AFT President Randi Weingarten on the Harris v. Quinn Decision

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WASHINGTON—Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the Harris v. Quinn decision. Today’s Harris v. Quinn decision upholds the right of public sector unions to represent public employees, including their right to collectively bargain, but the Supreme Court refused to extend the right for a union to collect fair share fees for that purpose from Illinois home healthcare workers who are not members.

“While the court upheld the importance of collective bargaining and unions to families and communities, let’s be clear that working people, who have aspired to the middle class and tried to make a better life for their families, have taken it on the chin for years. Stagnating wages, loss of pensions and lack of upward mobility have defined the economic distress they have experienced. Today’s decision makes it worse.

“The Roberts court has consistently ruled in favor of corporate interests, while diminishing the rights of labor. This court has built a record of weakening the rights of both voters and working families; no one should be surprised by this decision.

“America’s workers have gone through the crucible of tough times and adversity—that’s why they formed America’s labor movement. Workers did not start off with their rights being protected by government. We had to—and still must—organize ourselves, our families and others to secure good jobs, great public schools, prosperous communities and opportunity for all. While disappointed in the court’s decision, the American Federation of Teachers will do what we have always done: redouble our efforts to empower and engage our members around the issues they care about and the work they do, and to serve as a strong voice for our communities, our democracy and opportunity for all.”

NEA President: Supreme Court Silences Voices of Working Families

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Harris v. Quinn ruling creates uncertainty, instability for economic prosperity

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court of the United States today struck another blow against working families with its narrow 5-4 decision  in Harris v. Quinn when it eliminated agency fee arrangements for Illinois home healthcare workers. By casting doubt on case law that has been settled for decades, the Court’s ruling also creates insecurity and instability for employers and unions throughout the public sector. Harris v. Quinn was brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW), a political group whose extreme agenda seeks to weaken the power of working people.

At issue in the case was whether non-union members could reap the wages, benefits and protections negotiated in a collectively bargained contract without needing to pay their fair share. The National Education Association, joined by California Teachers Association and Change to Win, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to expose the truly radical nature of NRTW’s arguments and underscore their audacious claim that public-sector collective bargaining itself is constitutionally suspect.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“Quality public services, economic stability and prosperity starts with strong unions, but today the Supreme Court of the United States created a roadblock on that path to the American Dream. This ruling jeopardizes a proven method for raising the quality of home health care services—namely, allowing home health care workers to join together in a strong union that can bargain for increased wages, affordable health care and increased training.

“Americans count on quality public services provided by public employees like educators. We need workplaces, including public schools, where front-line employees have a voice. Today’s decision shuts the door on one proven method for ensuring that public sector workers’ voices are heard.  At a time when we are just starting to dig out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we should be creating an economy that works for all of us—not taking radical steps that undermine the rights of public workers while creating uncertainty and instability in the workplace.

“As a high school teacher and coach for 23 years, I saw how the entire team benefited when we all worked together. With today’s ruling, the Supreme Court took away the fairness and camaraderie that comes with working in a team. Agency fees are a common-sense, straight-forward way to ensure fairness and protect equity and individual rights. Every educator who enjoys the benefits and protections of a negotiated contract should, in fairness, contribute to maintaining the contract. And fair share simply makes sure that all educators share the cost of negotiations for benefits that all educators enjoy, regardless of whether they are association members.

“Despite today’s decision, we know that public sector workers will continue to organize—in public sector bargaining states and non-bargaining states, in agency fee states and right to work states—because public sector workers know that a union is the best way for all of us to ensure good schools, quality public services and economic prosperity.”

Hey, Supreme Court: What about States’ Rights? (Harris Vs Quinn)

CC DBKING

10thAmendmentIt seems to me that today’s Supreme Court decision was driven more by ideology than by an understanding of how labor unions work in practice.

It seems to me that the Court gave very little consideration to states’ rights, particularly:

  • whether the State of Illinois should have the right to determine which categories of employees it considers to be “state employees” and
  • whether states – as employers – should have the right to decide whether they want to include “agency fee” provisions in their union contracts.

And I’m wondering whether the next SCOTUS decision will strike down states’ rights to decide – for themselves – whether or not to even have public employees’ unions. (Some states have chosen NOT to have public-sector unions. New Hampshire didn’t have public-sector collective bargaining until 1975, when it was established by Republican Governor Mel Thomson.)

