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Three NH Labor Organizations Endorse Executive Council District 3 Candidate Beth Roth

 Salem, NH – New Hampshire Executive Council candidate Beth Roth announced today she has received endorsements from the American Federation of Teachers-NH, the State Employees Association/SEIU 1984, and the New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council.

“I’m honored to have earned the endorsement of these three prominent labor organizations,” said Roth. “Together, these organizations represent nearly 20,000 Granite State workers. As Executive Councilor I will always stand up for New Hampshire’s workers and their families.”

Douglas Ley, AFT-NH President said, “Beth Roth will bring valuable experience as a nurse and mental health counselor to the Executive Council, particularly as it deals with the ravages of the opioid crisis here in New Hampshire.  She will be a strong voice for New Hampshire women and working families and will put common sense ahead of partisan ideology.” 

“Few people would be as prepared as Beth Roth is to take on this role, with her background as a nurse, mental health counselor and attorney,” said Joan Hamblet, a member of SEA/SEIU Local 1984 who works for the Department of Health and Human Services as a child support officer. “Her deep involvement in her community shows her commitment to improving the lives of the people around her. We’re confident that on the Executive Council, she’ll work to do just that across District 3, and help promote an economy that works for everyone.”    

“The New Hampshire Building and Construction Trades Council is proud to endorse Beth Roth in her race for Executive Council,” said President Steve Burk. “Beth is a tireless advocate for working men and women, and NH’s working families will be better off with Beth on the Executive Council. Beth supports raising wages for New Hampshire workers, ensuring all workers have access to health insurance and pensions, and making sure NH taxpayer dollars stay in the local economy and in the pockets of local workers. As a former union member herself and as a member of a union family, Beth truly understands the struggle working men and women go through every day. As a former nurse, a mental health counselor, attorney and small business owner, Beth has the experience to move NH forward on the Executive Council. We look forward to working with Beth to ensure that NH’s purchasing power is a tool for growing our economy and raising wages.”

Beth Roth is an attorney from Salem and is a Democratic candidate for Executive Council in District 3. For more information about the campaign, visit www.bethroth4nh.net.

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Endorses Van Ostern for Governor

Colin Van Ostern officially files the paperwork to run for Governor in Concord, New Hampshire on Friday, June 10, 2016. Copyright 2016 Rob Strong

Colin Van Ostern officially files the paperwork to run for Governor in Concord, New Hampshire on Friday, June 10, 2016.
Copyright 2016 Rob Strong

The SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Board of Directors has voted to endorse Colin Van Ostern for governor, based on the recommendation of the organization’s Political Education Committee.

John Hattan, the director of the Political Education Committee, said Van Ostern stood out for his work on the Executive Council and his willingness to roll up his sleeves and help solve problems for Granite Staters.SEIU 1984 Logo

“When working people have faced challenges over the last two terms, Colin’s been right there to help find solutions,” Hattan said. “The Executive Council serves an important role for our state and state employees, and he’s always been responsive to our members’ concerns. He’s a strong advocate and leader, and we’re confident that under his leadership, we’ll continue to move New Hampshire forward.”

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Rich Gulla agreed that Van Ostern is the right choice to lead New Hampshire.

“There is no race this fall that will have a bigger impact on the union’s membership than this one,” Gulla said. “The next governor will set spending priorities for the next two years, which will fund agencies, employment contracts, retirees’ healthcare and protect our pensions. We need a leader who understands these priorities and will fight for them, and I believe that next governor is Colin Van Ostern.”

Van Ostern said he was proud to receive the backing of the 10,000-member organization.

“From the state workers who have successfully helped extend health coverage to nearly 50,000 New Hampshire citizens since we expanded Medicaid two years ago, to the road crews who keep our highways safe and improve our infrastructure, New Hampshire’s state employees are on the front lines of keeping our state moving forward,” Van Ostern said . “I’m proud of the work they do for the people of New Hampshire and I look forward to working together to strengthen the customer service we offer New Hampshire citizens and our visitors — and to build an even stronger economy where everyone has the chance to succeed, not just those at the top.”

The political endorsement policy of SEA/SEIU Local 1984 requires the Political Education Committee to vet and vote on endorsements in national, state, and local elections. The committee met individually with major gubernatorial candidates and also held Republican and Democratic candidates’ forums. The committee’s recommendation then went before the Board of Directors for final approval. The organization does not base its endorsements on political party affiliation. It endorses candidates who support working people – the fiber of our nation.

