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Written by Matt Murray for the NH Labor News

The Wall Street gamblers are up to their underhanded tricks once again, and they are using their Congressional puppets to do their bidding.  Tonight Republican lawmakers tried to roll back provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act regarding derivative trading.

"The provision that's about to be repealed requires banks to keep separate a key part of their risky Wall Street speculation so that there's no government insurance for that part of their business,"  Senator Elizabeth Warren stated on the floor of the Senate. "We all need to stand and fight this giveaway to the most powerful banks in the country."

Wall Street Gamblers used taxpayer insured derivatives to nearly break our economy and sent us into the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

“This giveaway to Wall Street would open the door to future bailouts funded by American taxpayers,” said Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. “It has been just six years since risky financial practices put our economy on the brink of collapse. This provision, originally written by lobbyists, has no place in a must-pass spending bill.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement:

At the request of too-big-to-fail banks, the Republican leadership is trying to sneak a provision into a last-minute deal to fund the government that will make it easier for too-big-to-fail banks to put taxpayers on the hook for their risky speculation in toxic derivatives.

We call on members of Congress of both parties who are opposed to too-big-to-fail to stand up to Wall Street and to this harmful roll-back of a critical anti-bailout provision in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Dodd-Frank forced too-big-to-fail banks to move potentially toxic speculation in derivatives out of their government-insured banks. Wall Street’s friends in Congress are trying to once again put the public on the hook for the most dangerous aspects of the financial system.

Working people were profoundly harmed by the 2008 financial crisis and its continuing aftermath of mass unemployment, falling wages, the mass eviction of working people from their homes, and reduced public investment.  Derivatives were at the center of the crisis – turning a painful decline in home prices into an international financial crisis that still plagues our economy.

The AFL-CIO strongly opposes efforts to make it easier for too-big-to-fail banks to use taxpayer-backed funds to make risky bets in the derivatives markets.

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers vehemently opposed rolling back Wall Street reforms.
"It’s unconscionable that Republicans would take a bill to keep the government open and sneak into it a provision that enables Wall Street to do the same kind of gambling that crashed our economy, required billions in taxpayer bailouts and devastated working people," said Weingarten. "Why would anyone, instead of helping the middle class with policies that will promote shared prosperity, continue to aid and abet the rich and powerful banks with giveaways that crashed the financial system less than a decade ago? Working people are counting on Congress to do the right thing and reject this gift to Wall Street."
As you have already heard, the spending bill -- including the Wall Street roll-backs -- passed the House and is now in the Senate.  If they do not pass it by midnight tonight the government will run out of funding and be forced into yet another shutdown.

Will the Senate strike the provision and send the bill back to the House? Will the Senate pass the spending bill with the Wall Street roll-backs?  If the Senate passes the bill will the President veto bill knowing that it could lead to another government shutdown?

By 1 am on Friday morning all of my questions will be answered.

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I cannot begin to explain how outraged I am over the theft of Thanksgiving by greedy corporations who are all trying to one-up each other by opening earlier and earlier.

Thanksgiving has always been about family. The one holiday that does not revolve around buying anything more than a massive meal. It is a day where everyone has the day off, kids come home from college, and families pack up to head to grandma’s for a piece of her homemade pie.

For too many low-wage workers this Thanksgiving will not be about family but feeding the greed of their corporate bosses.

This year almost every major retailer will be open on Thanksgiving. The worst is Kmart who will be open at 6 am, and staying open for 42 hours straight.

I applaud all of the stores who have chosen not to open like GameStop and Costco.

“For us, it’s a matter of principle,” said Tony Bartel, the president of GameStop, whose company has 4,600 stores nationwide. “We have a phrase around here that we use a lot — it’s called ‘protecting the family.’ We want our associates to enjoy their complete holidays.”

“It’s an important holiday in the U.S., and our employees work hard during the holiday season, and we believe they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving Day with their family and friends,” said Richard A. Galanti, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Costco Wholesale.

My problem with stores being open on Thanksgiving is that they are forcing workers to forgo their own Thanksgiving to go to work or lose their jobs. Kmart has come under fire for threatening to fire any employee who does not show up for work on Thanksgiving. These low-wage workers have no choice in the matter.

I don’t see the Kmart CEO working a 12-hour day on Thanksgiving, even though it was his decision to open.