Shouldn’t Illinois have the right to decide – for itself – whether the home-based caregivers that it pays with Medicaid money should be considered its “employees” for purposes of collective bargaining?

Shouldn’t Illinois have the right to decide – for itself – whether or not to include an “agency fee” provision in its union contracts?

Maybe I missed it…? But when I read through the decision, I didn’t see a whole lot of respect or deference given to the rights of the Illinois Legislature to set the employment conditions of the people it views as its “employees.”

Every time the New Hampshire Legislature considers a so-called “Right to Work” bill, we hear from private employers that it would infringe on their rights to set working conditions for their employees.

Shouldn’t state governments have that same right?

 

The Supreme Court: LOOKING for Trouble?

TruthOrConsequences

TruthOrConsequencesCan’t help noticing… when SCOTUS goes looking for a case, the Justices can get themselves really far into the weeds.

Case in point:  two years ago, the Court indicated a willingness to “revisit” long-settled precedents on labor unions.  And they ended up with Harris v. Quinn – which could have all kinds of unintended consequences.  (Are they really going to rule that employers can’t fire workers based on who they associate with?  How’s that going to work, if a Homeland Security employee decides to join Al Qaeda?  Or will they rule that Illinois can’t decide the employment conditions of its own employees?  How are all those “States’ Rights” folks going to swallow that?)

The Harris decision is still pending… and it sounds to me like the Court is looking for even more trouble.

According to press reports, SCOTUS is now targeting state laws that prohibit lying about political candidates.  Here’s the WaPo story from yesterday:  Supreme Court suspicious of Ohio law that criminalizes false speech about candidates.

Ok, so… We’re still reeling from a presidential campaign where the concept of “truth” lost big time.

People’s trust in politicians is pretty much at an all-time low.

And now the Supreme Court wants to go after state laws that prohibit lying during political campaigns?  Really gotta wonder.

If the standards used in the Ohio statute sound familiar – “knowing the same to be false or with reckless disregard for whether it was false or not” – well, that’s probably because those same standards are used in libel law.

So… If the Supreme Court rules that corporate-money groups trying to influence elections have a First Amendment right to recklessly disregard the truth about political candidates… wouldn’t that also throw a whole lot of libel precedent out the window?

(Can’t help but notice that there are some high-dollar libel lawsuits pending in lower courts.  MediaMatters’ story:  Libel: Will Defamation Suits Doom Three Right-Wing Media Outlets? How will the Ohio decision affect those cases?)

The judiciary is still the most-trusted branch of the federal government.  But that, of course, could change.  Observers describe an increasingly pro-business tilt to SCOTUS decisions.  (How the Chamber of Commerce conquered the Supreme CourtSupreme Court Hands Chamber Of Commerce Blockbuster Pro-Corporate Term)

And, according to researchers, the rest of our government already represents business interests, rather than the average citizen.

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.

So… what happens if (when?) Average Americans lose trust in all branches of their federal government?

Can’t help but wonder how this is going to play out, long term.

Feel Like There’s A Target On Your Back? Multiple Lawsuits Target Unions

Image by ogimogi 
CC Flikr
Image by ogimogi  CC Flikr

Image by ogimogi
CC Flikr

All these lawsuits asking the Courts to rule against unions?  They’re NOT about First Amendment rights.

And now, one of the groups behind the lawsuits is admitting that.  And they’re saying it’s about stopping public sector unions. 

And they’re even portraying it as a strategic assault. 

Read it for yourself in this week’s National Law Journal: “Courts Should Seize the Opportunity To Disempower Public-Worker Unions” (free registration required).

They’re looking at this as a one-two punch. First: Harris v. Quinn (Supreme Court ruling expected any day now). Then, the NLJ editorial suggests, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association could deliver the final blow.

“Although there may not be five votes to end compulsory dues in the Harris case, Friedrichs v. CTA could provide the pivotal fifth vote for fundamentally re-ordering of public-employee union law.”

While you’re reading… don’t forget to translate!

  1. “Compulsory dues” translates to “union agency fees” (which cover the costs of negotiating and administering the contract, and nothing else.  Agency fees are NOT union “member dues”.).
  2. “Law that requires all public employees to join and support a union as a condition of employment” actually refers to California Government Code Chapter 10, which establishes a framework for teachers to collectively bargain – if they want to.  (Just like NH RSA 273-A provides a framework for collective bargaining; yet New Hampshire has lots of public workers who are not represented by any union.)

