ICYMI: Right to Work Supporter Admits “Right to Work” is About Killing Unions

 

 
ICYMI: Right to Work Supporter Admits “Right to Work” is About Killing Unions
 
 

Jim Roche, President of the NH Business and Industry Association admits that so-called “Right-to-Work” is really about destroying unions. Tell you legislator to oppose Right to Work! http://bit.ly/NHrtw

 

 

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BIG Win for Nashua Custodians!

BIG Win for Nashua Custodians!

Nashua – Almost one year ago the Nashua Board of Education voted to explore the option of privatization of 101 union custodian positions in the district. The Board of Education cited the need to save funds in the district’s operating budget. But to many in the community, this move was simply another attack on New Hampshire workers and organized labor. 

In December of 2015, AFSCME Council 93, the union representing Nashua’s custodians, filed an unfair labor complaint with the Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB), asserting that the school district was only bargaining with a portion of the union.

Although the school district continually defended its actions and denied any violation of its bargaining obligations, the PELRB disagreed. Yesterday’s decision by the PELRB stated that the school district had, in fact, committed an unfair labor practice. The Public Employee Labor Relations Board also found that the school district had deprived employees of their right to participate in the collective bargaining process through the duly certified bargaining unit.

As a result, the PELRB ordered the school district to “immediately commence bargaining with the union as to all bargaining unit positions.” This result can be attributed to the persistent and unwavering efforts of the Nashua custodians, AFSCME Council 93, and numerous labor allies in the surrounding community that stood in Solidarity with the 101 Nashua custodians. Many members of the labor community protested at Nashua School Board meetings in the rain, sleet, snow, and sun to show that the Nashua community was behind the custodial staff and that New Hampshire workers deserve to be treated fairly.

On behalf of the labor community, the New Hampshire AFL-CIO would like to thank all of those individuals and their families for standing strong throughout this battle. The Nashua custodians are an integral part of the Nashua school district. They have ties to students, their families, and the teachers throughout Nashua that could not be replicated by a private company shipping in workers from outside of the Nashua community. We are proud of the efforts of all that were involved in achieving this outcome, and look forward to the fair treatment of the Nashua custodians in the coming bargaining process.

This success shows what is possible when the New Hampshire labor community stands together. There will be more fights like this one, and it is important to remember what we can achieve with Solidarity. Congatulations!

The full PELRB decision can be found online by clicking here

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Air Traffic Control Privatization Creates Massive Risks

A Revenue-driven Model Would Endanger Safety and Eliminate Taxpayer Oversight

The United States has one of the most complex aviation systems in the world. The
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safely and efficiently manages over two million passengers and tons of cargo in the air every day.
New Hampshire’s 25 public use airports serve over 3,000 pilots and the air transportation needs of over 1.3 million New Hampshire residents, travelers, students and medical and military personnel.

A proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives seeks to privatize the FAA’s air traffic control (ATC) system and turn it into a not-for-profit corporation outside of the federal government. ATC privatization would eliminate congressional oversight and break up the FAA, putting our nation’s air traffic control system in the hands of private interests. This is especially worrisome, as the proposed ATC provider would not be accountable to Congress or taxpayers.

Privatizing a government function as critical as the management of our air traffic control system sets a dangerous precedent. The responsibility of managing the nation’s air traffic and the safety of its passengers should be guided by sound public policy, not the revenue-driven motives of a standalone corporation.

The proposed legislation carries worrisome risks for the people of New Hampshire and the backbone of the nation’s air traffic control system—the more than 15,000 air traffic controllers, engineers, safety inspectors and other employees that power it each day. In New England, the FAA maintains a large, diverse workforce of over 1,700 employees.[1] All of these workers power a system that safely and efficiently
moves more aircraft than any other country.

Of course the air traffic control system isn’t perfect and can be improved. But privatization will slow down technological progress and planned FAA upgrades, and may increase consumer costs. The measure will complicate the FAA’s focus on safety because goals of increasing revenue and reducing costs could be at odds with the FAA’s stringent safety mandate. 

General aviation supports nearly 800 jobs and contributes over $1 billion in annual economic impact to the State, according to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.[2] Changing air traffic control to a private, revenue-driven model will hurt general aviation and threaten good paying jobs and the working families who depend on them.

As a union representing thousands of FAA workers nationally, we know with certainty that privatization will eliminate essential workplace benefits and rights that we work hard to protect. Language included in the proposed legislation weakens labor laws and whistleblower protections for these employees and fails to guarantee that every collective bargaining agreement will have a grievance process, basically eliminating the means for employees to resolve workplace issues and protect their rights.

