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Statement from New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie: Ohio, Maine election results a clear win for working families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nora Frederickson 603-785-4211
Statement from New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie:
Ohio, Maine election results a clear win for working families
In Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and across the country, including here in New Hampshire, working families want to see politicians do the jobs they were elected to do – to build an economy that restores balance and creates jobs instead of one that works only for CEOs and special interest groups.
Today Ohioans resoundingly vetoed legislation that would have taken collective bargaining rights away from teachers, firefighters and first responders – sending a strong message that politicians need to stand with working families and stand for building a strong middle class.
And in Maine, the voters’ sound rejection of legislation that would have eliminated same-day voters registration sent a clear signal that attempts to silence the middle class amount to a losing agenda for politicians.
This election should be a wake-up call for Speaker O’Brien and other extremist Tea Party politicians in our legislation about what happens when politicians go too far. Voters in New Hampshire want to see action that creates jobs and creates an economy that works for everyone. We can start heading in the right direction by passing legislation like a federal jobs bills that will repair deficient bridges and roads and get Granite Staters back to work.
Our elected officials need to focus on creating jobs in order to get our economy back on track. Together we can create an economy that works for the 99 percent.
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Statement from NH AFL-CIO President MacKenzie on Senator Ayotte’s Repeated Obstruction of the American Jobs Act

For immediate release
Contact: Nora Frederickson 603-785-4211

Statement from NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie on Senator Ayotte’s Repeated Obstruction of the American Jobs Act

For the third time in three weeks, Senator Kelly Ayotte voted in lockstep with Senate Republicans to kill a job creation bill that would have put millions of Americans – including thousands of New Hampshire residents – back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

The American Jobs Act, while a product of President Obama’s leadership, reflects longstanding bipartisan priorities. It contains solutions to ease our jobs crisis that both Republican and Democratic legislators have agreed on for years. That Senator Ayotte chose to go along with the other Senate Republicans’ unanimous opposition to this bill reflects shamefully distorted priorities that place partisan gain over economic security for working and middle-class families in New Hampshire.

Without unemployment rate still unnaturally high, New Hampshire families can’t afford legislators who will put partisan grandstanding ahead of proven job creation strategies. Senator Ayotte needs to start listening to Granite Staters, not the party establishment in Washington.

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House Republicans using Taxpayer Money without allowing public access. A message from GSP

For many months we at the New Hampshire Labor News have talked about how the NH House Leadership has been pushing their anti-worker policies in the Legislature.  Now under the guise of “Redistricting” House Leadership is trying to take away more of the voices that support labor in New Hampshire.  These redistricting lines could end up weakening pro-worker districts by adding in more anti-worker heavy areas.  It has even been rumored that some of the new districts would mean that currently elected representatives would no longer be in the district they represent.  
Our friends at Granite State Progress have been keeping a watchful eye on these proceeding to ensure that the public knows what is happening with their tax dollars and to call for transparency from our legislators.  Now GSP is reporting that the House Leadership used Tax Dollars to create redistricting software which will be used to help draw district lines, but they are not allowing Democrats or the general public to access the application.  Below is the full press statement from GSP and the Video from committee meetings regarding the redistricting of NH.

