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Linda Horan Statement Against Right To Work Legislation (HB402)

Linda Horan

Linda Horan at a Rally for FairPoint workers

Today the NH House Labor Committee is hearing testimony on HB 402, Right To Work legislation.  Many people are at the State House testifying for this bill.  Linda Horan, a labor activist for many years, sent us her testimony.

Statement in Opposition to HB402
February 17, 2015

Good afternoon. My name is Linda Horan. I live in Alstead. I’m a retired telephone company worker and a proud member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2320.

During my 32 years as a phone worker, I had health insurance, good wages, a pension, and job security. These weren’t given to me by the company. These were things that I worked with other union members to win. And once we won them, we protected them. We didn’t do this by begging the company as individuals. We did this by working together to accomplish as a group what we couldn’t achieve as individuals. That’s the basic principle of unionism. HB402 attacks that principle.

Today, members of IBEW Local 2320, have been on strike for 124 days. This is a strike about our future and the future of telecommunications in New Hampshire. It’s a strike to defend hard won gains that have created a decent standard of living and job security. FairPoint is demanding the right to contract out every job. If that happens, all that we have worked together to gain could be gone just like that.

Again, phone workers won a decent standard of living and job security by standing together to accomplish together what we could not achieve as individuals. HB402 mocks these accomplishments and seeks to tear them down.

HB402 says that it is okay for someone to see all that we accomplished, decide they want to enjoy those benefits, but refuse to contribute to the costs of improving and maintaining them. That’s an insult. And it’s a threat to our well-being.

HB402 is nothing more than a unionbusting proposal dressed up in false claims about economic benefits and personal liberty.

Claims about personal liberty are a sham. Proponents are not bothered by other job requirements. They do not complain when employers insist on educational requirements completely unrelated to a job. They do not object when non-union retailers tell new hires that clerks are expected to wear red shirts and black pants, so go out and buy them if you want the job. We don’t hear a peep from Right-to-Work advocates about the at-will status of workers without union protections – workers who can be fired without just cause. But let an employer negotiate a fair-share contract clause proposed by its workers and somehow personal liberty is under attack.

Many of you are familiar with the children’s story book about The Little Red Hen, who couldn’t get any help from the other barnyard animals when she decided to bake some bread. But those other animals wanted to share the bread once she had done all the work. The moral of the story is don’t expect to reap without sowing. That’s an important lesson that I taught my kids. HB402 turns the moral of the story upside down. It says the little red hen violated the personal liberty of the pig, the cat, and other animals who wanted to freeload off her.
In conclusion, Local 2320 has a fair share clause in our contract. There are a handful of non-members who pay a fair share fee, which is less than full dues. I wish they were members, but at least they pay their share of the costs of bargaining and enforcing the contract that provides the benefits we enjoy. That’s because the law allows us to make a democratic decision to negotiate a fair-share agreement as part of our contract. HB402 would take away that right. That’s wrong. We don’t need the State looking over our shoulder and telling us what to bargain.

I urge you to vote HB402 Inexpedient to Legislate. Also, please accept this as testimony against HB658, which I urge you to vote Inexpedient to Legislate for the same reasons.

NH Postal Workers Vehemently Oppose Opening ‘Postal Units’ In Staples Stores

A small group of postal workers from the American Postal Workers Union and the local community delivered a letter to the manager of the Manchester Staples store.

From Left to Right:  Janice Kelble, Dana Coletti, (President Manchester Area Local & NH Postal Workers Union), Deb Smith, Joe Steele, Mike Lafayette and daughter Maeve

From Left to Right:
Janice Kelble, Dana Coletti, (President Manchester Area Local & NH Postal Workers Union), Deb Smith,
Mike Lafayette and daughter Maeve

The postal workers letter states:

APWU LogoWe want to let you know that we vehemently oppose the opening of pilot “postal units” staffed by non-USPS employees in more than 80 Staples stores located in various parts of the country, six of them located in our neighboring state of Massachusetts.”