If privatization goes forward, employees performing the same job will have different pay and different benefits. This will decrease morale and make it difficult for the organization to attract and retain skilled and dedicated employees. This is especially serious considering that one-third of air traffic controllers are eligible to retire in the next few years. Over 1,000 have left the agency in the last year alone.

New Englanders fly 80 percent more frequently than the national average.[3] For people in New Hampshire, our air transportation system is essential to a strong economy that helps working families. Air travel powers commerce, fuels tourism and brings us closer to our families and friends.

Threats to workers’ rights, our safety and our economy demonstrate that there is too much at stake to justify the privatization of our air traffic control system. The FAA must remain a cohesive unit of federal employees, not a private business focused on revenue and costs.

Frank Moroney

Executive Director,
AFSCME Council 93

AFSCME International
Vice President

Frank Moroney is an AFSCME International Vice President and the Executive Director of AFSCME Council 93, which represents more than 45,000 state, county and municipal employees in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

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Nashua Custodians Still Fighting for Contract Fairness

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Yesterday members of the Nashua School Custodian Union stood outside, in the rain to advocate for fair contract practices. Late in 2015, the Nashua Board of Education voted to terminate the contract with the custodial union, Local 365/Council 93 AFSCME, and to issue a request for proposals for a private cleaning service to replace the custodians in the district as of July 1, 2016.

The members of the Nashua School Custodian Union are more than just custodians, they are friends to the students and the staff throughout the school district. They take pride in their work, and the role they have taken in the development of our children’s education. 

By voting to replace the members of the Nashua School Custodians union with a private cleaning service, the Board of Education has done a disservice to the children and the teachers of Nashua. The Board of Education seeks to bring in strangers who have no connection with Nashua, or loyalty to its residents. When profit is the main driver for performance, there is less incentive to do a good job, and more incentive to simply do the job.

The New Hampshire AFL-CIO praises the members of Local 365/Council 93 AFSCME who stood in the rain yesterday to have their voices heard and strongly believes that Nashua schools deserve the kind of dedication that these members have to their community.  

This struggle is not over yet. Remember, you support your community by supporting your Nashua School Custodians. 

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‘Right-to-Work’ Scam Darkens West Virginia

‘Right-to-Work’ Scam Darkens West Virginia
‘Right-to-Work’ Scam Darkens West Virginia

Overriding vetoes of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, anti-union legislators passed a “right-to-work” law that will make it more difficult for unions to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

More than 100 protesters lined city streets near the capitol building during rush hour chanting “Right to work is wrong!” and carrying signs that said, “Stop the War on Working Families.” Their protest fell on deaf ears, unfortunately, thanks to a legislature that seems led by issues supported and sponsored by the Koch brothers.

Lots of money flowed through the Koch-brother-funded Americans for Prosperity, which set up a West Virginia chapter with right-to-work legislation at the top of its agenda. The group aired television ads, sent out mailers, canvassed neighborhoods and coordinated phone calls to legislators in support of the bill.

Senate Pres. Bill Cole, who wants to ride the Koch gravy train to the West Virginia governor’s mansion, was the bill’s main sponsor and presided over a one-vote victory for the bill in the state Senate, with every Republican voting for it and every Democrat voting against. Just weeks prior, Cole spoke at a weekend retreat in Palm Springs, California,  organized by Charles and David Koch. The retreat requires an annual membership fee of $100,000, and the event is not open to the public, only to major right-wing donors.

Even while protesters rallied and union members and allies feverishly lobbied legislators, the bill was fast-tracked through the Legislature’s two-month session, passing through committee hearings, floor debate and final votes in just three weeks – giving the Legislature enough time to override an anticipated veto. Sen. Robert Karnes (R) even mocked union members in attendance during the bill’s debate on the Senate floor.

In other states where right to work has passed in recent years, anti-union legislators predicted big gains in employment and economic growth. But the opposite is occurring. In Indiana, for example, Carrier (an HVAC company) just sent 2,100 jobs to Mexico after making a $6 billion profit last year.

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Talking it Out on Labor-Management Committees

Talking it Out on Labor-Management Committees
Talking it Out on Labor-Management Committees

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Talking through issues on a labor-management committee has produced results for the Missouri Department of Corrections in the Craft and Maintenance Department, with significant agreements made on concerns raised by employees, say members of AFSCME Council 72.  

Besides addressing immediate concerns, members on the labor-management committee hope the process can re-energize efforts by both management and workers to find solutions through discussion and negotiation. The meeting last December was a big step forward, since the committee had not met for several years.

