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Unions Matter: “Solidarity Means Something”

From http://www.ilwu.org

From http://www.ilwu.org

By Steven Weiner for Unions Matters

As a union member who cares for the rights of working people, both here in the USA and abroad, I deplore the fact that the so-called “fast-track” bill was signed into law paving the way for approval of a new trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  I was proud to join the many thousands of union members all across the nation who fought hard to defeat this anti-worker, anti-democratic legislation. Despite an initial victory, corporations that will profit massively from TPP spent millions to insure that the votes were there for the “fast-track” bill’s final passage.

This is an agreement that was negotiated in secrecy; few of its details were released to unions and to others who made repeated requests to review the documents. A statement by the AFL-CIO explains succinctly why there was such concealment:

“TPP…is about increasing opportunities for U.S. companies to invest offshore and then export back to the United States with favorable tariff rates. This model enriches global companies, but does little for the workers in the U.S. who were laid off or foreign workers who toil in sweatshop conditions, denied fundamental rights.”

Teamster General President James Hoffa said that TPP, like an earlier trade agreement NAFTA, “will only ship jobs overseas and lower wages in the U.S. Yet again, workers have been tossed aside by some lawmakers who are more interested in pleasing their corporate cronies than doing what’s best for their constituents.”

Meanwhile, in the struggle to defeat TPP something happened in the labor movement that I believe is new and has big meaning for the future of organized labor in America. There was a huge coming together of many unions and thousands of workers to defeat this terrible bill. Said Mark MacKenzie, NH AFL-CIO President: “This fight demonstrated that when we unite in a common purpose anything is possible.” I’ve learned from Aesthetic Realism, founded by educator and critic Eli Siegel, that the one purpose that strengthens us is impelled by ethics, by the conviction that: “Justice to all people is the same as justice to oneself. ”

An example of this “common purpose” is in the fact that private sector unions whose members are likely to be badly impacted—including by huge job losses—were joined by public sector unions, whose members’ jobs would not be at stake.   In a New York Times article (6/13/15) entitled “Labor’s Might Seen in Failure of Trade Deal as Unions Allied to Thwart It,” Noam Scheiber writes:

“While a broad coalition of unions and liberal activists can claim credit for beating back the…legislation, the key to labor’s display of force in Congress, according to supporters and opponents of the trade deal, was the movement’s unusual cohesion across various sectors of the economy—including public employees and service workers not directly affected by foreign competition.”

As the article points out, unions not seemingly directly affected by TPP, saw its defeat as their fight. John Murphy, senior VP for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was quoted as saying “None of these workers are in any way negatively affected by competition with imports. Yet [they] will be there, showing solidarity.”

I am very encouraged that individual unions are seeing clearly that when one union is under attack and weakened, it’s easier to attack and weaken the next. I believe there’s a reinvigorated belief in the motto of the IWW: “An injury to one is an injury to all,” and it’s a cause for celebration!

Why There Are Increasing Attacks on Unions

In an important issue of the periodical The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, describes what has gone on as to unions in these last years, resulting in incalculable harm to millions of Americans. She writes:

In 1970 Eli Siegel explained that the profit system had reached the point at which it was no longer able to succeed. Though it might struggle on for a while, it would do so with increasing pain to humanity. And that is what has occurred. As production has been taking place in more and more nations, it has become harder and harder for US companies to haul in big profits for stockholders. They can do so now only by making the people who actually do the work become poorer and poorer—be paid less and less. That means crushing unions, because it is unions that have enabled working people to earn a dignified wage and be treated with respect.

… As big a fight as any going on in the world—indeed, as big a fight as any in the history of humanity—is the fight now taking place between the profit system and unions….The fight is really a sheer one: For the profit system to continue, unions must be defeated.”

At this pivotal time in America’s history, unions need to see clearly what they stand for and are fightingagainst so that the justice they represent as a united force will prevail! The means to this will be powerfully and delightfully shown on Sunday, July 12th in an upcoming production by the esteemed Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company Ethics Is a Force–2015! Songs about Labor.”

 

Steven Weiner is a Ret. Executive Board member and Shop Steward of Local 2627, DC-37, AFSCME.

Rep Annie Kuster Lays Out Her Agenda For Working Americans (VIDEO)

Annie KusterRecently she spoke at the NH AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast where Congresswoman Annie Kuster laid out her agenda for rebuilding the middle class and helping all working families.