Retail workers have always been treated like garbage from their corporate bosses. They are paid just above minimum wage and are scheduled as much as possible without being classified as a full time employee to avoid being required to offer them healthcare.

Across the country Walmart workers will be walking out in protest. Making Change at Walmart (OUR Walmart) is walking out to protest Walmart’s low wages, lack of opportunity for full time work, and refusal to offer affordable healthcare options for associates.

This year I suggest you start a new Thanksgiving weekend tradition. Spend Thanksgiving with your family. Enjoy the day, eat until you burst, then later get a little more.

Instead of running around like a madman on Friday, take some time and stand with Walmart workers protesting in your area. (Click here to find a Black Friday Protest near you.) All workers deserve respect in the workplace, they deserve fair wages, and access to quality affordable healthcare.

Lastly, spend your Saturday shopping in your local community. Supporting the small businesses in your community ensures that your money stays in your community. Small Business Saturday has grown in popularity in the past few years and that is one Thanksgiving sale that I can stand behind.

Originally posted on the NHLaborNews.com by Matt Murray
http://wp.me/...

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Well the elections are over and the now, just ten days after all the votes were counted, it is obvious that we are headed for another two years of monumental gridlock.

The Republicans in the Senate used their minority power to filibuster major Presidential nominees forcing Harry Reid to take the “nuclear option,” changing the rules of the filibuster to a simple majority vote. This rule change means if all the Senate Democrats voted together, they would be able to approve any and all of the President’s nominees.

The Democrats only have a few weeks left in charge of the Senate and they should be using it to appoint dozens on nominees including a new board member to the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB).

President Obama’s NLRB appointments came under fire by Senate Republicans when President Obama forced his appointments through while the Senate was in recess. Although the Supreme Court ruled that recess appointments are legal, they also found that President Obama violated those rules when he appointed Sharon Block to the NLRB.

After the Supreme Court ruled that the Senate would need to approve of the nomination, President Obama once again submitted Sharon Block to the NLRB. Unfortunately her nomination was a poison pill to the Republicans and they blocked her nomination.

It was announced yesterday that President Obama has withdrawn his nomination of Sharon Block and in turn nominated “Lauren McFerran, who has served as chief labor counsel for the Senate Health Committee since 2005.”

"Sharon Block is a thoughtful, smart and committed public servant with a proven track record serving on the both the National Labor Relations Board and at the U.S. Department of Labor,” said Mary Kay Henry, President of the SEIU. “Today, once again, obstruction by the far right has stripped the American people of a qualified nominee with stellar credentials who would have served our nation's working families ably and justly. It is disappointing for America's hardworking men and women that such a capable candidate would fall prey to an extreme and crassly political agenda.”

Senate Democrats now have a choice to make, and they only have a few days to make it. Do they push through the nomination of Lauren McFerran to the NLRB before December 16th when Nancy Schiffer’s term expires, leaving two Republican and two Democratic appointees on the board?

"Congress must prioritize filling all of the seats on the NLRB and confirm the Obama Administration's new nominee, Lauren McFerran, immediately,” stated Henry. “The rights of our 2 million members -- and tens of millions of working people in every sector and vocation -- are protected by labor laws that are best regulated by a fully functional NLRB. Lauren McFerran, is also an impressive candidate with a robust background in labor relations law and an excellent reputation for her professional work on the Hill. It is imperative to the security of our working families that Congress confirm McFerran swiftly."​

The Senate Democrats need to grab the bull by the horns and push through some of these nominees before the Republicans, and their opposition to everything Obama, begins their two-year reign of terror in the Senate.

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Right now State Rep. Marilinda Garcia is attempting to move up the political ranks from State Rep. to US Congresswoman. She has been out on the campaign trail talking about how she wants to fight for the middle class and that she speaks for the “millennial” generation.

Other than the fact that Marilinda is still living with her parents at age 32, she is just another politician who has been bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists and big money donors like the Koch Brothers.

Hopefully by now you have heard about ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, but just to make sure we are all on the same page, I will go over a few highlights.

ALEC brings in state legislators from across the country to luxurious five-star hotels, where corporate lobbyists wine-and-dine legislators.

