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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.

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Response to Governor’s Compromise Budget Proposal

On Thursday morning, Gov. Maggie Hassan presented a compromise budget proposal and urged lawmakers to get to work quickly to reach an agreement.

The compromise proposal includes more funding for numerous key priorities, including winter road maintenance, fighting the addiction epidemic, overtime at the Department of Corrections, and the Community College System of New Hampshire. The proposal also includes funding for the new state employee contract negotiated by SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members; the Legislature cut funding for that agreement during budget negotiations.

Following the press conference, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Richard Gulla issued the following statement:

“We applaud the governor for proactively putting forward a budget compromise that incorporates priorities from both Republicans and Democrats, and including the funding necessary to fulfill the fairly negotiated contract for the hard working state employees who deliver quality public services to our state every day,” Gulla said.

“Throughout this budget process, our members have continued to do their jobs to make sure our roads are safe, our veterans and most needy are cared for, and that Granite Staters have the tools they need to compete for good jobs in today’s economy,” Gulla said. “Now it’s time for the Legislature to do its job, by coming back to the table quickly and reaching a bipartisan compromise by the target date of Sept. 16 so that we have a state budget that meets the needs of our state.”

Richard Gulla: New Hampshire Budget Reveals An ‘Ideological Assault’

By RICHARD GULLA
President of the State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984)

Rich Gulla (SEA/ SEIU 1984 President) It’s been written that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This adage fits well with the New Hampshire Senate budget that was pushed through along party lines – the Legislature continues to cut revenue and then tell us we cannot afford to invest in our state.

Over the next few weeks, legislators from the New Hampshire House and Senate will work to iron out the differences in their respective budgets. Unfortunately for the state’s citizens, neither budget meets the basic needs of the state; and the finished product is likely to reflect that.

The Senate budget severely underfunds the state’s community colleges and universities; underfunds substance abuse programs; does not provide enough support for those living with mental health issues; does not provide for snow removal; and downshifts even more costs to towns and municipalities. Their budget also includes the closure of Health and Human Services district offices in four communities – Conway, Claremont, Rochester and Laconia. Some of the communities that are in greatest need.

The Senate also failed to honor the collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated in good faith between the state of New Hampshire and the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire (SEA/SEIU 1984).

SEIU 1984 LogoIn fact, the Senate Finance Committee did not even discuss the contract in committee, even after Sen. Lou D’Allesandro requested that it be discussed more than once.

Despite several meetings between Senate leadership and SEA/SEIU 1984 representatives and assurances made by the senators, the collective bargaining agreement for thousands of hard-working state employees was not given the opportunity it deserved – to be heard and discussed. This disrespectful treatment of workers is disappointing, frustrating and disheartening.

The proposed budget provides a solid look at what today’s GOP supports: lower taxes for big out-of-state businesses. As a bonus, they are adding language in another bill for a special tax break for former governor Craig Benson and his wealthy friends at Planet Fitness. If you are keeping score at home: It is tens of millions of dollars for the wealthy and corporations, and zip for working families and people in need.

Ordinarily, our organization is bipartisan. We do not care if an elected leader is a Republican, Democrat or independent – if he or she supports public sector workers and the services they deliver to New Hampshire citizens, we are friends.

At this time, though, it must be clear to even the most casual political observers that we are facing an ideological assault that is unprecedented in its agenda and harmful to our citizens.

Every cut to expenditures and every cut in revenue is designed to hack away at our infrastructure; infrastructure that in many cases was built by the Republican party of yesterday – a party that believed in investing in our children, families and communities. They are bulldozing our future and then congratulating themselves because they cut needed services.

We cannot afford to continue doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results. We call upon our legislators to take this opportunity in committee of conference to build a budget that both parties can support, by funding these critical services and the hardworking people who deliver them every day.

Otherwise, the budget next year will look much like the budget this year, and all the budgets before it.

SEA/SEIU 1984 Encourages Committee of Conference to Produce a Better Budget

A statement by Richard Gulla, President, SEA/SEIU Local 1984

It’s been written that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  This adage fits well with the NH Senate budget that was pushed through along party lines – the legislature continues to cut revenue and then tell us we cannot afford to invest in our state.

