Tag Archives: economic justice

NH State House Watch

A service of the American Friends Service Committee, we publish it here for your easy review.  You can also access this through the AFSC website and also by requesting to receive this summary by email at the AFSC website.

2017, Issue 2

In this issue:

Chris Sununu, our new governor, was officially sworn in yesterday and took the place of Maggie Hassan on the state’s web-site as well as in the corner office of the State House.  The website includes his bio, but not his inaugural speech, which he delivered without a prepared text.

Lacking that, we recommend this recap from our friends at NH Labor News.

In his campaign and again in the inaugural speech, Sununu was clear that enacting “right-to-work” legislation would be one of his top priorities.  For now, suffice it to say, “right to work” is fundamentally about weakening the power of organized labor by obstructing the human rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively.  In so doing, it obstructs the ability of all workers to earn decent wages.  For that matter, it also obstructs the rights of employers to bargain with their workers as they see fit.

We can’t decide if “right to work for less” or “work without rights” is a better name for the legislation in question.  Let us know which you prefer, but the key point for now is that the first item on the Senate Calendar for the coming week is a hearing Tuesday at 1 pm on SB 11, the first “right to work” bill.  See below for details, and we hope to see you at the State House then.

A recent story about the first baby of the year born in Concord revealed that the baby’s father was fired from his job because he went to the hospital with his wife when she went into labor. That this is happening at a time when our new governor and legislative leaders says they support a “right to work” is an almost cosmic coincidence. The IBEW, a union representing electrical workers, has offered the newly unemployed new father the opportunity to apply for a paid apprenticeship.

This story underscores the need for workers in our state to have more of job protections and opportunities provided through the kind of collective bargaining agreements that will be illegal if “right to work” becomes law.

Some 40 members of NH Voices of Faith were in the hallways before the inauguration carrying signs bearing messages such as, “Attacks on Workers’ Rights are Wrong” and “Protect Voting Rights for All; We Shall Not Be Moved.”

Gun Rights and Voting Rights

Also high on the political agenda is the so-called “constitutional carry” provision, which would repeal the current licensing requirement for carrying a concealed handgun. That will also come up next week.  We are more than disturbed that the ability to carry weapons without registration is being lifted up as a fundamental right at the same time the ability of citizens to register to vote is facing increasing restrictions.

Debates Over House Rules

The House met for its first session Wednesday and cast two interesting votes rejecting rule changes proposed by the Speaker.  The very first vote of the session was on whether or not to institute a dress code via a rule stating, “When the House is in session, all persons in the House chamber shall be dressed in proper business attire.”  The orientation manual for legislators (which apparently does not constitute “rules”) already states, “It is expected that all members will wear suitable attire. Men are expected to wear suit jackets and ties and women are expected to wear business attire.”  In any case, the new dress code language was voted down, in a roll call vote of 151-213, thus eliminating the need for a vice-principal to enforce it and send offenders home.

On a more serious note, a proposal from the Speaker and his leadership team to eliminate the Child and Family Law Committee was voted down, 192-172. In recent sessions, the committee has often been a venue for contentious grievances over personal custody disputes, which prompted the push to abolish it and disperse its responsibilities to other committees.  But the Division of Children, Youth, and Families is under serious scrutiny following the deaths of two toddlers who were killed by their mothers while under DCYF supervision, and an independent review of the agency has recommended many changes, including hiring more than two dozen social workers. With that on the minds of House members, the majority dissented from the proposal to eliminate the Child and Family Law Committee. This week’s House Calendar names the new members of the committee, which will presumably have a lot to say about how the state will overcome the short-comings identified in the report.  We wish them well, and hope for a state budget that provides adequate funding.

Also of note was a proposed amendment to House Rule 100, which would mean that lobbyists would not be able to testify before House committees until after constituents finished their testimony. This change was soundly defeated, in a roll call vote of 121-242. Leadership on both sides were opposed.

There are no House or Senate voting sessions scheduled at this time. There are many new legislators taking office this session, so next week most committees are having orientation sessions.

Coming up in Senate Committees

Tuesday, January 19
Judiciary, Room 100, SH
9:00 AM  SB 12, an act repealing the licensing requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver.  This bill is back, and has been mentioned as a priority by Governor Sununu. The Senate is starting the new year off with a bang.