Don’t forget to look at the players!

  1. Plaintiffs in the Harris case are being represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation… which is affiliated with the National Right to Work Committee… which those of us here in the Granite State know all-too-well, right?
  2. According to the NLJ editorial, plaintiffs in the Friedrichs case are being represented by the Center for Individual Rights.  Read the Sourcewatch article here.
  3. But according to the actual Court filings in the Friedrichs case… plaintiffs are being represented by the law firm Jones Day.

Yeah, Jones Day.  Seems they’ve been quite active lately. The City of Detroit bankruptcy. The Patriot Coal bankruptcy. The Hostess Brands bankruptcy.   Verizon’s “de-risking” of its pension obligation.

And, can’t forget the Court case over nominations to the National Labor Relations Board.  (Read “How They Won It: Jones Day Invalidates Obama’s NLRB Picks” here.)

Are you feeling targeted yet?

Remember: you’re not the only one being targeted these days, you’ve got lots of company.  Public employees everywhere.  Anyone with a union pension or health care benefits.  Workers, in general.  The middle class.

Education is the best way to fight disinformation campaigns. Please share this with your friends on Facebook, or Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, or other social media.  It’s really easy; just click the buttons on the left.

1-28-14 AFT-NH Legislative Update

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aft sqaureFrom Laura Hainey, President AFT-NH

UPCOMING VOTE IN THE SENATE:

On Thursday the Senate Finance Committee held its hearing on SB 217 the “right to work for less bill”. They voted 4 to 2 to pass the bill, but if it had been referred instead to the Senate Executive Departments And Administration Committee, we might have seen it defeated by a 3-2 margin.  The next step is for the full Senate to vote on January 30th when they are in full session. As in the many years past AFT-NH is opposed to this bill and asks that it be defeated.

Thank you to all who took action by sending a letter to the committee members. It is very much appreciated.

By a vote of 5 to 0 the Senate Health, Education And Human Services made the recommendation to pass SB 343 as amended: establishing a commission to study the common core standards. This bill authorizes the Statewide Education Improvement and Assessment Legislative Oversight Committee to examine common core standards and New Hampshire’s current educational standards. AFT-NH support this bill and will advocate that this committee reached out to our teachers and have an honest conversation as to what their needs are moving forward. We know we need appropriate and useful staff development opportunities, the tools and materials to do our jobs, and the trust in us as professionals.

The full Senate will also be voting on SB 193 on January 30th. AFT-NH is in support of this bill which would allow a new, specially trained type of dental provider called Dental Hygiene Practitioners to join the dental team.

Oral health affects a child’s overall health — their ability to eat nutritious foods, to learn, to play. Sadly, pain and infection can prevent a child from just being a kid. These practitioners would expand the dental workforce, and improve access to routine dental care for children and others who face difficulty getting such care.

AFT-NH is in support of the committee recommendation to pass this bill for the following reasons:

  • Access to basic dental care is a challenge in NH, and expanding the dental workforce is one of several policy solutions recommended in the state’s 10-year Oral Health Plan.
  • These practitioners are a proven, safe and efficient way to provide core dental care services;
  • SB193 offers a critical path forward for thousands of NH residents who can’t access care right now and turn to hospital ERs when pain and infection set in;
  • There is no reason to delay getting vulnerable children and adults in our state the care they need – waiting only adds to the cost and human suffering associated with a known public health crisis.

THIS PAST WEEK AFT-NH TESTIFIED IN SUPPORT OF:

HB 1440: Requiring Lobbyist Reporting and Disclosure. This bill requires that organizations that formally adopt and distribute cookie cutter legislation in more than one state – and do not have a registered lobbyist in the state – must file reports after meetings, conferences, or events attended by New Hampshire legislators in which model act(s) were distributed.

Drafting legislation is the most fundamental act of lobbying, yet New Hampshire’s lobbying requirements leave a huge, gaping hole for reporting and disclosure of this lobbying activity. Reporting and disclosing lobbying exists to ensure legislators, the public, and press knows who is behind how our public policies are being crafted and introduced in New Hampshire. Transparency and accountability in our legislative process are an important part of ensuring the integrity of how are public policies are adopted, and in preventing the corporate corruption of our legislative process.