While enjoying their all expense paid vacation junkets, legislators are courted by corporations into submitting model legislation back in their home states. This model legislation usually benefits the corporation like reducing pollution standards (RGGI), increasing profit margins by pushing Right To Work laws, and hundreds of other pieces of legislation.

Even though Rep. Garcia told the Union Leader [1/27/12] that, “there was nothing wrong with lobbyist taking legislators out for dinner,” these legislators are meeting with corporate lobbyists in secret. Legislators are skirting ethics laws by submitting legislation -- on behalf of the corporate special interests -- as if they wrote it, even thought they received the model legislation on a junket paid for by ALEC’s corporate backers.

Some legislators are proud of their connection to ALEC, like New Hampshire’s State Rep. Jordan Ullery, (State Senate candidate and) State Rep. Gary Daniels, and former Speaker of the House William O’Brien.

Others are not as forthcoming about their connection to the controversial lobbying group. “Members of ALEC from New Hampshire include 2nd Congressional District candidate Marilinda Garcia,” the Telegraph reported. [Nashua Telegraph, 12/08/13] 

As a member of ALEC, legislators are expected to submit the ALEC model legislation, created for and by corporate special interests, or face the wrath of the Americans For Prosperity political action fund. Americans for Prosperity was created and is heavily funded by ultra-conservative millionaires and billionaires like the Koch Brothers, to push candidates to do their bidding or face an AFP primary challenger for their seat.

After these junkets, politicians vow to support their new corporate sponsors over the people who elected them. Some would even say this is legalized corporate bribery.

State Rep. Marilinda Garcia has been called out for this type of activity before, when she was flown down to Philadelphia for an all expense paid trip to view a for-profit cancer treatment center. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America spent hundreds of dollars per person to fly out Garcia and four other legislators, in hopes they would support legislation, submitted by Rep. Garcia, which provided monetary incentives to CTCA to build a new center in New Hampshire.

In response to criticism that she is taking campaign contributions from CTCA in trade for submitting this legislation Rep. Garcia told the Union Leader [1/27/12],   “There have been no campaign contributions or junkets offered by the Illinois-based company. But Garcia said she doesn’t see anything wrong with lobbyists taking legislators out for dinner.”

I don’t know about you, but I do see something wrong with corporate lobbyists bribing our state legislators with expensive trips and fancy dinners.

This makes me wonder, what would Congresswoman Marilinda Garcia be like? Would she be a true representative of New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District or will she continue to do the bidding of her corporate sponsors?

I want someone in Washington who is there to represent me, not a bought and paid for puppet for the millionaire and billionaires who fund her campaign and the corporate special interests who shower her with lavish vacations and all expense paid junkets.

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Republicans and Democrats are actively trying to court “millennials” to vote for them. Of course the Republicans are at a big disadvantage in this fight because they are stigmatized by the fact that many feel the GOP is nothing but a party of old rich white guys.

It does not help when you see editorials like this one (Another day older and deeper in debt) from the ultra-conservative editors at Fosters Daily Democrat. They are trying to push millennials into voting against Senator Shaheen because she wants to help reduce their student loan debt, and they say that could raise taxes on, “your parents”. Say what?

“Democrats such as U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen would like to offer you lower interest rates, at the expense of raising taxes on, perhaps, your parents.”
This is complete garbage. Senator Shaheen is pushing for a bill authored by Senator Elizabeth Warren, which would allow students to refinance their student loans from interest rates of 6-8% to less than 1%.

Fosters does get a few things right:
*  The average college graduate in New Hampshire leaves school with $33,000 in student loan debt.
*  The federal government is making money off of your student loans.

These are absolute true, and I think it is appalling. The federal government made upwards of $66 billion dollars in profit off of student loans between 2007 and 2012. Senator Elizabeth Warren essentially said that if banks can borrow from the government at .75% then our students should be given the same deal as the big banks.

So what would happen to the federal budget if they cut out the $66 billion dollars in profits from student loans? Fosters wants you to believe that this will result in a tax increase on your parents. This is completely untrue. None of these changes would increase taxes on the middle class families of New Hampshire.

The tax increase that Senator Warren suggested has been dubbed “the Buffet rule” after billionaire Warren Buffet. The tax increase would only effect the ultra-wealthy 1% of America. Warren Buffet has said in many different ways that it is absolutely wrong that he pays a lower effective tax rate than his own secretary. He suggested that the ultra-wealthy 1% could, and should, be paying a higher tax rate.

