AFT-NH President Hainey’s Testimony Against SB 217 (Right To Work) In NH Senate

No Right To Work

Once again New Hampshire is considering the aptly named ‘Right to Work’ legislation.  Today local labor leaders are testifying against SB 217, and AFT-NH President Laura Hainey kindly sent us a copy of her written testimony against SB 217.

aft sqaureJanuary 23, 2014

 Dear Senate Finance Committee,

I am writing to you to ask you to Defeat SB 217 which is inaccurately referred to as the “Right to Work Bill”.

AFT-NH represents 4,000 employees in NH, mostly public employees who work in your cities, towns and school districts. The members of AFT-NH are teachers–like me—and other school workers, like librarians and even cafeteria workers.  Some of us are police officers who work to ensure safe and orderly communities. Our members work in higher education preparing new generations of citizens and leaders. And our members provide vital public services in towns all over New Hampshire. In short, AFT New Hampshire members ensure the safety and well-being of our fellow citizens and help build stronger communities throughout our state.

There is no evidence to suggest that passing this bill will improve our economy or create jobs for NH’s working families. As a matter of fact, I know you’ve heard that Right to Work legislation creates more jobs, presumably because a state becomes more attractive to employers when unions are not present or are weakened. The research does not support this point of view. One of the last states to adopt this policy was Oklahoma, which prior to passage of Right to Work legislation, had relatively high job growth.  Recent research actually shows that Oklahoma’s advantage in job creation over neighboring states shrank following the passage of Right to Work.

The Legislature should be focused on supporting us in that work, rather than on allowing divisive politics that undermine our efforts to strengthen our state. 

Lastly, I ask is it the place of state government to tell private companies what they can and cannot agree to with the union?  Please take the time to consider the implications on the current working relationships in the workforce which for the most part have been productive and collegial. Why upset this balance?

I ask that you vote ITL on Senate Bill 217. 

Sincerely, 

Laura Hainey

AFT-NH President

Grassroots and Dark Money Groups Building Media Campaign for Right to Work in PA

dark-money-620x264

dark-money-620x264

Written by Sean Kitchen on the Raging Chicken Press

The never-ending push for Right to Work (for less) legislation in Pennsylvania is on the move again, but this time there’s more of a tangible campaign targeting the conservative base.  For 14 straight years, State Representative Daryl Metcalfe has introduced some form of Right to Work legislation, but this year’s legislation was introduced by State Representative Bryan Cutler (Lancaster, PA).  Last January, Jen Stefano from the Koch Brothers funded American’s for Prosperity in Pennsylvania held a press conference with Representative Metcalfe and announced that the legislation will become law.  Currently, it appears that dark money groups tied to right wing think tanks like The Franklin Center and Greenhouse Solutions are teaming up with a conservative activist from Southeastern Pennsylvania, and are astroturfing a social media and media campaign by using Facebook and Twitter accounts to push anti-union news and rhetoric from “independent” media outlets.

The players in this story are Simon Campbell – a conservative grassroots activist from Yardley, PA,  dark money think tanks, and astro-turfed media and social media outlets.  Simon Campbell is a local conservative activist from Bucks County PA.  He jumped on the scene in 2005 when he was elected to the Pennsbury School District.  The cause-celeb he ran on was a teacher bashing and anti-teacher strike platform.  While sitting on the Pennsbury School Board, Campbell started Stop Teachers Strike.  In 2013, Campbell’s four year term on the local school board was up and he and his colleagues were sept off board.   Weeks after the election, Campbell founded a 501.4(c) organization called Pennsylvanians For Union Reform, and thanks to his non-profit social welfare status, Campbell’s group is able to receive a whole lot of dark money.  Campbell’s resume as a right-wing activist has him giving speeches at luncheons or sitting on training sessions at Koch funded think-tanks like the statewide Commonwealth Foundation and Americans for Prosperity.