There is a new class of lobbying that takes place outside of the State House and beyond  the public view. This needs to be fixed and HB 1440 does just that.

HB 1207:  This bill as written would require disclosure when sponsoring legislation. Too often now, we are seeing national cookie-cutter model legislation coming through the halls of our State House. Legislation that is not drafted in response to any local interest or community concern, it is instead often intended solely to benefit the bottom line of the special [corporate] interests writing the bill. Often, legislators or constituents don’t even know who was originally behind the bill.

Knowing who is writing our state laws is an important part of having an open and transparent government. That’s why it’s important to know who drafted a bill and why.

THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HELD HEARINGS ON THE FOLLOWING BILLS:

HB 1180: This bill increases the minimum number of days of school from 180 to 190 and authorizes up to 10 of those days to be completed online in a manner to be determined by the school board. AFT-NH testified in opposition to this bill.  We know that this bill is unnecessary because increasing the school year is something that can be done now if negotiated between the district and the union. If districts and the State want to improve education they can, as I stated above, offer school employees appropriate and useful staff development opportunities, give use the tools and materials to do the jobs and trust us as professionals.

HB 1128: This bill establishes a committee to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school. The duties of this  committee is to study issues related to students receiving special education services who attend a chartered  school, including responsibility for funding and provision of special education services, and any other issue deemed relevant by the committee.

Around 2011-2012 the state passed a bill which mandated that local districts must pay for support services for special education students enrolled in Charter schools. This means that a district must send someone to the charter school, contract out the service, or pay the Charter school to provide the services. All of which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

AFT-NH support this bill.  We need to have a clear picture on what it is costing districts to educate special education students who are enrolled in a Charter school in or out of their home district. Because this is a mandate from the State we also need to have the discussion on who should be paying for these services.

No, It’s About Profits, Not “Free Speech”

US Corporate Profits 1947-2013

Don’t be fooled.  Yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing in Harris v. Quinn was about corporate profits – the cold, hard cash that employers can save when they break their workers’ union.

No, it wasn’t about employees’ First Amendment rights.  You can safely ignore all that flowery rhetoric from the Plaintiffs’ lawyers (who are from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation… are you beginning to get the picture?)

If those lawyers actually cared about First Amendment rights, they would be challenging the Hatch Act or all those state-level laws that restrict the political activity of public employees.  Or they would be standing up for some of the workers who have been fired by private employers for “talking politics” at work.  (Guess what?  In most states, discrimination because of personal political actions or affiliations IS LEGAL.)

But no, no, those lawyers are going after union agency fees.  Basically, they’re trying to impose so-called “Right to Work” across the nation through a court decision – bypassing all those state legislatures, and asking the Supreme Court to become “activist judges” and overturn long-settled federal labor law.

Whodathunkit, from supposed “conservatives”?

Whodathunk that “conservatives” would want to restrict employers’ rights to deal with their own employees in the way they see fit?  Fact is: the employer decides whether or not to agree to fee-payer arrangements in a union contract.  If employers don’t want to have all their workers paying a fair share of collective bargaining costs… well, there lots of other things to bargain about (like, maybe, better health benefits; or job security).

Nope.  This isn’t an argument about highfalutin ideals, or anybody’s rights.  (It’s well-settled law that workers give up some of their First Amendment rights, just by accepting a job.)

This is simply about the fact that prohibiting union agency fees effectively cuts wages – by about $1,500 per employee per year – and that adds to corporate profit margins.

Which are already “at an All-Time Record Peak and Expected to Grow in 2014.”

Got the picture?

 

AFT-NH Legislative Update 1-20-14

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aft sqaureThe 2014 legislative session has started and they are on a short time schedule. The House must act on all bills that have a fiscal note by February 16th; the Senate has till March 6th.  All other bills must be acted on by March 27th (crossover day). Currently we are monitoring:

13 retirement bills
44 education bills
9 labor bills

I am sure as time goes there will be more bills added to this list. The past two weeks the House has met twice and is working their way through bills retained from the last session. We asked the following of them:

That they vote in support of the committee recommendation on the following bills—which they did:

HB 299-FN, relative to tuition payments for chartered public school pupils.
The funding has been addressed in HB 2 that passed last session and this was unnecessary.

HB 494, relative to the administration of glucagon injections for pupils.
Both the New Hampshire board of nursing and New Hampshire School Nurses Association collaborated on changes to existing rules to more clearly provide the needed flexibility to delegate administering emergency medications.

