Fed Up and Pumped Up: Manchester Newspaper Guild Rallies For Fairness

Manchester Newspaper Guild President Norm Welsh leads about 60 members and supporters

Manchester Newspaper Guild President Norm Welsh leads about 60 members and supporters

Manchester Newspaper Guild members and allies turned out in force Sunday morning to show Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid that his callous contract “final offer” is beneath contempt.

About 60 picketers, 40 of them Guild members, marched and leafleted outside the newspaper’s annual sports banquet at the Radisson Center of New Hampshire in downtown Manchester.

“It was awesome,” local President Norm Welsh said. “I’m not sure we’ve ever had a better turnout, even when we had twice the membership.

“We know we got the publisher’s attention because he detoured on his way to the event to come over to our group,” Welsh said. “He talked to several members and their families. My guess is he was trying to see if the group was members or ‘outsiders.’ I think he was shocked at the number of our people and who they were. Lots of folks whom I doubt he expected to ever see on a picket line.”

image-6Members were so pumped, Welsh said, that “a large group continued to picket for about 45 minutes after we thanked them and said we were done.”

He said members were grateful to be joined by so many allies, including Mark MacKenzie, president of the state AFL-CIO, state Rep. Tim Smith (D-Manchester), and supporters from the IBEW, AFT and the Postal Workers.

The Manchester Guild has called the Union Leader’s final offer “the worst contract proposal ever seen.” In addition to steep benefit cuts, getting rid of job security language and changes that would badly weaken the union, the publisher wants an 18 percent retroactive pay cut.

image-10That’s on top of huge concessions in recent years. Welsh said they’ve estimated that a top-scale reporter has lost roughly $30,000 in givebacks since 2009.

The local is in the middle of a 10-day byline strike by reporters and photographers to help draw the public’s attention to the company’s ruthless demands.

You can help by signing their petition and circulating it on social media. Go to the local’s “Where’s the Fairness?” website to find the petition and learn more.

“If we are forced to accept this new pay cut, that would mean we would have lost about 30 percent of our pay since 2009,” the local explains on the website. “It would leave us making what we made in 1995. That’s when gas cost $1.11 a gallon. A new car then would run you $13,600. A stamp only cost 32 cents. Imagine. Could you live in today’s world on what you made in 1995? Neither can we.”

The Battle Over Common Core Rages On Advancing NH Public Education’s Blog

If you are a regular follower of the NH Labor New, let me say thank you (if not subscribe on the right side of this page), you also know that we re-post works from Bill Duncan (Advancing NH Public Education).  As content editor I choose which articles to share with my audience.  I do not want to take away from the great work that Bill is doing so I artfully pick and choose posts for the NH Labor News.

One of the biggest education battles in New Hampshire right now is the battle over the Common Core standards.  Some people oppose it, so cannot wait to start using it, and some already see the benefits.

This week Bill Duncan blogged about the NH Union Leader’s coverage of Common Core.  Because each post is too long to combine into one I am going to give you a excerpt and the link so you can read them all.  I suggest you read them all, in order to understand the progression of the articles.

1)Day one of the Union Leader’s series on the Common Core is balanced

“There’s one detail I would expand on.  You could get the impression that Manchester and Alton made similar decisions about the Common Core but they were really quite different.  The Alton school board voted 3-2 to express its lack of support for the Common Core in its one school.  The Manchester school board voted 13-1 in favor of implementing its own standards based on the Common Core.  As a practical matter, neither district will have the capacity to develop an alternative to the Common Core or adopt an alternative to the Smarter Balanced assessment aligned to the Common Core and adopted by the State.”

2) Day 2 of the Union Leader series on the Common Core: how do you know 12 + 7 = 19?

“Common Core opponents frequently make the this “method doesn’t matter” point.  But what if Mr. DiPietro’s daughter got to 19 by counting on her fingers and toes?  Learning math is a accumulation of skills.  Counting on her fingers would not serve Ms. DiPietro well in Algebra I.  (On the other hand, the student pointing to his brain is on the right track if he means, “I have become fluent in addition.  I just see 19 when I see 12+7.”)

The Common Core calls for the kind of good instruction Ms. DiPietro’s teacher is providing: trying to ensure that students are fluent enough in the basics of math to solve real world problems.  Mr. DiPietro has crystalized the argument for the Common Core.”

