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A few reminders for this week…

I wanted to give you all a reminder of some of the actions going on in NH this week.  As many of you are probably already aware the New Hampshire labor unions and Protect New Hampshire Families are hosting a lobby day(s) Tomorrow Wed. March 7th from 8:30-5 and Thursday March 8th 8:30-5.  We are gathering at the State House to protest the passage of many anti-worker bills.

For example
HB1677 a modified Right To Work bill
HB1645 which will lead to Employer-led decertification voting
HB1206 which cancels any contract if a new contract is not reached prior to expiration
HB1663 which would take away exclusive bargaining rights for public workers

HB1237 which creates more interference between the State Legislature and Employee/Employer negotiations.

Please join us in our fight against these bills.  We will not be the only people at the State House on Wed/Thurs.  A very concerned group of women’s rights activists will also be at there.  They are fighting against the bill that would allow businesses to forbid paying for contraceptives under their insurance plan. A similar amendment was refused in the US Senate last week.

Also there are many school districts that will be voting on local school district contracts in the coming weeks.  AFT-NH has eight in the next two weeks.
Henniker Community School Support Staff, AFT Local #6314 AFT-NH, AFL-CIO Wednesday, March 7th
Campton Educational Support Staff Association, AFT Local #6004, AFT-NH, AFL-CIO 
Thursday, March 8th
Hillsborough Town Employees, AFT Local #3912, AFT-NH, AFL-CIO  (*New Local-1st Contract!) Tuesday, March 13th
Farmington School Custodians, AFT Local #6212,  AFT-NH, AFL-CIO  Tuesday, March 13th
Hudson School Secretaries, AFT Local #6260, AFT-NH, AFL-CIO 
Tuesday, March 13th
Oyster River Paraprofessionals and Support Staff, AFT Local #6213,  AFT-NH, AFL-CIO (Durham, Lee and Madbury) Tuesday March 13th
Timberlane Teachers’ Association, AFT Local #4796, AFT-NH, AFL-CIO 
Tuesday, March 13th (Atkinson, Danville, Plaistow and Sandown)
Pittsfield Town Employees, AFT Local #6214, AFT-NH, AFL-CIO Saturday, March 17th
Barnstead Education Support Staff Team, AFT Local #6332, AFT-NH, AFL-CIO

The NEA also hase many contracts coming up over the next few weeks
Allenstown — 3/13/2012
Andover — 3/5/2012
Bow — 3/16/2012
Chichester — 3/10/2012
Deerfield — 3/13/2012
Dunbarton — 3/10/2012
Epsom — 3/13/2012
Henniker — 3/7/2012
Hopkinton — 3/17/2012
John Stark — 3/13/2012
Kearsarge — 3/13/2012
Merrimack Valley — 3/8/2012
Pembroke — 3/10/2012
Shaker Regional — 3/9/2012
Weare — 3/13/2012

The State Employees are also voting on contracts

Ashland — Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Meredith — Wednesday, March 14, 2012 Town Meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. at Inter-Lakes High School.
Salem — Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Seabrook — Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When Will The Attacks On Middle Class Workers End!!!

Last week the House Labor Committee met to have the public hearing on HB1677,  Right To Work and exclusive representation.  Well it seems that this week is shaping for more theatrics!  On Thursday Feb. 16th at 1pm the Labor Committee will once again be holding a public hearing on HB1645.  If you remember from the first time the Labor Committee held their public hearing, the sponsor Rep Lambert (R-Litchfield) started off he support for the bill by saying that he was sorry and that this bill was not written they way he wanted or intended it to be.  He made a “freshman” mistake and let “legislative services” write the bill for him.  In Jan. he said that he would be offering an amendment to this bill, that would clarify what he was intending. Click here the full amendment for HB 1645.

I have read this are re-read it over and over and it still makes absolutely no sense.  This is obviously an attempt to subtly take away the entire collective bargaining process without saying “no more bargaining”.  This would be a slower process, trying to destroy the union from within.  It creates three main problems for public unions.

  • Every time a local union ratified a new contract that there would need to be an election whether or not to decertify the union;
  • Any time there is mediation or fact-finding on negotiations, it would need to be open to the public;
  • If a negotiating team rejects a fact-finder’s report, there would be a public hearing before the union membership votes on the fact-finding report.

This amendment is terrible.  There is no way that an amendment like this should pass.  Just because some of the legislature does not like unions does not mean that we should destroy them.  

Lobby Day Part 5: HB 1645 Collective Bargaining.