However
, on HB 435-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils, the House  overturned the committee’s recommendation to defeat this bill and passed it by a vote of  168 to 134.  AFT-NH is disappointed in this vote. This bill now moves to the House Finance committee where they will need to find the money to fund this bill.

We will be sending a letter to the representatives that voted in favor of this bill informing them that we are very disappointed.

We are still waiting on the full House to vote on the following:

HB 627-FN, requiring unused vacation and sick leave be converted to service time for purposes of calculating retirement system benefits. AFT-NH is in support of the committee recommendation of ITL (inexpedient to legislate) and asked Representatives to support this recommendation. If this bill was to pass it would lead to further litigation.

HB 341-FN, relative to the cost of fiscal analysis of legislation relating to the retirement system. AFT-NH asked the representatives to overturn the committee recommendation of ITL and support a recommendation of OTP (ought to pass) as amended for the following reasons:

  • Currently those expenses are paid for out of the retirement system’s assets. These funds are in fact the source for retiree pension payments.
  • Over the course of the last five years these costs have come close to $500,000, which is equivalent to over 26 average pensions.
  • We do not believe that half a million dollars is an insignificant sum, nor are the 26 pensions.
  • If a legislator puts in a bill then the funds to cost this should come out of their budget not from ours.
  • Passing this bill is the first step towards correcting a very bad practice of passing costs onto the backs of property taxpayers. Defeating it is just continuing a practice that cannot be justified in this economy.

THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HELD HEARINGS ON:

HB 1105: relative to aid to school districts for costs of special education. AFT-NH supports this bill because it lifts the current cap of 72% on catastrophic special education funds and fully funds it. With this cap of 72% the state has downshifted roughly $8 million to communities. Catastrophic aid is a state fund that helps local district with exorbitant special education cost for our severely disabled children.

HB 1114: which establishes a minimum state expenditure for school building aid of $50,000,000 per fiscal year. AFT-NH is in support of this bill. It puts a floor to building aid not a cap. For the past six years many district have not been able to afford to complete upgrades, repairs or build new building because of the cost. Keep in mind 50% of our school buildings are over 60 years old and many need infrastructure upgrades necessary for a 21st century learning environment.

RED ISSUE ALERT – ITS TIME TO TAKE ACTION
YES, THAT IS CORRECT, RIGHT TO WORK “FOR LESS” IS BACK!
It hasn’t even been a year!

The Senate Finance committee will be hearing Right to Work “for less” (SB 217) on Thursday January 23, 2014 at 1 pm in the State House room 103. Please contact the committee members and ask that they defeat this bill.

Over the past two years hundreds of NH citizens voiced opposition to this bill with only a handful of people speaking in support. This attack on working people like you is led by out of state interests such as the National Right to Work Committee and ALEC. Don’t let the voice of NH residents to be silenced.

Please pass the word to friends and family members. These Senators need to hear from you. Simply put this is a union-busting bill and an attack on our public employees and middle class families.

Please share this with colleagues so they know the seriousness of these attacks. So let’s GET ACTIVE and let these state Senators hear our voices.

Thank you!
In Solidarity,
Laura Hainey

UPCOMING HEARINGS FOR NEXT WEEK

TUESDAY, JANUARY 21

Senate COMMERCE, Room 101, LOB
2:00 p.m. SB 302, relative to public or private criticism of employers by employees.

Senate FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1:00 p.m. SB 339-FN, authorizing the department of administrative services to contract for a credit card affinity program in which fees received are directed to offset the retire¬ment system’s unfunded liability.

Senate HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES, Room 103, LOB
9:50 a.m. SB 350, relative to the transfer of average daily membership information from the Department of Education to the Department of Revenue Administration.

10:10 a.m. SB 343, establishing a commission to study the common core standards.

CHILDREN AND FAMILY LAW, Room 206, LOB
10:00 a.m. HB 1624-FN, modernizing the juvenile justice system to ensure rehabilitation of juveniles and preservation of juvenile rights.

COMMERCE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS, Room 302, LOB
1:15 p.m. HB 1589-FN, requiring background checks for all firearm sales. Please note that location is Representatives Hall, State House.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, LOB
10:30 a.m. HB 1306-FN, prohibiting a law enforcement officer from soliciting another person to participate in criminal activity.