Commerce, Representatives Hall 

1:00 PM SB 11,  prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union.  This is the first of 2017’s “Right to Work for Less” (or “Work without Rights”) bills.  In addition to Governor Sununu, the proposal has backing from Americans for Prosperity, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and other anti-worker lobbying groups.  The concept originated with white supremacists in the 1930s as a way to prevent black and white workers from uniting.  States were given authority to implement “right to work” by the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.  AFSC-NH has consistently opposed this going back to 1979.  We’ll have more to say on this soon.

Pro-worker groups, including NH Voices of Faith, will gather in the hallway outside Representatives Hall from noon to 1 pm.

Coming up in House Committees

Tuesday, January 10

Election Law, Room 308, LOB

11:50 AM HB 218, relative to activities at polling places. This bill would prohibit the distribution of campaign materials and electioneering inside the polling place.

12:10 PM HB 253, relative to campaign materials at the polling place.  This one eliminates the prohibition on wearing campaign materials intended to influence voters at the polling place.

House Finance and Ways and Means Joint Hearing with Senate Finance and Ways and Means in Rooms 210-211
10:00 AM  The first in a series of economic and fiscal briefings on the way to creating the next state budget. These hearings will be held twice a week for at least the next few weeks. Information about the presentations can be found in the House Calendar.

Legislative Administration, Room 104, LOB

9:20 AM HB 110, requiring members of the press covering the legislature to wear name tags when in the House or the LOB.  The bill states, “each member of the press corps covering the proceedings of the general court shall wear on his or her outer garment a clearly visible name tag when working in the state house or the legislative office building.  The name tag shall consist of the person’s first and last name and the name of the person’s organization.”  Arnie and Maggie are already required to wear lobbyist badges when they are at the State House. As the publishers of State House Watch and co-hosts of “State House Watch Radio,” would they be required to wear a media badge as well?  SHW researcher Susan Bruce also writes a newspaper column, has a blog, and is the co-host of “The Attitude” on WNHN-FM. Would she be required to wear 4 media badges, or one big badge with a list?  We don’t know.  But Arnie remembers that the last time a bill of this nature was proposed, members of the State House press corps said that if it were to pass they would comply by wearing their name tags on their posteriors.

10:30 AM HCR 2, a resolution supporting efforts to ensure that students from NH have access to debt-free higher education at public colleges and universities.

11:00 AM HB 95, establishing a committee to study the feasibility of transferring authority over the university system of NH’s budget to the legislature.  Can you say “micro-management?”

Wednesday, January 11

Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Room 302, LOB

1:15 PM HB 279.  This bill makes changes to the indoor smoking act.  Under this bill, smoking would not be prohibited in public conveyances that are privately owned (we think that means taxis), restaurants, grocery stores, and cocktail lounges. Smoking would be prohibited in privately owned residences where the owner has declared smoking prohibited.  This leaves us wordless – and potentially breathless.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Room 204, LOB

2:30 PM HB 282 This changes prison work release provisions to add the pursuit of higher education as a potential condition for early release. Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform, which backs this bill, points out that “The bill gives the Commissioner of Corrections authority to approve this work or school release for a prisoner, even if he or she cannot afford a lawyer.”

Thursday, January 12

Education, Room 207, LOB

1:00 PM  HB 155, which increases funding for pupils attending all-day kindergarten.

The Return of “State House Watch Radio”

Our first radio show of the new year will be Monday, January 9, on WNHN-FM from 5 to 6 pm.  Our guest will be Andru Volinksy, who was sworn in yesterday as a member of the Executive Council.  You can catch us live at 94.7 FM in the Concord area or live-streamed at www.wnhnfm.org.  The show will be re-broadcast at 8 AM on Tuesday.  Podcasts will also be available shortly after the show, thanks to Fred Portnoy, our producer.

Announcements and Events

Saturday, January 7, 2017

PORTSMOUTH – “Keeping it Peaceful,” an introduction to nonviolent protest with Arnie Alpert, 10 AM to noon, at South Church, Portsmouth.  This workshop is being organized for participants in the January 21 women’s march, but others are welcome to attend.  Please register here so we can estimate how many people will be there.

Sunday, January 8

PORTSMOUTH – Civil Rights Sundays, a weekly protest in Market Square, Portsmouth, hosted by Occupy NH Seacoast, focused on opposition to the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be U.S. Attorney General.  From 3-4 PM.  Info on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 10

NASHUA – “Electing a President: Popular Vote or Electoral College?,” a talk hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Nashua, Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St., Nashua, 7 PM.  Info on Facebook.