“While we support the expansion of postal services and increasing convenience for customers, we can only support offering postal services that are provided by career postal employees.”

The pilot program would open postal units in approximately 80 Staples stores nationwide.  The postal counters would be able to handle most of your everyday postal needs, like buying stamps and sending letters.

We are adamantly opposed to any efforts to replace decent postal jobs with non-union, low- wage, non-postal workers who have no accountability for the safety and security of the mail.”

It has been well documented that Staples in one of the ’50 largest low-wage employers’.  The National Employment Law Project reported that the majority of the 33,000 Staples employees make less than $10.00 per hour.

Another part of the pilot program is tied to Congressman Issa’s postal reform legislation that would close 1,200 post offices that are located less than a few miles from the store.  Closing these post offices would mean that people would not have access to services that can only been completed at a post office like: PO Boxes, certified mail, insured mail, and passport photos.

What happens when Staples decides to ‘restructure’ and decides to close one of these stores with a postal counter? Poof, no post office at all!  It is completely baffling that the USPS would try to grow by cutting services and closing post offices.  

“We understand that Staples hopes to increase business by placing these “postal units” in their stores however, if these postal services are not being provided by postal employees, we will have no choice but to ask our members, families, friends and colleagues (many who are currently Staples customers) to refrain from continuing to do business with your store. Postal employees live and work in every city and town across the country and we will work to ensure that postal services continue to be provided by well-trained postal employees.”

 

Click here to read the full letter from the APWU.

 

BREAKING: In Wake of Guardian Expose, Corporate Sponsor of Senator Jeb Bradley’s ALEC Model Bill Drops Membership

Visa was corporate sponsor of Senator Jeb Bradley’s ALEC model bill this past year to abolish paper paychecks in New Hampshire (since defeated) 

in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Concord, NH – In the wake of a major Guardian expose this week about corporate-funded bill factory the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate sponsor of Senator Jeb Bradley’s ALEC model bill to abolish paper paychecks in New Hampshire has dropped its ALEC corporate membership.

In the 2013 session Senator Bradley sponsored SB 100, which would have abolished paper paycheck options in New Hampshire and pushed employees without bank accounts over to payroll cards with few to no consumer protections. Payroll cards act as a form of debit cards, often carrying a brand such as Visa or Mastercard, and are used as such – right down to the fees for withdrawals, payments and balance checks. Corporations like Visa have been eager to transition workers from paychecks to payroll cards to collect more fees from the transactions, including transaction fees charged at local businesses who accept the cards for payment. At ALEC meetings in 2010 and 2011, Visa introduced model bills and resolutions on payroll cards that would hurt workers and small businesses – similar to legislation that was then introduced in New Hampshire.

This week Visa dropped its corporate membership in ALEC, just one year after Visa’s Vice President of State Relations, Paul Russinoff, received ALEC’s “Private Sector Member of the Year” award. Visa joins a list of 60 corporate members who have dropped ALEC membership – and financial support – in the past two years in the wake of growing awareness and controversy over ALEC’s activities. According to The Guardian expose, “in the first six months of this year [ALEC] suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income.”

“We applaud Visa’s decision to stop financially supporting ALEC, and we call on New Hampshire legislators to also stop enabling the corporate corruption of our legislative process,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “We knew that ALEC was bad news for New Hampshire families and small businesses, but The Guardian expose highlights that ALEC is worse than we thought. New Hampshire legislators should have no part in advancing a special interest agenda that attacks working families, the environment, and the very foundations of our democracy.”

More about Sen. Bradley’s ALEC Model bill:

At ALEC’s August 2010 meeting, Visa proposed a bill called the “Electronic Pay Free Choice Act” that would allow employers to pay workers with fee-laden payroll debit cards. And at an ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force meeting in 2011, a lobbyist from Visa brought forward a resolution in support of payroll cards that called in part for fewer consumer protections around them.

