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Teachers, Firefighters, and Police Picket Local Government Center

LGC Protest 1

Image from PFFNH Twitter (Kayla McCarthy)

This evening over 100 active and retired employees, teachers, fire fighters, and police came out to picket the Local Government Center and express their displeasure over rising health insurance rates.

They attended the public hearing to tell the Local Government Center’s HealthTrust board that, as employees and taxpayers, they not support the overcharging of their health insurance, wasteful spending on attorney’s fighting their regulators, and the refusal to comply with the Don Mitchell final order.

Many attendees, including labor leaders, testified before the LGC HealthTrust Board.

“Raising health insurance rates on employees, while continuing to increase excesses in surplus, is an overcharge and an injustice. HealthTrust needs to get their house in order before asking cities and towns for more money. The Local Government Center needs to make whole everyone who has been damaged: active and retired employees, and taxpayers,” stated Dave Lang, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire.

“If the current policies and practices of HealthTrust are resulting in the overcharging of our communities, then that is taking much needed budget dollars away from local cities and towns. This means less money for education, less money for safer streets, and less money for firefighters and paramedics,” stated AFL-CIO president Mark MacKenzie. “This situation creates great tension at the bargaining table between our workers and their employers forcing employees into concessions on health insurance that may not otherwise be needed,” he went on to state.

The HealthTrust Board took about 3 hours of public testimony and will make a recommendation on rate increases later this month.

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Image credit Kayla McCarthy (PFF-NH)

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Image credit Kayla McCarthy (PFF-NH)

 

Rolling Stone Should Apologize For Putting Tsarnaev On Their Cover

UPDATED 7-18 at 5pm

After this post was originally posted around noon people came to me in every way they could. I got emails, twitter messages, and comments on my facebook accounts. They were all saying that I was wrong. I was judging the book by it’s cover since I openly admit that I refused to read the article. Someone even pointed out to me that judging a book by it’s cover is a covert form of bigotry. I am totally guilty of that.

The article is more about the bright and talented young man who did a 180 and rejected his way of life. Many people told me that the point of the article was to shock people and make them understand that this could (and has happened) to anybody.

I do have a better understanding of the article and its message I still feel that they should not have put his face on the cover of their magazine. They could have written the article (which is creating a lot of discussion) without using his face on the cover. The fact that he is on the cover makes him seem like a rock god not a killer.

While I no longer feel that Rolling Stone is trying to glamorize Tsarnaev (as I do in the original post), I do think that putting him on the cover was in very bad taste and I think an apology to the people would go a long way. This is Rolling Stone not a news magazine like TIME or NEWSWEEK. The cover of Rolling Stone is a reserved place for pop icons.

I invite you to join our conversation about this on our facebook page and tell us what you think.

I would also encourage you read Susan The Bruce’s blog called The Face Of Evil. It is a perfect counter-point to what I said below.

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(Below is the original post from earlier in the day)

After hearing about the Rolling Stone cover (click here to see it because I am not posting it), I told myself I was not going to talk about it. We all know that would never happen.

I am completely disgusted by the actions of Rolling Stone putting the Boston Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of their flagship magazine. It is a completely tasteless action by the magazines editors. The International Association of Firefighter hit the nail right on the head with their statement.

“The cover picture and story by Rolling Stone canonizing one of the terrorists who murdered and maimed Americans is despicable. Journalism is one thing. This kind of blatant glorification of a murderer in the name of selling magazines is just wrong.”

“We fully support the statement and efforts of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts and IAFF Boston Local 718, which represent the incredible men and women of the Boston Fire Department who responded to that massacre, in condemning Rolling Stone and its parent company for their irresponsible judgment and complete lack of compassion for all those affected by the bombings.”

This is just another slap in the face of the hard working public servants in the greater Boston area. To glamorize Tsarnaev only encourages more actions like the marathon bombing to gain fame.

After the bombing the ‘Boston Strong’ theme became a national phenomenon. It solidified a city, a state, and a nation with the notion that terrorist attacks will not bring us down. After Tsarnaev was captured in a boat in Watertown, people throughout the country offered their thanks and support to the police and fire departments in Boston.

