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UNH Spends Almost $200K To Block Union Organizing Efforts

University reports close to $200,000.00 in payments to law firm to prevent employees from exercising legal right to organize.

CONCORD, April 12, 2017 – The University of New Hampshire has finally provided a partial response to Representative Cushing’s Right to Know request. Earlier this year, Rep. Cushing sent two Right to Know requests to the University seeking, among other things, the names of any outside vendors advising management on anti-union efforts, the amounts paid to these organizations, and copies of communications with these organizations.

In their partial response, the University reported spending $193,565.13 on legal fees and expenses with Jackson Lewis Law Firm from June 2016 to March 2017.

“I’m shocked to find that UNH has spent a couple hundred thousand dollars to hire outside help to fight university employees who simply want to exercise their legal right to collectively bargain,” said Representative Cushing.

“We can assume that there will be additional payments made to Jackson Lewis as the University continues to fight their employees’ efforts to organize,” stated Megan Tuttle, NEA-New Hampshire President. “Is this really the best use of the University’s funds?”

The University noted in their response that “this expense is not being paid from any of the following: state appropriation, tuition dollars or operating funds.”

“Regardless of where the money is coming from, at this point the University has chosen to spend close to $200,000.00 on things other than tuition reduction, campus improvements, or to help make the salaries and benefits of the dedicated OS and PAT staff more competitive,” continued Tuttle.

In addition to asking for information regarding management’s anti-organizing efforts, Rep. Cushing’s request also sought information regarding the University’s outsourcing plans.

“We are aware that the University has hired consultants to find ways to save money.  Far too often, these savings are balanced on the backs of OS and PAT employees,” said Tuttle.

The University declined to provide any information on these topics.

State Representative Cushing stated that he will be looking to take further action to determine the actual source of the funds used to pay Jackson Lewis, and to address the lack of disclosure with the rest of his request for public information.

“I don’t see union busting as a line item anywhere in their budget,” stated Cushing.

A copy of Rep. Cushing’s Right to Know request is available here and below.

RepCushing Right To Know

Business Economist And Industry Shill Now Chair Of Health Economics At UNH

unh-peter-paul-schoolThe University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics just hired one of the business industry’s biggest shills in the fight against raising the minimum wage.

Dr Joseph Sabia

Professor Joseph Sabia

Professor Joseph J. Sabia has been well quoted in newspapers for his work opposing the minimum wage. Lobbyists for the National Restaurant Association, the Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and the National Federation of Independent Business also use Sabia’s work to convince lawmakers to oppose any wage increases by saying it will kill jobs and hurt low-income workers.

The New Hampshire Union Leader just printed one of Sabia’s hit pieces in the editorial section of Friday’s paper. The editorial, “Another View — Joseph J. Sabia: The $15 minimum wage is an empty promise to the poor,” attempts to prove that raising the minimum wage will hurt New Hampshire families. He says that poor people are just lazy and there is not connection between the minimum wage and poverty.

A $15 minimum wage has been championed as an anti-poverty measure. But the majority of poor people do not work and will not benefit from a higher minimum wage. According to 2014 Census data, less than 40 percent of poor individuals actually work.”

This 40% lie has been busted by a variety of economic institutions. The Economic Policy Institute published a report in 2015 addressing this claim specifically and found that over 63% of those living in poverty do work.

Despite what some policymakers and pundits might have us believe, a significant share of the poor work. This means that policies that boost employment and wages are important and underappreciated tools for reducing poverty. To boost wage-growth and reduce poverty rates, a policy agenda must include provisions to raise the minimum wage, raise the overtime threshold, eliminate wage theft, and strengthen workers’ collective bargaining rights,” wrote Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute.

rick-berman

Richard Berman, Lawyer and Lobbyist

Professor Sabia and his work also have direct ties to Rick Berman’s public relations firm. Berman’s firm is widely known for their work pushing Right to Work, creating misleading -borderline untruthful- information about the minimum wage, and helps corporations like Wal-Mart block unionizing efforts.

In 1991, Berman founded the Employment Policies Institute that began lobbying against raising the minimum wage. “Berman also founded the Center for Consumer Freedom, which lobbies for meat, drink and tobacco industries, and the Center for Union Facts, which lobbies against unions,” wrote Ben Schiller at Fast Company online.

Sabia has been doing anti-minimum wage research for years at different colleges and universities across the country. Most recently he was at San Diego State University where he pumped out reports with grant money from Berman’s public relations firm.