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 represents about 11,500 public and private-sector employees across the Granite State.  First formed in 1940 as a social organization, the SEA won passage of New Hampshire’s Public Employee Labor Relations Law in 1975.  Since then, the union has negotiated hundreds of contracts with state, county, municipal and private-sector employers.  The SEA affiliated with the Service Employees’ International Union in 1984.  With two million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas.

NH State Employees’ Association (SEIU Local 1984) Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

 The SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Board of Directors voted yesterday to endorse Hillary Clinton for President, based on the recommendation of the organization’s Political Education Committee (Poli-ed).

“The Poli-Ed committee voted unanimously in favor of Secretary Clinton’s endorsement earlier this week,” said Committee Chair John Hattan.  “The committee members agreed that Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, shares our priorities and values and is the right person for the job.”

“We will be fully supportive of Clinton,” said SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President, Rich Gulla. “Many of our members will be actively campaigning for her. This is an extremely important election as so much is at stake for middle class families.” 

“Our priorities of stopping economic inequality by making sure everyone who works hard receives a livable wage; creating not only new jobs, but good paying jobs with benefits; making higher education affordable for all; making sure that everyone has access to quality healthcare; and making sure that everyone can retire with dignity, are all shared by Hillary Clinton,” said Ken Roos, First VP of the labor organization. “That’s why we are going to bat for her.” 

The political endorsement policy of the 10,000-member organization requires the Poli-ed to vet and vote on endorsements in national, state, and local elections. Both Clinton and Sanders met with the committee earlier this year. The committee’s recommendations then go to the Board of Directors for final approval.  The organization does not base its endorsements on political party affiliation. It endorses candidates who support working people – the fiber of our nation.

The organization had supported Bernie Sanders as their candidate of choice in the NH primary.  The NH union now joins the over two million other working men and women represented by SEIU across the nation in their support of Hillary Clinton for President.

NH Politicians Continue Assault On State Retirees’ Health Benefits

Senator Gerald Little and Representative Ken Weyler
Lead Crusade against State Retirees’ Health Benefits

Earlier today, the NH Fiscal Committee voted to increase the monthly cost share (premium) of retirees who are under age 65. The amount is a 5% increase, which, when announced, caused an audible collective gasp from a room packed with State retirees.  These are the people who have served the State for decades and had planned their lives and retirement according to promises that had been made at the time of employment and are being broken today by state politicians.

The increase moves the monthly cost from 12.5% to 17.5% of the premium, which currently means retirees under age 65 will be paying an additional $46 per individual covered each month.

“This vote is a continuation of breaking promises that were made to people who spent their careers serving this state,” said Rich Gulla, president of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “Today, a handful of politicians decided the fate of over 3,000 devoted, hard-working former employees and their dependents.  The committee kept talking about no other alternatives. There were plenty of alternative ways to fill the deficit in the retirees’ health benefit plan. They just took the easy way out today – on the backs of retirees.”

Committee members repeatedly attempted a blame game. They tried to blame the Governor, they tried to blame increasing medical costs; they tried to blame everything and everyone other than themselves. However, after all the grandstanding, they were the ones who voted for today’s state retiree’s health plan changes. They could have found another way to plug the budget hole including opening up the State budget and finding the dollars someplace else.

It was apparent to attendees that the outcome of the meeting was pre-determined prior to its convening. “They knew full well how they were going to vote, even before today’s meeting began. They had already made up their minds to put the screws to the retirees who are under age 65,” said Gulla.

Last month, the committee voted to increase the co-payment for prescriptions for all retirees. “In combination, these increases are going to present a significant hardship for our retirees. The average pension for a NH State retiree is about $13,000/year.  Our retirees will literally be deciding between paying their heating and grocery bills or paying for medical care. It just sickens me,” said Gulla.

“The only way to stop this assault on our retirees is to vote out those Representatives and Senators who voted for this atrocity today,” said Gulla.  Senator Little made the motion to accept today’s plan and Representative Weyler seconded the motion.

It is also important to know that Senators Lou D’Allesandro and Andy Sanborn and Representatives Daniel Eaton and Cindy Rosenwald voted against the increases and in favor and respect of our state retirees. “For that, we thank them,” said Gulla.  The remaining Fiscal Committee members voted against the retired workers.  “Our members will not forget this; you can be sure they will remember exactly who was with them and against them next fall as they cast their ballots.”

State Workers Praise Bipartisan Cooperation That Ends Continuing Resolution

Concord, NH, September 17, 2015 – Yesterday, after months of political posturing, the Governor, Republican and Democratic legislators arrived at a compromise budget that ended the continuing resolution. The approved budget contains and funds the NH State Employees’ previously negotiated contract.
“On behalf of our Executive Branch members (state employees), I thank the Governor and the Legislators for acknowledging the hard work and commitment of those who serve the state,” said Rich Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “I also applaud our members and allies who called or emailed their legislators asking for their support,” said Gulla. “and, thank the members of the general public who requested and proudly displayed yard signs in support of the state employees. We know these conversations and signs had an impact, and we are grateful.”