I agree with Fosters that the national debt is a problem. We must find a way to reduce our national debt that helps to build a stronger economy and a better community. The editors at Fosters and I disagree on the ways we need to address this problem. They want to follow the GOP rhetoric that we must reduce the size of government and force draconian cuts to all federal programs (except for anything surrounding the DOD). I disagree with this. If you look back at history, it was government investment through work programs (building roads and bridges), increasing the minimum wage, a strong manufacturing base and strong unions that pulled us out of the Great Depression. At the same time we created “Social Security” to help our seniors retire with dignity.

Next we need to raise our gross domestic product. We need to increase manufacturing here at home and start reducing our debt by changing our trade deficit to a trade surplus. The more we make right here at home, the more people have jobs. The more jobs we have, the more money is spent in our local communities. It starts by looking for the “made in the USA” label!

Next to reduce government spending and reduce our national debt, we must start by increasing the minimum wage. Too many Americans are working one, two or even three jobs and can barely afford to pay their rent and feed their children. By increasing the minimum wage, to a real living wage, full time workers would be making enough to take care of their family without any assistance from the government.

Of course there are other solutions that none of the “Tea Party” conservatives want to talk about. One is placing a .5% tax on Wall Street. The tax would take a fraction of a penny on every transaction. This “Robin Hood Tax” would generate upwards of $350 billion dollars a year. $350 billion would cover the loss in revenue from the student loan interest, restore some of the cuts made to social programs, and still have plenty more to begin to repay our national debt. This would also have the added benefit of slowing down Wall Street and encouraging corporations to invest more of their profits in workers and the longevity of their company, not inflating their stock prices.

Ultimately it is about ensuring that corporations and the millionaires and billionaires are paying their fair share in taxes.

(A message about Social Security, below the fold)

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Company Bows to Shareholder Concern on Inversion Plan


The New York Times is reporting that Walgreens will buy Alliance Boots but will not be "inverting" to avoid paying US taxes.


Walgreen is near a deal to fully take over the British pharmacy retailer Alliance Boots — but will do so without moving its corporate headquarters abroad.


The American retailer is closing in on a deal to buy the 55 percent of Alliance Boots that it does not already own, a person briefed on the matter said on Tuesday. But the transaction, which could be announced as soon as Wednesday, will not include a move to relocate Walgreen‘s corporate citizenship to a lower-tax country.


Such a move, known as an inversion, would have required renegotiating the existing agreement with Alliance Boots, something the British retailer was unwilling to accommodate, this person said.

Following objections raised by shareholders, including a shareholder proposal by a LIUNA-affiliated pension fund calling for a policy that bars inversions, Walgreen Co. has decided to not to proceed with a plan to legally restructure as a Swiss company.


Companies which “invert” maintain the benefits of being based in the U.S., while slashing the amount of corporate taxes they pay. The scheme is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $20 billion in the next 10 years, according the White House.


“Walgreen Company’s decision to avoid a risky inversion plan is a victory for long-term investors,” said LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “The company’s inversion plan would have been bad for shareholders and bad for America; allowing them to avoid paying their fair share of taxes that support U.S. infrastructure, education, national defense and other crucial programs. As long-term investors, we were concerned about the impact on the reputation and value of the company.”


Incorporation outside the U.S. could make it more difficult for shareholders to hold a company, its officers and directors legally accountable in the event of wrongdoing. Many jurisdictions outside of the United States have much weaker shareholder rights.  In fact, in some countries shareholders have extremely limited ability to sue officers and directors derivatively, on behalf of the corporation.


In addition, reincorporation outside the U.S. carries the risk of removal from the S&P 500 and other stock indices which can affect a company’s stock price.


LIUNA-affiliated funds have been active since 2005 in overseas incorporation issues involving U.S. companies and are concerned about the long-term value of investments.

Discuss

Once again the Union Leader’s editorial board is peddling misinformation about unions and “right to work” (for less) legislation (“Protesting information: Picket sign o' the times”).

Let’s clear up a few things.

1) Just whose “rights” is Americans for Prosperity supposedly “protecting”?