3) (MUST READ) Union Leader oped: don’t implement the Common Core – let the public schools sink!

“There was an interesting – more telling than interesting – anti-Common Core opinion piece in today’s Union Leader.”

4) ‘Brains are on fire’ in Amherst – the Union Leader makes the case for the Common Core

“Union Leader Reporter David Solomon captures here, on the last day of theUnion Leader series on the Common Core, what you see in classrooms all over New Hampshire. “

5) Vibrant classrooms demonstrate that the Common Core is alive and well in Manchester

“Even in Manchester, recently famous for voting to create its own standards, the Common Core is deeply rooted.  On the last day of the Union Leader series on the Common Core, Reporter David Solomon reports on a Gossler Park first grade classroom alive with Common Core based learning:”

As I stated earlier, Bill Duncan does amazing work with Advancing NH Public Education. If you are an education policy wonk then you should follow his blog.  He covers much more that I ever could.

You can see all ANHPE’s posts on Common Core by clicking here.

Why Is The NH Union Leader Demonizing The Hard Working People Of The USPS

Photo Brian Kersey / Getty Images

The United States Postal Service is the most efficient mail delivery business in the world. A study by Oxford Strategic Consulting released earlier this year surveying the Postal Service’s of the 20th most advanced countries and it stated the US Postal Service is the most efficient in the world. Add to the fact that this is done without a dime of tax payer money and is even more impressive.

I would fully expect the Manchester Union Leader to cite American Exceptional-ism and congratulate the USPS on a job well done. The Postal Service is an example on how a business can withstand the worst recession in our lifetime as well as soaring gas prices and pretty much break even delivering the mail for the past 5 years. While also providing a government service and keeping millions of Americans connected, its a vital part of Americas infrastructure.

Starting in 2007, a short-sighted mandate from a Lame Duck Congress has required the Postal Service to set aside, in just 10 years, enough money to pay almost all retiree health benefits for the next 75 years ,something no other public agency or private company is required to do. This has cost the Postal Service almost $31 billion since 2007, accounting for more than 85% of its red ink during this period.

If that lame duck congress had not placed this unprecedented  burden on the Postal Service there would be no talk of USPS having financial problems. It’s that simple. Congress placed this unfair burden on the USPS and Congress can remove it.

Amazingly the Manchester Union Leader stated “The Senate approved a bill to give the agency $11 Billion in cash by refunding payments made to a federal pension fund” In reality the Senate isn’t “giving” the USPS anything. The USPS has overpaid over $11 Billion into this fund and just expects its money back. Its not a bail out. The Office of the Inspector General issued a report detailing this as well as outlining the fact the Postal Service has overpaid $75 Billion into another retirement fund. There is a bi-partisan bill currently before Congress HR 1351, USPS Pension Reform Bill with over 230 co-sponsors, including Charlie Bass, that would address the Postal Service over-funding their pensions. Congressman Issa for purely ideological reasons has refused to allow the House of Representatives to vote on this.

The US Postal Service has the 2nd lowest postal rates in the Industrialized world. Making it a bargain! The Postal Service does this with 200,000 fewer employees than it had 10 years ago. Of the remaining workforce over 20% of the employees are veterans.

Why is the Postal Service under attack by the Manchester Union Leader? Could it be that because the Postal Service is arguably the most efficient and most popular part of the Federal Government.  Pew Research has shown that the US Postal Service has a favor-ability rating of 83% easily the highest among government agencies. Add to this that the Ponemon Institute has the Postal Service ranked as the most trusted federal agency for the 6th consecutive year.

The Postal Service delivers over 30% of Fed Ex Ground shipments add to this a significant portion of UPS parcels and you can see both these businesses realize the Postal Service is the most affordable way to get parcels delivered. The Postal Service is looking to expand on this “last mile program” with Fed Ex and UPS. Congress also has to rescind the restrictions placed on it during the 2006 lame duck and allow the Postal Service to explore expanding into other services. Also Congress should allow the Postal Service greater flexibility in setting rates. This will allow the Postal Service to continue to be affordable and efficient into the future.

This newspaper seems threatened by the fact that a unionized federal workforce, whose productivity is at an all time high, can be among the best examples of what a real, modern and affordable business looks like.