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The NH Senate Commerce Committee Says Low Wage Workers Are Paid Enough

The current debate over raising the minimum wage has gone national.  Across the country low wage workers are striking for a living wage.  Many of these people work in low wage jobs like McDonalds and Wal-Mart, earning minimum wage.  According to the votes of the NH Senate Commerce Committe $7.25 or $15,000 a year appears to be enough for New Hampshire workers.

Recently the NH Senate Commerce Committee voted to ITL (kill) HB 501. The vote of 3-2, right down party lines moves this bill to the full Senate.  Just because the Senate Commerce Committee wants to kill this bill this does not mean the fight is over.  The GOP has control of the Senate and even though this bill would do nothing more than establish the right for NH to set a minimum wage above the federal minimum, it means this will be a completely uphill battle.

Workers deserve a wage that allows them to work without being forced to live in poverty.   Contact your State Senator and tell them to reject the Commerce Committee recommendation and vote to pass HB 501.  Find your Senator here. Do not wait, call today. Ask them if the are truly looking to reduce dependence of government welfare programs, then why are they not raising the minimum wage?

Unemployment For Younger Granite Staters More Than Double The State Average

The NH Labor News has always been pushing to highlight how workers are continuing to be screwed by corporations and low wages.  Today a new group who call themselves the Young Invincibles are pushing back for young workers.

Young Invincibles is a national organization committed to amplifying the voices of young Americans, aged 18 to 34, and expanding economic opportunity for our generation.  Young Invincibles ensures that young Americans are represented in today’s most pressing societal debates through cutting-edge policy research and analysis and innovative campaigns designed to educate, inform and mobilize our generation to change the status quo.

The Young Invincibles just released their first report about the unemployment problems facing young workers in NH.  They highlight that the national unemployment level for workers between 16.2% which is over twice the national average (7.6%).  In NH, the unemployment for these young workers is 14.0% (NH unemployment rate 5.5%).

Youth Unemployment in NH

 

These numbers are bad enough but it is not the worse part.  Nationally workers have continued to see their paycheck to decline.  For younger workers in NH the numbers are even worse.  Young Granite State workers are making on average $3000 dollars less per year since 2005.

NH Youth make 3000$ less

 

The report also highlighted full time employment of these younger workers has dropped eight percent (8%) since 2005.  Studies show that the inability to gain early work experience dims career prospects for a lifetime; if we do not act now, this crisis could have far-reaching economic consequences for all Granite Staters.

The AFL-CIO Introduces New Website Highlighting CEO’s Outlandish Pay Inequalities

U.S. CEOs Paid 354 Times the Average Rank-and-File Worker—Largest Pay Gap in the World

New CEO pay numbers for S&P 500 released in 2013 Executive PayWatch

Searchable CEO-to-worker pay online database exposes growing wealth inequality and need for a fair tax system.
www.paywatch.org

CEO Pay 354 times the average worker (AFLCIO)
Coinciding with events by working families across the country on Tax Day, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka unveiled the 2013 Executive PayWatch, revealing that U.S. CEOs of the largest companies made 354 times the average rank-and-file worker—by far the widest pay gap in the world. Last year, CEOs received on average $12.3 million while the average rank-and-file worker took home around $34,645. This new data confirms CEO-to-worker pay disparities have increased dramatically over the past several decades. Thirty years ago, CEOs were paid 42 times that of rank-and-file workers in the U.S.

The newly designed Executive PayWatch is the most comprehensive searchable online database that tracks excessive CEO pay at S&P 500 companies and offers visitors the unique ability to compare their own pay to the pay of top executives.

In addition to the new data on CEO pay, President Trumka outlined how PayWatch now exposes some of the ways that CEO-backed groups such as the Business Roundtable and Fix the Debt are drumming up a deficit scare to conceal their efforts to get more tax cuts for corporations, while hacking at Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits for working people.