AFP spins this as a “worker freedom” bill.  But if AFP was really interested in protecting workers, they would be lobbying for workplace safety and better enforcement of wage and hour laws.

So, who would benefit from this bill?  Because so-called “RTW” isn’t good for businesses, either.

Many companies have a good relationship with their unions.  Employers rely on unions to find qualified workers.  Employers and unions run training programs together.  They run health and retirement benefit funds together.  They have joint workplace safety committees and labor-management committees.  And some of those employers have decided it is in their best interests to include “fair share” provisions in their union contracts.

Think about it. There is nothing – anywhere – that requires New Hampshire employers to include fair share provisions in their union contracts.  Not in the private sector, and not in the public sector.  There are school districts across the state that don’t have fair share provisions because the School Committee would not agree to it.

So if fair share is in the contract, it’s because the employer decided that was the right thing to do.

But Bill O’Brien and AFP and the National Right to Work Committee want to take that decision away from employers.  Why?  Let’s follow the money.


Bill O’Brien?  His short-lived congressional campaign received substantial contributions from the both the NRWC and donors linked to AFP.

It’s clear – to me, at least – that this isn’t about “protecting” anyone’s rights.  This is about imposing the personal ideology of a few rich men on the entire state of New Hampshire.

What the Koch brothers, NRTWC and AFP do not understand is that just because they are anti-union, that doesn’t mean everyone else is.  Many companies like working with their unions.  And they ought to have the right to do that – and to decide for themselves how to do that.

2) “Right to work” and job creation. 

The myth that RTW somehow “creates jobs” has been pushed, and pushed, and pushed – but that doesn’t make it true.  Back when Bill O’Brien was Speaker of the NH House, he kept telling people he had a list of businesses that “would move to New Hampshire” if we passed his legislation.  Of course, this list never materialized.

Instead, we heard from the Commissioner of Economic Development that RTW had never – not once – come up in his discussions with businesses considering locating in New Hampshire.

We heard from the Commissioner of Labor that none – not even one – of the 2,000+ business leaders he had met with had ever said that RTW should be adopted in New Hampshire.

So just why is Bill O’Brien so intent on imposing RTW on the Granite State?

3) “Right to work” is not a magic pill that leads to future wealth. 

The Union Leader’s editorial discusses an AFP “research” study that uses Indiana as an example.  What it doesn’t mention?  Here’s how the Kokomo Tribune describes the state post-RTW:  “Indiana’s per capita income plummeted from 30th in the U.S. to 40th overall and lowest in the Midwest.  In fact, wages in Miami County, Ball State researchers found, remain at a level the average American hasn’t seen since the 1970s.”

One more time: why would this be “good” for New Hampshire?

4) No one was protesting “information”.   

AFP’s “economic study” was nothing more than a publicity stunt.  The folks outside AFP’s presentation weren’t protesting “information” – they were trying to provide it.  The protesters were opposing AFP, Bill O’Brien, and all of the other right wing extremists who want to try pushing this legislation down the throats of Granite Staters once again.

This legislation comes up every single year, and it has for decades.  (Read “I was wrong on right-to-work” by former Sen. Mark Hounsell, who sponsored the bill back in the 1980s.)

Bill O’Brien and his friends at AFP are using this to gin up their base and to fundraise – and the Union Leader is just helping them do that.

Even when O’Brien was Speaker, he could not force a right to work (for less) law through.  Isn’t it time to quit letting the extreme right-wing define the political agenda, and let the Legislature (and the media) focus on more important things?

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Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter will delivered remarks at the 3rd Biennial New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans Conference in Hooksett.

Recently, there have been a number of proposals to balance the budget on the backs of American seniors by making dramatic changes to vital programs such as Social Security and Medicare. In her remarks, Shea-Porter discussed her steadfast commitment to ensuring that Social Security and Medicare remain intact and continue to provide the benefits seniors have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

For six in 10 New Hampshire residents who are 65 and older, Social Security makes up 50 percent or more of their income. Shea-Porter is an original cosponsor of the Strengthening Social Security Act, legislation that would make Social Security stronger and extend its solvency to 2049. This year, House Republicans passed a budget that would have eliminated the Medicare guarantee for seniors. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare is stronger for all recipients, and 12,400 Granite State seniors are paying less for prescription drugs.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter discussed the growing problems in Washington D.C.   She gave details of what is happening and the gridlock it has become.