Eric Lipton of the New York Times wrote about this in 2014:

Joseph J. Sabia, an associate professor of economics at San Diego State University, who has collected at least $180,000 in grant money from Mr. Berman’s group over the last eight years to deliver seven separate reports, each one concluding that increasing the minimum wage has caused more harm than good — or at least no significant benefit for the poor.

As noted above, in 1991, Berman created the Employment Policies Institute or EPI as they like to call themselves. If the acronym EPI rings a bell, that is what Berman wants. They did it intentionally to confuse people the Economic Policy Institute that has been publishing detailed economic reports for over 30 years and “whose staffers are very unhappy with the alphabetical confusion.”

The Employment Policies Institute is a wholly disingenuous group funded by companies that stand to lose from minimum wage increases,” wrote Ben Schiller at Fast Company online.

Why do Sabia and Berman’s Employment Policies Institute create these reports? To get them directly into the hands of the lobbyists who work for the corporations that fund Berman’s public relations firm.

What is clear is that the reports by the Employment Policies Institute are a critical element in the lobbying campaign against the increase in the minimum wage, as restaurant industry groups, in their own statements and news releases, often cite the institute’s reports, creating the Washington echo chamber effect that is so coveted by industry lobbyists,” continued Lipton of the New York Times.

You see the Employment Policies Institute is just another one of Berman’s nonprofit businesses in name only, as they do not have any employees. Berman’s public relations firm completes all of the work that is sent out by the Employment Policies Institute. Berman then bills “EPI” for his services and boom, corporate money laundering complete.

This arrangement effectively means that the nonprofit is a moneymaking venture for Mr. Berman, whose advertising firm was paid $1.1 million by the institute in 2012, according to its tax returns, or 44 percent of its total budget, with most of the rest of the money used to buy advertisements.

Berman has even created a new app for IPhone and Android to help employers fight against minimum wage increases.

If companies are worried that they might be forced to actually pay their workers enough to live, they have a willing ally in the Employment Policies Institute… Wage Engage allows business owners to track minimum wage legislation in states relevant to them, and to offer their opinion about the impact of such increases,” added Schiller(Read more about “Wage Engage”)  

Peter T Paul (UNH Photo Services)

Peter T Paul (UNH Photo Services)

Sabia was hired as Professor of Economics & Forrest D. McKerley Chair of Health Economics at the Peter T Paul College of Business and Economics. The school was recently renamed after UNH Alum and wealthy California businessman Peter T Paul after a very sizable donation to the school. In addition to having the school named after him, Paul also is a member of the school’s Board of Directors.

Many people do not know much about the man the school is named after. Paul founded Headlands Mortgage known for creating and selling “Alt-A” mortgages that many attributed to the financial collapse in 2007.

Headlands Mortgage, which he founded in 1986, called them Alt-A loans: Alternative “high-quality” loans. The California-based company examined the worth of the home and the down payment, the amount of cash in the bank, and the credit history, but was looser on income verification,” wrote Bob Sanders of the NH Business Review.

Paul sold his lucrative mortgage company to GreenPoint for “$473 million” reported Sanders.After selling GreenPoint, Paul started Paul Financial, which flourished and later failed, resulting in large losses for himself and his borrowers. And it became the target of a class-action truth-in-lending suit that was settled last November for $1.75 million.”

Then Paul decided he wanted to get more involved in New Hampshire politics. Paul created a Super PAC to support his friend and former UNH Business School Dean, Dan Innis in his run for Congress in 2014.

Mother Jones reported, “Paul created a super-PAC, New Hampshire Priorities PAC, and financed it with $562,000.

In 2014, Innis lost his primary bid for Congress to the corrupt Congressman Frank Guinta. This year, Innis chose to run for New Hampshire State Senate and guess whom he is bringing with him? 

“I am excited for the opportunity to refocus NH Priorities PAC on state races during the 2016 election cycle. In particular, the PAC will be focusing on recruiting and supporting candidates for the Executive Council, State Senate, and House of Representatives who are committed to offering fiscally responsible solutions to the issues impacting our great state,” wrote Peter T Paul on the NH Priorities PAC website.

So why do I find this newly hired economist to the University of New Hampshire so dubious? Because the minimum wage is one of the biggest issues driving this election cycle.

We have a Presidential election between Hillary Clinton, who supports a minimum wage increase and Donald Trump who says workers are already paid too much.

We have a US Senate race between Senator Kelly Ayotte who opposed minimum wage legislation in the Senate and Governor Maggie Hassan who has pushed for an increase in the minimum wage since her time in the NH State Senate.