Thursday, January 12

CONCORD – “Know Your Rights as a Worker,” a free, interactive workshop sponsored by AFSC, 6 to 8 PM at NH Catholic Charities, 176 Loudon Road, Concord.  More info on Facebook.

CONCORD – “Learning from History: the Nashville Sit-In Campaign,” a workshop with Joanne Sheehan of the War Resisters League, 6:45 to 9 PM at the Concord UU Church, 274 Pleasant Street, Concord NH.  Sponsored by the Building a Culture of Peace Forum.  Free and open to the public, with donations accepted.   More info on the web, on Facebook, or by calling LR Berger at (603) 496-1056.

Friday, January 13

CONCORD – “Investing in New Hampshire’s Future: Strategies to Maintain a Strong Workforce and a Vibrant Economy,” the NH Fiscal Policy Institute’s 4th annual budget and policy conference, 8:30 AM to 4 PM at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.  See more here.

Monday, January 16, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

MANCHESTER– Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration, St. George Greek Orthodox Community Center, 650 Hanover Street, Manchester, 2 to 5 PM.  Robert Azzi will be the guest speaker.  Eva Castillo will receive the 2017 Martin Luther King Award.  Info on Facebook or at www.mlknh.org.

MLK Day events will also take place in Exeter, Hollis, Hanover, and elsewhere.  Watch this space for updates.

Friday, January 20

CONCORD–“Vigil of Hope and Concern” at the time Donald Trump takes the oath of office.  Meet in front of State House 11:30 to 11:45 AM, silent vigil noon to 12:15 PM, followed by gathering and facilitated discussion at 4 Park Street.  Sponsored by AFSC, UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence, NH Peace Action, and the Equality Center.

Saturday, January 21

CONCORD–NH Women’s Day of Action and Unity. “We will unite at the New Hampshire State House in Concord in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and in support of our rights, our safety, our health, our families, and our environment. Together, we will send a message to elected officials in New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. that we will stand together to protect the progress we’ve made. We won’t go back!”  10 AM to 3 PM.  More info here.

With very best wishes,
Maggie and Arnie

PS – Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook.  Search for “American Friends Service Committee-NH” to “like” us.  After all, we are your Friends.

AFSC’s New Hampshire “State House Watch” newsletter is published to bring you information about matters being discussed in Concord including housing, the death penalty, immigration, and labor rights.  We also follow the state budget and tax system, voting rights, corrections policy, and more.

The AFSC is a Quaker organization supported by people of many faiths who care about peace, social justice, humanitarian service, and nonviolent change.  Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty direct the New Hampshire Program, publish the newsletter, and co-host the “State House Watch” radio show on WNHN-FM.  Susan Bruce is a State House Watch researcher and writer.  Fred Portnoy produces the radio show.

“State House Watch” is made possible in part by a grant from the Anne Slade Frey Charitable Trust.

Your donations make our work possible.  Click the “DONATE” button on our web page to send a secure donation to support the work of the AFSC’s New Hampshire Program.  Thanks!

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The House Budget and Priorities of the Current NH GOP…

In considering the horribly extremist budget proposed by the New Hampshire house of Representatives, which will make dramatic cuts in social programs, cause further stress of already overworked state departments, push more people on the unemployment line with induced lay-offs, one has to wonder, what is on the minds of the New Hampshire GOPers?

Because apparently, its not the health and welfare of the people of New Hampshire that concerns the GOP in the House.  As seen in Carl Gibson’s well researched outline for Thinkprogress, the suffering proposed by the GOP will be broad and expansive.

At least for working regular working folks.  With reductions to the business profits tax and other tax burdens levied almost exclusively on the privileged, the priorities of the New Hampshire GOP seem clearly centered on giving the wealthy and comfortable a bit more wealth and comfort — and funding that on the backs of the working people and the most vulnerable in the state.

So while homeless shelters close and people cringe under bridges, while addicts scratch their arms and panhandle the streets for another hit because they couldn’t get a bed at the rehab center, while terrified children wait for mental health services in hospital emergency wards, while corrections officers are demanded to shoulder more hours without rest and other human atrocities occur, the GOPers tell their constituents to look at the shiny thing as susanthebruce finds:

Why NH Can’t Have Nice Things

From the April 10 NH House Calendar: SB 101, prohibiting the state from requiring implementation of common core standards. MAJORITY: OUGHT TO PASS. MINORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.

