Great Depression” warned Sanders.  “From the bottom my heart, I believe these problems are solvable, but they will not be solved unless working people come together and have the courage to take on the greed and the selfishness that we are seeing all over this country.”

At one point Senator Sanders talked about how our entire tax structure is unbalanced and that we have to do something about the vast income inequality currently dividing our country.  This is effecting our communities as local budgets are getting tighter and tighter. Lack of revenue and budget cuts have forced teachers to be laid off.  Laying off teachers is the worst thing we can do if we are trying to build strong community.  Teachers are forced out while Wall Street hedge fund managers collect obscene amounts of money.

“24 of the most lucrative hedge fund managers made more money than 425,000 public school teachers. That makes sense to nobody I know,” Sanders said.

Senator Sander also talked about David Koch’s Libertarian agenda when he ran for Vice President in 1980.  All of the things that were too extreme for main stream Republicans in 1980 like, repealing the minimum wage, the repeal of Social Security, repealing campaign finance laws, the abolition of the USPS and the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid, are now the basis of the modern day TEA Party led Republican Party.

All of these policy changes favor those ultra-wealthy 1%’ers and basically screw the rest of us.  That is not what our founding fathers wanted when they created our democracy.

Senator Sanders said, “We live in a Democracy not an Oligarchy!”

I say RUN, Bernie, RUN!!!

 

Watch Senator Sanders entire speech at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast below. 

 

Governor Hassas Praises Labor At NH AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast

Hassan

Governor Hassan as well as many others took time out of their busy schedules to stop and honor Labor at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO’s annual Labor Day Breakfast.

Labor Day is the one day a year when the entire nation stops to look back and praise the achievements of organized labor throughout history.  Some, like Governor Hassan, respect and honor the hard work that union members do every day.

“You all make up the highly skilled workforce that makes up the backbone of our economy,” Hassan said.

Unions have always fought for better pay and better working conditions, and that leads to better pay and better working conditions for all Granite Staters.

I am proud to stand before you as your Governor and say that, with your support, we have been able to come together, and we have begun to reverse the devastating cuts and misguided policies of the last legislature,” said Hassan.

Governor Hassan has also shown she supports working families by pushing for, and signing, legislation like “Paycheck Fairness,” that work to reduce the income inequality between men and women.  She also worked to freeze in-state tuition at the University of New Hampshire schools.  She proudly announced that next year the Community College System of NH would actually lower tuition by 5%.

There was one piece of legislation that Governor Hassan was eager to see, that never made it to her desk, and that was an increase in the NH Minimum Wage.  The House passed a modest increase over two years, and Governor Hassan was very supportive of that legislation. However, when the bill got to the Senate, it was killed by a party line vote.  The Republican’s in the Senate, killed that bill and every Granite Stater should know it.

We need to ensure that this November we elect leaders, like Governor Hassan, who will stand up for working families, who will fight for a minimum wage increase, who will fight to keep expanding our healthcare options, and fight against the corporate greed that is infecting our legislature.  We need to ensure that we elect leaders who will oppose Right To Work (for less) in all its forms.

Below is the unedited address given by Governor Hassan at the NH AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast.

Working Families Can’t Afford Another Shutdown Style Crisis (by Richard Trumka & Mark Mackenzie)

By Mark MacKenzie and Richard Trumka

NH AFL-CIO LogoLast month, we saw Washington at its worst. Driven by the Tea Party, Republican leaders, including Senator Ayotte, recklessly shut down our government and brought our nation to the brink of default. Ignoring voices of reason from working families across New Hampshire, some of our leaders in Congress listened to shouts of “shut it down” and inflicted unnecessary damage to our economy.

The shutdown cost 120,000 jobs in the first two weeks of October and will reduce economic growth by at least .25% in the fourth quarter. Here in New Hampshire it directly impacted 4,069 federal workers and countless residents who rely on federal services.

Thankfully, reason prevailed, Republican leaders relented and Congress appointed negotiators to work on a new budget agreement.

Now it’s on to the next fight in Washington.  But before we get caught up in another news cycle where extremists convince us we shouldn’t invest in our future, it is worth noting that a congressional budget is a vision. It is a blueprint that outlines our priorities as a nation. A good budget invests in America. It doesn’t rob our government of the resources it needs to succeed. A good budget properly funds its obligations and promotes the creation of well-paying jobs. It doesn’t bargain away protections for our seniors and it isn’t balanced on the backs of working families.

As Democrats and Republicans spend this month negotiating how to avoid another government shutdown, it is important to remind Washington politicians about what working families need.

The recovery is still being dragged down by the repeated budget crises manufactured by Republicans in Congress.  Budget austerity in the Tea Party Congress has already slowed annual economic growth by 0.7%, cost 1.2 million jobs, and increased the unemployment rate by 0.8%, according to Macroeconomic Advisers.