11:00 a.m. HB 1435, requiring law enforcement officials to disclose specific information relating to a police checkpoint.

1:00 p.m. HB 1550, permitting the audio and video recording of a public official while in the course of his or her official duties.

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:30 a.m. HB 1187, relative to an appeal of a change of school assignment decision by a superintendent.

11:00 a.m. HB 1113, requiring school districts to distribute a concussion and head injury information sheet to student-athletes.

11:30 a.m. HB 1180-FN-L, relative to days of school.

1:15 p.m. HB 1147, permitting school districts to advertise.

3:15 p.m. Executive session on
HB 1243, relative to the confidentiality of criminal background checks of school employees and volunteers,
HB 1255, making students whose name appears on the voter checklist eligible for in-state tuition rates at schools in the University System of New Hampshire,
HB 1415-FN, establishing a robotics education fund in the Department of Education,

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
1:30 p.m. Executive session on,
HB 1148-FN, relative to the reduction in the calculation of state retirement system annui¬ties at age 65,
HB 1494-FN, relative to administration of the New Hampshire retirement system and authority of the board of trustees,
HB 1563-FN, granting group II retirement system status to certain positions in the Department of Corrections.

FINANCE – (DIVISION II), Room 209, LOB
11:00 a.m. Work session on
HB 1146, establishing a committee to study the feasibility of funding a kin¬dergarten to college/career ready program and a universal college savings account.

2:00 p.m. Work session on
HB 1394-FN-A, relative to funds for chartered public school facilities and making an appropriation for them.

JUDICIARY, Room 208, LOB
2:00 p.m. HB 1143, relative to the New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination.
2:30 p.m. HB 1214, relative to grounds for termination of tenancy.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Room 307, LOB
10:15 a.m. HB 1334, relative to contributions to charities by employees.
10:30 a.m. HB 1188, relative to paycheck equity.
11:15 a.m. HB 1405, prohibiting an employer from using credit history in employment decisions.
1:15 p.m. HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee    collective bargaining.
1:45 p.m. HB 1174, establishing a commission to study the payment of subminimum wages to persons with disabilities.
2:15 p.m. Executive session on
HB 1169, relative to enforcement of labor laws by the Department of Labor,
HB 1368-FN, relative to inquiries into criminal records on employment applications.

MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301, LOB
1:00 p.m. Executive session on
HB 1234, relative to municipal contracts for police chief,
HB 1235-FN, establishing a procedure to recall selectmen and school board members,
HB 1375, permitting a municipal law enforcement agency to collect unwanted or illegal firearms.

PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS, Room 201, LOB
11:00 a.m. Executive session on
HB 1222, prohibiting commer¬cial use of the law enforcement and fallen firefighters memorials.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22
10 am House in session

Senate PUBLIC AND MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS, Room 102, LOB
9:45 a.m. SB 236, relative to delivery of the final budget and recommendation of the municipal budget committee to the governing body.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 23

Senate FINANCE, Room 100, SH
1:00 p.m. SB 217-FN, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union.

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
10:00 a.m. HB 1132-FN, relative to school building inventory reports.
10:30 a.m. HB 1200, relative to student social media policies by educational institutions.
11:00 a.m. HB 1208, relative to the number of first-year college students from New Hampshire high schools required to take remedial classes.
11:30 a.m. HB 1212, relative to social media privacy in higher education.
1:15 p.m. HB 1141, requiring chartered public schools to share enrollment information with school districts.
1:45 p.m. HB 1298, relative to additional criteria for review of chartered public school applications.
2:15 p.m. HB 1449, relative to the requirements for filing a charter school application.

ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:30 a.m. HB 1364-FN, relative to political expenditure and contribution reporting requirements and relative to political expenditure limitations for state representative and county office candidates.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
10:00 a.m. HB 1101-FN, relative to the recovery of overpayments by the retirement system and estab¬lishing a committee to study the policies and procedures of the retirement system for benefits wrongfully paid.
10:30 a.m. HB 1126, establishing a committee to study alternative public employee retirement plans.
11:00 a.m. HB 1152-FN, terminating the benefit program for call, substitute or volunteer firemen admin¬istered by the New Hampshire retirement system.
11:30 a.m. HB 1398-FN, allowing the retirement system to make payments in lieu of payments to estates in certain instances.
1:00 p.m. HB 1399-FN, relative to the application for a vested deferred retirement allowance in the re¬tirement system.