New Video Shows House Republicans Using Redistricting Software Democrats, Public Have Been Denied Access To
House Republicans say public may be denied access to redistricting software paid for by NH taxpayer dollars; meanwhile Republican legislators already using program
CONCORD, NH –House Republicans are currently using new redistricting software developed by the state while Democratic legislators and the public have been denied access, according to a new video out today by Granite State Progress.
GSP Video: NH Republicans Deny Democrats, Public Access to Redistricting Software” shows several scenes from the Cheshire County public hearing on redistricting and this week’s most recent Special Committee on Redistricting meeting where members of the public and Democratic legislators can be seen requesting access to the state-developed redistricting software. In response, Chair Paul Mirski (R-Enfield) and Vice Chair David Bates (R-Windham) state several times that no one has used the software and that it might not be released to the public – immediately before other Republican legislators expressly admit to having access to the software.
“This is an incredible abuse of our taxpayer dollars and fair representation in the State House,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Director of Granite State Progress. “Speaker O’Brien and his leadership team are using publicly funded programs for partisan advantage. Every legislator should have access to this software to help them prepare and propose plans for redistricting, and members of the public should be allowed to access it with enough time to weigh in.”
Transparency has been a chief concern throughout this year’s redistricting process; the committee only recently announced and hosted county hearings on redistricting after immense public pressure by groups Granite State Progress and America Votes.1 Even then, the public was given no plan to comment on and the committee leadership largely refused to answer questions from the public regarding the timeline, process and potential plans.
Questions about the redistricting software surfaced at those public hearings, as well as in committee this week. In response to Chair Mirski’s blatant denial that Republican legislators have accessed the software despite public statements to the contrary, Granite State Progress filed a Right to Know request today with the Speaker’s office regarding the software. It reads in part: 
“This software was developed at a cost to New Hampshire taxpayers for the purposes of redistricting, yet the public has received no information regarding the cost, use and distribution of the software. Furthermore, House Leadership, House Counsel and former Republican political operative Ed Mosca, and several Republican representatives have accessed and used this software while Democratic legislators and staff have thus far been restricted from viewing, accessing or using the software.”
The right to know request asks for several pieces of information, including who has had access to the software and the date they first viewed, accessed or used it; as well as who and how it is decided who can view, access or use the redistricting software. Granite State Progress is also calling for information regarding how the software will be accessible to the public.
“Redistricting will determine our districts as well as our elected officials and policies for years to come,” Rice Hawkins said. “Partisan political interests should have no place in shaping or planning for these lines. This committee needs to be doubly vigilant in ensuring it’s open and transparent. It has thus far failed significantly by even the smallest measurement imaginable.”
Watch the video: “NH Republicans Deny Democrats, Public Access to Redistricting Software”

Fighting For Our Future A Legislative Update from Laura Hainey, Pres. of AFT-NH

AFT-NH Legislative Update October 31, 2011

“Fighting For Our Future”
House and Senate Study Committees continue to meet at the State House. Many of these committees must report out by either November 1st or December 1st.  I have found that the use of the word “study” may not be on point. There is concern that some of the committees are not exercising due diligence as they approach changes to current law. One particular concern is the study committee which is considering changing our current Defined Benefit Pension through the NH Retirement System to a Defined Contribution retirement plan for new hires. The NH Retirement Security Coalition (NHRSC), of which AFT-NH is a member, submitted a letter of concern on this –click here to read.

Education Tax Credits-Really? In these times of strained resources for our public schools, the committee created pursuant to SB 67 seems poised to recommend legislation be filed to grant business tax credits for donating to scholarships to private, including religious schools.  I find it very disheartening they have already made up their minds that this is a good thing and are moving quickly on this.  The big problem with this is that by giving a tax credit to business less money will be going into the education trust fund—which would mean less money going to public schools. As I see it, they are playing fast and furious with public education funding. I have brought to the committees’ attention that these scholarship-vouchers do nothing to improve education but they are convinced that it will. Please visit http://concord-nh.patch.com/articles/op-ed-vouchers-offer-false-hope#c  to read the AFT-NH op-ed that was published on this topic. All of our children deserve a quality education not just a few.

The Collective Bargaining Study Committee is still meeting and will have to have a report ready by December 1st. AFT-NH is still monitoring and giving information to this committee. AFT-NH Attorney Terri Donovan testified before the committee and suggested that the following should be reviewed and certain changes should be considered:

  • SB2 and town meeting timeline for negotiations need to be reviewed to provide more time for good faith negotiations. The current timetable is challenging.
  • Collective bargaining warrant articles should not be allowed to be changed at deliberative session –if changed the tentative agreement will never be sent to the local voters as was negotiated between the parties.
  • Amend the law to prohibit more opportunities for special meetings to approve collective bargaining agreements in the event they do not pass in March. Currently, it is very difficult to petition the Superior Court to force a special meeting.
  • It should be made public the amount that cities, towns and school districts are paying to outside consultants for negotiations—what are the billable hours?
  • Currently, there is no one to supervise the negotiations process and make certain the parties are coop; perhaps the PELRB or some other agency should play a more significant role.
This committee continues to revert back to a notion that the current process is not transparent and negotiations need to be public. AFT-NH is monitoring this committee very closely and will send out alerts as necessary.
 
Deadlines to Watch: The House has until Wednesday, November 2, 2011 4:30 pm to sign-off on LSRs (requests for bills to be drafted), including requests for petitions and as of now the last day to introduce bills for the 2012 session is January 11th.

The Senate has until Friday, October 21, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. to accept drafting of a Senate Bill or Resolution with complete information for the 2012 Session. Thursday, November 10th, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. is the deadline for sponsor(s) to sign off on legislation.  AFT-NH will share this information as soon as this information becomes available. We also know that we saw significant changes proposed through amendments and last minute actions. We all must remain vigilant and be ready to respond with short notice once the session is in full swing.