New Hampshire’s SB 100 would have been purposefully harmful to employees, creating additional fees and expenses for them to collect and use their paycheck, and specifically avoiding sharing that information upfront. Senator Jeb Bradley was the prime sponsor of the ALEC model bill in the past two sessions. Rep. Gary Daniels, a long-time ALEC member and current ALEC State Co-Chair, is a member of the ALEC task force that approved the resolution. Daniels wrote the minority blurb in support of SB 100 and spoke in its favor on the House floor.

Previous press release about New Hampshire, ALEC, and The Guardian expose below. 

Right To Work In Michigan: Democracy At Its Worst

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Have you been reading about what has been happening in Michigan? 

Well just in case you have been unplugged from any social media for the last day let me explain.  A few days ago reports started to surface that the Republican led Legislature in Michigan were going to use their own ‘lame duck’ session to push a Right To Work for less bill.   Turns out the reports were all true.

The legislature and Governor Snyder knew there would be huge protests if they pushed Right To Work in Michigan.  Amid huge protests RTW was unveiled in the MI House.  The Detroit Free Press reported

“The goal isn’t to divide Michigan. It is to bring Michigan together,” the governor said, as hundreds of union protesters stormed the Capitol and the governor’s office, vociferously voicing their opposition to the plan.”

We all know this is a crock.  The goal of right to work is to lower wages and make it easier for companies to break labor unions down.

The day was moved on like a live action horror movie, directed by Americans for Prosperity and ALEC.  Even the Koch Brothers could not keep their hands out of this. The Koch funded group American For Prosperity, had members lined up in front of the State House in Lansing.

“Michigan passage of right-to-work legislation will be the shot heard around the world for workplace freedom,” AFP said in a press release Thursday.

Even though Right To Work has nothing to do with ‘freedom’.

“In the wake of this legislation, the only ‘freedom’ gained for Michigan workers will be the freedom to make less, the freedom to be disrespected at work, the freedom to struggle to pay their bills and the freedom to be left out of the American dream.
Working Michigan statement 12-6-12

Democratic lawmakers walk out in protest
via UAW http://on.fb.me/TIQvmR

Protesters filled the capitol in Lansing and began chanting. Watch the video from the UAW.  At one point they were told to leave the capitol building and the police began using pepper spray on protesters.  The protests outside became even louder as people began chanting ‘Let us in’ (VIDEO).  However in a strong move by Democrats in the Michigan Legislature, they walked out.  They would not return until the people of Michigan would be allowed to return.

It would not take long for the MI House to pass the RTW bill.

As all of this was happening, President Obama issued a statement on the proposed RTW bill in Michigan.

“President Obama has long opposed so-called ‘right to work’ laws and he continues to oppose them now,” said White House spokesperson Matt Lehrich. “The President believes our economy is stronger when workers get good wages and good benefits, and he opposes attempts to roll back their rights. Michigan – and its workers’ role in the revival of the US automobile industry – is a prime example of how unions have helped build a strong middle class and a strong American economy.”

Even the Presidents strong words would have no effect on the GOP assault on Michigan working families.  The Michigan Senate began pushing their version of the MI Right To Work for less bill.  Of course it passed 22-16.  The only catch is that due to legislative laws in Michigan a bill has sit for five days before it can be moved from the Senate to the House.  Then all legislators would have to do is combine the two different bills and send it to the Governor.

This is a sad day for Michigan and the hard working people who live there.  Working Michigan, a broad coalition of faith, labor and community organizations released a statement (full below).

“The legislation passed tonight is nothing short of an attack on the middle class in Michigan by Republican leadership and their corporate CEO funders.  This is a divisive law that will hurt our state by driving wages down and pitting workers against each other.”

After the ‘auto bailout’ and the revival of the big three in Michigan lawmakers chose to repay these workers with a giant slap in the face.  Their unity and dedication help revive Michigan and helped preserve over one million jobs.   The only hope Michigan has now is that over the next five days the Governor comes to his senses and veto’s this bill.  Though it is not very likely.