You can see her full 5 minute speech just below, but I will give you a couple of highlights.

  • Raising the federal minimum wage.
  • Protecting workers rights, including attacks against the National Labor Relations Board.
  • Protecting collective bargaining rights.
  • Fought against federal Right to Work for less legislation.
  • Ensuring access to healthcare for all Americans.
  • Increasing funding for schools, and community & technical colleges.
  • Increasing manufacturing right here at home.

We need more people like Annie in Washington who are working to get things done, not just create more gridlock.

The NH AFL-CIO Make Endorsement Announcement for U.S. Senate, NH Governor, Congress

New Hampshire AFL-CIO endorses Shaheen, Hassan, Shea-Porter and Kuster in November elections

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO announced its top slate of candidates for the 2014 elections today, pledging to support the reelection bids of Senator Shaheen, Governor Hassan, and Congresswomen Shea-Porter and Kuster. The state’s largest labor federation is prepared to roll out an aggressive field campaign to turn out voters in support of these working family champions.

“As our economy recovers, we need leaders who will commit to creating economic opportunity for New Hampshire families,” said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie. “Governor Hassan has worked across party lines to support job creation for middle class families. Our representatives in Congress successfully protected thousands of jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard from furloughs under sequestration. This is the kind of bold leadership that will ensure that New Hampshire’s economic recovery will translate into more opportunities for working families.”

“Working people know how critical this election is. In the last year, we’ve seen what can happen in New Hampshire when we work together to solve big problems. Yet too many people are still struggling and living paycheck to paycheck. We need to protect the leaders who care about the struggles of working people, deliver on their promises to us, and are willing to work together to expand opportunity for all.”

Postal Workers to Protest Privatization at Concord Staples Store Today, April 24

Local Activists Join National Day of Action

Many Details of the Deal Between USPS and Staples Remain a Secret

APWU Logo (small)Concord, NH — Members of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), Manchester Area Local , will protest on Thursday, April 24, against a sweetheart deal between the U.S. Postal Service and Staples that is privatizing USPS retail services and replacing good, living-wage postal jobs with low-wage, high-turnover jobs at Staples. The deal will compromise service to customers and jeopardize the security of the mail. Details of the agreement are being kept secret and have not yet been made available to the public.

Who:         Members of the Manchester Area Local APWU, the National Association of Letter Carriers, The National Postal Mailhandlers Union, and the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association will be joined by the NH AFL-CIO, members of numerous local unions, other working men & women throughout the state, and friends and allies who believe in maintaining a public Postal Service.

What:       Protest at Concord Staples, against privatization of U.S. Postal Service retail services.

When:       Thursday, April 24,4-6 pm

Where:     Staples, Fort Eddy Plaza

The protest in Concord is part of a National Day of Action, where participants will protest the USPS-Staples deal, which in October/November 2013 established postal counters in more than 80 Staples stores in four geographic areas. The Postal Service plans to expand the program to Staples’ 1,500 stores nationwide. All of this is occurring despite problems that make the future of some Staples stores very uncertain.

“Staples employees receive minimal training, and the company’s low pay results in high employee turnover,” said Dana Coletti, president of Manchester Area Local APWU.  “With so many concerns about privacy and identity theft, the U.S. mail should be handled by highly-trained, experienced postal employees, who swear an oath to protect your letters and packages and who are accountable to the American people. This program is compromising service to our customers.

“While many of the details of this pilot program are being hidden from the public, many things remain quite clear. The Postal Service, which is the largest civilian employer of veterans, requires postal employees to pass a test and a background check, to complete intensive training and to take an oath to protect the security and safety of the mail. It should be a matter of concern to the public that packages and letters at Staples stores are not even considered mail until they are picked up by the Postal Service. This program threatens both mail security and good, stable jobs” said Janice Kelble, Legislative & Political Director for Manchester Area Local APWU.  “It’s bad for postal workers, bad for our communities, and bad for our country.”

“But this isn’t just about postal jobs,” said national APWU President Mark Dimondstein said. “Many people are outraged that a tremendous public asset is being turned over to a struggling private company.”  Staples recently announced that it would close 225 stores by 2015.

Note: In NH a Hooksett Staples store suddenly disappeared only months ago. Will the same thing happen with postal services vanishing, based on Staples bottom line, with no regard to the needs of a community? 