READY FOR ACTION-AFT-NH Building Representatives, Local Leaders and Activists gathered on October 27th for the second “Fighting for Our ‘Future” training.  Since September, more than 140 activists have participated in these training sessions! Union leaders are taking this information back to their local membership and providing them with the information and inspiration to become involved and stand up for middle class families. AFT-NH locals are ready to defend against these unprecedented assaults on collective bargaining rights, our retirement and our public services.

Please visit AFT-NH Facebook page —you will receive late breaking news and alerts! You can also follow me on twitter at 8027aftnh.

Thank you!

In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President
Please visit www.aft-nh.org.

New Hampshire Labor News clips for 10/7/11

Media Clips from 10/17/11- Todays clips about Teachers Contract up for vote. AFT-NH talks of school vouchers. NH primary. Loews closes stores and more.


Teachers’ contract goes to new vote | Concord Monitor: “Teachers in the Hillsboro-Deering School District are hoping voters today will approve a contract that reflects union wage and health care concessions made since voters rejected an initial agreement in March.

The district’s nurses, teachers, guidance counselors and librarians have been working without a contract since June 2009. Since then, about 55 of the district’s most veteran teachers have not had a pay raise because they hit the highest level in the contract’s 13 step increases.

The rest of the district’s approximately 110 teachers have received about 3 percent pay raises annually since the contract expired.

“If the contract doesn’t pass, I think the morale, it’s going to be really low,” said Diane Hines, a third-grade teacher who has worked in the district for 26 years. As president of the local chapter of the New Hampshire Federation of Teachers, she was involved in the contract negotiations.”


This is an Op/Ed from Laura Hainey President of AFT-NH on the proposed Voucher School program being discussed in the NH House.

New Hampshire Labor News: Vouchers Offer False Hope: Kids Need a Quality Education Agenda. An Op/Ed from Laura Hainey, Pres. of AFT-NH:
If a medication isn’t working, a doctor would say to stop using it. If a puzzle piece doesn’t fit, you wouldn’t keep try to fit it into the space. If studies consistently conclude that vouchers don’t improve student achievement, why would you support it?”


New Hampshire Primary: ABC News and WMUR to Hold Only Primetime Broadcast Network Debate – ABC News: “JUST THREE DAYS BEFORE “THE FIRST IN THE NATION” PRIMARY ABC NEWS AND WMUR-TV JOIN TOGETHER TO HOST A PRIMETIME REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DEBATE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
ABC’s Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos to Moderate Debate from Saint Anselm College with WMUR Anchor Josh McElveen
Debate to Air in Primetime at 9:00 PM/ET on the ABC Television Network”


Class sharpens skills for the unemployed | New Hampshire NEWS02: “In a conference room lined with computers at Manchester Community College. Ellison and his fellow students are part of the inaugural class of WorkReadyNH, a new state program being run out of four community colleges that aims to improve the job-seekers’ core competencies and professional acumen. The program grew out of discussions Gov. John Lynch had with employers around the state and is based on a national worker certification program.”


New Hampshire House Denies Speaker Power To Jail Citizens: “New Hampshire lawmakers voted last week to reject a proposal to provide the House speaker with the authority to put people in jail.

The amendment came during debate over a bill to create a committee to investigate the New Hampshire Local Government Center over allegations regarding the agency’s finances in relation to a local government insurance pool. The original bill’s language provided the committee with the same subpoena powers as the full legislature, which the ways and means committee sought to change with a new amendment.”


Lowe’s closing 7 N.E. stores: “According to Lowe’s, the closings will affect 105 workers in Haverhill, 102 in Biddeford, 118 in Manchester, 83 in Ellsworth, 78 in Claremont, 83 in Hooksett, and 110 in North Kingstown. Employees will get 60 to 90 days’ pay and benefits as severance, the company said, and some may be able to get jobs at some of the 67 Lowe’s locations in New England that will remain open. (Based on information on the company’s store-locator website Monday, the closings won’t affect the 2 Vermont locations or 16 Connecticut stores. According to this list, Lowe’s is closing 2 of 11 Maine locations, 1 of 27 Massachusetts locations, 3 of 13 New Hampshire locations, and 1 of 5 Rhode Island locations.”