This is why it is so appalling to the people who live around Boston that Rolling Stone would glamorize Tsarnaev in this way. When we see the face of Tsarnaev, we think of the horrific images of people bleeding in our city streets. We think of firefighters carrying injured people to hospitals. We think of the hard work and dedication of our public servants who shut down the city to capture Tsarnaev. The memory of all the good people who helped on that tragic day are good ones however, the thought of the person who caused all that needless suffering does not deserve to be remembered.

I stand with the The Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts who are making a call for Rolling Stone to officially apologize for putting Tsarnaev on the cover of their magazine.

As firefighters who responded to the Boston Marathon Bombings we witnessed first hand the emotional and physical trauma that unfolded that day. The persons accused of this heinous crime are not victims. They have not been failed. They are cowards. They killed four people, including a child. They caused disabling permanent injury to hundreds, and changed the lives of countless families forever.

The decision by Rolling Stone Magazine to publish a empathetic
looking photo of the living suspected terrorist in an obvious attempt to gain sympathy for him, or worse, simply sell their magazine, is an insult to every one of the real victims from that day.

Your Executive Board has voted to boycott Wenner Media LLC to include their publications of Rolling Stone, US Weekly and Men’s Journal, until an appropriate apology is offered to the real victims of the Marathon Bombings.

This is the time when we should be helping the true victims heal from their emotional and physical injuries from that day. If the insensitive decision by Rolling Stone Magazine and Wenner Media has caused further pain to just one victim – then that is one too many.

Please join me in sharing this Boycott with your family and friends.

After September 11th we all became New Yorkers. After the Boston bombing we all became Boston Strong. Remember the heroes not the villains.

President Obama Signs Gun Reform Orders, And Yes You Get To Keep Your Guns

Today only 33 days after the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook the people are finally getting real gun reform.  And no the President is not take away all your guns. He even said so today.

“Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen.  There are millions of responsible, law-abiding gun owners in America who cherish their right to bear arms for hunting, or sport, or protection, or collection.”

In a briefing to the press the President laid out his new executive actions to reduce gun violence.  The President and Vice President both spoke about the need to stop the senseless violence and tragedies that are happening more and more.

President Obama stated: “I’m going to do my part.  As soon as I’m finished speaking here, I will sit at that desk and I will sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.”

Some of the items include a universal background check on all weapons sales. A ban on all military style assault weapons with a 10 round magazine limit.  President Obama is also pushing funding out to schools to hire additional resource officers, increasing funding to police departments, and better mental health programs. Read all the proposals.

President Obama stated, “We will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening the background check system.  We will help schools hire more resource officers if they want them and develop emergency preparedness plans.  We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence — even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator.”

This statement to the country won high praise from some of the more vocal organization against gun violence including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

“The Brady Campaign stands with the President and Vice President in supporting these comprehensive policy recommendations to address gun violence. The White House has shown tremendous leadership in convening stakeholders and engaging the country in a conversation that the Brady Campaign and so many Americans have been calling for in the wake of Aurora, Newtown, and the 32 gun murders that happen every day in our country …. We also re-affirm the Brady Campaign’s commitment to lead the way toward better public health and safety education programs regarding the almost 300 million guns already in the hands of mostly law-abiding citizens. I strongly believe that now it’s up to us to make real change happen.”

The President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, also commended the President on his actions today in a written statement.

“The tragic events of Newtown must serve as a clarion call for immediate action to keep our communities safe from gun violence and ensure schools are the safe sanctuaries our children need to learn and grow. We applaud President Obama and Vice President Biden for heeding this call for action with a series of common-sense, balanced proposals that will make our nation safer.”

My Congresswoman, Carol Shea-Porter had this to say after hearing the Presidents plan.