Lobby Day Part 5: HB 1645 Collective Bargaining

Rep Lambert Explains Why We Must Repeal Collective Bargaining

Around 3pm on the 19th the Labor Committee opened the public hearing on HB 1645, “AN ACT prohibiting all public employees from participating in collective bargaining“.  This is another bill put forward by Rep George Lambert and Rep Manuse.   First to speak was Rep Lambert from Litchfield, who tried to explain that he made a “freshman mistake” in letting the legislative services write this bill for them.  He wanted to eliminate the “exclusivity” of unions.  His intent was to allow people who wish to enter into a contract with the state could do so and those who do not would not.  He also said he believes in the “Constitution article two: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that includes a right to a job.”  Well that may be his interpretation but nowhere does the Constitution guarantee you a job. So after Lambert continues to confuse Right To Work and Collective Bargaining issues they move to the next Sponsor wanting to speak for this bill, Rep Manuse.

Rep Manuse, starts off by saying that he “all the public workers in this room and not in this room, respect fully however the union involvement in the public sector has gone too far”. He continues his testimony by saying “this bill has nothing to do with public sector employees, whom I respect and trust in their important public service roles. This is a bill about public sector unions.” Here is something you may not know Rep Manuse, Public Sector Unions are Public Sector Employees! Just wait it gets better.  Rep Manuse continues later by trying to explain that Public Employees are not taxpayers and a Net Loss to the State!

Now, I’ve heard some public sector employees say they too are part of the tax base, that they too are taxpayers. This sentiment is not altogether true. In reality, public sector employees’ contribution is still a net loss to the people in general. For example, say they make $100 from the government (i.e., the taxpayer) and then they pay $10 in taxes. This still requires $90 out of the tax base to support these public workers’ salaries. For this reason, public sector employees cannot argue that they are truly net positive contributors to the tax base. (1) 

So it is obvious to me that this is a person who does not believe that any public employee, who he says he “respects” has any value in our society.

In a small surprise the next speaker Rep Jasper, who shocked many people when he rose on behalf of himself to oppose this bill.  He talked of being a selectman in Hudson and at that time the town only one union.  He continued on by saying that his goal was to ensure that the town treated the Non-Union employees the same as Union employees.   He remembered a year when the town budget included a section that gave all the non-union employees a ten percent raise. He said that Hudson moved to Town Council form of government and that council really took it to sticking it the non-union members.  He said that he was “happy to see the people from the Hudson Fire Department here…and I would never take away their ability to negotiate with us (town government)”.  He closed by saying that “they (public employees) do not deserve this”.

After a definite shift in momentum in opposition to this bill, Rev Gail Kinney got up and spoke in opposition to the bill.  She stated, “This is not a path New Hampshire wants to go down” and she is right. She continued to talk about the “Voices of the Workers” and “Their rights to be able to discuss wages and working conditions”.   After quote from Martin Luther King, Rev Kinney received a two minute standing ovation from the crowd.  While the crowd was feeling better, the committee was unhappy with the time delay and applause.  They called a brief recess to allow people to calm down, before starting again ten minutes later.

Standing Ovation for Rev Gail Kinney

Then one by one Union Members got up to talk about why they opposed this bill. PFF President Dave Lang, told everyone to be silent durning the hearing an to show their support by standing when they felt like appaulding.  Needless to say by the end of his speech, every member of the audience was on their feet!

I think that Mark MacKenzie summed it up best when he said: “The real purpose of these hearings today is dismantling the collective bargaining law at the state level and at the local level. This law has been effective. We have negotiated thousands of collective bargaining agreements and attracted terrific employees to the public sector — this is not a broken system. Our legislators need to take their eyes off of this and focus on what really matters. They need to focus on creating jobs.”

Another funny moment was when SEA / SEIU 1984 President Diana Lacey got up and said: “If Rep Manuse says that I am not a taxpayer, then the State owes me nearly a quarter of a million dollars in taxes”

This personal account of collective bargaining went on for at least three hours before AFT-NH President Laura Hainey was called up to speak. Before she read her testimony, she held up in the air a large packet of papers.  Hainey said that she was holding over 5,500 signed and online petitions telling the committee not to repeal the collective bargaining rights of NH public employees.  She talked about how Rep Lambert wants to “Fix” collective bargaining.  She said: “The truth is there is nothing to fix, he is trying to correct a problem that does not exist”.  However the best line of all was her closing statement: “Although we may disagree from time to time, I appreciate the work that you (the committee) have to do and know that you will cherish New Hampshire Values. I ask the committee to Defeat this bill…AND Rep Lambert Your 15 Minutes are UP!”