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Michigan Republicans vote to unravel the state’s middle class, flatten wages and crush workers’ rights

12/07/12

LANSING, Mich. – In  devastating blow to the middle class in Michigan, Republicans, bankrolled by wealthy, corporate CEOs, passed anti-worker legislation tonight which promises to flatten wages and crush workers’ rights. Following the Republicans’ destructive vote, Working Michigan, a broad coalition of faith, labor and community organizations issued the following statement:

“The legislation passed tonight is nothing short of an attack on the middle class in Michigan by Republican leadership and their corporate CEO funders.  This is a divisive law that will hurt our state by driving wages down and pitting workers against each other.

“Study after study has demonstrated the devastating effects of this sort of legislation: Workers in ‘right-to-work’ states make $1,500 less per year, meanwhile the growth rate for ‘right-to-work’ states actually drops after legislation of this sort is enacted. Dressing the legislation up with benign sounding phrases like ‘workplace freedom,’ Michiganders understand what’s at stake here and will hold them accountable.

“In the wake of this legislation, the only ‘freedom’ gained for Michigan workers will be the freedom to make less, the freedom to be disrespected at work, the freedom to struggle to pay their bills and the freedom to be left out of the American dream. This bill is a blatant attempt by the richest in Michigan to silence the voices of working families in our democracy, build their own power, and make the growing gap between the rich and everyone else even bigger.

“Should Snyder sign this legislation, he will join a list of other governors – John Kasich, Scott Walker, and others – who have signed over the future of their respective states to big corporations and CEOs, making a decision to leave working families behind. Regardless of what might happen, working people have made it clear they will continue to fight for our vision of a better, stronger Michigan and work to hold elected leaders accountable.”

This Thanksgiving (and every Thanksgiving) Unions Are Giving Back

The “union-avoidance” industry isn’t taking the election results lying down.  The Andrew Breitbarts of the world are already busy spinning the Hostess Brands liquidation and Wednesday’s planned protest in Los Angeles.  (If you’re wondering: there may be delays on surface streets around LAX – but the protest is not expected to impact any air travel.)

In these days leading up to Thanksgiving, you’re probably going to hear a lot of other anti-union stories in the media.  (The union-busters have a lot of money to spend on PR.)

What you’re probably not going to hear is how union members nationwide are celebrating the holiday.  A quick sampling:

  • In Palm Beach, Florida, labor unions are part of “The Big Heart Brigade”.  Last Thanksgiving, the Brigade fed 100,000 people – and they are hoping to feed even more, this year.   “Several local unions have already donated time and funds to help, including Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA) Local 630, Ironworkers Local 402, Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 728, Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 3181 and Machinists (IAM) Local 971.”
  • Feed The Community Day

    Near Los Angeles, ILWU Local 13 is holding their 15th annual “Feed the Community Day”.  They will be distributing 1,500 turkey baskets with all the trimmings to help feed low-income families in surrounding communities.

  • Throughout the country, IAFF Locals are giving coats to kids through “Operation Warm”. IAFF Local 157 is distributing more than 2,000 coats to needy children in Oklahoma City, OK.  IAFF Local 215 is giving away almost 1,000 coats in Milwaukee, WI.  In New Jersey, IAFF Local 2657 is donating 350 coats.  In Pennsylvania, IAFF Local 10 plans to give a new coat to every single child who attends George Washington Elementary School, after firefighters noticed that most students didn’t have anything warmer than a hooded sweatshirt (87% of the school’s families live at or below the poverty line).
  • And of course, Hurricane Sandy relief efforts will continue through the holiday.  Nationwide, union members are contributing to various Hurricane Sandy Relief Funds.  Union members in the hardest-hit areas will continue to do what they have been doing for weeks: cleaning up, fixing up, and taking care of the people around them.

This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for our union brothers and sisters.  Our union family is not just standing behind us in our workplaces – unions are giving back to our communities, making things better for families in need.

 

 

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