“American chief executives continued to do very well for themselves last year, while workers struggle to make ends meet,” said Trumka. “We are calling out the hypocrisy of rich CEOs who have the gall to ask for corporate tax cuts to be paid for by squeezing the retirement security of working America. The American public deserves to know the truth about their self-serving agenda.”

Closing the corporate tax loophole that allows U.S. multinational companies to avoid taxation on overseas profits would raise $42 billion in new revenue in 2013 alone. But CEO groups like the Campaign to Fix the Debt want to overhaul the tax system so that corporate profits kept overseas are permanently exempt from U.S. taxes.

Trumka also pointed to new features on PayWatch, including the AFL-CIO’s Mutual Fund Votes Survey, which examines votes cast by the largest mutual fund families to constrain CEO pay. This new letter grading system will help investors and the public compare how specific mutual fund families voted on executive compensation issues.

Finally, for the first time an interactive map allows users to compare and contrast CEO pay ratios of top executive all over the world.

“Not only is U.S. CEO pay out-of whack with historical norms, it is off the chart globally. For example, in Switzerland, where voters recently imposed new limits on executive pay, the CEO-to-worker pay gap is 148 times.  In the United Kingdom, the CEO-to-worker pay gap is one-quarter as large as ours. And in Japan, the gap is even smaller.” said Trumka.

AFGE Calls For Pentagon To Cancel Furloughs Now!

Services, Defense agencies have enough flexibility to avoid disruptive furloughs

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees is calling on the Department of Defense to do the right thing for its employees and the country by cancelling the planned furlough of civilian workers.

“We are encouraged to hear that Pentagon leaders may be rethinking their foolish and reckless policy to furlough nearly every civilian employee for 14 days,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

“Many of the services and Defense agencies say they can reduce or eliminate the number of furlough days for their workers, and they should be allowed to exercise this flexibility,” Cox said. “Forcing all employees off the job without pay for the same number of days out of some misguided notion of fairness is damaging to employees and undermines mission.”

Defense initially proposed furloughing more than 700,000 civilian employees for 22 days due to budget cuts required under sequestration. In March, it announced that it would reduce the number of days employees would be forced off the job without pay to 14 days. The Associated Press reported yesterday that the Pentagon is considering further cutting furloughs to 7 days.

AFGE has already demonstrated to the department that furloughing any employee for any length of time is unnecessary and would disrupt the military mission that civilian employees help carry out each and every day.

“This game that DoD is playing with the lives and livelihood of civilian employees is a travesty,” AFGE Defense Conference Chairman Don Hale said. “The morale of our workforce has never been lower. Morale is lower than it was during the A-76 outsourcing competitions and when DoD tried to replace existing pay and performance management policies with the National Security Personnel System.

“Employees feel as though they have no control over their future. Hell, they can’t even plan their work schedules for the next few months because of the unknown that DoD has created,” Hale said. “DoD has continuously said that they want to minimize the adverse impact that furloughs have on civilian employees, but what they are doing is having the opposite effect.”

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

Congress Introduces A New ‘Make It In America’ Initiative To Strengthen U.S. Manufacturing

Image courtesy of Rep Annie Kuster

Image courtesy of Rep Annie Kuster

Yesterday it was announced that a group of Congressional Representatives joined together to reinvent the Make It In America initiative to strengthen U.S. Manufacturing and create new middle class jobs.  The initiative includes a series of proposals focused on training a 21st century workforce, encouraging innovation and insourcing, and reviving U.S. manufacturing. I am also happy to report that both Rep Kuster and Rep Shea-Porter are fully behind the Make It In America initiative.

Make It In America is a comprehensive jobs plan announced three years ago, aimed at revitalizing our manufacturing sector and helping create high-skill, high-wage jobs that won’t be outsourced.