Then there’s a growing social media campaign. It appears that Campbell has been running a Pennsylvanians for Union Reform facebook page since June 2013, and has amassed over 20,000 followers.  That’s either one hell of a grassroots campaign or Campbell’s group has a few thousand sitting aside for social media promotion.   Then the page regularly posts stories from Pennsylvania media outlets that deal with union issues, but the majority of the posts come from two “independent” media outlets, Media Trackers and Watchdog Wire.  Out of the two media outlets, Media Trackers is more savvy when it comes to hiding their funding sources and who is actually writing their articles.  According to their website, Media Trackers describes itself as follows:

Media Trackers is dedicated to media accountability, government transparency, and quality fact-based journalism. Our site examines stories published in the mainstream media, explores claims made by some of the more partisan political groups, and provides the facts on the issues, people and elections that matter.

A 2012 Mother Jones article described Media Trackers as:

Conservatives have their think tanks, dozens of them at the state and national level. They also have a corporate-funded legislation mill in the American Legislative Exchange Council. What conservatives lacked, Ryun told the donors, were nimble attack blogs that could quickly capitalize on the latest missteps by big-government politicians or the “liberal” media—essentially hard-hitting, opposition-research-style shops that prize scoops, speed, and scandal over policy briefs and press conferences. His pitch: Create a network of one- and two-man digital media outlets with low overhead, rapid response, and a nose for controversy.

The donors loved it. They ponied up seed money in the low six figures, and Ryun’s conservative attack machine, Media Trackers, was born. Bonus: As a nonprofit, Media Trackers can keep the identities of those donors secret.

To obtain their non-profit status, Media Trackers changed their name to Greenhouse Solutions during the2013 IRS scandal, claiming that a liberal sounding name will ease the process.  When looking for Media Trackers’ journalists or blog staff, some of their writers were from the Heartland Institute,  a Rick Perry adviser, and a former journalist with the Washington Examiner.

The second fake independent media outlet involved in this campaign is Watchdog Wire, whose twitter account describes it as a “project of the Franklin Institute.”  Watchdog Wire’s media outlet is ran by the Franklin Center’s communications department.  Under the Franklin Center’s staff page, it lists Watchdog Wire’s staff.  The Franklin Center also has ties to two Pennsylvania groups, the Commonwealth Foundation, a right winged think-tank, and the Pennsylvania Independent, one of those “independent media” outlets.  Sourcewatch describes The Franklin Center’s ties to statewide think-tanks like the Commonwealth Foundation:

Franklin Center Director of Communications Michael Moroney told the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in 2013 that the source of the Franklin Center’s funding “is 100 percent anonymous.” But 95 percent of its 2011 funding came from DonorsTrust, a spin-off of the Philanthropy Roundtable that functions as a large “donor-advised fund,” cloaking the identity of donors to right-wing causes across the country (CPI did a review of Franklin’s Internal Revenue Service records).[18] Mother Jones called DonorsTrust “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement” in a February 2013 article.[19]Franklin received DonorTrust’s second-largest donation in 2011.[18]

The Franklin Center also receives funding from the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation,[20] a conservative grant-making organization.[21]

The Franklin Center was launched by the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance (SAM),[22] a 501(c)(3) devoted to pushing free-market ideals. SAM gets funding from the State Policy Network,[23] which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[24] Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, sits on the board of this foundation.[25] SAM also receives funding from the Rodney Fund.

What we are witnessing are the cogs turning in the right-wing infrastructure gearing up for an attack on public sector workers in 2014.  There has been a quiet 14-year movement to make Right to Work a possibility in Pennsylvania, and now the volume is being ratcheted up a few notches.  We are witnessing a “grassroots,” social welfare, non-profit group that has the potential to collect dark money run a social media campaign that is pushing for one issue; screwing workers’ rights.  The social media campaign, run by Pennsylvanians for Union Reform, is constantly pushing anti-union rhetoric from dark money dominated non-profit media outlet, like Media Trackers, or the Koch Brother funded, Franklin Center’s communication’s department at Watchdog Wire.  This is how the right wing infrastructure, with all their minions, all their think tanks and all their communications departments are going to try to undercut labor laws in Pennsylvania just like they did in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Florida in 2011.

