NH AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett Testifies In Opposition To HB 1341, Another Version of “Right To Work” Legislation

 

Yesterday New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett stood with numerous members of the New Hampshire labor community in opposition to HB 1341, a bill relative to employee payments to unions. HB 1341 is another attempt by the anti-union wing of the New Hampshire legislature to undermine the existence of organized labor in the Granite State. Below is an excerpt from President Brackett’s testimony:

“House Bill 1341 would establish a statutory right for all public and private sector workers, who are not union members but are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, to divert payment for the total amount of their union agency fees to a charity, for any personal reason, regardless of the negotiated terms of the agreement.

All New Hampshire employees covered under a collective bargaining contract already have a full legal right to redirect their union fees to charity based on legitimate religious objections. We are forced to conclude, therefore, that the true intent of House Bill 1341 is to weaken the collective voice of New Hampshire workers who benefit from representation by a labor union.”

House Bill 1341 is not a legitimate mechanism for increasing aid to charitable causes. To paraphrase William Shakespeare, so-called “right-to work” legislation called by any other name still smells like “right-to-work.” This bill, if passed, would allow those individuals that choose to have their union fees diverted to charity, to still take full advantage of the protections given by the union and collective bargaining agreement. The members that pay into their labor organization so that they can both protect and be protected in the workplace would be forced to shoulder the cost of those who opt out of the payments. This is not a fair burden to place on working families that already struggle to make ends meet and provide for their loved ones. 

 As New Hampshire
AFL-CIO President Brackett put it:

“House Bill 1341 offers no meaningful benefits to New Hampshire’s economy, workers or businesses. I urge members of the committee to vote this legislation ‘Inexpedient to Legislate.’”

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Budget Proposal Includes Help for Working Families

With his latest budget proposal unveiled this week, President Obama is sending a strong message to Congress: the economy may be improving, but without serious investments in healthcare, education and infrastructure, the middle class will be left behind.

As The New York Times reports, this budget is focused on undoing a dangerous trend in our economy in which “risks have shifted onto working people.” It calls for an elimination of the funding cuts known as sequestration, which have been in effect since 2013 and have left important public services starved of resources. The President also is calling for an expansion of unemployment insurance, a stronger Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and more funding for job training, education and child care.

“We need to update several key benefit structures to make sure that workers can balance work and family, save for retirement, and get back on their feet if they lose a job,” Obama said in his statement on the proposal.

The President can only make recommendations on the budget, and it’s unlikely that this hostile Congress will take him up on many of his proposals. But AFSCME will continue to fight for policies that help working families.

Some elements of the budget would have an important impact on funding for state and local services. It calls for a $900 billion dollar investment in transportation and infrastructure – a longtime labor priority that would not only create thousands of good jobs, but help us avoid crises like the water system catastrophe currently unfolding in Flint, Michigan.

Infrastructure investments would be paid for with a new $10.25 per-barrel fee on oil. But the budget plan also calls for an increase in taxes from the wealthy as well as closing certain corporate tax breaks. It also would increase grants for public safety at the state and local level and expand programs to treat drug abuse in our communities.

On health care, the President is proposing a special assist for Puerto Rico.  The federal government does not give the same kind of support to the territory’s health care system as it does to the states, but President Obama would increase funding to Puerto Rico’s Medicaid system and to its hospitals. 

Finally, there’s a call to bring the United States in line with the rest of the developed world when it comes to paid leave. The proposed Paid Leave Partnership Initiative would assist states in developing paid leave policies for workers.

Budget Proposal Includes Help for Working Families

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Postal Banking: An Idea Whose Time Has Come (Again)

 

 

By Debby Szeredy, Executive Vice President/American Postal Workers Union

Did you know that the United States had a successful Postal Savings System for more than fifty years? From 1911-1967, working Americans could open a savings account at their local post office, guaranteed through the full faith and credit of the United States and earning interest at 2 percent. At its height in 1947, the Savings System had $3.4 billion in assets (more than $35 billion in today’s dollars) or about 10 percent of the entire commercial banking system.

Today, our country is again in great need of affordable financial services. Nearly 28 percent of U.S. households (or 100 million people) do not have access to affordable financial services. A shocking 54 percent of African-American and 47 percent of Latino households are underserved by traditional banks.

For many, traditional banks are out of reach either geographically (bank deserted areas exist in both rural and urban communities), or due to high fees and other obstacles to opening, maintaining and accessing accounts. This lack of access drives millions (mainly the working poor) to rely on costly, predatory services such as check cashing and payday loans, trapping many in a cycle of debt.

Each year, the average underserved household spends $2,412 — nearly 10 percent of gross income — in fees and interest for non-bank financial services. The $100 billion a year Alternative Financial Services (AFS) industry has flooded the communities where the underserved live with products, services and practices that are expensive and often predatory, with typical interest rates of 391 percent!

As United for a Fair Economy puts it, “For the underserved, there is little opportunity to create a credit history, have access to affordable, safe and sustainable financial services, or build assets over time.”

The Postal Service is not in business to make a profit for shareholders. Its purpose is to serve the American people. This is in stark contrast to the predatory practices associated with alternative financial services such as payday lending or the high fees of many traditional banks.
The 2008 financial crisis led to widespread anger at, and plummeting public confidence in, big banks. As a result, the interest in alternatives to traditional banks has increased. Postal banking is a public, non-profit option.