Kuster has made high-tech manufacturing one of her top priorities in Congress. Last month, Kuster urged President Obama to establish a Manufacturing Innovation Institute in New Hampshire that would help drive innovation, create jobs, and ensure that the next generation of innovative manufacturing breakthroughs happens in states like New Hampshire.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter introduced the Buy America Accountability Act of 2013 on the heels of House members today unveiling new Make It In America priorities for the 113th Congress. The Buy America Accountability Act of 2013 would require federal departments to report to Congress on their compliance with the Buy American Act of 1933.   The Buy American Act of 1933, which was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt, requires the U.S. government to give preference to U.S. made products when making purchases. Shea-Porter’s bill would amend the 1933 bill by requiring all federal and independent agencies to conduct yearly audits to ensure that they are in compliance with the original legislation.

“Our government has a responsibility to support U.S. companies by ensuring compliance with existing legislation that requires the purchase of products made in the U.S.A.,” Shea-Porter said. “This bill will support jobs and manufacturing in America.”

The Buy American Act of 1933 supports jobs here in America by requiring that the United States government purchase goods made in America, but over time, that legislation has lost its impact due to lax execution and failures on the part of Congress to provide adequate oversight.

Earlier this year, the NHLN reported that the Buy American Act was still being used but less than half of the products bought by the US Government were not being made in the United States as the law required.  Senator Chris Murphy explained how this law is being abused and hurting American manufacturing.

Senator Murphy pointed out that the current ‘Buy America’ law has one very large loophole that must be closed.  If the government buys a product, lets say a gun, but that product is not going to be used within the United States, the law says that it does not have to be made in the USA.   This loophole has been exploited by defense contractors and the DOD. Think of how much money the US Government spent over the last decade fighting two wars.  What would that have done for our economy if we made all of those guns and ammunitions right here at home?  If you remember weapons manufacturing during World War II was one of the way we pulled ourselves out of the Great Depression.

The Make It In America initiative will strengthen our economy while creating lasting jobs.
For more information on the Make It In America jobs plan, visit: http://www.democraticwhip.gov/issues/make-it-america.

AFGE Says The Presidents Budget Fails Working Americans

Budget includes proposals that would harm middle-class Americans 

WASHINGTON – President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget marks a shameful abandonment of his campaign promise to protect the middle class and needy from tax increases or harmful benefit cuts, the head of the largest federal employee union said today.

“Instead of holding to its promise to protect the middle class and the working poor, the administration seems determined to contribute to a worsening of living standards for federal workers, disabled veterans, and the elderly,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said.

The budget includes proposals that would cut federal retirement benefits, cut Federal Employee Health Benefits, cut Social Security benefits, and cut federal jobs.  The budget also proposes to end the three year pay freeze with a 1% adjustment, an amount so low that it banks $18 billion in savings over ten years for the government to spend elsewhere.

Federal Retirement

The administration’s budget hits federal retirement benefits in three ways: denying pay adjustments, so the salaries on which retirement benefits are based are lower, increasing by 1.2% the amount of salary that employees hired prior to 2013 would pay for their benefit, and reducing the annual cost-of-living increase in Social Security and annuities by using an inferior measure of inflation.

These proposals are unjustified and deviate completely from the standards set by large private employers.  About 98% of private employers that provide traditional pensions charge their employees nothing for this benefit; the administration just keeps charging more and more each year.  The 1.2% contribution increase in the budget would be a permanent cut, even though it is presented as part of a fix to a temporary “problem.”

Regarding the proposed change to the chained CPI, Cox said, “This is no ‘technical fix.’ It is a benefit cut on some of the most vulnerable citizens in our country – the elderly who built this nation’s prosperity, disabled veterans who sacrificed their health and bodily integrity to this nation’s security, and federal retirees who labored under an agreement that their retirement benefits would be adjusted to maintain their living standards in old age.”

According to an analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, using chained CPI for indexing income tax brackets would mean raising taxes 14.5 percent for those earning between $10,000 and $20,000 a year. Sixty-nine percent of the tax increases resulting from chained CPI-indexing would come from households earning less than $100,000, the Center said.