 

Workers To Protest Against “Right To Work (for less)” In Pennsylvania

lager-620x264 Yuengling Beer

lager-620x264 Yuengling BeerFor a little over a month we have been talking about “Dick Yuengling called for “right to work” legislation in Pennsylvania“. Since this post workers have been organizing in protest to the proposed Right To Work legislation in the Keystone state.

I just received information about a local action in Pottsville, PA.  If your in the area, please join them!

March and Rally for GOOD JOBS and Rebuilding Pennsylvania’s MIDDLE CLASS:
Join Us As We Draw a Line in the Sand for Good Jobs, Strong Families and Strong Communities

Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Line up is at 10:30 AM between Third and Fourth Street and Mahantongo Street, Pottsville, PA

We will March to The Schuylkill County Courthouse for a Rally.

Each and Everyone One of Us Can Make a Difference by Standing Together and Demanding an End to Policies that support taking more money out of our pockets and handing it to people who are already too wealthy.

Tell Dick Yuengling Gov. Tom Corbett that Pennsylvania Needs a Raise …. Not Right-to-Work “for Less

Here are the facts:

  • Forbes Magazine recently reported Yuengling’s worth at $1.3 billion among the wealthiest in the country
  • Average annual pay in states with right to work “for less” was $39,169, which was $5,660 less than the average annual pay in Pennsylvania of $44,829 according to the latest figures from the bureau of labor statistics.
  • If you live in a right to work state employers are less likely to provide health insurance or good pensions to their employees and workers are 34.8 percent more likely to be killed on the job than Pennsylvania residents.

Dick Yuengling and Governor Corbett: Stop supporting policies that would put us ON A RACE TO BOTTOM and would turn the clock back over 100 years ago to the days of the “Molly Maguires”.

Congtruction worker 1Miners 1

Join Us as We Draw a Line in the Sand for Good Jobs, Strong Families, and Strong Communities on Saturday, November 9, 2013 Rally and March in Pottsville. 

For more information contact Roxie Pauline (RoxieP9@aol.com and cell: 570-840-1650) or Liz Bettinger (LBettinger@usw.org)

“Right to Work” Laws? More Like “Right to Freeload”

From @KTUERK on Twitter

This is a special cross post from the We The People blog by Howie Barte. Read more about Howie at the bottom.

“Right to Work” Laws? More Like “Right to Freeload”
By Howie Barte 

It is a safe bet that no one alive in the USA today that can remember a time when company bosses forced workers to toil for up to 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no time off other than for a debilitating work accident, or worse.  Today’s 8-hour day/40 hour standard workweek was not granted out of kindness by the industrialists and corporations making enormous profits off disposable workers.  It was hard-fought and won by labor unions in this country and in every other industrialized capitalist-oriented country on Earth.

Likewise, no one alive will remember when unsafe, stifling sweat shops that employed children under inhumane conditions were the norm.  But those, too, were eliminated because unions forced them out of existence through job actions as well as political actions.

The US mining industry lagged behind these gains for many years.  Working conditions in the mines as recently as 50 years ago were inhumanly unsafe and unhealthful.  The mining company fat cat industrialist/capitalists realized that it was far cheaper to replace a sick or dead miner with a newly hired miner than to upgrade the mines’ working conditions and safety equipment.  Unions such as the United Mine Workers of America (UMW orUMWA) forced changes to working conditions and pushed for passage of laws mandating minimum safety requirements for mining operations.

All of the above events have something in common:  They were possible because of the collective actions taken by workers who were organized into unions.  Without unions, the abominable working conditions described above would most likely still be the norm.  And every worker who benefited fairly shared in the costs of these achievements.

The republican party (GOP) was once the party of Abraham Lincoln, who fought the US Civil War and ultimately ended slavery in the USA.  Slavery is, after all, just another way for industrialist/capitalist fat-cats to enjoy cheap labor, without regard to human suffering or even basic human rights.  The end of overt slavery gave rise to covert slavery, where workers were indebted to through such clever inventions as the company store and thus enslaved not by a whip but by basic economics.  Slowly and painfully, workers organized into unions, and laws were passed guaranteeing workers a minimum wage by which they could buy food, clothing and shelter.