This budget is a compromise that resulted from both sides of the aisle working together and SEA/SEIU Local 1984 is cautiously optimistic that the legislature can continue to work well together and take up additional concerns the organization has. Including:

· NH State Retirees have not had a Cost of Living Increase since 2009 – six years without an increase in income while living expenses rise. The average pension for a state worker is around $13,000 a year.

· NH DHHS is still underfunded to provide the important services to our citizens in need, including caring for and educating children at Sununu Youth Services Center and the additional funding in this budget for addiction treatment for the growing heroin crisis and mental health is a start, but more is needed.

· NH DOT is still underfunded for winter snow removal. This jeopardizes public safety and commerce. If produce trucks, emergency vehicles, and winter sports enthusiasts cannot travel in the state, the NH tourism economy will suffer.

· The high cost of medical care in New England is a concern. SEA/SEIU Local 1984 will work with the Governor and legislature on responsible and humane ways to address this issue.

· Medicaid expansion is not dealt with in this budget but is kicked down the road for another day, as is the revenue hole that will result from the compromise on the business tax.
“Today, we celebrate the funding of the state employees’ contract. Tomorrow, we roll up our sleeves and tackle the other issues,” said Gulla. “In the meantime, the employees who keep the state running smoothly and efficiently now have a contract.”

State Employees Praise Budget Compromise Agreement

“We are pleased not only for the state employees, but for all citizens of NH that the Governor and GOP leaders have reached a compromise budget agreement. 

The compromise budget will include business tax cuts and the state employees’ previously negotiated 2% cost-of-living pay increase.  It will support critical priorities for New Hampshire’s families and businesses. And, it will include a trigger mechanism that ensures revenues are at levels that would at least sustain the current budget before additional tax cuts go into effect. It will also allow the next legislature to determine what spending or revenue offsets should be made to pay for the second round of tax cuts – before they go into effect.”

We applaud the Governor and the legislature for continuing to work together to arrive at this point.  We were confident that, in the end, ideology would take a back seat to this common sense approach that benefits NH citizens by preserving critical public services, while also serving the interests of our economy.

Tomorrow, the legislature will introduce legislation that reflects the compromise – a bill that provides for the 2015 – 2017 employment agreement with the state employees and a bill that provides for the business tax decrease, with the “trigger.”  They will then consider an override of the Governor’s budget veto. If the legislation passes, Governor Hassan will then ask Democrats to support overriding the veto allowing both the compromise and the budget to go into effect.

The state employees’ will receive a 2% wage increase as of January 1, 2016 and a second 2% increase in January 2017. 

While we are happy with this forward movement and support the compromise, we remain concerned about other outstanding issues.  We look forward to continuing to work with our legislators to find reasonable solutions that are fiscally conservative and protect the state’s long-term financial outlook and ability to support critical priorities for New Hampshire’s families and businesses.”

You can read Governor Hassan’s full statement of the compromise here.

You can also read the response from the NH Senate Democrats here.

NH Worker To Legislature: Current Revenue And Spending Levels Fail The People Of NH

An open letter to the NH Legislature 

Hello my name is Paula.  I want to thank you for the work you all do for New Hampshire but it is not enough.  State employees and the citizens of New Hampshire need you to develop new revenue!  

I work for you and the citizens of New Hampshire.  I earn approximately $20.00 an hour.  I perform the regular duties of two positions, one of which was taken away when someone retired.  I process applications, which means I certify applicants to our program based on a child’s chronic health care needs and I also pay bills on behalf of many families for the program.  Presently, besides my regular duties, I am also covering for another program within the department – helping with invoicing and everything that goes along with it.  I also help coordinate other things in my office and covering a portion of another job due to someone’s vacation.  

I worked in the private sector while my children were growing up and when they became older I decided to apply for state service so that I could give something back to a state I loved so much.  I have loved to work for this state and our citizens for the past 12 years (prior to that I worked as a temporary employee for the state).  I know how important my job is to get things “done” for the people we serve.  Because, if I can’t or don’t perform my duties then the children and their families will not receive the services they need. 

I am writing to not just ask for a 2% raise but to “beg” for it and I have never “begged” for anything in my life.  My husband can no longer work.  He worked for 45 years as a surveyor and the job has taken a toll on his body due to debilitating arthritis.  He can no longer work.  We also help family members through their hard times.  I worked a part time job for about eight months last year and I was too exhausted to continue.  I also earn extra money at some of the fairs around the state in the fall.