AFT-NH President Laura Hainey
Delivers 5000+ petitions

Shortly after 7pm the hearing finally closed on Hb1645.  In all of the Labor Committee Hearings on 1/19/12 only one person got up to speak in favor of the bills being offered other than the sponsors.  Are these attack on public employees really what New Hampshire wants, or is some Corporate agenda pushing our legislators to pass laws against them?

1: http://amanuse.rlcnh.org/2012/01/19/testimony-of-rep-andrew-j-manuse-for-hb-1645-prohibiting-all-public-employees-from-participating-in-collective-bargaining/

NH SEA approves new contract.

We would like to congratulate the State Employees Association
 on ratifying their new contract.
This is a message from the SEA on the approval of their new contract with the state. While the contract cuts 50 million in expenses, it saves 500 jobs

SEA members approve contract with State Executive Branch

SEA members have approved a new two-year contract covering nearly 10,000 state employees in the state’s Executive Branch.
At the end of a two-week voting period, SEA members have voted to approve an agreement that preserves critical public services at great personal risk to their own family finances.
The contract provides nearly $50 million in savings over the next two years through a wage freeze, innovative health programs, and increased investment in health benefits. In addition, the contract improves the employer-employee relationship, and brings stability to the workforce through a responsible, landmark approach to management’s handling of layoffs. The changes were agreed upon to return sanity after a contentious and controversial legislative session led by Speaker William O’Brien.
The contract implements the union’s share of the $50 million cut in personnel costs ordered by the Legislature in the biennium budget. With this ratification, SEA members helped preserve the estimated 500 state positions that could have been eliminated if the contract had not been approved. More than 1,100 positions have already been eliminated by the budget.
“The wage freeze is going to make money tight, there’s no question,” said Laurie Aucoin, an Account Technician at New Hampshire Hospital. “Most of the state employees I know are living paycheck to paycheck, with only $20 or $50 left over at the end of the month. But at the same time, we all realize that another 500 layoffs would make it almost impossible to provide the level of services that New Hampshire citizens expect.”
Other SEA bargaining units have also made wage concessions to help bridge budget gaps. “We’re all taxpayers too, so we understand how people feel about having to pay more in taxes,” said Ana Ford, an Environmentalist III with the Department of Environmental Services. “At the same time, people expect – and need – services like having their roads plowed, getting help with unemployment benefits, and being able to use our beautiful state parks. And at some point, budget cuts become service cuts – because contracting-out just means you’re paying some corporation a profit margin on top of the actual cost.”
“We believe this contract will help the State get through this fiscal crisis,” said Linda Hamilton, a Registered Nurse III at the New Hampshire Veterans Home. “Especially right now, while the economy is so bad – I can’t imagine what impact another 500 layoffs would have on our economy.” Layoffs would severely impact the state’s ability to provide the level of care our veterans deserve.
“Was it difficult to take more cuts to our paychecks and benefits? Yes, it was very difficult – but it prevents the immediate layoff of 500 people,” said Brenda Thomas, an Accountant at the Department of Administrative Services. “Layoffs aren’t the way to solve the economic crisis. We’re still waiting for our elected officials to deliver on their campaign promises of ‘more jobs’ and improved lives for all New Hampshire citizens.”
“As a member of the Bargaining Team, I appreciate the hard choices that the state employees had to make to ratify this contract,” said Sean Bolton, a Family Services Specialist II at the Division of Family Assistance. “I know it was a difficult trade-off: members chose to cut our family budgets in order to protect the services the public needs. I visited a dozen worksites throughout the state, explaining the contract and what would have happened if it was not approved. The reaction was very similar, no matter what the worksite. Employees were worried about how layoffs would affect their agency’s ability to serve the public.”
“While the Legislature was a stumbling block in the process, the ratification of this contract proves that collective bargaining works,” said Diana Richard, Executive Secretary in the Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman at the Department of Health and Human Services, and a member of the SEA Bargaining Team. “In light of the economy, this contract is good for the employees as well as the state.”
207 North Main Street, Concord, NH 03301

This new contract was also mentioned on Boston.com
NH workers approve contract to save state $50M
CONCORD, N.H.—Members of the labor union representing most of New Hampshire’s 11,000 state workers have ratified a contract that saves the state $50 million and avoids 500 layoffs.

The State Employees’ Association said the two-year agreement will preserve critical public services at a great cost to union members’ personal finances.
The contract contains no cost of living raises and increases workers’ share of health care costs. It also includes seniority provisions in personnel rules that the Republican Legislature suspended in the state budget.”
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