The unions incurred huge expenses in challenging the industrial/capitalist fat cats to achieve these necessary improvements in wages and working conditions.  Company bosses needed a way to fight back, so they formed a “union” of sorts of their own, the industrial/capitalist fat cats political campaign war chest, so to speak.  The republican party was wooed and enticed by obscene and bottomless barrels of money.   Unions responded by backing democrats.  As a result, republicans wanted to get unions out of the political balance as much as the industrial/capitalist fat cats did.  The perfect storm against organized labor was forming.

Enter the right-to-work” laws, which mandate that although unions must represent all covered workers in grievances and share among all workers any and all gains in working conditions and/or wages won by the union, while union members pay their dues to finance these services, the non-union-member workers in the same company in “right-to-work” states get these gains for free.  They don’t pay a single dime towards the expenses incurred for these services.  They free-load on the backs of union members.

Right-to-work” laws truly have only one single purpose:  To reduce income to unions by preventing them from charging non-union workers any fees for services the non-members still benefit from.  By reducing the union’s income, they reduce its negotiating power, its financial (and thus political) resources, and its attractiveness to new workers.

Starting in 1943, Florida passed the first “right-to-work” laws, barring mandatory fees/union dues for union services for non-union members.  And since the GOP won back the US House of Representatives, Indiana passed its own right-to work law.  There are now 23 states with these union-busting laws on the books.

Over the past week, the GOP-controlled Michigan state legislature passed two such laws in record time.  They were signed into law within hours by Michigan’s GOP governor Rick Synder.  The republicans claim that these laws free workers and encourage job creation, but this is misleading at best.  They only free workers from strong union protection of their hard-earned wages, working conditions and job security.  And most new businesses pay much less than the union shops.  But the real hit is leveled against union resources that help elect democrats.

Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th president of the USA, hero of World War 2 and a (now extinct) moderate republican, warned in his farewell speech in 1961, “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex..”

It is a warning largely ignored by today’s Tea-Party-infected, ultra-right,Karl Rove brainwashed GOP.

Eisenhower and Jimmy Hoffa must be holding each other as they turn over in their graves.   :(


From We The People Blog bio:

Until December 6th, 2006, Howie was a liberal-centrist radio talk show host in Providence, Rhode Island.  In the Fall of 2006, corporate/political forces decided that the free speech provisions of the US Constitution didn’t really mean all that much, and they decided to silence all but the most ultra-conservative voices on talk radio in Rhode Island.  Both Howie, who had been on the air for fifteen months, and his close friend and mentor, ex-RI State Attorney General Arlene Violet, who had hosted the talk show following Howie’s for seventeen years, were summarily fired.  Arlene received a 30-day advance “gag-order” notice required by her contract, but Howie’s advance notice consisted of “Nice show today, Howie!  Now leave immediately and don’t come back.” 

Worse even than that was the fact that Arlene was told to leave the next day, which was a day earlier than she had been told, and she was escorted out of the building!!  As Harry Chapin stated in his song ‘W.O.L.D’, “That’s how this business goes!”.

Before that, Howie was an air traffic controller for 33 1/2 years, most of it spent at T.F. Green Airport (PVD) in Providence, Rhode Island.  During that time, he was a co-founder of NATCA, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, which is the federal union that represents the nation’s air traffic control workforce, as well as several other federal professions.  He served the first regional vice president of the NATCA New England Region, and also served as local president at PVD for fourteen years and alternate regional vice-president for 11 years.
  He retired from federal service in 2005.

After retirement, he was asked to be a radio talk show host in the local Providence, RI market. As stated above, he served in that capacity for fifteen months, after which the station he worked for decided to shift to the ultra extreme right, and save salary money in the process. Howie and his mentor, Arlene Violet were shown the door, leaving only cost-free syndicated ultra-extreme right national programs and a single right-wing local host.

Howie was born in New York City, and from the age of almost seven, has lived in Spain, Holland, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico, when he graduated college and originally was an air-taxi pilot before becoming an air traffic controller in the FAA. He also spent four years in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam conflict.