“I agree with the President’s comprehensive approach to addressing gun violence,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter.  “I will not and cannot forget the never-ending scenes of families and communities in shock and mourning, and I will not ignore the calls of our citizens to do something to help stop the violence.  I support responsible gun ownership because Americans have a right to hunt or defend themselves, and they also have a right to expect to be safe as they go about their daily lives.”

So as you can plainly see, nobody wants to take away your guns.  We all just want to see our work, our schools, our churches, and our cities be safer places.

Keene Celebrates Collective Bargaining On City Employee Appreciation Day

This past Friday, the dedicated public employees from Keene were honored.  After numerous battles with the state legislature over the collective bargaining rights, the town’s unions were honored in a special ceremony held by Mayor Kendall Lane.

You can watch the entire 10 minute prestention below or via this link

Mayor Kendall Lane presented the towns unions with this proclamation.

The Full Employee Appreciation Proclamation (PDF) can be downloaded here.

Keene Public Employee Unions are honored at City Employee Appreciation Day

In the video you can see that John MacLean, City Manager, reiterated that employees have made sacrifices and a variety of contributions. He feels that these sacrifices and contributions are made because “employees believe in this community, believe in the City as our employer, and believe we are treated fairly.” The City’s relationships with its employees and collective bargaining units “are unique and are to celebrated and appreciated.” Employees have made “big contributions to the Monadnock United Way and are involved with civic organizations, schoolchildren, and the community at large.

“Our employees also represent something important to our society––collective bargaining, which protects our society in many ways. Sometimes the negotiations process can be difficult but, at the end, we come together with an agreement that works, and the City of Keene has been well served through this system.”

Sherri Beckta, President of Keene City Employees, AFT-NH and her officers

Even though the town of Keene has seen some tough financial times, the employee unions helped the town move forward by taking serious concessions.

AFT-NH was especially honored at this event.  AFT-NH represents the Keene City Employees, Keene Police Officers’ Association and Keene Police Supervisors’ Association. During the last few years during these challenging economic circumstances, the three Unions along with other city unions have worked collaboratively with the City in an effort to save jobs. Concessions made by the Unions have been in an effort to help stabilize the budget and recognize economic realities, according to Attorney Terri Donovan, Director of Field Services and Collective Bargaining at AFT-NH. “It was hard work but done in an atmosphere of mutual respect.”

AFT-NH President Laura Hainey attended the ceremony and stated , “It is refreshing to see management work together with our local unions and to acknowledge how valuable collective bargaining can be to all parties involved. Collective bargaining has strengthened our middle class and is a voice for all workers.”

I Call Them Heroes Everyday, Not Just On SEPT 11th

Today marks the anniversary one of the most horrific moments in our nations history. Many other blogs have been asking “Do you remember where you were on September 11th?”. I am sure we all remember what we were doing.  Those images of the airplanes being flown into the World Trade Center are forever imprinted in our memory. My question to you is “What else do you remember about September 11th?”

I remember the look of fear in my wife’s eyes as we watched in horror at the events of September 11th.  I remember faces of the people at ground zero running for their lives in a cloud of smoke and falling debris as the buildings began to collapse around them.  I remember seeing the police and firefighters rushing into those same collapsing building to search for people lost in the smoke.

Over the next few days we as Americans went through a significant shift. We continued to mourn the loss of those who died, while we rallied behind those brave men and women of the FDNY and NYPD. They continued to search the rubble for missing people. We began to refer to these brave men and women as the Hero’s of 9/11. We vowed never to forget.

Now ten years later the image of those three firefighters raising the American Flag of the remains of the World Trade Center, is one of the most memorable images of September 11th.  But now something else has happened. Those same brave firefighters are still called Heroes on the days surrounding 9/11, and called “Union Thugs” the other 350 days a year. What has happened? What has changed in America that we went from buying FDNY shirts and hats, and donating money to the International Association of Firefighters to making them enemies of the country?  Why is government trying to demonize these brave heroic men and women.

So on this day, remember all of September 11th. Remember over 3000 men and women who died tragically. Remember those 600 first responders who also died as Heroes. The courageous men and women who put lives of others ahead of their own. Remember this when people refer to Firefighters and Police Officers as Union Thugs. They have and always be this countries HEROES. That is something we should never forget.