We also have a Gubernatorial race between Executive Councilor Chris Sununu who opposes increasing the minimum wage in New Hampshire and Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern who advocates for a higher minimum wage and suggested a baseline of $12 an hour. Van Ostern also says he will sign any increase to the minimum wage that passes the Legislature.

For the first time in many, many, many years we are really close to getting the Legislature to raise the minimum wage and that is scaring some of the greedy CEO’s who fund groups like Berman’s Employment Policies Institute.

They are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to cover up the truth about the benefits of raising the minimum wage. By convincing people that raising the minimum wage is wrong they are trying to convince voters to reject candidates who support the increase.

I refuse to let Berman, a D.C. front man for the restaurant and business industry, Peter T Paul, a wealthy Wall Street gambler from California, and Sabia, an economist for hire funded by grants from a fake “institute” tell me what is best for the people of New Hampshire.

None of these men have the best interests of working Granite Staters’ in mind when they are pushing their agenda. These men are only interested in maximizing their personal profits and taking from the hard working people struggling every day to get by.


Related Reading:

Fight Over Minimum Wage Illustrates Web of Industry Ties

Rick Berman and the Libertarian Shell Game

TONIGHT: Koch Bros AFP-NH to Supply UNH Students with Free Alcohol to Oppose Obamacare, Not Sign Up for Health Coverage

Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity Part of National Campaign to Discourage Young Adults, Others from Getting Health Coverage; Dartmouth Stop Scheduled for Next Week

party
Concord, NH – Billionaire Koch brothers funded groups Americans for Prosperity and Generation Opportunity are supplying University of New Hampshire students with free alcohol tonight to encourage them to oppose Obamacare and not sign up for health coverage.

The “Thirsty for Freedom” event will be held at the Dover Brickhouse just off campus. It provides students with two free drink tickets to hear about “big governments war on youth” and is hosted by Koch-funded AFP, Koch-funded Generation Opportunity, Young Americans for Liberty, and the College Republicans. A boozy tailgate event hosted by some of the same sponsors at the University of Miami last fall included a fleet of Hummers, paid models as “brand ambassadors” and beer pong tables as part of an effort to discourage students from using new benefits and financial assistance available under the Affordable Care Act.

See photos: http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/chugging-beers-with-creepy-uncle-sam/2151865

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Young adults are more likely to be uninsured than any other age group. Under Obamacare, young adults can stay on their parent’s plan until age 26, and they have options for premium assistance to help them afford private coverage on the marketplace. Americans for Prosperity is encouraging UNH students to go without affordable health coverage and in doing so they are playing politics with the health and well-being of New Hampshire’s young adults. UNH students should look elsewhere for information instead of listen to a group that would encourage them to pay a fine and still go without adequate health care coverage. Covering New Hampshire is the official, free resource for Granite Staters to learn about the Health Insurance Marketplace and the new, affordable health insurance plans that are now available to them.”

“Americans for Prosperity has hit a new low with this alcohol-fueled campaign to entice New Hampshire’s young adults to go without health care coverage. Medical bankruptcy is no way for a new graduate to start their life. Being able to count on health insurance when you have an accident or access routine preventive care to catch a health problem before it grows is an important resource for our young adults, but Americans for Prosperity wants to take that away.”

*** Note: A similar event targeted at Dartmouth students is scheduled for March 25th. ***

More info:

Tampa Bay Times: Chugging beers with Creepy Uncle Sam
http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/chugging-beers-with-creepy-uncle-sam/2151865

Think Progress: Koch Group Throws Boozy Anti-Obamacare Tailgate Party At College Football Game
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/11/11/2923411/creepy-uncle-sam-tailgate/

Yahoo News: Creepy Obamacare ad hits college campuses and your nightmares
Note Generation Opportunity quote telling young adults not to get health coverage, period
http://news.yahoo.com/obamacare-battle-moves-to-college-campuses-200027191.html

Americans for Prosperity event announcement
http://americansforprosperity.org/new-hampshire/event/thirsty-for-freedom-thursday-happy-hour/

1963 March on Washington – Caroline French was there!

1963 March on Washington for Jobs and FreedomFifty years ago, a quarter-million people found their ways to our nation’s capital for one of the largest political rallies in history.

Caroline French, a grassroots political activist and antiques dealer from the Seacoast, was one of them. “I was 21 years old, a college student at UNH,” she said. “When you’re in college, you really care about social issues like equality. At the time, I didn’t realize how significant the event was, but my friends were going, and I went too.” French was one of a group of students from the University of New Hampshire who took a bus down to Washington for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

“Nobody who was there knew how important it was, at the time,” she said. “You don’t go to an event thinking ‘this is going to change the history of the world.’ It’s only in retrospect, decades later, that you can see how it affected our country.”