Library program is vital – and far from ‘gold-plated’ | Concord Monitor: “The New Hampshire Legislature recently passed a measure requiring the state library to review the federal program guidelines for which it receives federal dollars to support library programs and seek to amend its five-year plan to use the money designated to support three inter-library vans for other purposes.

If the three vans are removed from the state library’s fleet, only one van will be available to support the inter-library loan program for the entire state.”


New Hampshire Want To Work Rally Tomorrow!!!


A message from our friends at Protect New Hampshire Families and the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. They are working to organize a public event entitled:
New Hampshire Wants To Work

Time
Saturday, October 15 · 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Location
Prescott Park

State & Marcy Streets
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Created By

More Info
Support New Hampshire’s middle class by telling politicians in Concord & congress that it’s time to stop the reckless attacks on working families and start taking realistic steps to create good jobs, now! The event will take place rain or shine.

The New Hampshire Wants to Work event is coordinated by Protect NH Families and labor & community partners as part of a national week of action for good jobs. For more information, contact Judy Stadtman, jstadtman@nhaflcio.org.

A message from InZane Times on Right To Work and yesterdays events…

This is an exccelent write up about what happened at the New Hampshire State House yesterday from our friend and fellow blogger Arnie Alpert.  Thanks to InZane Times for allowing us to post as well.


InZaneTimes

seeking zanity in an inzane world

10-12-11 009 We Are Still Winning … Against “Right to Work for Less”

October 12, 2011 by aalpert
Labor activists and allies endured a morning of speeches by GOP Presidential candidates and an afternoon of procedural votes, then left the New Hampshire State House with the Governor’s veto of the Right-to-Work-for-Less bill still intact.  They’ll be back again whenever the House re-convenes.
Over-riding the veto has been a top priority of Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien for months, but despite a 3:1 Republican majority, he knows he doesn’t have the votes he needs to over-ride the Governor’s veto of HB 474.  In addition to a solid bloc of Democrats, there are still enough pro-labor Republicans to keep the anti-union bill from becoming law.
HB 474 would make it illegal for employers and unions to adopt a union security clause in their collective bargaining agreements, thereby preventing unions from collecting “agency fees” from non-members.  The point of this perennial legislation is to weaken unions by making it possible for workers to be “free riders,” i.e. to get the benefits of a union contract without paying a dime. 
Today’s show was a bit different from the rehearsals to date.  FNewt leaves 10-12-11ollowing last night’s Republican debate in Hanover, five of the candidates – Gary Johnson, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Michelle Bachman – were invited by the Speaker to address the House.  Since members knew the Speaker could spring the the veto over-ride vote on them if they left the House chamber, the pro-labor members dutifully stayed in their seats throughout.  For that sacrifice I thank them.  
Members of the International Association of Fire Fighters showed up in larger than  usual numbe10-12-11 015rs today, making it clear the labor movement is ready for the fight that will go beyond this year’s battle over Right-to-Work-for-Less.  
Also present were faith-based activists making it clear that their religious values place them squarely on the side of worker justice.  
It’s hard to feel like victorious without a vote, but each time Speaker O’Brien decides not to put the measure up for a vote is an indication we are winning.  

News Coverage from yesterdays NH House Session


Yesterday was a fast paced day for news and we tried to keep up. We responded with a post on Michele Bachmann’s boo’s from the crowd and her whispers to Speaker O’Brien the she would twist any arms. Read all about it here


Republican presidential hopefuls address NH House | New Hampshire NEWS0605: “CONCORD — Five Republican presidential candidates sparked applause, but two prompted loud booing, as they addressed the New Hampshire House of Representatives Wednesday.

Union members anxious about right-to-work legislation reacted when Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich called on the House to adopt the bill that Gov. John Lynch vetoed this year.

When Bachmann exhorted Republican House members to override the right-to-work veto, it set off a loud protest in the House gallery. Republicans on the House floor cheered just as loudly, setting off a contest each time she raised the issue.”


Cain’s Moment in the Sun Shines at New Hampshire Legislature – Rodney Hawkins – NationalJournal.com: “GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain enjoyed the fallout from his strong debate performance on Tuesday niht, getting a warm reception for his economic plan from New Hampshire legislators on Wednesday during a visit to the Statehouse.
At a traditional candidates’ forum hosted by the Legislature in the first-primary state, Cain said that he was actually glad his economic plan was slammed by his Republican rivals at the Republican candidates’ debate at Dartmouth College. “It attracted a lot of attention at the debates last night,” he said.  “You know you must be doing something right when you get a lot of arrows in your back.”