Over the next few weeks, legislators from the NH House and Senate will work to iron out the differences in their respective budgets. Unfortunately for NH citizens, neither budget meets the basic needs of the state; and the finished product is likely to reflect that.

The Senate budget severely underfunds the state’s community college and state universities; underfunds substance abuse programs; does not provide enough support for those living with mental health issues; does not provide for snow removal; and downshifts even more costs to towns and municipalities.  Their budget also includes the closure of Health and Human Services district offices in four communities – Conway, Claremont, Rochester, and Laconia; some of the communities in greatest need.

The Senate also failed to honor the collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated in good faith between the State of NH and the State Employees’ Association of NH (SEA/SEIU1984).  In fact, the Senate Finance Committee did not even discuss the contract in committee, even after Sen. Lou D’Allesandro requested that it be discussed more than once.  Despite several meetings between Senate leadership and SEA/SEIU 1984 representatives and assurances made by the Senators, the collective bargaining agreement for thousands of hard working state employees was not given the opportunity it deserved – to be heard and discussed. This disrespectful treatment of workers is disappointing, frustrating and disheartening.

The proposed budget provides a solid look at what today’s GOP supports: lower taxes for big out of state businesses and as a bonus they are adding language in another bill for a special tax break for former Governor Benson and his wealthy friends at Planet Fitness. If you are keeping score at home, it is tens of millions of dollars for the wealthy and corporations and zip for working families and people in need.

Ordinarily, our organization is bipartisan. We do not care if an elected leader is a Republican, Democrat, or Independent – if he or she supports public sector workers and the services they deliver to NH citizens, we are friends. At this time, though, it must be clear to even the most casual political observers that we are facing an ideological assault that is unprecedented in its agenda and harmful to our citizens.  Every cut to expenditures and every cut in revenue is designed to hack away at our infrastructure; infrastructure that in many cases was built by the Republican party of yesterday – a party that believed in investing in our children, families and communities. They are bulldozing our future and then congratulating themselves because they cut needed services.

We cannot afford to continue doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results. We call upon our legislators to take this opportunity in committee of conference to build a budget that both parties can support, by funding these critical services and the hardworking people who deliver them every day.  Otherwise, the budget next year will look much like the budget this year, and all the budgets before it.

Full Senate Rejects Amendment to Include Employees’ Contract in Budget

Rich Gulla (SEA/ SEIU 1984 President) A statement from Richard Gulla, President
of the State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984) 

On behalf of the thousands of state employees throughout New Hampshire, I wish to extend my gratitude to Senator Lou D’Allesandro for opening a dialogue about the employment contract between the state and its employees at today’s Senate Session.  He not only broke the silence about this obviously missing budget item, but advocated for the hard-working employees who keep the state running.

We also thank the other Senators who spoke in favor of and voted in support of funding the modest cost of living raise that is contained in the new contract.  With the exception of one Republican Senator, the vote was according to party line and regrettably the amendment was not accepted.

To be clear, state employees don’t come to work each day or shift with political party loyalties on their minds – they come to work to serve every NH citizen and visitor 365 days a year regardless of political party affiliation. State employees work diligently and deserve to be compensated accordingly. There has been a constant bombardment of efforts to decrease their benefits including their health insurance and certainly their pensions. This is yet another reminder that certain legislators do not value their efforts.

Senate Budget Writers Ignore State Employees Contract

An open letter from Richard Gulla,
President SEA/SEIU Local 1984

Rich Gulla (SEA/ SEIU 1984 President) On behalf of the thousands of state employees who daily give their best efforts to providing necessary services for the citizens and visitors of our state, I register our disappointment with the NH Senate Finance Committee for not including funds to provide a contracted cost of living adjustment for the employees in their budget.  Although included in Governor Hassan’s budget, the NH House of Representatives and the Senate did not include these funds in their respective versions of the state budget.

Several months ago, the state’s bargaining team and the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 team reached a mutual agreement that provides for a modest salary increase over the next two years.  This contract was negotiated in good faith by both parties.  In not including the funds necessary to meet this contract obligation in their budget, the NH House of Representatives and the Senate have revealed their disdain and lack of appreciation for the services these committed public servants provide.