“Staples makes business decisions based on the bottom line, not service to the people of the country,” Dimondstein said. “As a nation, we need to decide what kind of Postal Service we want. Are we going to have a vibrant, modern, public mail system that serves all of the people, or are we going to let privatizers kill this great institution?”

Thursday’s National Day of Action follows dozens of protests by postal workers and community allies in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and other cities.

For more information about the campaign to stand up for quality service and good-paying jobs, visit Stop Staples.com.  See also “Postal Union Fights Staples Partnership,” in the Huffington Post, and “The Postal Service Outsources Itself to a Company Doing Almost as Badly as the Postal Service,” in The New Republic.

A copy of the agreement between Staples and the USPS – heavily redacted – is available on the APWU website.

 

*  *  *

 

The American Postal Workers Union represents 200,000 employees of the United States Postal Service, and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

 

Paycheck Fairness Advocates Applaud House Vote to Approve the NH Paycheck Fairness Act

 

Equal Pay for Equal Work (lilly ledbetter act)Paycheck Fairness Act has one last stop at House Criminal Justice Committee before being sent to Governor’s desk 

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 187 to 134 today to pass SB 207, the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. The entire Democratic caucus present* and eleven House Republicans joined the unanimous and bi-partisan vote from the Senate in support of the legislation that will eliminate loopholes, increase transparency in wages, and ensure that all workers have the appropriate tools and resources to help them earn a fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation. The legislation has one last stop at the House Criminal Justice Committee and another floor vote before being sent to the Governor’s desk; Governor Maggie Hassan has previously indicated her support for the bill.

The NH AFL–CIO, NH Citizens Alliance for Action, Granite State Progress, NH Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the New Hampshire Women’s Initiative, Women’s Fund of New Hampshire, and the National Women’s Law Center applaud the New Hampshire House’s bi-partisan adoption of SB 207, the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. The organizations released the following statements on today’s House vote:

Mark MacKenzie, President, New Hampshire AFL-CIO: “We applaud the 187 members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives who today stood with working families by voting to pass the New Hampshire Paycheck Equity Act. Senate Bill 207 will help close the gender wage gap in the Granite State by giving women access to the tools and information they need to make sure they are being paid fairly. New Hampshire AFL-CIO is proud to be a leader in the diverse coalition of women’s organizations, labor unions, and grassroots action groups that led the fight to win this important and timely progress for New Hampshire’s working women.”

Kary Jencks, Executive Director, NH Citizens Alliance for Action: “Today the NH House voted for a New Hampshire and an America that works for all of us, with liberty and justice for all.  Ensuring equal pay for equal work regardless of gender, heritage, or marital status is a critical component in protecting and expanding our state’s middle class and driving a successful economy.”

Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress: “We commend the House bipartisan adoption of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. This law will give employees the tools they need to challenge wage gaps and help create a climate where wage discrimination is no longer tolerated. We are eager to see the legislation move through the final steps in the House and then to the desk of paycheck fairness supporter Governor Maggie Hassan.”

Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union: “Today the House took New Hampshire one step closer toward eliminating unfair gender paycheck inequities in our state. The New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act will help provide women with the tools they need to get fair pay in the workplace, and the NHCLU welcomes its passage by both chambers of the New Hampshire legislature.”

Dawn Andonellis, Public Policy Chair for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of New Hampshire: “Closing the wage gap in New Hampshire is an economic return on investment that will help to keep our college graduates, particularly women, in the state. We applaud the New Hampshire House for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act and for taking this important step toward ending gender discrimination in the workplace.”

Mary Jo Brown, Chair of the New Hampshire Women’s Initiative: “Today we have moved one giant step closer to eliminating the gender wage gap in New Hampshire. We would like to thank our stakeholder partners, the Senate and the legislative champions of SB 207 in the House for all of their hard work to make New Hampshire an even better place to retain employees and for all families across the state. We look forward to Governor Hassan signing this important piece of legislation.”

Marianne Jones, Executive Director, Women’s Fund of NH: “The paycheck transparency that is addressed in SB 207 is one more tool that can help minimize the persistent wage gap in New Hampshire. We know that this will ensure that women and girls prosper in the future, and that entire communities will have the potential to thrive.”

Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women’s Law Center: “Pay discrimination is alive and well across America.  Millions of working women suspect they’re being paid less than their male counterparts but have no way of confirming it. And some don’t realize they’re being shortchanged because company policies prevent them from discussing their wages. We applaud the New Hampshire House for moving swiftly to improve their pay discrimination laws and call on Congress to follow its lead.”