1:30 p.m. HB 1617-FN, permitting the retirement system to access death, marriage, and divorce records of the Division of Vital Records Administration for the administration of RSA 100-A.
2:00 p.m. HB 1493-FN-L, relative to members of the retirement system working after retirement, and relative to membership of political subdivision officials appointed for fixed terms.

FINANCE – (DIVISION III), Rooms 210-211
10:00 a.m. Work session on HB 525-FN, raising the age of minority for juvenile delinquency proceedings from 17 to 18 years of age.

LEGISLATIVE ADMINISTRATION, Room 104, LOB
2:30 p.m. HB 1440-FN, including the writing, promoting, or distributing of model legislation to elected officials as lobbying and requiring disclosure of scholarship funds, money, or other financial support received from such lobbyists by elected officials.
3:00 p.m. HB 1481-FN, relative to information submitted to a committee of the General Court.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
1:00 p.m. Executive session on CACR10, relating to revenue classes. Providing that all monies
received by the state shall belong to a defined revenue class, and CACR11, relating to the definitions of “tax” and “fee.” Providing that a tax is imposed to raise state revenue and a fee is imposed to recover costs to the state for providing a service to the payer,

Noon to 1:00 PM in the House Finance Committee room (LOB 210-211).
The New Hampshire Kids Count and the New Hampshire Child Advocacy Network (NH CAN) cordially invite all legislators for lunch and a brief program. The program will unveil NH CAN’s 16th annual Priorities for New Hampshire’s Children. NH CAN is comprised of numerous Advocacy Partners and Legislative Advisors. NH CAN seeks to ensure that New Hampshire continues to be one of the best places to raise children.

The NHLN’s Top Five Priorities For 2014

Image from SantaBanta.com
Image from SantaBanta.com

Image from SantaBanta.com

Today we begin a new year and I thought I would take a few minutes to lay out my priorities for the NH Labor News this year.   As the creator and content editor of the NH Labor News, I get to choose the direction the blog moves in.  This year we are going to be focused on these five things. 1) Raising the Minimum Wage in New Hampshire and throughout the country: The minimum wage is so far behind that people are working full time and still live in poverty.  We need to increase the minimum wage to help give people at the bottom more spendable income, which they will spend in local stores and businesses. Raising the minimum wage will also reduce the amount of money that the government shells out in food assistance programs. Raising the minimum wage will create new jobs and increase our GDP. 2) Passing comprehensive immigration reform and providing a roadmap to citizenship. There is no denying that we need to do something to change our current immigration laws.  Every day over 1,000 immigrants are forcibly deported, tearing apart their families and destroying their lives.  These immigrants are being physically abused and are having their personal property stolen. What about the children, the ‘dreamers’, who were brought illegally as toddlers and have lived in the U.S. their entire lives?  Many of these children do not know they are not American citizens until they try to acquire a driver’s license or some other government ID. We need to do something for the 11 million aspiring Americans, who like my great grandparents, left everything to move to American and chase the American dream.   They deserve the same chances that our grandparents had. 3) Postal Reform: Our goal is to bring awareness to the real reason the USPS is going bankrupt on paper.  The truth is that the pre-funding obligation forced on the USPS is what is making it appear that they are going bankrupt. With Congressional Representatives like Darrel Issa pushing to end Saturday delivery and privatize the entire USPS, we need to fight back.  We cannot let they destroy the great and most beloved division of the US Government. We will continue to bring you news about pending legislation and proposed changes to the USPS. 4) Healthcare: Whether you’re a fan of the Affordable Care Act or not, there is no denying that it has helped millions of Americans get affordable healthcare, many for the first time.  Like many laws, there are flaws, but compared to what we had before it is a step in the right direction with an ultimate goal of having a national single payer system. We will also keep pushing to expand Medicaid.  Low-income families can barely afford to survive and need programs like Medicaid to help keep their families healthy.  Over 50,000 Granite Staters would benefit from an expanded Medicaid, if we could just pass the bill. 5) Pushing for stronger labor laws and creating new American jobs: We need to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act. We need to pass laws that make it easier to organize workers, especially in jobs that are not typically covered by unions (i.e. McDonalds and Wal-Mart). We will continue to fight against the so-called Right To Work (for less) laws that weaken the collective bargaining process and lower wages for all workers. We also need to continue to fight against the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership that will only continue the off shoring of US Jobs.  At the same time we need to keep pushing for laws that increase American manufacturing.  Ensuring that the US Government spends our tax dollars on companies right here at home. We also need to pass a real jobs bill, something that will help rebuild our nations infrastructure while putting millions of people to work. If you follow the NH Labor News then none of these items will be foreign to you.  These are the main items we talk about, and will continue to talk about, until we see the changes we need and want. As long as you keep reading and sharing, we will keep writing and providing ammunition to fight back against the right wing attackers. If you have not already subscribed via email, now is your chance.