Key issues addressed included pay for on-call workers. Management agreed that workers asked to be on call should be compensated for that work, and that only members asked to be on call would be required to be available or respond.

Leaders of the local also raised the issue of management’s responsibility to understand, implement and uphold the contract, and management agreed to hold trainings for the wardens and supervisors to ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities under the agreement.

“I think this is an exciting step forward,” said Travis Case, a shopkeeper and member of the Labor-Management Committee. “We feel like our employer is finally willing to discuss with us in good faith.”

While there are many other issues that the union wants management to address, Case was pleased that the union had “made some gains,” and that the department has agreed to hold future meetings to deal with unresolved matters. “We just wanted to start – we had no idea our meeting would be successful,” he said.

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Nashua Custodians File Suit Against City For Unfair Labor Practices

Source: Nashua Telegraph: Click Here for Link to Nashua Telegraph Article 

By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI
Staff Writer

NASHUA – The union representing 101 school custodians whose jobs are on the line once their contract expires June 30 have filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the state labor board, charging the Nashua School District with violating their collective bargaining agreement and state labor laws.

The complaint came in response to the Board of Education’s vote last fall to not renew the custodians’ contract and instead hire a private cleaning company as a possible cost-saving measure during tight budgetary times.

The school board is nearing the end of the lengthy process as members plan to review a cost analysis of the bids received from four private cleaning companies at the board’s Feb. 29 meeting.

But even if one of the bids came in favorably, the board likely would not move forward with hiring an outside company until the state labor board issues its ruling. That’s because a finding against the school district could result in the district employing two labor forces to clean city schools – the existing custodial union and the private company.

AFSCME Council 93, Local 365 filed its unfair labor practice complaint with the New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board on Dec. 30. The union represents the 101 school custodians, as well as school maintenance employees.

The union accuses the school district of “restraining, coercing or otherwise interfering” with its employees’ collective bargaining rights, in part by refusing to bargain in good faith with all members of the union.

The union asked the labor board to find the school district guilty of improper labor practices and to “cease and desist dominating and interfering with the employee organization.”

Asked whether school board members are concerned about hiring a private cleaning company, given that the labor board could require the district to resume contract negotiations with the custodians, board member George Farrington said, “This is something we have to consider.

“We have to get some legal advice. We want to do this right. We don’t want to make any mistakes in any number of the areas that we are dealing with,” Farrington said. He would not elaborate.

The school district denied that it “violated its bargaining obligations or any contractual provisions,” according to a labor board memorandum.

“We think that we both legally and contractually are entitled to proceed in the way we have proceeded,” attorney Thomas Closson said Thursday. Closson represents the school district.

The school board voted last Sept. 16 to not renew its collective bargaining agreement with the 101 custodians in an effort to achieve “substantial savings to the district’s operating budget.”

The district agreed to negotiate a renewed contract with those members of Local 365 who are not custodians.

AFSCME Council 93 coordinator Steve Lyons said the school district is trying to bargain with only a portion of the labor unit, in violation of the state’s public employee labor law.

“In addition, there is an evergreen clause that requires them (the school district) to maintain the terms and agreements for our unit,” Lyons said.

An evergreen clause means the terms and conditions of a collective bargaining agreement remain in effect – even if the contract has expired – until a new agreement is reached.

Closson, in his response to the complaint with the state labor board, said the school district could not in good faith negotiate with the custodians after telling them that it intended to privatize their work.

“Given its decision to pursue the privatization of custodial services at the expiration of the current (collective bargaining agreement), it would be an unfair labor practice for the school district to commence and to engage in negotiations with the union as it relates to those same custodial services,” Closson wrote.

The union and school district agreed to present their arguments to the Public Employee Labor Relations Board through pleadings and exhibits next month.

Four private companies responded to the school district’s request for bids. Bids came in as follows for one year of cleaning service: ABM Janitorial Services, $5.6 million; Temco Facility Services, $3.4 million; GCA Education Services, $2.9 million; and S.J. Services Inc., $2.7 million.

A cost analysis is expected to be presented to the school board at its Feb. 29 meeting.

“It’s about comparing how much it would cost under one of these contracts against what it costs us now – if there is a savings to be realized and how much,” Farrington said.

He noted that the school board from the beginning “reserved the right not to enter into an agreement” with any private vendor. Board members may feel that going that route would not be worthwhile if the savings are not substantial, he said.

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Hillary Makes Splash in North Florida

Hillary Makes Splash in North Florida
Hillary Makes Splash in North Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Nearly two dozen AFSCME Retirees were among more than 200 people who showed up on a recent crisp February winter morning to help open the Hillary for America campaign office just a short walk from the state Capitol.