Switching to chained CPI will hit others equally hard. Federal retirees, whose average pensions under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) are just $13,000, will suffer substantial declines in living standards under chained CPI. The average Social Security recipient, who at age 65 receives just $15,000 per year, will suffer cuts of $650 a year by age 75 and $1,130 a year by the time she or he turns 85.

Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) Cuts

The administration’s budget also calls for $8.4 billion in cuts to the government’s financial support for federal employees’ health insurance.  The changes sought by the administration would penalize the ill by charging them higher premiums, penalize families with more than two members by charging them higher premiums, and penalize those in high health care cost regions by charging them higher premiums.

“Adding FEHBP cuts to the pay freeze, furloughs, and retirement and Social Security cuts just defies comprehension.  The President actually says in his budget that federal employees “deserve our respect and gratitude.”  I would describe this package of cuts as evidence of disrespect and ingratitude, and I know that’s how all of our members feel as well,” Cox said.

Poultry processing

The budget also proposes an overhaul to the poultry inspection process that would leave one federal inspector responsible for examining up to 175 birds per minute – or three birds every second – as they whiz down the inspection line. AFGE, along with food safety and consumer watchdog groups, has been urging the administration to withdraw this rule change since it was first proposed in January 2012.

While the poultry slaughter inspection program does need to be modernized, AFGE is concerned that this proposal could have adverse impacts on both food safety and worker safety, Cox said.

“This proposal isn’t about food safety. Speeding up processing times is all about generating more profit for the chicken slaughter industry by moving chickens from the farm to your kitchen table as quickly as possible – regardless of the potential health consequences,” Cox said.

 

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

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The one video every Republican, Democrat and Independent must see!!!


More than 200 people rallied at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard yesterday to rally against the budget cuts known as “sequestration”.

At the same time they were rallying, Congress passed a bill to make most of those cuts permanent.

That bill – the “continuing resolution” to fund the federal government for six months – also rescinded a long-planned increase in pay for federal workers. Read Congress Adds Insult to Injury!

The continuing resolution was crafted to protect military contractors from the effects of sequestration – at the expense of federal employees, including Portsmouth Shipyard workers. Read more about Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s defense of defense contractors here.

As Portsmouth Shipyard worker John Joyal told the crowd yesterday:

The men and women at that shipyard over there – every single day, they put their politics aside, their gender aside, their religion aside, their ideological beliefs aside, you name it, they put everything aside to go perform the people’s business.

“That flag right there does not belong to the right-wing of the GOP of our Congress, that flag belongs to the American people. What the US Congress needs to do is, they need to grow up, put their differences aside, go into a room and perform the people’s business just like the people on this island do, every single day.

There are other options. Ending special corporate tax breaks would pay for the sequester cuts twice over. Ending tax breaks on unearned income would pay for the sequester cutsplus everything the House GOP wants to cut from next year’s federal budget.

Is this the best six-month budget that our Congress can come up with?

Stopping Sequester Cuts Should Be Number One Priority In Washington Right Now!

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard 3Every day that goes by brings us one step closer to the Sequestration cuts that nobody wants. Yet nobody can seem to stop them though many are trying.  Everyone agrees that allowing sequestration to happen would send America down the wrong path and would result in a loss of millions of jobs in both the private and public sectors.

“Prof. Stephen Fuller of George Mason University concluding that sequestration budget cuts would cost 1.05 million jobs from spending reductions at domestic agencies and 1.09 million jobs from Pentagon spending.” (GovExec)
(emphasis added)

These cuts will hit us right here in New Hampshire.  This would mean drastic cuts to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  Recently Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Collins released a statment on how these cuts would effect the workers at the PNS.

“The measures the Navy announced include a civilian hiring freeze, cutting temporary workers at shipyards and base operating support facilities, reduced funding for critical repairs, and a possible 22-day furlough of civilian Naval employees. As Shaheen and Collins say in their letter, these cuts “would have severe ramifications for many critical defense facilities, including our own Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.”