We, state employees, worked without raises for many years, gave up benefits, paid more for our insurance, etc.  We haven’t caught up to what we have given back to our beloved state and the people we serve.  I need the money for food, to help pay my monthly bills, which includes a mortgage, to pay taxes, and to pay for gas.  I would really appreciate my 2% raise and invite any of you to walk a day in my shoes beside me and tell me I don’t deserve it because you can’t find the revenue!

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Endorses Craig in Mayoral Race 

The State Employees’ Association, SEIU Local 1984 Board of Directors announced the vote to endorse Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig in the race for mayor of Manchester.

After careful consideration, the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Political Education Committee selected Craig as the candidate who will represent the constituents and its members best.

Craig, a Manchester native, is in her sixth year as alderman for Ward 1 and was a school board member for a single term. During her public service career, which began in 2007, she has authored four fiscally responsible city budgets that were adopted by the majority of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and invested in Manchester’s public safety, roads, and schools.

Craig is a bi-partisan leader with a proven track record of finding solutions to City Hall issues.

“We are thrilled to endorse Joyce Craig for mayor of Manchester,” said John Hattan, chair of the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Political Education Committee. “With her proven leadership skills, we are confident Joyce will lead Manchester in the right direction from day one. She understands the needs of working families and we know she will fight to protect our rights. Manchester needs a mayor with the vision to move the city forward and we know Joyce will be that leader.”

“It is time for a change in leadership,” said Jonathan Hallet, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member and Manchester resident.

Hallet cites Craig’s commitment to the city’s schools; commitment to countering the current heroin epidemic; desire to beef up the city’s police force; and ability to recruit innovative companies to the city as some of the reasons he has decided to support Craig.

The primary for the mayor’s race is on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. The General Election is on Tuesday, November 3, 2015.

“Alderman Joyce Craig will move our city forward in so many great ways,” said Hallet. “I urge my fellow Manchester neighbors and friends to get out and vote in the September 15 primary for Alderman Joyce Craig for Mayor.”

NH State Employees’ Association Blasts Fiscal Committee Over Changes To Retirees Health Plans

State Looks to Address Shortfall by Shifting Health Care Costs to Retirees

Richard Gulla, President of the State Employees Association release the following statement:

Yesterday, the Department of Administrative Services told the NH Fiscal Committee that the health plan for the state’s retirees will have a $10.6 million shortfall over the next biennium, largely due to an unanticipated dramatic increase in prescription drugs.  They presented the Committee with a number of possible solutions to mitigate the deficit – all of which shift costs to our retirees.

The average state employee pension is around $12,000 and there has not been a cost of living increase in over six years with little hope for future increases.  The NH legislature has once again failed to fully fund the promised benefits to our hard working dedicated state employees.

Let it not be forgotten that the retirees accepted and remained in state jobs with the promise of quality health benefits fully paid by the employer.  Those promises have been broken by the legislature. 

We acknowledge that the cost of prescription coverage has been increasing much faster than the average rate of inflation; however, it is unacceptable for the state to raise out-of-pocket expenses solely on the backs of our retirees. The majority of state retirees cannot afford these proposed changes. Changes previously made to the health plan, which shifted costs, have already put some of our citizens in the position of having to choose healthcare over groceries.

We stand ready to work with the state to explore solutions and look at all options; not just those that shift the burden to the retirees.  We ask the legislature to take a broader look at the challenge of providing health security to our retirees.

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Statement Regarding Yesterday’s GOP Proposed Budget Compromise

Yesterday, GOP legislative leaders presented a counter proposal related to the state budget that included full funding for the state employees’ 2015-2017 contract. We appreciate the recognition from the legislative leaders that funding this negotiated agreement for the people who deliver essential services for the public every day is a critical piece toward passing a good budget.

The commitment of our state workers was evidenced just yesterday with the rapid response to the sinkhole on I93. Within moments, crews were on the scene assessing and ultimately repairing the 20 foot deep hole in the highway. While this story received widespread attention, there are many other events that go unnoticed every day that are addressed by state employees to insure the safety, health, and prosperity of our state.

The new contract, which includes a 4% wage increase over two years, was negotiated/bargained in good faith by both parties the union and the state.. We are thankful that our elected officials on both sides of the aisle now agree that this contract should be funded.

While there are still outstanding issues that need to be addressed in order to ensure a balanced budget meets the needs of our state, it is an encouraging step that we have proposals from both sides being exchanged and we are beginning to see common ground. We hope that further progress can be made to reach a bi-partisan budget that we can all be proud of.

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