First, Congress should repeal the sequester it created, not replace it. The sequester’s dumb across-the-board cuts have hurt everything from education to child care to medical research. Here in New Hampshire, much attention has been given to the hardworking workers at our Shipyard and National Guard members who have faced furloughs as a result of defense cuts. But sequestration is also forcing layoffs and cutbacks to other critical programs that provide job training, education, and other services.

Repealing the sequester would generate 800,000 jobs by this time next year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  The next budget should undo this painful damage— and not replace it with other harmful cuts.

Most importantly, policymakers in Washington must reject proposals to cut Social Security, Medicaid, or Medicare benefits.  They should avoid deficit hysteria promoted by billionaires and the 1%. Instead of terrifying our parents and grandparents with threats to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve earned, politicians should protect these vital programs that have shielded the elderly and vulnerable from poverty for generations. Our nation’s safety net should be strengthened, not weakened, because working people need more economic security, not less.

Instead, Congress should look to raise new revenue by repealing the tax subsidies that encourage corporations to send jobs overseas and ending special tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.  When the average CEO’s salary for the first morning on the job is the same amount the average worker makes in a year, it’s clear that the wealthiest Americans and corporations making record profits can pay their fair share.

Ending these undeserved and wasteful tax breaks would allow us to invest in our workforce and create the well-paying jobs millions so desperately need. By rebuilding our infrastructure, education, and manufacturing base, we can create good jobs with good benefits and provide relief to our struggling working and middle class. This is America, after all.  No job should trap anyone in a vicious cycle of poverty.

By focusing on helping working families instead of how to score political points, Congress can produce a budget that supports an economy that works for all. It is time for Senator Ayotte to realize that instead of shutting down progress, she needs to listen to the needs of the hardworking voters who sent her to Washington.

Richard Trumka is President of the AFL-CIO. Mark MacKenzie is President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

NH AFL-CIO Scholarship Essay Winners: Immigration Reform by Rishi Patel

This is a part of the NH AFL-CIO Scholarship essay contest.  The applicants were asked why immigration reform was so important. This is the third place winner, Rishi Patel.  Rishi’s mother Naina Patel, is an IBEW 1505 member. 

Scholarship applicants only speak for themselves, and are not necessarily the views of the NHLN. 

Rishi Patel 2

Rishi Patel and Janice Kelble an NH AFL-CIO Breakfast.

What do you believe is the significance of the bill and why do you believe immigration reform is such a major issue facing this country?

Rishi Patel

Rishi Patel and Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Ronald Reagan once said “A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.” Reagan pointed out one of the major issues of immigration. He noted that that a nation cannot function to its full potential if illegal traffic comes into it, since the government only has money and resources for the legal citizens. Another issue of immigration is that employers and businesses exploit illegal immigrants in order to make a greater profit. Employers not only get more “bang for their buck” but also undermine American workers by giving jobs to illegal immigrants. America is not only losing money to the employers, but it is also losing money through taxes. The nation is not receiving the funds that it deserves which cause the whole country to go further into debt. These are the reasons why the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 is important. The bill is a crucial step towards a stable future.

If this bill were to become law it would dramatically increase border security. The bill talks of deploying “at least 38,405 full-time Border Patrol agents, mandating an electronic exit system at all ports where Customs and Border Protection agents are deployed; constructing at least 700 miles of fencing, including double fencing; increasing mobile surveillance; deploying aircraft and radio communications; constructing additional Border Patrol stations and operating bases; hiring additional prosecutors, judges, and staff; providing additional training to border officers; and increasing prosecutions of illegal border crossings.” These are only some of the increases of border security, but this plan will make sure that illegal immigrants are not able to come into the country as it is expected to have “90 percent effectiveness rate in preventing illegal crossings.” This goal of 90 percent effectiveness is a guarantee as a bipartisan Southern Border Commission will be created who will be responsible for “making recommendations and spending additional funds in order to achieve border-security goals if the Secretary of Homeland Security cannot certify “effective control.” By having an effectiveness rate of 90 percent, America will significantly cut down on illegal immigrants. This will allow America to be more stable as the government will only have to spend money and resources for the legal citizens. By only spending money on legal citizens, the government is less likely to overspend and more likely to match its budget. By matching its budget the government will eventually be able to pay off its debt or at least not go further into debt.

Another part of this bill that will help stabilize America is E-Verify. E-Verify or employment verification system “is an internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States by comparing information from an employee’s Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to data from U.S. government records.” S.744 “requires identity verification through the use of enhanced fraud-proof documents, such as tamper- and identity-theft resistant Social Security cards, and the use of a photo tool to allow employers to verify an individual’s identity.” The bill also requires all employers to “confirm identity and employment authorization within three business days after the employee accepts the offer of employment.” By setting these requirements the government is making sure that no employer is able to cheat the system and hire illegal immigrants in order to make a greater profit. If an employer does hire a person who is not eligible to work according to E-Verify then they “are subject to increased civil or criminal penalties.” A civil fine is “increased up to $25,000 per violation for employers that have committed multiple violations related to hiring unauthorized immigrants.” Multiple violations may also result in an employer spending “two years in prison.” These penalties will not only prevent employers from hiring unauthorized workers but it will also prevent them from undermining the American workers. E-Verify will give the American workers a level playing field once again, and will also help steady the unemployment rate.