“The Navy’s announcement underscores just how unacceptable automatic sequestration cuts are not only to our national security but to our economy as well.  We need a comprehensive plan to rein in our debt and deficits but not in a way that puts our vital national security and economic interests at risk.  I’m disappointed that we missed an opportunity to work in this manner last year during the fiscal cliff negotiations but am hopeful that moving forward we can take steps to avoid the kinds of actions that the Navy announced,” Senator Shaheen said.

Senator Shaheen spoke to the Senate Armed Services Committee reaffirming the need for bipartisan support to end the Sequestration cuts. Shaheen raised particular concern over the impact sequestration could have on the country’s industrial base, citing the potential devastation on New Hampshire small businesses that constitute a core part of the national defense industrial base.

“When it comes to our budget we need a comprehensive approach that is fair and balanced with respect to cuts and new revenues,” Shaheen added. “I will do everything I can to be flexible about that and to be willing to look at all the options that we have to get a solution because this is not just about our military readiness and this country’s national security, it’s also about the future of the economy in this country.”

Senator Shaheen has been very vocal in her opposition to the Sequestration cuts and the inability of both the US House and Senate to pass a long term budget solution to this problem.

“The fact we have not [come up with a long-term solution] means each and every one of us in Congress should take a second look at what our jobs are in this body,” Shaheen said.

Unfortunately many of the GOP Congressional members are suddenly singing a different tune when it comes to Sequestration.  Durning the election season many of the GOP were against the cuts and now they seem to be throwing their hands in the air as if they cannot stop them.  Some have even suggested that these cuts are the best thing to get our national debt under control.

Both sides need to come together and stop these automatic cuts that will send our economy into a tailspin.  Millions of middle class Americans would be forced out of their jobs or forced to take almost a month off without pay.

Even a short term solution may be to late to stop job losses in the private sector.

“Even without sequestration, the country is slowly backing away from long-term investments that make it the global leader.” — Wes Bush, CEO and president of Northrop Grumman

All industries rely on the strength and security the Federal Government provides.  They need to know that their funding will continue or at least know what their funding will be over the next few years to plan for their own future.

Millions of jobs are on the line and we elected you to Congress to help create new jobs not destroy the good middle class jobs we already have.

The NH Debate Over Minimum Wage Rages On: Both Sides Go Head To Head On ‘The Exchange’

Tuesday on the Exchange, Laura Knoy spoke with Dave Juvet (New Hampshire Business and Industry Association) and Jeff McLynch (NH Fiscal Policy Institute). They went back and forth weighing the pros and cons of raising the minimum wage.

Jeff McLynch started off by stating that minimum wage workers in New Hampshire are far behind what it would take to actually survive.

“The living wage for a single worker is  $9.68 per hour.  For a married couple is about $15 per hour. If someone is a single parent trying to raise a child it is $21 per hour.”

“NH is the only state with a minium wage at the federal level”

Jeff McLynch also explained that a minimum wage is not a ‘living wage’.  The living wage is what local people would need to be able to afford housing, food, and other items in their area.  The living wage is a more local and precise number than the national poverty wage that does not take into account local cost of living.

NH jobs

After hearing all of these things from Jeff, now we get to hear from the lobbyist who is pushing against a wage increase.  Dave Juvet wants people to believe that because New Hampshire has the lowest minimum wage in New England this put them “ahead of all of those other states.”  He continues by saying the vast majority of jobs in NH do not pay the minimum wage, and he is right.  They actually pay less than the minimum wage because they are tipped employees.

After trying to get people to believe that there are very few people working on minimum wage, he pushed another common business lobbying fallacy that “minimum wage workers are teenagers and retired people looking to pick up extra income.”  This is an out right lie.  In fact research from the Economic Policy Institute, shows that nearly 80% of people working on minimum wage in New Hampshire are older than 20 years of age.  The EPI continues by saying that “more than a third (35.8 percent) are married, and over a quarter (28.0 percent) are parents.”

The best line of all was when Laura Knoy asked “Is the argument Dave, against a minimum wage no matter what, or is the argument $7.25 is good lets not raise it?”