Two years ago we heard loud and clear from Senator Morse that he was displeased with the state workers’ contract not being settled in time for consideration prior to the end of the budget process.  This time, we worked diligently to begin negotiations early so that the contract could be included sooner  in the budget timeline.  The state’s and the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 bargaining teams put in long hours of research, discussion, and negotiations to arrive at this mutually agreeable and  reasonable contract. And what is the result of that effort – first,  the funding is stripped from the Governor’s budget by the House of Representatives.  And, now the Senate has completely ignored the contract.  They did not even discuss the contract with the employees who help deliver many of the  services they restored funding to, such as Service Link, Meals on Wheels to name a few.

In not even discussing the merits or concerns they may have with the small cost of living raise for thousands of workers across the state, the Senate Finance Committee acted irresponsibly and state workers lose out. This is quite a message the Senate Finance Committee is sending to thousands of dedicated workers who have long been “doing more with less,” handling impossible caseloads, doing the jobs of two or three people, fueling the state’s economy, going the extra mile to serve the state’s citizens and visitors.

We call upon the full Senate to act responsibly when they meet next week to discuss and vote on the budget.  We are hopeful they will do the right thing – recognize the contract, talk about it and approve it.

Sincerely,

Richard Gulla
President, SEA/SEIU Local 1984

 UPDATE 2:45pm

Senator Lou D’Allesandro Comments on Failure to Include State Employee Contract in Budget

Concord, NH – As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Lou D’Allesandro made the following comments today following the completion of the committee’s work on the state operating budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017:

“I’m disappointed that in formulating the Senate budget, one item that was completely left out was the already negotiated pay raise for state employees,” said Sen. D’Allesandro. “The state’s collective bargaining team had come to an agreement with the State Employees Association on a modest 2% cost-of-living increase.  The House removed funding for the increase from its budget and the Senate failed to address the issue. This creates unfinished business.  What kind of a message does it send to our workforce that we take the time to develop tax cuts for big corporations but don’t fund a modest wage increase for our hard working NH employees?”

Stop Short-Changing NH’s Community Colleges

Nashua Community College (Cropped) (Wiki Commons)Ongoing Layoffs Contradictory to CCSNH’s Mission

The Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) has adopted a mission of educating 65 percent of NH’s workforce by 2025; however, ongoing job cuts are contradictory to that mission.

Over the last week, more than two dozen faculty and staff members have been laid off across three of the CCSNH colleges, with more cuts expected. While the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 — the union representing CCSNH’s faculty, staff and adjunct faculty members — supports the system’s mission, we believe that cutting full-time faculty and staff and replacing them with low-paid, unbenefited, part-time faculty and staff, while also creating highly paid administrator positions, does little to support a strong community college system.

At a time when the state is focused on getting Granite Staters the skills they need to compete in today’s workforce, these layoffs will be particularly destructive.

“If we want skilled workers that meet the needs of New Hampshire’s businesses, we need to invest in higher education, not lay off long-term, dedicated employees with proven records of success,” said Annette Cohen, a faculty member at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, one of the campuses affected by layoffs in the last week. The others affected are Lakes Region Community College in Laconia and White Mountains Community College in Berlin.

New data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that funding for public colleges and universities in New Hampshire is 26 percent below pre-recession levels.

“We agree that CCSNH needs better funding, but layoffs of faculty and staff will only make it more difficult for the colleges to deliver on their mission of providing an accessible, affordable,  high quality education,” said SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Rich Gulla.

All of CCSNH’s community colleges have suffered from severe cuts and layoffs. Approximately 65 employees have been affected over the last three years, with slightly less than half notified within the last few days.

The SEA/SEIU Local 1984 represents full-time faculty, full-time and part-time staff, and adjunct faculty at all seven CCSNH campuses.

NH House Republicans Push Through Their Immoral Reckless Budget

 

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Today hundreds of Granite Staters filled the State Capitol building holding signs and asking legislators to oppose these reckless cuts to the New Hampshire budget.  Labor leaders, community activists and concerned citizens delivered over 800 signed petitions opposing these reckless budget cuts.

“A budget is a statement of our priorities as a community and in that sense it is an expression of our values,” explained the Rev. Jonathan Hopkins, President of the NH Council of Churches and pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church. “Our faith leads us to pay attention to the common good, not just to the interests of individuals. Our faith calls for a budget that is fair and just.”