Even though both increased border security and E-Verify will lead to stabilizing the economy, none will have a greater effect than the Register Provisional Immigrant (RPI) program. This program creates a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants that have been in the United States since December 31, 2011. An immigrant who is under RPI status would be able to travel in and out of the country, and they would be able to work in United States. In order to apply a person must not be “convicted of a felony or three or more misdemeanors, pay their assessed taxes, pass background checks, and pay application fees and a $1,000 penalty (which may be paid in installments), among other requirements.” In order to become a citizen an immigrant must first achieve RPI status. Since RPI status lasts for six years the person must renew their status, and once they have finished 10 years in RPI status they must do 3 years of residency. Once the person has gone through this 13 year process he will then be eligible to apply for citizenship. Their application will then be put “in the back of the line.” This stabilizes the economy because it forces the immigrants to “pay their assessed taxes” and it would also require them to keep paying their taxes as long as they are in the RPI status.

S.744 is a bill that would create dramatic changes if it became law. All the changes will lead to the stability of America. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that enacting the bill would “decrease federal budget deficits by $158 billion over the 2014-2023 periods.” Making these changes will not only stabilize America but could cause the nation to beat the recession.

References
“A Guide to S.744: Understanding the 2013 Senate Immigration Bill.” Immigration Policy Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2013.
“Congressional Budget Office.” CBO. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2013.
Patel Family (image credit Janice Kelble)

Patel Family (image credit Janice Kelble)

Rebuilding A Strong Middle Class: A Message From Mark MacKenzie Pres. of the NH AFL-CIO

Many Americans celebrate Labor Day, a federal holiday since 1894, as a day for barbecues, cookouts, family trips and parades, at its heart Labor Day observes the strength, hard work and dedication of America’s workers.

This is a day to celebrate. We’ve earned it. All of us, whether we work on a construction site or in an office, in a school or a laboratory, contribute to the efforts that move our country forward.

Yet even as we mark this day, we recognize that there are challenges ahead for New Hampshire workers and their families. And if we truly want to commemorate Labor Day, we must rise to meet these challenges over the next year.

Nationally, our leaders must address the aftermath of economic policies that have frayed the fabric of the American dream and enriched the powerful at the expense of the average American. As millions of middle class and low wage working families struggle to get by on flat wages and disappearing benefits, many express frustration that low wage jobs make up the fastest growing sectors. Others remain out of the workforce or underemployed, victims of a financial crisis they did not cause.

There is no quick fix to these problems, but there are ways that we can start bringing our economy back into balance. We can start by ending the so called “sequestration” cuts to essential government services that are strangling our economy. Hundreds of workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are struggling with furloughs under sequestration. Putting those workers back on the job will not just help them, it will boost the region’s economy.

Our federal government must avoid weakening middle class buying power by stepping away from their perilous talk of cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.

In New Hampshire, we need to address issues that will positively impact working families, improve economic conditions in our communities while rebuilding a vibrant middle class in ways that play to our unique strengths.

We need to re-establish a state minimum wage that will protect and improve the lives of our lowest paid workers. Our elected officials should enact wage standards that reflect our values and do not leave people who get up and go to work every day unable to support themselves and their families.

We should stop procrastinating and accept the federal funds that will expand Medicaid in our state and cover approximately 60,000 Granite Staters who currently have no health insurance. We owe it not just to these people, but to everyone who currently has health insurance and pays higher premiums to provide care to those who cannot afford coverage of their own.

We need to work to end the real wage discrimination that is currently taking place in our state. We believe in equal pay for equal work, a concept that would seem to be common sense, but still female workers in New Hampshire make an average of 23 cents less per every dollar earned by male workers in a comparable job.

Our movement towards a more equitable economy and good jobs, with workers having a say in the workplace, is a fight that can begin to restore hope and dignity for working people in New Hampshire and across the country.

The recent commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 march on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, reminds us that the message of that day focused on jobs and justice. We continue to strive toward those goals, and it’s important to note on this Labor Day, that when Dr. King was killed, he was in Memphis supporting public sanitation workers on strike for the right to form a union and achieve better working conditions.

The labor movement helped establish and maintain America’s middle class. Through collective bargaining for a living wage, health insurance, retirement security and workplace safety measures, unions have stood the test of time and fought tirelessly for working America.

This Labor Day, let’s honor all of America’s hardworking people and continue to fight for them — not just on this day, but every day. 

Mark S. MacKenzie is the president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

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