The New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans (NH-ARA) represents over 13,000 seniors in New Hampshire.  After the event the newly elected President of the NH-ARA, Lucy Edwards sent this statement to the NH Labor News:

“It was a pleasure to have Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter speak at the 2013 Conference of the New Hampshire Alliance for Retired Americans today.  As always, she was forthright about the issues we face in our country.  I was glad, but not surprised, to hear her support Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as essentials in the safety net for senior citizens, and to hear her not only reject changes that would cut benefits, but offer support for measures to improve Social Security.  

I have personally been very grateful to her for making sure that a fix to the Medicare D "donut hole" was included in the Affordable Care Act. That provision has made living on a limited income in retirement much more manageable for my husband and me. Congresswoman Shea-Porter is a great friend to seniors in New Hampshire and across the country.”

Discuss

Over the last few decades workers in the steel industry have taken a significant hit.  This has left a huge loophole for Chinese steel manufactures to undercut US steel mills and gain a stronghold on the market.

More recently there have been many examples of large construction projects that have relied on Chinese produced steel.  One of the most famous was the reconstruction of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco California.  The NH Labor News talked about the $500 billion dollar project that was slotted to be funded under President Obama's reinvestment program. The problem was that the reinvestment program required American made products and a project labor agreement for worker protections.  These restrictions are some of the reasons that the California Legislature decided not to use federal funds to fund the project.

In fact the project was completed with Chinese steel and Chinese workers, a double slap in the face for American workers.  The chinese government continues to use currency manipulation to make trade more favorable for their exports.  Currency manipulation is one of the biggest problems in trading with China. “Due to currency manipulation the raw materials costs in the United States are the same as final price of Chinese steel” said Congressman Tim Ryan. This unfair advantage has bigger effects on our national economy than just the cost of steel.

This was not the only problems with the Bay Bridge project.  The project was plagued with huge delays mostly due to shipping and steel construction.  Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing’s Executive Director explains::

“The problems with the Bay Bridge project could have been avoided if California officials had made it in America. Instead, the project is costing American jobs, undermining California’s environmental goals, and facing numerous delays.”
In a recent Wall Street Journal article Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers union, said Chinese steel's "supposed cost savings do not take into account the environmental price of shipping steel from hundreds of thousands of miles versus 100 miles, nor the cost to our fragile economic recovery and the loss of American jobs."

This Wall Street Journal article is creating a stir with some of the leaders in our nations building trades.  General President Walter Wise of the Iron Workers released this rebuttal:

While “U.S. Icons Now Made Of Chinese Steel” accurately depicts the ramifications of subsidized Chinese competition to our strategic steel fabrication industry, the author fails to address methods by which we can commit to re-build its capacity. Rather than abandon the U.S. steel and fabrication market for cheap labor, untested Chinese products, and the insecurity of that supply chain; the commitment to the use of U.S.-produced steel and fabrication to rebuild our 20,000 failed bridges and aging infrastructure will expand and modernize our native capacity with private capital.  In the process, they will create jobs, providing a shot in the arm to the U.S. economy that far outweighs any perceived savings from Chinese purchases. Perhaps most importantly, while the author references “price” six times, not once does he mention value. A $600 million bridge project fabricated by U.S.-based firms and U.S. workers will yield a huge local economic impact.  The same project secured by the Chinese bidder at $500 million, while cheaper, produces an economic boost in China, not here at home where our economy is still struggling to produce jobs.  The “price” of Chinese steel may be low, but the value to American families is nonexistent.
We need to ask ourselves what is better for our economy, buying cheaper and inferior products from China or boosting our national economy by getting more Americans back to work?

The United States as a whole is struggling to find ways to get our economy back on track. The biggest and best thing we can do is get Americans back to work in good paying jobs.  This means we need to revive our American manufacturing, including our steel producers.  Every state is talking about spending hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.  These are the investments we need in our country and our community.

When workers are paid a good wage they spend their money at local stores and shop.  This benefits everyone from the big box store to the small businesses on main street.

We need our politicians at every level to understand that an investment in American manufacturing is an investment in America.

Discuss
Discrimination may not be as prevalent as it was in the 1960's however that does not mean we do not need the Voters Rights Act.