Rep. Glenn Cordelli for the Majority of Education. Common core has been a divisive and confusing issue for local districts and in the state. This bill states clearly that the common core standards are not required to be implemented in any school district. 
Vote 11-9.
Rep. Barbara E. Shaw for the Minority of Education. No law in New Hampshire requires school districts to adopt the common core standards, nor has it been mandated by the department of education. Therefore, SB 101 is unnecessary.This is a perfect illustration of the current NH legislature.

Indeed it is a perfect illustration of a legislature, majority GOP, that is more interested in worshiping loopy ideology that is serviced by hyper-funded, corporate pamphleteers than addressing the needs of the citizens of New Hampshire.

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Some Things are Worth Repeating…

In this month’s issue of Dollars and Sense, the editors publish an analysis of the aftermath of the crash of 2008 and the ongoing effects on our economy:

Inequality, Power, and Ideology: AnUpdate

Arthur MacEwan, one of the founders of Dollars & Sense and our “Ask Dr. Dollar” columnist, wrote an article for our March/April 2009 issue explaining the origins of the financial crisis that was rocking the U.S. and global economies at the time, and that has shaped the subsequent economic recovery. The article has been included in successive editions of several of the textbooks we publish. Arthur recently wrote the following update of his original article as an Afterword to be included in the forthcoming 18th edition of Current Economic Issues. —Eds.

The article “Inequality, Power, and Ideology” was written in early 2009, as the U.S. economy was in the midst of the Great Recession. I argued that the severity of the recession was brought about by a nexus involving three factors:

  • A growing concentration of political and social power in the hands of the wealthy;
  • The ascendance of a perverse leave-it-to-the-market ideology which was an instrument of that power; and
  • Rising economic inequality, which both resulted from and enhanced that power.

Now, in late 2014, there is reason to hope that the perverse ideology, market fundamentalism, has been somewhat weakened. However, income inequality and the concentration power in the hands of the wealthy seem to be firmly in place. Perhaps the most shocking fact about income inequality is the following: Between 2009 and 2012, as the economy grew slowly out of the recession, 116% of the income increase went to the highest income 10% of the population. Yes, that’s right, the income of the top 10% increased more than the income increase for the whole society, which means of course that the income of the rest of society, 90%, declined in this period. This decline shows up in the drop of the inflation-adjusted median household income, down 4.4% between 2009 and 2012, part of a larger picture of a 8.9% decline between just before the recession, 2007, and 2013. (We don’t yet have the figure for 2014 as of this writing.) So, yes, income distribution continues to get more unequal, after the Great Recession as before the Great Recession.

As to the concentration of power, legal developments (the Supreme Court’s decisions in the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases, in particular) have allowed virtually unlimited and often hidden expenditures in elections by wealthy individuals and corporations—as if their expenditures had not already been too large. And recent elections have underscored the importance of these outlays. Then there is the continuing power of financial institutions. While the 2010 Dodd-Frank bill provided some sections that might have curtailed that power, pressure from the financial sector has delayed or weakened the implementation of many of those sections. Indeed, regulators have recently allowed banks to move precisely in the opposite direction from some Dodd-Frank provisions—e.g., allowing mortgages to be issued with low levels of down payment.

To continue reading click: Dollars and Sense: Inequality, Power and Ideology: An Update

 

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House Hears Testimony Against Right to Work (Part Deux)

More testimony against HB 402 thanks to NH Labor News again, from Dexter Arnold, a worker and union member in New Hampshire.  The New Hampshire House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee is having the hearings and will vote on whether or not to recommend this bill as either “ought to pass” or “inexpedient to legislate” .  Then it will go to the house for a full vote.  Many reps follow the recommendation of the committees.

There is still time to make legislators think twice about passing this horrible legislation, please call or email the members of the committee listed above.

Right To Work Is Just Bad Public Policy

Dexter Arnold

I live in Nashua. I am a member of UAW Local 1981, and I strongly oppose HB 402. HB402 is bad public policy that flunks a truth in advertising test. This bill is not about individual rights, which are already well protected. This bill’s sole purpose is to weaken New Hampshire workers’ ability to have a say over their jobs and working conditions. It is improper state interference with the collective bargaining process.

