New Hampshire Working Families Deal So-Called “Right-to-Work” Legislation Its First Blow

New Hampshire Working Families Deal So-Called “Right-to-Work” 
Legislation Its First Blow In House Labor Committee Vote
 
 
Today, New Hampshire working families from across the Granite State stood together to protect workers from legislation that would have lowered their wages and exposed them to more dangerous work environments. The New Hampshire AFL-CIO would like to thank the 14 (ITL: 14/OTP: 7) members of the Committee that voted to defeat both the House and Senate versions of this deceptive “Right-to-Work” Legislation. Your support is not only appreciated but essential to defending our state against this anti-worker legislation.
 
 

Following today’s public hearing in the New Hampshire House of Representatives’ Labor Committee, New Hampshire labor leaders spoke out on the ant-worker legislation.

Glenn Brackett, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO: “The New Hampshire AFL-CIO was proud to stand with hundreds of working people across the state who are fighting to protect their rights at work. This legislation is an attack on working families by out-of-state special interests seeking to lower wages for everyone and undermine worker protections. The proponents of this legislation are playing politics with the future of our workforce, and New Hampshire working families deserve better.”

Richard Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local Union 1984: “So-called right to work has no place in the Granite State, and I’m proud we were able to pack this hall today with those who agree. Both of these bills are tired, recycled legislation that does nothing for the real problems facing our state. We need the House to reject these bills so we can get down to working together on legislation that helps – not hurts – New Hampshire families.”

Sarah Hirsch, President of the University of New Hampshire Lecturers Union: “The families of New Hampshire want the college students to be solidly prepared and ready to enter good careers. To do this, the faculty who teach and mentor them need to be protected, have job stability and security, good benefits, and a say in their working conditions!  Weakening unions ultimately weakens higher education, undercutting the development of a skilled workforce for New Hampshire at a time when we need more competitive workers in the state.”  

Frank Moroney, Executive Director AFSCME Council 93: “It’s a powerful statement that a majority of legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, voted against so-called “Right to Work” today. They stood together because they know protecting our right to speak up together on the job shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Right to Work would hurt working families across the Granite State, and we’ll continue to fight against this legislation as it moves to the House floor.”

Dennis Caza, President of Teamsters Local Union 633: “Today, hundreds of our brothers and sisters stood in Solidarity to defend the rights of New Hampshire’s workers. We hope that we have sent a message to the legislature that so-called “Right-to-Work” is not the solution that New Hampshire working families need. In the coming days, we urge workers in every industry across the state to contact their legislators and let them know that this so-called “Right-to-Work” legislation is wrong for New Hampshire.”

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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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Op-Ed: Air Traffic Control Privatization Would Hurt New Hampshire’s Working Families

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Air Traffic Control Privatization Would Hurt New Hampshire’s Working Families

Recently, there has been a push by some members of Congress to turn much of the air traffic control system (ATC) over to an independently owned corporation funded by user fees. This type of large scale privatization of the public airspace would eliminate responsible oversight, put good paying jobs in jeopardy and break up the ATC system as we know it.

Privatization of our air traffic control system is bad for workers in our state and will hurt New Hampshire’s economy. Control of the skies, which has traditionally been governed by public policy, will be placed in the hands of people more care more about revenue than safety and access.

Time and again we have seen that privatizing entire sectors of our economy leads to increased costs and lost jobs. Now more than ever, we should be protecting jobs and vital systems like the ATC from privatization.

New Hampshire’s airport system helps working families by creating jobs that fuel our state and local economies, while generating millions of dollars in state tax revenue. In addition to economic impact, aviation services such as medical evacuation, search and rescue operations, law enforcement flights, military exercises, and flight training all contribute directly to the quality of life of those who live and work in the state.

In a state like New Hampshire, where 40% of residents live in rural areas, and 66 percent live in places with population of less than 10,000 people, any threat to the viability of general aviation services that businesses or municipalities rely on is serious and will have a ripple effect on throughout the state.

Indirectly, these airports are also crucial to the continued vitality of aerospace, aircraft manufacturing, educational institutions and aviation organizations in the state. It is estimated that 8.8 out of every 1,000 workers in New Hampshire are employed in the aerospace and aviation industry. Privatizing air traffic control will increase user fees, decrease access and put a rural state like New Hampshire at the bottom of the list of priorities.

In addition, the FAA maintains a large, diverse workforce of over 1,700 employees throughout New England that includes air traffic control specialists, engineers, safety inspectors and administrative support staff among others. Privatization plans will jeopardize their benefits and significantly weaken their labor rights such as collective bargaining and whistle blower protections. Future pay, healthcare and retirement benefits will no longer have the underpinnings of federal law, which applies to FAA employees today.

New Hampshire’s air transportation system drives the flow of commerce, tourists, and visitors to and from our state, and it is working families that reap the benefit in the form of basic services, better wages and a stronger economy.

As the debate of privatization continues, and its impact on general aviation, airports and airlines is evaluated, it is important to keep in mind that the hardworking families of New Hampshire will be the ones who are most negatively impacted, should privatization be enacted. That alone should be reason enough to oppose any privatization proposals.

Dave Laughton

Secretary-Treasurer, Granite State Teamsters Local 633 53

Goffstown Rd

Manchester, NH 03102 603-625-9731

laughton@teamsters633.com 

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is the only union that represents every craft of workers in the airline industry. IBT contracts now cover 80,000 airline industry workers, including mechanics, customer service and ramp agents, stock clerks, dispatch personnel, flight attendants, and pilots nationwide.

Teamsters Local 633 was chartered in 1934. Since that time they have grown to over 4,700 members working in New Hampshire for several different employers. 

Sources:

  1. http://www.nh.gov/dot/org/aerorailtransit/aeronautics/documents/Chapter9-EconomicContribution.pdf
  2. http://nata.aero/data/files/gia/stateadvocacy/governorsproclamationofgaappreciationmonth2014.pdf
  3. https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/arc/ro_center/media/ane_brochure.pdf 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above piece are those solely of the author, and not the opinion of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.

 

 

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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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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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