Howie is married with two grown daughters. He is a Harley Davidson rider (see photos on www.howiebarte.com) and loves Sushi and Sashimi. He self-describes as a liberal-centrist with libertarian tendencies, particularly when it comes to our legislators making laws that supposedly protect us from ourselves. He is willing to pay his fair share of taxes, but believes that corruption and inefficiency in government should be financed solely by the jerks that pass these laws and skim off the top (or even the bottom).

USW Calls on Mich. Gov. Snyder to Veto Right-to-Work-for-Less

Michigan working families deserve state ballot vote for their economic future 

Pittsburgh (Dec. 11) – President Leo W. Gerard of the United Steelworkers (USW) issued the following statement  today in an appeal to common sense economics over politics as a Michigan lame-duck legislative session by Republicans rams through a ‘right-to-work-for-less’ bill for a promised signature by Gov. Rick Snyder.

“The USW active and retired members join other unions and allies in Michigan and across the nation to call on Gov. Snyder to support the proposal of the state’s Democratic congressional delegation. We ask the Governor to use his veto power to stop this unnecessary and divisive right-to-work bill.

“If the Governor feels this bill will move Michigan forward, he should delay the final legislative votes and allow an amendment that would put this issue before the public as a state ballot initiative.  We urge Governor Snyder to delay his signing of the bill. Let the people of Michigan debate and vote on a consequential matter that will affect all working families.

“We know the newly-elected Michigan state legislature convening early next year has added Democrats that would reject a right-to-work-for-less bill. Right-to-work is only supported by millionaires and billionaires who profit by taking more money out of the workers’ pockets.

“The USW applauds President Obama for his public statement yesterday in Detroit to do everything we can to keep good middle-class jobs that help workers rebuild security for their families. He said it straight and true. We shouldn’t be trying to take away workers’ rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions. The so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws don’t have much to do with economics — they have everything to do with politics.

“Hear our voices outside the Lansing State Capitol. Hear the voice of President Obama who said: We don’t want a race to the bottom. We want a race to the top.”

 

The USW is a North American union representing 850,000 workers in the manufacturing, mining, energy and service sectors. For more information: www.usw.org.

NH AFL-CIO: Union Leader in no position to ask for “compromise” on RTW

For immediate release
Contact: Nora Frederickson, New Hampshire AFL-CIO 603-785-4211

NH AFL-CIO Pres. Mark MacKenzie: Union Leader in no position to ask for “compromise” on collective bargaining

Demonstrating just how out of touch the Union Leader is with Granite Staters and members of its own staff, New Hampshire’s largest newspaper urged legislators last week in the New Hampshire House to adopt HB 1677, a new right-to-work bill that applies only to public employees.

“It comes as no surprise that a newspaper that cannot manage labor relations with their own employees is telling the state to step in and get rid of the collective bargaining law,” said President Mark MacKenzie, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO, citing contentious contract negotiations that lasted five months and were only settled in February. Staff at the newspaper have been laid off or forced into part-time work, and several have quit in response to their treatment from management. “An employer with such a troubled history has no right to tell any other employer in New Hampshire how to manage relationships with their employees.”

“At a time when New Hampshire residents are looking to the Legislature for action on jobs, the editorial board at the Union Leader would rather see our elected officials waste another year arguing over right-to-work than take meaningful action to create jobs,” continued MacKenzie. “Poll after poll has shown that Granite Staters are sick of the right-to-work fight. The working men and women of this state want jobs, not attacks on workers.”

President MacKenzie disagreed with editors at the Union Leader who had called this new right-to-work bill a “compromise” that “strikes a better balance” between the leaders, workers, and businesses who want to preserve fifty years of collective bargaining law and extreme Tea Party legislators who want to bar collective bargaining outright.

“It is not a compromise to present a right-to-work bill as an alternative to a bill that revokes public employees’ rights. Both of these bills dismantle our state’s collective bargaining law and threaten the right of New Hampshire workers to have a voice at work. Asking legislators to settle on one of them as a compromise is a deliberate ploy to pick apart the law in any possible way. The Union Leader should either recognize Speaker O’Brien’s strategy for what it is or stay out of the debate on the collective bargaining law.”

###