SB 207 sponsors include all Senate Democrats along with House Speaker Terie Norelli, Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), Rep. MaryAnn Knowles (D-Hudson), and Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsboro).

 

* The sole House Democrat in opposition was Free State Project member Tim O’Flaherty.

Much Rejoicing As NH Senate Unanimously Passes Paycheck Fairness Bill

“This definitive, bipartisan action by the full Senate affirms that both Republicans and Democrats agree we must act to close the wage gap in New Hampshire,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen.

Senate Bill 207 has been cited by Senate and House Democrats as a top priority for the 2014 legislative session. All Senate Democrats have sponsored the legislation with House Speaker Terie Norelli serving as the leading House sponsor along with co-sponsors Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), Rep. MaryAnn Knowles (D-Hudson), and Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsboro).

sylvia larsen

Senator Sylvia Larsen

“The New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act will give the more than 60% of women working in today’s economy, as the primary or co-breadwinners for their families, the much needed tools they need to combat the wage gap,” stated Larsen.

“It’s distressing that, in the year 2014, women in New Hampshire, who are working full-time jobs, still earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. National studies have found that a pay gap exists between men and women in nearly every occupation. However, with this bipartisan, unanimous vote, we are sending a crystal clear message that the Legislature is on the side of all workers guaranteeing fair and equal paycheck, without fear of retaliation.”

Senator Larsen concluded her statement by saying, “I look forward to a quick House action, so New Hampshire can renew our commitment to the fundamental principle of, an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay.”

“Today’s unanimous Senate vote to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act is an overwhelming, bipartisan affirmation of the principle that an equal day’s work deserves an equal day’s pay,” stated Governor Maggie Hassan. “This common-sense measure to help eliminate the pay gap between women and men will strengthen our economy and the financial security of working families across our state. I applaud the Senate for today’s bipartisan vote and encourage the House to pass this critical legislation in order to help all of New Hampshire’s workers earn a fair and equal paycheck.”

“We commend members of the Senate for voting unanimously to remove a remaining barrier to pay equity in New Hampshire,” stated Mark MacKenzie, President of the NH AFL-CIO. “Passing SB207 was the right thing to do for fairness and equality, and the right thing to do for the majority of Granite State working families who depend on women’s earnings to get by.”

“We commend the Senate’s unanimous adoption of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act,” stated Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “This law would give employees the tools they need to challenge wage gaps. Data shows that New Hampshire women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Coupled with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act already in law, these two acts can help to create a climate where wage discrimination is no longer tolerated.”

Along with the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate, community groups helped push legislators to pass this Paycheck Fairness bill.  Below are statements from some of the other organizations celebrating today’s vote.

Kary Jencks, Executive Director, NH Citizens Alliance for Action: “The Senate recognized today that ensuring equal pay for equal work is important to protecting New Hampshire working families.  A woman’s earnings, whether she is married or not, are crucial to family support. Closing the wage gap is the right action for New Hampshire to take for the economic security of Granite Staters.”

Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union: “We applaud the Senate’s bipartisan approval of the New Hampshire Paycheck Fairness Act. In approving this critical legislation, the Senate has taken an important step towards eliminating unfair gender paycheck inequities in the state of New Hampshire.”

Dawn Andonellis, Public Policy Chair for the American Association of University Women (AAUW) of New Hampshire: “We applaud the New Hampshire State Senate for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act in a bipartisan fashion and for taking this important step toward closing the wage gap and ending gender discrimination in the workplace. Moving this bill forward would give the women of New Hampshire a reason to actually celebrate Equal Pay Day on April 8. Finally, women are closer to achieving equal pay for equal work.”

Mary Jo Brown, Chair of the New Hampshire Women’s Initiative: “The New Hampshire Women’s Initiative applauds the Senate’s unanimous adoption of SB 207. SB 207 is a great step toward reducing the wage gap and promoting pay equity for all Granite Staters. The bill, which includes provisions towards paycheck transparency, honors NHWI’s agenda and findings from our 2013 statewide listening sessions with NH citizens. We are proud to thank Senator Larsen and her cosponsors for the bipartisan support of the bill. We are excited that the Senate has passed this important piece of legislation and look forward to working with the House.”

Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment at the National Women’s Law Center: “This bipartisan vote reflects the simple fact that giving women tools to combat pay discrimination and close the wage gap is a common sense solution that everyone should be able to get behind.”

The NH Senate was realistically the only hurdle this bill faced in getting passed in New Hampshire.  The GOP controlled Senate was the only truly unknown in this bills likelihood of passing.  The bill will now moved to the Democrat controlled house, where I should pass with ease.  I expect the Governor could be signing this bill before May first.

 

NH AFL-CIO Pres MacKenzie: Casino Bill Means Good Jobs And Serious Revenue

As president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the state, I speak to legislators and community leaders every day about the difficulties facing our state’s working families as we continue to struggle in the aftermath of the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Now is the time for our elected leaders to step up to the plate and take real, immediate and concrete steps to create good new jobs for thousands of workers in our state.

The New Hampshire House will soon have the opportunity to do just that. In fact, our legislators will be presented with a bill, HB 1633, that will guarantee the creation of a half-billion-dollar construction project, every penny of which would come from private investment.

HB 1633 would create more than 2,000 jobs for New Hampshire construction workers and more than 1,000 good, permanent jobs. Furthermore, this bill will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in non-tax revenue for the state, allowing us to keep critical programs like education, public safety and infrastructure off the budgetary chopping block. Plus, polls show that a big majority – nearly 60 percent – of Granite Staters favor the approach HB 1633 takes.

HB 1633 would bring expanded casino gaming to New Hampshire. Now, I know some members of our Legislature don’t personally approve of gambling, and that’s their prerogative. But we must come to terms with the fact that we are stuck in a situation where job growth continues to be sluggish and the state budget continually presents our elected officials with extremely difficult choices between cutting programs and finding needed revenue.

The fact is, New Hampshire will be experiencing the downsides of casino gaming whether or not we build a new casino within our borders. Our state already has a $75 million-per-year casino industry under the guise of “charitable gaming,” and there will soon be several casinos just over the border in Massachusetts. Without HB 1633, we’ll leave thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars on the table.

HB 1633 was drafted by a bipartisan, multiagency independent panel known as the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority as part of last year’s state budget process. In consultation with independent experts, the authority reviewed best practices in the gaming industry across the country to develop a true New Hampshire solution for expanded gaming.

This bill was crafted specifically to address concerns lawmakers had with last year’s gaming bill. As such, HB 1633 includes a comprehensive regulatory structure and robust provisions to ensure that the jobs will go to New Hampshire workers.

Although we have always supported creating good jobs for Granite State workers, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO has never officially endorsed a casino proposal before. Our executive committee recently voted unanimously to fully endorse HB 1633 because we are convinced this bill represents what’s best for New Hampshire’s working families and for our state.

We had questions about whether that was true of previous bills, but our concerns have been addressed in HB 1633.

Creating jobs shouldn’t just be a talking point or a political slogan. Growing our economy and putting people to work should be real, tangible goals for our elected leaders. HB 1633 is the only bill before the New Hampshire Legislature this year that would accomplish those goals, and I urge lawmakers to support it. Together we can help rebuild New Hampshire’s middle class by focusing on creating good jobs for workers in our state. Passing this bill will contribute to that cause.

NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie Is One Of Many Appointees To Economic Development Advisory Council

CONCORD, NH – Continuing her efforts to help New Hampshire’s businesses grow and create good jobs that can support a thriving middle class, Governor Maggie Hassan today announced 26 appointees to the Economic Development Advisory Council.

“Through its work to assist and advise New Hampshire’s Division of Economic Development, the Economic Development Advisory Council is critical to our efforts to support innovative economic growth and help businesses create good jobs,” Governor Hassan said. “These appointees have a diverse track record of success in a variety of sectors across our economy, and I am confident that their service will help build a stronger, more innovative New Hampshire.”

Established by a 2008 act of the Legislature sponsored by Governor Hassan during her time in the Senate, the council is charged with assisting the Division of Economic Development by providing advice on the trends and the needs across all sectors of industry and government to aid in the strategic planning efforts of the division.

The members of the council serve three-year terms and represent industries across the state, including manufacturing, education, tourism and retail, among others.

“With these appointments, the Economic Development Advisory Council will have broad representation of industries from every corner of the state,” said Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeffery Rose. “This is very important as we seek their counsel in developing our economic strategy and I appreciate their time and commitment to serving on this board.”