Today the US Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voters Rights Act (VRA). The Voters Rights Act was created because some communities were violating voters rights by creating rules to prohibit voters. These rules ranged from poll taxes to testing requirements for registration.  In section 4 of the VRA some communities were mandated to get pre-authorization prior to making changes to their voter registration process and voting restrictions.

The Communication Workers of America summed it up nicely in a brief statement:

"It wasn’t in 1956 that the community of Calera, Ala., attempted to restrict the vote and the voice of its African-American citizens. It was just seven years ago, in 2006."

"This example, and too many more like it, clearly demonstrates that the Voting Rights Act is needed today more than ever.  Attempts to cut voting hours and polling places, limit early voting and restrict registration, especially targeting students, the elderly, people of color and the poor are all too pervasive in our nation today."

"Voter suppression in any form harms our democracy. CWA, the NAACP and other partners are determined to eliminate this and other barriers to democracy."

Many of the challenges voters face now, is the creation of Voter ID laws. These laws are sweeping the country like a plague.  SEIU President Mary Kay Henry had this to say after the ruling:
“The facts are that conditions have not changed in many parts of our country where voters have suffered from a long history of racial discrimination in voting and new forms of voter suppression continue to threaten our democracy. In many states and localities across the country, we saw efforts to disenfranchise African American and Latino voters during the 2012 election. Whether in the form of onerous voter ID laws or citizenship check boxes meant to confuse voters, state and local governments are already changing their election laws and procedures in ways that will disenfranchise millions of eligible voters, including the elderly, the disabled and young people.

“With this decision, state and local governments in areas with a proven history of racial discrimination in voting will have no effective check on their power to change election laws as they please, potentially opening the floodgates to even more discriminatory practices that will prevent eligible citizens from voting. Congress should move swiftly to remedy the harm that the Court has done to one of our most important civil rights laws.

AFT President Randi Wiengarten agrees that our rights as voters are still under attack every day.
“With today’s ruling, a narrow majority of the Supreme Court rolls back the protections of a fundamental civil rights law that has preserved voting rights for millions of Americans. For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act has enshrined the right to free and fair elections in our country. Sadly, this is a decision that makes you shake your head and ask: Does the Court majority live in the same world that we do—how can they be so out of touch with the real-life efforts to suppress voting that are happening right now?"

“In his opinion for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice Roberts conveniently ignores the recent history of voter suppression efforts. The tests and devices that blocked ballot access in the 1960s may be largely gone, but 21st-century tactics to disenfranchise Americans—restrictive voter ID laws, outcome-driven redistricting, limiting voting hours and opportunities, and spreading misinformation about polling places and times—still disproportionately impact African-American, Latino, immigrant and low-income voters, as well as students and seniors."

“The Voting Rights Act is necessary to ensure that our aspirations for a stronger democracy are a reality for all voters. It is a proven tool to ensure voters in covered jurisdictions are not deprived of their fundamental right to vote and to have their vote counted. We can only imagine what assaults on that right will be unleashed without this law in force."

This ruling means that communities that have a proven history of trying to limit voters rights will once again have the free reign to do so.  New Hampshire is one of the many states still fighting back against the right-wing attacks on voters rights.

"Political and legal pushback to overly restrictive rules won't always arrive in time for individual citizens who do not have the right kind of ID," said Professor Justin Levitt, an election law expert engaged in voter protection efforts nationwide. "Organizations like VoteRiders are working to help make sure that eligible voters aren't unfairly locked out of the polls in the meantime."

This decision means that we must work together within our unions and with our community allies to fight back against any form of voter suppression.

Discuss

Young Republicans and young Democrats come together to oppose Voter ID restrictions being debated in the NH Legislature.  The current debate is about stopping 'phase two' of the O'Brien legislation that would greatly reduce the number of allowable forms of identification.  This means that student IDs would no longer be valid.

This prompted a group of Republican and Democratic college students to come together to write a letter to the NH Legislature.  They have serious concerns about protecting the rights of students who want to vote, but do not attend a state school like Plymouth State.

Everyone should have the right to freely vote and these Voter ID restrictions are more about disenfranchising voters and protecting the process.  These students make a great point and the NH Senate would be wise to listen.