“This turnout really showed how eager people are to get involved in this campaign to elect Secretary Clinton as the 45th President of the United States,” said AFSCME retiree Dave Jacobsen, a former state employee and current AFSCME Retiree Subchapter 43 president. “No flashy speakers or gimmicks, just classic word-of-mouth organizing got everyone from retirees like myself to some of our college and high school activists out as well.”

In fact, there was such grassroots demand for the office to open that the event happened even before the local campaign field organizer made it to town! But plenty of photos were taken, the local NPR station came out and the Tallahassee Democrat published photos for its readers.  

“People here in North Florida understand we need a President who can tackle all the issues our country faces from day one, and so people were happy to bring out the refreshments, snacks and spread the word,” said Marty Monroe, a former teacher and retiree activist who spearheaded the event. 

The office is housed in the historic law offices of well-known progressive activist and attorney Marilyn Morris. Volunteers have already launched door-to-door canvassing and set phone-calling shifts for almost every day of the week.

“With about half the vote in by Election Day, thanks to early voting and vote by mail, we really don’t have one final get-out-the-vote effort, but a month-long push,” said Jacobsen. “Secretary Clinton has fought for working families and organized labor her whole career, so the response we have been getting has been overwhelmingly positive and has made it clear that this part of the state is going to be overwhelmingly voting for her in our presidential primary.”

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‘AFSCME Saved My Career’

James McGee has always been happy to pay his AFSCME dues because, much like participating in the electoral process, “if you are not participating then you are letting others control your future.” Late last year, McGee learned more about the value of his union when he turned to AFSCME Local 3030 to actually fight for his job. 

After five years working at the Florida Department of Children and Family’s North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center, McGee has built a career working directly with residents as they navigate the criminal justice and mental health systems on their way to happy and productive futures. Sometimes he’s had to deal with violent residents, but he always had been able to defuse or contain the situation.

But on Dec. 20, 2015, a new resident was admitted. Due to this minor’s potential for trouble, staff had to maintain a close watch. In fact, they could never be more than an arm’s length away. Somehow the resident managed to back McGee into a corner and started physically assaulting him. McGee punched back to protect himself until security arrived.

Once he was medically cleared, two days later, McGee was ready to return to work. Instead, he received notice that he was going to be fired.

McGee turned to the AFSCME state council’s staff representative in Gainesville, Cecil Copelin, the same person who had signed McGee up to the union five years earlier.

“Cecil was a lifesaver for me, plain and simple,” said McGee. “I was clueless what to do. The facility wasn’t telling me anything and he walked me through what my options were, what could happen every step of the way and how to fight for my future instead of wallowing in the present.”

Together they demonstrated that McGee’s actions were necessary to protect not just himself but also to ensure the resident didn’t harm himself. Not only is McGee’s career back on track, but the facility’s staff also will get a refresher Mandt training to ensure everyone is educated on the latest best practices for handling dangerous situations, such as the one McGee faced.

“With the support of my union I got through it,” said McGee. “Now I am sharing my story with my co-workers, especially new employees, so they can understand that you never know what is going to happen to you. So look at those dues for what they are – an investment you are making in yourself.”

‘AFSCME Saved My Career’

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Looking to the Future This Presidents Day

Millions of Americans have the day off today for Presidents Day. It’s a great time to relax and reflect on the historic figures who made our nation what it is today. But in an election year, it’s also a reminder that our decisions at the ballot box will determine where we go in the future. That’s a serious responsibility, especially in a time when so much is at stake for working families.

This November we must decide if we want to protect the American Dream — or help wealthy CEOs and corporations continue to profit at the expense of working families. The next President will be called to approve bills that would impact wages and leave policy, funding for critical social services, and investments in infrastructure and education.  The next President will likely need to appoint several justices to the Supreme Court. When so many working families are hanging on by a thread, and when right-wing groups are attacking unions in the courts, it is absolutely critical that we have an ally in the oval office.

After consulting with members across the nation, AFSCME has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Clinton has a long and proven record of fighting for the things that matter to ordinary Americans.

“We should be making it easier for working people to organize and negotiate, not harder. In the Senate, I was proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would enable working people to freely form, join, or assist labor organizations,” Clinton said in an online post. “As president, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with unions to fend off any attacks and help build a labor movement for the 21st century.”

While we enjoy this long weekend, let’s remember that it took a lot of leadership — from our predecessors in the labor movement as well as our elected officials — to get us where we are today. It’s up to all of us to carry on that legacy.

Looking to the Future This Presidents Day

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