One area of the proposed budget cuts that drew outrage today were the cuts to social programs to help people overcome their additions to drugs and alcohol. Hundred gathered and participated in a “die in” on the State House steps. (Images above of the ‘die in’ courtesy of Steve Kloppenburg)

Their voices and concerns were ignored as the House Republicans pushed through their budget with devastating cuts to a variety of state programs.

“In amending the House Finance Committee-recommended budget that already hurt families, undermined business growth and took our economy backward, Republicans in the House of Representatives managed today to make a reckless budget even worse,” stated Governor Maggie Hassan. (Full Statement Here)

“To gain the support of Bill O’Brien and the Koch Brothers, House Republicans passed a budget today that is so extreme that even the Republican House Finance Chair admitted that our state would suffer if it were actually enacted,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

“The House did a fantastic job of making New Hampshire more free market and more competitive, and forth and for most it takes out all the tax increases,” said AFP State Director Greg Moore in an press conference last week.

During the debate on the House floor Representative William O’Brien, who pushed a similar budget cuts through the House in 2011 when he was Speaker, offered an amendment to raid the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” to find extra money to make their budget work.

“From raiding dedicated funds to downshifting costs onto local communities, the O’Brien-Jasper budget proves once again that New Hampshire Republicans can’t be taken seriously on fiscal responsibility,” said Buckley. “Possibly the most fiscally irresponsible action in the O’Brien-Jasper budget deal — and that’s saying something — is O’Brien’s floor amendment to empty the state’s rainy day fund.”

“As lawmakers entered the State House, today they were greeted by hundreds of protesters decrying the O’Brien-Jasper budget’s drastic cuts. But instead of listening to the outcry from every corner of the state, O’Brien and Jasper decided to wipe out the state’s rainy day fund and threaten a credit downgrade to make even deeper cuts, including cutting funding for community colleges, further cutting our already strained corrections system, and laying off nurses at New Hampshire hospital,” continued Buckley.

“Voters will not stand for the fiscally irresponsible Jasper-O’Brien budget that empties the state’s rainy day fund, raids dedicated funds, slashes critical economic priorities for small businesses and middle class families, and downshifts costs onto local property taxpayers,” concluded Buckley.

One of the budget tactics used by Republicans to fund their disastrous budget would reverse the pay increased negotiated by the State Employees Association. These are the same workers who are now facing the potential of massive layoffs.

“When I was a child growing up in NH, the state leaders were fiscally conservative and responsible,” said Richard Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “The legislature was primarily Republican and when need be, they would find ways to raise revenue for items our state’s citizens needed and there was a good balance between revenue and spending. That is no longer the case.”

The Tea Party extremists have taken over the House and refuse to raise revenues even though the state desperately needs it.

“The members of SEA/SEIU 1984 want our state to be a safe place for everyone to live, work, and prosper. The NH House budget does not promote these priorities – it disrupts them,” wrote the State Employees Association. “Even though they did not prevail, we salute the legislators who voted in favor of funding the state employees’ contract.”

“While today’s vote was gravely disappointing, we now look to the NH Senate to prepare a budget that is frugal yet reasonable and responsible,” concluded the SEA.

Community groups and fiscal watchdogs were quick to blast Republicans in the House for passing this budget that is guaranteed to harm our state and our economy.

“The House version of the budget is foolhardy and shortsighted. It unnecessarily pits important state priorities against one another rather than making real investments in our community, our infrastructure, and our people,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “It kicks the can down the road on identifying reasonable revenue sources that ensure the wealthy and corporations are paying their fair share, and it turns its back on programs that, if funded today, will save our state money in the long run.”

“The House budget pits vital public services against one another in an attempt to achieve a misguided sense of balance. This budget puts many of our state’s most vulnerable residents at risk, forcing cities and towns — and local taxpayers – to take on greater responsibilities and to face higher costs in the long run,” said New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute Executive Director Jeff McLynch. (Full Statement Here)

Now we look to the New Hampshire Senate to see how they blend their two proposals together and craft the budget for the next two years. We already know that the Senate passed a business tax reduction that gives away millions to businesses while force deeper cuts to state agencies.

Will the Senate find a way to fix the cuts proposed by the House, or will they bend to the Tea Party extremists and force New Hampshire backwards?

 

Related article and recommended reading:

Republican Budget Cuts In New Hampshire Provoke Backlash From Clergy

 

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