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(Not in the top five, but a personal priority for me. I will continue to push for stronger gun laws, and universal background checks on all gun sales. I do not ever want to see children running out of their elementary school again because a man carrying an assault weapon is terrorizing their school.   I do not want to have to write about the sacrifices that six brave educators did in an attempt to protect their children.)

Fosters Editorial Board Puts Workers After The Almighty Dollar!

Workers vs greed

Workers vs greedI am sick to my stomach of this anti-union rhetoric that puts worker’s safety and financial security against a corporation’s freedom (or should I say greed).  This idea that workers should be paid the least amount possible to maximize company profits, is fed by the right wing ‘free-market’ idealists.  It is corporate greed and nothing more.

Take for example this recent editorial (Don’t just whine, compete) from Fosters Daily Democrat, one of the biggest right-wing loudmouths in a very small state.

The editorial is about how Boeing and the International Association of Machinists (IAM), are unable to come to an agreement for a new contract for building the new Boeing 777X.

The editor writes, “That term — compete — is what unions conveniently tend to overlook.”

The editor also explains a little about what the ‘deals’ Boeing is being offered by the state, and what Boeing is offering to their workers.

From the state, Boeing is looking for tax breaks and infrastructure spending.”  What Fosters is not telling you is the details of the deal with the state.  According to Reuters, the package on the table in Washington state is: $8 billion in tax incentives plus another $10 billion in transportation infrastructure.

Why would the State of Washington pony up $18 billion dollars in incentives to Boeing?  Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!  The state understands that if you have high paying jobs in your community the local economy will benefit the most.  High paid workers have more disposable income and that means more money at local shops, restaurants, and businesses.

The problem is that Boeing is trying to push their unionized workers down yet again.  They want more and more from the workers, so Boeing can put more and more in their greedy pockets.  Fosters puts it very mildly:

From the union, Boeing wants to restructure health care coverage and move from a defined-benefit pension system to a 401(k)-style defined-contribution plan.”

Workers sent a very strong message to both Boeing and their elected leaders that this type of deal is unacceptable.

You would expect this type of demand for concessions from companies that are just scrapping by or even upside down.  Boeing is not even close to that.

Boeing’s third-quarter sales increased by 13 percent to $20 billion from $17.7 billion a year earlier.” (NY Times)

Boeing reported net income of $3.9 billion for 2012, down 3% from a net profit of $4.02 billion in 2011 [due to a $2 billion dollar income tax change], on an 18.9% rise in revenue to $81.7 billion.” (Air Transport World)

Why should workers be forced to pay more for healthcare and more towards their retirement as the corporation rakes in billions in profits from an 18% increase in revenue? Who benefits from the $4 billion dollars in profits? Wall Street, and the corporate executives.  The problem is that Wall Street does not buy clothes, or go out to dinner on Main Street.  The rich get richer, while Main Street goes bankrupt from a lack of consumers.

Fosters also punches at unions by stating: “Construction of the Manchester Jobs Corp Center was held up for years due to demands the project be bid out under terms favorable to unions and which would siphon off more taxpayer money.”

I think that Fosters has conveniently forgotten the fact that the project was held up for two years by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and our former Republican Congressman Frank Guinta.  It is an easy mistake to make, blame the entire unionized workforce for wanting better working conditions and fair pay, or blame one Congressman for holding up the entire project.

It was Congressman Guinta who through a ‘hissy fit’ in Washington about the Project Labor Agreement (Read NHLN post). Without his objections, the project would have been completed by now, and workers would already be benefiting from their new training center.  The ABC was so happy with then Congressman Guinta’s anti-union, anti-Project Labor Agreement positions that ABC gave him their highest award of the year.

For the Fosters editors, workers do not matter, the truth does not matter, and the only thing that matters is their insatiable lust for money.