Dave Juvet’s response, “Some would argue the government should not be in the business of setting wages for the private sector…” In my opinion that is his way of saying no we do not need or want a minimum wage.  Yeah lets go back to the slave wages that we have before the minimum wage was introduced, that worked out great for everyone.

In closing I want to talk about one more point that Dave Juvey tried to hammer in.  He said that raising the minimum wage would hurt small businesses and would cause people to loose their jobs.   This is simply not true.  In fact, over 66% of minimum wage workers are employed by companies that have over 100 employees.  The biggest abusers of minimum wage workers 1. Walmart 2. Yum Foods (Taco Bell,  KFC) 3. McDonalds.

We also know that state and federal governments are supplementing these low wages with food and housing assistance programs while the corporate giants are raking in hundreds of millions of dollars.

So if raising the minium wage would help thousands of Granite Staters to earn a living wage while reducing their dependance on government assistance programs, WHY HAVE WE NOT PASSED THIS YET?

 

Listen to the entire episode

NH AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie Pushes For A Higher Minimum Wage For NH Working Families

For Cost-Effective Economic Development, Consider the Minimum Wage
By President Mark MacKenzie

President Obama raised the hopes of thousands of Granite Staters when he called for raising the minimum wage in his State of the Union address.

His words should also raise the hopes of our state leaders. We’ve seen intense debate in our Legislature and town halls over the past few years about how to strengthen our economy after the Great Recession and help working people get back on their feet.

For thousands of Granite Staters living on the edge, the minimum wage determines whether their jobs pay enough to make ends meet. Yet it isn’t just workers who have a stake in the minimum wage. The small businesses they patronize and the communities they live in all stand to gain from reestablishing New Hampshire’s minimum wage. If our leaders are serious about encouraging New Hampshire’s economic development, they will consider reestablishing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation.

Throughout the recession, Granite Staters relied increasingly on low-wage jobs to support their families. We lost nearly 6000 jobs between January 2012 and December 2012, according to the New Hampshire Economic & Labor Market Bureau.  Alarmingly, the largest losses were in construction, healthcare, education, local government and manufacturing – all sectors that historically pay a living wage. And of the sectors that added jobs, one third paid an average of $10.85 an hour.

This is not an isolated trend. Contrary to popular belief, changing the minimum wage will not just impact teenagers and semi-retired people. As wages for working families have fallen and breadwinners come to rely on low-wage jobs to support their families, the minimum wage plays an increasingly critical role in determining whether a job gets a family out of poverty or keeps them in it.

Most businesses in New Hampshire are small employers whose wellbeing is intimately tied to the strength of their local economy and the fortunes of their customers. Lower wages mean fewer nights out, fewer ice cream cones bought for our children, fewer gifts at Christmas and birthdays. They mean waiting another year to fix the muffler on our car or replace our old winter coat. Ultimately, by paying their employees more, local businesses fare better.

It’s been argued that raising the minimum wage will force employers to reduce hours for their employees or lay them off. That this will happen to a degree large enough to hurt our economy is, at this point, simple speculation. A 2010 study from economists at the University of North Carolina, University of Massachusetts, and University of California-Berkeley found “no detectable employment losses from the kind of minimum wage increases we have seen in the United States”.

The reason for that is quite simple – a minimum wage means customers with more money in their pockets.

As Governor Hassan and our Legislature come to an agreement over the state budget, they will be asked to make a lot of tough decisions on how to foster economic development in New Hampshire with the resources we have available.

What they choose to fund is ultimately a reflection of their priorities. Yet they should keep in mind that the minimum wage offers a simple way to foster economic development without spending resources from the state.

Ultimately, the debate over the minimum wage comes down to the type of economy that we want. Do we want an economy that relies on subsidizing the employers who pay their workers the least? Or do we want one that recognizes that every worker’s toil is worthy of a living wage?

Jobs should keep Granite Staters out of poverty, not in it. It is time to reinstate the minimum wage and create a path to prosperity for workers and their families.

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