What Wisconsin Meant to Romney and What We Need To Do About It

Last Friday Romney said that there are too many fireman, policemen, and teachers and that he’d support more layoffs if elected President.

Romney will be speaking at Scamman Farm in Stratham THIS FRIDAY at 10:30 a.m. and it’s up to us to ask him why he wants to cut the New Hampshire advantage, endanger our communities and weaken our schools.

His campaign claimed this week that “taxpayers really do want to hear that there will be fewer teachers”. You and I both know that cutting back on these critical public servants will only mean larger class sizes and unsafe neighborhoods.

It’s up to us to welcome Romney back to New Hampshire with the message that we’re taxpayers, we support our public servants, and we don’t want to see more cuts to our schools or police and fire departments!

We’ll be setting up on Portsmouth Avenue/Route 108 at the entrance to the farm. You can RSVP and get more information here

To tie right into this is a message from Laura Hainey and John Ost from AFT.  

Last week at a campaign rally in Iowa, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said:

“He [Obama] says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”

While job security and economic stability remain foremost on the minds of most Americans, Romney showed last week he remains focused on attacking the men and women working to support kids and their communities—teachers, first responders and other public employees.

He’s wrong. Do you think cutting the number of police officers, firefighters and teachers in your community will help or hurt us?

President Obama stands in stark contrast to Romney, both in his record of saving teacher jobs and in his latest call to Congress. In his weekly address, Obama urged Congress to take action to put teachers back to work in their classrooms and stated, “The best predictor of individual and American success in this economy is a good education.

So, tell us: How would cutting police officers, firefighters and teachers affect your community?

These are two polar-opposite views of what our communities need, and the contrast is further proof that President Obama continues to be the one standing with middle-class and working Americans.

In unity,
Laura Hainey
AFT-NH President

John Ost
AFT Political Director

P.S. Was this the final straw? Can we Count You In this election?

Looking Back Over the Last Year, What A Ride!

Where were you a year ago?  What were you doing? I do not remember the specifics however I remember watching the news and following on twitter for any news on the growing crowds in the Wisconsin State House.  It was a year ago when Governor Scott Walker took his extreme tea party agenda out on the working people of Wisconsin by repealing their rights to collective bargain.

Since then a like a cancer these anti-worker legislations have grown all across the United States.  After Wisconsin, Ohio attempted to repeal worker rights.  The workers in Ohio stood together and delivered over one million petitions leading to the successful overturn of the newly passed collective bargaining laws.  Not to be out done other tea party legislators took aim at unions.  In Maine, Governor LePage removed the Department of Labor’s lobby mural.

- James Imbrogno photo

Now New Hampshire is following right down the same path.  The New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien is pushing dozens of anti-worker bills.  These bills range from the repeal of collective bargaining to “Right To Work” to restrictions on bargaining articles.  Every single one of these bills is an attempt for the legislators to restrict the where and what unions can negotiate.  Just yesterday members of local unions gathered at the NH House to speak against one of the many Right To Work bills being revisited in this years session.  This after we spent all of last year fighting against Right To Work.  Thankfully we have a Governor who stands up for the middle class and for workers rights.  Without Gov. Lynch, Granite Staters would all be in the same situation as Wisconsin and Ohio right now.

After Gov. Walker repealed collective bargaining in Wisconsin, labor around the country suddenly took notice.  By the end 30,000 people were occupying the State House Rotunda. Maybe this was the punch in the face that labor needed to awake the sleeping giant that is labor unions.  While labor has always been there, now labor has risen again.  People are slowly seeing the value of collectively standing together.  This has worked for over 100 years for unions and now is beginning to take shape in the Occupy Movement that is sweeping the country.  The New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie has a signature at the end of all of his emails that sums it up perfectly: “Bargain Together or Beg Alone”.

Below is a video highlighting the events from Feb 2011 and the events surrounding the Wisconsin State House. 

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