The Governor’s appointees are:

  • Zenagui Brahim, director of the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership, representing manufacturing;
  • Kendall Buck, vice president of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association, representing residential building;
  • Dean Christon, director of New Hampshire Finance Authority, representing state/local housing authority;
  • Patrick Clark, president/CEO of BurstPoint Networks, representing information technology/software;
  • Jaime Coughlin, director of New Ventures and incubator programs, member-at-large;
  • Eric Crainich, president of Design Standards Corp., representing biotechnology;
  • Katharine Eneguess, president of White Mountains Community College, representing higher education;
  • Phil Ferneau, founder/director of Borealis Ventures, representing venture capital formation;
  • Jeffrey Hayes, director of the Lakes Region Planning Commission, member-at-large;
  • State Senator Jeanie Forrester;
  • Judy Gove, director of the New Hampshire Electric Coop, representing electric/energy;
  • Stephen Heavener, director of the Capitol Regional Development Council, representing regional/municipal development;
  • Gale Hennessy, director of Southern New Hampshire Services, representing workforce development;
  • Chris Hodgdon, director of government affairs for Comcast, representing telecommunications;
  • State Representative Naida Kaen;
  • Carmen Lorentz, director of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development;
  • Daniel Lee, associate professor of economics at Plymouth State University;
  • Patrick McDermott, director of external affairs for Hinkley Allen & Snyder, member-at-large;
  • Mark McKenzie, president of New Hampshire AFL-CIO, representing organized labor;
  • David Mullen, director of Pease Development Authority, representing real estate/commercial real estate development;
  • Jayne O’Connor, president of White Mountains Attractions, representing travel and tourism;
  • Eric Proulx, general manager of Tanger Outlet Center, representing retail;
  • Kathleen Reardon, vice president of Citizens Bank, representing insurance/banking/financial services;
  • Tim Sink, president of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, representing chambers of commerce;
  • Sarah Smith, extension professor at the University of New Hampshire, representing forest-based products;
  • Philip Suter, director of the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Keene State College.

Thank You From NH APWU And Full Text Of Issa Protest Event Letter

Editor’s note: This is a two part message.  The first part is a Thank You from Janice Kelble, Legislative Director for the NH APWU.  The second part is the full text of the flyer delivered by AWPU members at the Issa protest. 

Issa protest 2THANK YOU to all who showed up!

Thank you for the wonderful show of solidarity, it was especially heartwarming to see in February on a holiday weekend in between storms (windchill 5 degrees!!).

We saw many APWU folks, some from our neighboring states of MA, VT, RI, and ME – active & retired,  NALC brothers and sisters, Mailhandlers, Carpenters, SEIU, Firefighters, UAW, AFT, NATCA, the AFL-CIO, the Alliance for Retired Americans, as well as  community friends and neighbors.

They came to help  us to deliver a message to Darrell Issa… Keep the Postal Service Public We do not want to see privatized mail services and we do not want to see you interfere with our collective bargaining. Take away the Congressional noose that was tied around the neck of the Postal Service in 2006, with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act and allow us to grow. STOP taking SERVICE out of the Postal Service!!!

Monday’s gathering  was a great show of solidarity with an important message. Thank you one & all!!!

 *     *    *    *   *

Below is the full message as delivered by the APWU members at the event

Darrell Issa, America’s richest Congressman never met a public service he didn’t want to privatize. We have a message he needs to hear!

While 3 U.S. House bills (that strive to strengthen the United States Postal Service) languish in committee, none of these have been considered by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The three bills (with hundreds of co-sponsors) will likely never see the light of day.  The only bill considered, sponsored by Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, has only 2 co-sponsors, and it focuses on attacking collective bargaining and privatizing the Postal Service! 

It’s plain & simple; Representative Issa does not want to have the USPS remain a Public Service.

Universal Service to ALL Americans has long been a job well done by Postal Workers serving rural areas and cities across our great country.  It wasn’t until 2006, when the USPS was quite profitable, that Congress decided to take advantage of a thriving Service and require pre-payment of future retiree health benefits (a requirement applied to no other agency!!!). Congress created the biggest problem and Congress can fix it… without privatizing!!

It does not appear that fixing the Service is the Goal, at least not while profits are to be had!