Debate raises Cain | Concord Monitor: “State lawmakers also heard from former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich, and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Speaker Bill O’Brien had invited each of the Republican candidates, along with President Obama, to address the chamber.

Gingrich received applause – and a few jeers – when he offered his support to right-to-work legislation, which was vetoed by Gov. John Lynch and awaits an override vote in the House. Bachmann also urged the House to adopt the policy, which prevents unions from charging fees to non-members.”


‘Good jobs’ rally planned for Prescott Park | Seacoastonline.com: “Organizers of the New Hampshire Wants to Work rally say the event will allow participants to call for bold proposals from state legislators and Congress to reverse alarming increases in underemployment and low-wage jobs during the past year.

Speakers at the event include small business owners Jack Bingman and Nancy Beach as well as workers from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

“This recession has left a lasting impact on many New Hampshire residents,” Beach, owner of Atlantic Media. “More families are living in poverty than a year ago — and the jobs that are being created to replace those lost will not lift New Hampshire families back into the middle class. Our elected leaders need to embrace urgent action to support New Hampshire’s small business owners and put citizens back to work.”

For full details on this see our previous post on the NEW HAMPSHIRE WANTS TO WORK Rally!


N.H. House approves budget fix with a catch – The Boston Globe: “The budget fix, which would save the state $8 million a year, is hung up on House speaker William O’Brien’s insistence on tinkering with the bill.

The law change cuts welfare benefits to people who also get federal Supplemental Security Income Program checks. The SSI program helps low-income disabled adults and children, as well as low-income residents 65 and older who are not disabled.”


Come meet you local Manchester Candidates Tomorrow!!

The Manchester Central Labor Council invites you to

An Evening with the Candidates
Friday, October 14, 2011 

Beginning at 6:00 pm 
Sweeney Post — 251 Maple Street, Manchester, NH


Join other unionists for an evening of meeting the candidates and learning where they stand on issues. We encourage you to bring family, wear your union clothing, and have a great time with us.


Hors d’ouevres to be provided – cash bar available Please RSVP to: dmaclocal301@comcast.net or 867- 4667.


With GOP Hopeful’s in the NH House, Speaker O’Bien still does not call the vote on Right To Work (for less)

Photo by Nora Fredrickson

 Even with 5 Republican Presidential Candidates At His Back, Speaker O’Brien Can’t Pass Right-to-Work in New Hampshire

By Nora Fredrickson
The Speaker of the New Hampshire House threw everything but the kitchen sink at state representatives yesterday in an unsuccessful attempt to override Governor Lynch’s veto of a right-to-work bill, HB 474 – including no fewer than five Republican presidential candidates.
In a callous move to bully and bore lawmakers who opposed the right-to-work law, Speaker Bill O’Brien turned the legislative session into a Republican presidential forum, inviting no fewer than five Republican presidential candidate to spend over three hours giving stump speeches to a captive audience of both Democrat and Republican lawmakers. Over a hundred firefighters, teachers, and other workers from every edge of the state turned out to protest the potential vote on right-to-work and to ask the candidates to keep state issues out of the debate around the primary.
The Republican candidates were quick to endorse Speaker’s anti-worker agenda, sucking up to him on state issue that they knew little to nothing about. “Right-to-work states have created more jobs than those without a right-to-work law,” Michelle Bachmann read from her prepared remarks over the boos of citizens in the gallery. “Call me – I will twist anybody’s arm you want me to [on right-to-work].” (Check out Granite State Progress’s video of her remark here.)
“I strongly support the right of workers to organize on their own,” Newt Gingrich began in his remarks, “and that’s why I support right-to-work.” Clearly he has no idea that interfering with the ability of workers to negotiate through a union makes it harder for workers to organize. Gary Johnson, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain also piled on their support of the right-to-work law.
The speeches were staggered by 10-minute recesses and roll call votes in which the Speaker and his aides were seen checking the attendance rolls to see if they had the numbers to override Governor Lynch’s veto of right-to-work.
After the candidates left, with little hope of dislodging anti-RtW legislators long enough to pass the bill, it was business as usual for the Speaker: voting to cut Medicaid for poor families and seniors, lecturing lawmakers on their failure to follow precedents (and failing to follow those precedents himself) and introducing a motion to call a third special session two days before Christmas. The Speaker has until the start of the new legislative session on January 4th to override Governor Lynch’s veto of HB 474.

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