Dear Honorable Members of the New Hampshire General Court,

New Hampshire college students have long played a vital role in our first-in-the-nation primary and electoral process, ultimately becoming heavily invested participants in our democracy. In witnessing and hosting debates and forums on their campuses, volunteering on campaigns, and voting, it is imperative that New Hampshire students are continually encouraged to take part in our deeply valued tradition.

The currently proposed amendment to New Hampshire voter ID has caused much concern among many young voters across the Granite State, as those attending a private college in New Hampshire would be unfairly treated differently than those who attend a public university.

While our students who attend Plymouth State University or UNH would have no trouble using their student ID to vote, students attending Dartmouth College or Saint Anselm College would be turned away for using theirs.

As students from Saint Anselm College in particular, a school recognized statewide and across the country for its political activity, we are gravely concerned that such an amendment would diminish the involvement and opportunities that our students have long been afforded.

While we often have our differences on issues being debated in the State House in Concord or in Congress, we have nonetheless united to ensure the equal treatment of students in the New Hampshire electoral process with strong hopes that our counterparts in the State House and State Senate will do the same.

Sincerely,

Jesse Imse, President, St. Anselm College Democrats

Tara Sennick, Chair, St. Anselm College Republicans

Jake Wagner, Chairman, NH College Republicans

Theo Groh, President, NH Young Democrats

 

NHLN Note: There is also a great article on Voter ID in the Nashua Telegraph. Check it out here. 

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Senate Republicans change position on expensive camera provision at the polls, whether student identification cards are an acceptable form of Voter ID 

Advocate to spend $1 million dollars on Voter ID law same week they drastically cut services for elderly and disabled, mental health community in New Hampshire  


CONCORD, NH – Senate Republican leaders are flip-flopping on key provisions of the Voter ID fix bill up for a Senate floor vote this week, advocating for measures they disapproved of last session and opposing provisions they supported.

The New Hampshire State Senate will vote on HB 595 as amended by the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee on Thursday, May 23rd. The Senate amendment does not allow student identification cards or county and municipal identification cards to be used as acceptable forms of voter ID to obtain a ballot. In 2011 Senator Russell Prescott (R - Kingston) – who was the prime sponsor of the Voter ID law last session – testified in front of the House Election Law Committee that student identification cards should be included in the list of acceptable ID’s under the Voter ID law. He also testified that the Senate opposed wasting taxpayer dollars on the costly camera provision which requires colored photographs to be taken of individuals without acceptable forms of photo identification; this along with other phase II provisions of the Voter ID law are anticipated to cost the state nearly $1 million dollars over the next four years.

America Votes and Granite State Progress call on the Senate to not flip-flop on Voter ID provisions, and to instead prioritize Granite State families over costly Voter ID laws.

“It is unconscionable that the Senate would reverse their position and support one of the most restrictive ID laws in the country in order to target voters, specifically students, from exercising their right to vote,” said America Votes State Director Jessica Clark. “Even House Republicans agreed during recent committee meetings that we should not further restrict the forms of identification used during the last election, and not one person spoke in opposition.”

“Senate Republicans are fighting for an unnecessary law that will cost our state one million dollars in the short term alone, the same week they are drastically cutting essential health services for the elderly and disabled,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Senate Republican leaders have misplaced priorities. They should be working to help Granite Staters instead of attacking voting rights in our state.”

GSP Video: State Senator Russell Prescott on Voter ID: Student ID’s Acceptable (http://youtu.be/...)

“On the topic of, do we in general, accept student identification? And that should be yes, we should.”

GSP Video: State Senator Russell Prescott on Voter ID: Student ID’s Acceptable (http://youtu.be/...)

 “The Senate position believes that if a person fills out a challenged voter affidavit, they are taking a large responsibility upon telling the truth and there really is no need to accept the funds.”

Sen. Prescott testified before the NH House Election Law Committee, April 10, 2012. The Senate must pass legislation that alters the New Hampshire Voter ID law this session or only four types of ID will be accepted to obtain a ballot starting September 2013. Individuals without an acceptable form of Voter ID will be required to have a color photo taken by a poll worker.

*ICYMI: Nashua Telegraph today also reports:  “Young Democrats, Republicans align to ask for change to voter ID

*NHLN post on college students opposing new voter ID changes include a letter from the NH Young Republicans and NH Young Democrats.

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