“Banks are rapidly abandoning low-income and rural neighborhoods… Luckily, there is an organization with the public mission, the infrastructure, the experience and the well-trained employees needed to help address this problem: the U.S. Postal Service… The Postal Service already has a presence in low-income and rural communities, and it could leverage that infrastructure to provide access to lower-cost basic banking services,” writes Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

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With more than 30,000 local post offices across the country, the US Postal Service is in a unique position to offer basic financial services. Many of those post offices are located in bank deserted areas. Fifty-nine percent of post offices are in zip codes with either zero banks or only one bank branch. The Postal Service is geographically well-positioned to reach people, whether rural, suburban, or urban, with little-to-no access to retail banking services.

After the financial crisis of 2008, public confidence in banks fell to 26 percent. But Americans consistently rank the U.S. Postal Service highest among all federal agencies with more than 70% of those polled saying it does an excellent or good job. According to a November 2014 Gallup poll, the age group that ranks the USPS highest is 18-29 year-olds, at 81%.

The U.S. Postal Service is already providing some financial services. Its workforce is trained and certified to handle many financial transactions including the sale of money orders, international money transfers, and cashing of treasury checks. USPS window clerks processed 500 million money order transactions over the past five years at a face value of $110 billion. That adds up to 378,000 money orders per day in 2014.
Postal Banking will help struggling families nationwide achieve financial stability and will benefit consumers who would prefer a more public option. And the expansion of services will strengthen our public Postal Service.

The Campaign for Postal Banking is a coalition of labor, consumer, financial reform, faith-based and citizen groups that is calling for low-cost, consumer-driven products and services that could range from check cashing to bill payment to savings accounts to small-dollar loans.
Visit www.campaignforpostalbanking.org to learn more and to add your voice to the call for affordable financial services at the post office!

Link to Unionlabel.org article 

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Spain: thousands join march against trade unionist trial

An estimated 5,000 people braved the wind and rain on a three-hour march in Madrid on 9 February to protest against the trial of eight trade unionists facing a total 66 years in prison for going on strike. The eight workers, who belong to IndustriALL Global Union affiliates, CC.OO de Industria and MCA-UGT, were charged […]

The post Spain: thousands join march against trade unionist trial appeared first on UAW.

Spain: thousands join march against trade unionist trial

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Cab Drivers Host Health Care, Medicaid Fairs

CHICAGO – With Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace deadlines approaching, Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 2500 partnered with Working America in January to host two health care fairs to help drivers sign up for health insurance on the ACA marketplace, or apply for Medicaid if they qualify.

More than 100 drivers came out to the O’Hare DePaul campus, with the vast majority applying for Medicaid.

“We’re seeing a 50 percent drop in business due to unregulated services like Uber, on top of all the expenses we have just to operate,” said Nnamdi Uwazie, a veteran Chicago cab driver and Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 2500 member. “Most of us here today qualify for Medicaid.”

“It’s important for cab drivers to understand that they need to factor in their operating expenses when determining health insurance options,” Uwazie said.  “Many of us are paying for insurance on the marketplace, when we could be getting free insurance through Medicaid due to our incomes dropping so much.” 

In the coming weeks and months, Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 2500 will hold additional Medicaid signup fairs. Dates and locations will be posted on www.CabDriversUnitedAFSCME.org.

Cab Drivers Host Health Care, Medicaid Fairs

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DC 37 Takes Fight for City University Funding to Albany

NEW YORK – AFSCME DC 37 took its campaign for adequate funding for the City University of New York (CUNY) to the state Capitol in Albany, calling on the Legislature to step up to the plate for higher education.

“If you believe that higher education is a priority then you are going to have to fund it in the proper way,” DC 37 Exec. Dir. Henry Garrido declared at a Feb. 8 news conference. “We believe that is a priority for not only who we represent, but also for the people in our communities who otherwise have no other opportunities to advance themselves.”

Garrido later testified at a legislative hearing about the CUNY funding issue. 

In his proposed budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo shifts nearly $500 million in CUNY funding from the state to the city. DC 37 wants those funds restored – in part because the cost-shifting would impose a new financial burden on the city. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio vowed to fight the proposed cuts at CUNY “by any means necessary.” 

The union and other CUNY supporters also want to stop the annual tuition hikes of $300, which students have faced for the last five years. The Cuomo budget calls for these increases to continue for an additional five years.

Speakers at the news conference also called upon legislators to approve a “maintenance-of-effort” bill that would guarantee funding for mandatory annual cost increases of the state and city university systems, and cover collective bargaining costs. CUNY employees represented by DC 37 have been working without a contract since 2010, and they have not received a raise since 2009.

Governor Cuomo in December vetoed an earlier maintenance-of-effort bill that the Assembly and the Senate had passed unanimously.

Andy Pallotta, executive vice president of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), said the money is there for contract settlements. “For year after year we were told, ‘we are broke, we have no money, you have to understand.’ This time around there is a $5 billion surplus. This money – during this budget session – must be used to take care of this.”

“This is a cause,” said Dr. Barbara Bowen, head of the Professional Staff Congress, which represents CUNY faculty and other professional workers. “What it really means is not killing CUNY and SUNY (the State University of New York) by the death of a thousand cuts. That is what the maintenance of effort is about.”

Learn more about how you can support CUNY workers and their fight for a fair contract at www.stopstarvingCUNY.org.

DC 37 Takes Fight for City University Funding to Albany

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Trade Deals Like TPP Encourage 'Business Decisions' Like This Heartbreaking One from Indianapolis

In this video, workers at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis react to the company announcing that it will ship 1,400 local jobs to Mexico in what they described as “strictly a business decision.” You can hear the heartbreak and outrage in the voices of the workers who must now scramble to figure out how to take care of their families. Carrier makes heating, air conditioning, ventilation and other systems. The layoffs are scheduled to begin in 2017.

Trade Deals Like TPP Encourage 'Business Decisions' Like This Heartbreaking One from Indianapolis

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