“The ideals of equality were already there, before the March,” French recalled. “I remember seeing efforts to desegregate on television. It was a national issue and we paid attention.”

“Racism is an original flaw in this country, and it has been a problem since Day One,” she said. “These days, there’s a myth, now that we’ve had a black President, it’s all ‘hunky-dory’. But that’s not the truth at all. The legacy of racism, the economic legacy, is still a real concern.”

The trip that started out as a “college adventure” changed the direction of her life. “Because I was there, I do things and got involved in things that I wouldn’t have otherwise,” French said. “I support the Southern Poverty Law Center. I have gone back to Washington for other marches, women’s marches, labor, health care. I pay attention, and I get involved in groups that do things – activist groups that don’t just sit on the sidelines. Women’s equality, marriage equality, racial equality, gun safety.”

French is just one of a quarter-million people who were at that March. Imagine the impact, if everyone who attended had their lives changed the same way Caroline did.

————

“The Southern Poverty Law Center is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education and other forms of advocacy, we work toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.” Read more about the Center here.

Read the “I HAVE A DREAM…” speech by Martin Luther King here.

See the Official Program of events for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom here.

Bipartisan State Budget Agreement Reached

Governor Maggie Hassan today applauded the bipartisan budget agreement reached by House and Senate negotiators.[mantra-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]

Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen released the following comments on the House and Senate negotiators reaching an agreement on a bipartisan balanced state budget:
“Senate Democrats have worked to protect many of the good initiatives of this budget — restoring education funding, Children in Need of Services, and mental health services, and creating a clear path toward accepting $2.5 billion in federal funds to extend Medicaid coverage to 58,000 people in our state.
There are also some things that Senate Democrats could not reverse that we will continue to work on next session. At the end of the day, this is a compromise, and the very fact that we can reach one is a good thing. It shows that together with the leadership of Governor Hassan, in New Hampshire we can still work together, find common ground, and make progress on important issues.[/mantra-pullquote]

“This bipartisan, fiscally responsible balanced budget agreement represents true and meaningful progress on the priorities that matter to the people of New Hampshire and that are critical for creating good jobs and building a more innovative economic future,” Governor Hassan said.

“By restoring investments in priorities such as higher education, mental health, economic development, public safety and more, this bipartisan agreement will keep our state moving forward by encouraging innovation and maintaining the health and well-being of our families and communities.”

The budget significantly restores funding for the University and Community College systems to allow them to freeze tuition, returns a scholarship fund for New Hampshire students, and invests in other economic development activities such as tourism and trade promotion and technical assistance for businesses. It will allow the state to move forward with implementing its 10-year mental health plan, funds the waitlist for people with developmental disabilities, restores the Children in Need of Services (CHINS) program, improves public safety by adding additional state troopers, and increases aid to cities and towns.

The bipartisan budget also establishes a study commission that will report back on Medicaid expansion by October 15th.

“While I believe we could move forward now with accepting the $2.5 billion in federal funds for Medicaid expansion, I respect the Senate’s desire to study a New Hampshire-specific model and appreciate its willingness to do so in a timely way,” Governor Hassan said. “I am confident that once members of the Legislature see the results of the study, they will want to move forward as quickly as possible through a special session. Because, as both Democratic and Republican Governors across the country have found, Medicaid expansion is absolutely critical to the health and financial well-being of our citizens, and every day that New Hampshire delays after January 1st will cost us $1 million a day in federal funds.”

Governor Hassan also praised the work of lawmakers on the budget.

“Like all budgets, this agreement required difficult choices and compromises. But the bipartisan balanced budget agreement clearly demonstrates that the New Hampshire traditions of hard-work, collaboration, and commonsense problem-solving have returned to Concord. Both the House and Senate repeatedly showed a willingness to rise above ideology and listen to the people they represent in order to reach constructive compromises.

“I want to thank President Bragdon, Speaker Norelli, Senator Morse, Representative Wallner, and all of the budget negotiators from both chambers, as well as the staff of the Legislature, state agencies, and my office, for their tireless work that led to this bipartisan agreement.

“With this fiscally responsible balanced budget, the people of the Granite State can feel confident that their voices have been heard loud and clear. I encourage all members of both the House and Senate to send this budget to my desk for my signature so we can lay the foundation for a stronger, more innovative New Hampshire.”

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