More than ninety years ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former President and conservative Republican, who was no friend of unions, stated that “a single employee was helpless in dealing with an employer.” That’s the key issue at stake in this bill. By requiring a state-mandated open shop, HB 402 targets the core of what unionism is all about – that together, workers are able to do accomplish things that they can’t do as individuals

I want to talk briefly from personal and family experience. My father and grandfather were New Hampshire natives. They were lifelong Republicans. And they were local union presidents. Their union responsibilities were in addition to their fulltime jobs as a printer and a machinist. They understood that unions are a way that workers can accomplish together what they cannot do as individuals. That’s why they got together with others to organize their local unions in Nashua. They believed in personal responsibility and did not confuse individual liberty with demanding a free ride on someone else’s back. They certainly would have felt that it was inappropriate to make free rides state policy.

I also want to make a point based on my own experience as vice president and grievance chair in a union that did not have a fair-share agreement. When they had problems, non-members who were paying nothing for representation had no problem coming to the union and drawing on its resources for help. As a grievance representative, I handled and won several such cases.

To read the rest of his testimony, refer to: Dexter Arnold (UAW) Testimony HB 402: Right To Work Is Just Bad Public Policy

 

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Say NO! to House Bill 386 – NH Taxpayers Cannot Pay Big Business’ Bills!

As explained in the write-up from the New Hampshire advocacy group, Citizen’s Alliance, Republicans in the New Hampshire house have put forward a bill, HB 386 that proposes to lower the tax burden for businesses in New Hampshire.

Unfortunately as stated in the write-up below, this “burden” is only borne by the largest and wealthiest businesses in the state.  These businesses most often are not New Hampshire based or originated, but large global businesses.  They will benefit from this cut but New Hampshire residents will have to make up for it.  It amounts to a deliberate shift of income upward and out of the state of New Hampshire and the tax burden downward onto New Hampshire residents.

The libertarian wing of the Republican party loves to cry about the costs of government and the burden on New Hampshire businesses.  But this argument has no basis in fact and instead relies on a myth created during the Reagan years based on the “trickle down” effect that all citizens would supposedly enjoy.

The UK’s The Guardian’s take on the Laffer curve (they suffered Reaganomics under Thatcher) : So the Laffer Says Tax Cuts for the Rich?
Paul Krugman weighs in :  The Laffer Test (somewhat wonkish)
Economist’s View: A forum for economists, this post giving a summary of economist’s general support for the Laffer Curve (hint: there isn’t any) : Laughing at the Laffer Curve

[We aren’t posting those articles in support of the laffer curve or supply-side economics from the Cato Institute or the American Enterprise Institute, or other right-wing orgs which dominate the Google search engine.  Both Cato and AEI are in the forefront of pushing any rhetoric that supports the libertarian ideology of getting the rich richer at everyone else’s expense. Since these “thinktanks” feed most national news stories and provide fodder for pundits, we don’t feel we have an obligation to repeat what Americans have drummed incessantly into their ears by corporate media already.]

As a direct result of upward income distribution, big businesses have grown since the Reagan years far faster and higher than real growth in the larger economy.  They have used that wealth to hire slick lawyers and lobbyists to wager with, bargain with, manipulate and cajole our legislators on the state and national level to push bills that favor their profit margins while screwing the American public.

This needs to stop.  The only way we can stop this is to take action to stop it.

Please read the Citizen’s Alliance summary below.  As it says there will be hearings today on the house bill.  If you can’t make the hearing, please call or write (email) the members of the committee to tell them to stop large corporations from shifting their tax burden onto the shoulders of New Hampshire residents.

This bill is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Now for the skinny from Citizen’s Alliance:

NEW HAMPSHIRE CAN’T AFFORD A $120 MILLION BUSINESS TAX CUT

Reducing the rate of the business profits tax (BPT) as proposed in HB 386 would principally benefit the very largest corporations operating in New Hampshire. According to data from the Department of Revenue Administration for 2012, just 397 businesses – or 0.7 percent of all businesses filing a tax return – accounted for two-thirds of all BPT collected that year. All of those businesses owed more than $100,000 in BPT that year.

Cutting the BPT rate to 7.0 percent would mean that most of the revenue loss would flow to these very large businesses, most of whom likely have operations across the country and the globe. Smaller businesses would see little to no change in the amount of taxes they owe. In fact, more than 48,000 businesses – or 75 percent of businesses filing a tax return – already owed no BPT in 2012.