Issa’s bill attacks Collective Bargaining, Deprives Customers of Vital Services, Privatizes Postal Services and Threatens Rural Service. It does NOT relieve the USPS from the pre-funding of health costs for future retirees, allow utilization of retirement system overpayments or allow the USPS to offer new innovative services needed in many communities.

We oppose legislation that would degrade or eliminate postal services. We must stop cuts to USPS’s mail processing network and to delivery service.

We oppose provisions that would result in severe service cuts to rural and hard-to-serve areas that most need postal services. Even small or unprofitable post offices are a vital part of the network required to provide universal services to all Americans.

We strongly oppose interference with collective bargaining agreements and bargaining rights. The collective bargaining process and peaceful dispute resolution through interest arbitration has worked well for the agency since the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970.

The fact is that were it not for the 2006 Congressional mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits, the Postal Service would already be back on track realizing a profit in the past year.

Keep the Service in Postal Service

 KEEP THE POSTAL SERVICE a PUBLIC SERVICE

New Hampshire Retirees hold Sen. Ayotte accountable

NH Alliance For Retired Americans Ayotte Protest

by Jennifer Kenny

MANCHESTER, NH — The voting record of Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte has drawn the ire of New Hampshire retirees.  Unable to secure an appointment with her, they are demanding that Social Security be improved by picketing in front of her Manchester and Nashua offices.

The retiree members of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans (NH ARA) have been  requesting to meet with Ayotte since the summer of 2013.  Initially this seemed like an easy ask.  Considering that the U. S. Senate designates multiple days for travel, in-district workshops, holiday and summer recess, the NH ARA members thought their request was reasonable.

Top that off with the fact that Ayotte holds a post on the prestigious U.S. Special Committee on Aging, and NH ARA represents over 13.000 retirees — a meeting just makes good sense.  After all, wouldn’t this type of meeting help her to better understand her constituency?

But stopping by her office, calling for an appointment, speaking with staff, requesting a meeting through mutual acquaintances, showing up at town hall meetings did not work.  Even holding signs in front of the Senator’s Manchester and Nashua offices in the summer heat and the winter cold and snow has not resulted in a meeting.

Ayotte apparently does not want to be held accountable for her votes on 49 health care related bills, most of which have to do with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The bills range from anti-choice measures, delaying portions of enacting the Affordable Care Act, and wiping out the law in whole or in part.

Ayotte is a co-sponsor of S. 1711 the State Health Care Choice Act which allows states to opt-out and limit required coverage.  The NH ARA wants to know why.  Does Ayotte want to reopen the dreaded donut hole that caused financial hardship to seniors and other Medicare recipients that rely on expensive prescription medications?

Perhaps she is not in favor of the clause that prevents insurance companies from arbitrarily canceling a customer’s policy when the customer becomes ill, or maybe it is the free preventative care wellness doctor appointments that she objects to.

The NH ARA is left guessing if Senator Ayotte would deny our grandchildren the right to remain on their parents health plan until they turn 26 years of age or perhaps the lifetime and yearly coverage limits that the insurance companies were allowed to  impose prior to the Affordable Care Act?

Maybe Ayotte objects to holding insurance companies accountable to their customers by proving 80% of the premium paid is used for the purpose of insurance and that only 20% of the premium is allowable for CEO pay and profits.   Considering her unwillingness to meet with the NH ARA, they may never know.

The retirees also want to learn how their Senator justifies raising the eligibility age for full retirement Social Security benefits, and why she hasn’t signed on to S 567.  This bill would establish a price index that reflects actual costs of items for Social Security recipients and insures Cost of Living increases  keep pace with inflation.

The occasional town hall meetings hosted by Ayotte are well scripted and controlled. She makes a slide show presentation and only takes questions that are pre-printed on index cards prior to the start of the meeting. Late comers are not allowed access to a card.

The NH ARA monitors legislation. These retirees have ideas and questions and remain hopeful that one of these days, Senator Ayotte will meet with them.  In  the meantime, they continue to show up with signs and keep asking for a meeting with the Senator at one of her many New Hampshire locations.

Ayotte is not up for re-election in 2014.  New Hampshire’s Democratic senior Senator Jeanne Shaheen is one of the 36 Senators up for election this year.  Shaheen’s race is one of the top targets by the Republican Party.  They want to grab control of the U. S. Senate and impose Ayotte’s agenda on our nation’s retirees and people.  New Hampshire retirees already have their walking shoes ready to make sure this does not happen.

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