Cutting business taxes will force other taxpayers to pay for the public services that big businesses use and rely on to succeed. Cutting state business taxes creates a vicious cycle. Lower state revenues mean fewer funds are available to provide aid to cities and towns. That, in turn, puts more pressure on local property taxes.

There will be a hearing in front of the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday 2/17/15 10:30 in Room 202 of the Legislative Office Building.

Sign on in opposition to HB 386 here.

 The proposed business tax cuts would force steep cuts in the public services vital to New Hampshire’s quality of life and its economic future.
  • New Hampshire already faces a substantial budget shortfall in the upcoming FY 2016-2017 budget. Cutting business taxes would only make that problem worse.
  • According to the fiscal note, HB 386 would reduce the business profits tax by roughly $120 million in the FY16-17 biennium and every biennium after that.
  • To put that in perspective, $120 million is nearly one and half times the entire amount of General Fund support provided to the state’s Community College System in the current FY14-15 budget; it is more than three-quarters of amount provided to the University System.
  • In the FY14-15 budget, the Departments of Resources and Economic Development and Environmental Services combined received $67 million from the General Fund.
  • In other words, to afford these tax cuts, you’d have to eliminate these departments almost twice over.
Reducing the rate of the business profits tax (BPT) would principally benefit the very largest corporations operating in New Hampshire.
  • According to data from the Department of Revenue Administration for 2012, just 397 businesses – or 0.7 percent of all businesses filing a tax return – accounted for two-thirds of all BPT collected that year. All of those businesses owed more than $100,000 in BPT that year.
  • Cutting the BPT rate to 7.0 percent would mean that most of the revenue loss would flow to these very large businesses, most of whom likely have operations across the country and the globe.
  • Smaller businesses would see little to no change in the amount of taxes they owe. In fact, more than 48,000 businesses – or 75 percent of businesses filing a tax return – already owed no BPT in 2012.

Cutting business taxes will force other taxpayers to pay for the public services that businesses use and rely on to succeed.

  • Cutting state business taxes creates a vicious cycle. Lower state revenues mean fewer funds are available to provide aid to cities and towns. That, in turn, puts more pressure on local property taxes.
  • These cuts will increase the strain on New Hampshire cities and towns and their ability to maintain safe infrastructure and vital services that are central to our shared economic future. State aid to cities, towns, and school districts has already fallen sharply over the last decade – between FY 2000 and FY 2015, such aid is expected to fall by more than $250 million after adjusting for inflation.

Business taxes are already quite low in New Hampshire.

  • According to the Council on State Taxation (COST), the overall level of business taxation in New Hampshire ranked 34th lowest in the country in FY 2013.
  • COST’s research doesn’t look just at the BPT or BET, but at all the taxes business pay(e.g. property taxes, gas taxes, etc.). It finds that the taxes businesses pay in New Hampshire amount to 4.4 percent of private sector gross state product, below the national average of 4.7 percent and less than 33 other states, including Vermont and Maine.
New Hampshire has enacted numerous business tax cuts since 2010, with an untoldimpact on state finances.
  • Since 2010, New Hampshire has made more than half a dozen changes to either the business profits tax (BPT) or the business enterprise tax (BET), from allowing businesses to write off more of their losses for tax purposes to raising the threshold at which businesses owe the BET.
  • Unfortunately, the state still doesn’t know how much all of these changes have cost in terms of lost revenue. If we don’t know the price tag for changes already in place, we shouldn’t put even more on the state’s tab.
Tax revenue in New Hampshire – including business tax revenue – still has yet torecover from the recession.
  • After adjusting for inflation, total General and Education Fund revenue in FY 2014 was nearly $290 million less than what the state collected in FY 2008.
  • The combination of the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax together produced $550 million in FY 2014. That’s 19 percent – or $136 million – less than what they generated in FY 2008, after taking inflation into account.
Business tax cuts are not an effective means of spurring economic growth. Investments in education, infrastructure, and other services are.
  • Extensive economic research indicates that state business taxes, because they are such a small share of business costs, have little to no effect on businesses’ decisions to locate or expand in New Hampshire. Factors like the quality of our workforce and infrastructure are much more important, but New Hampshire won’t be able to provide those if it doesn’t have the necessary resources.
  • As Robert Lynch, Chair of the Department of Economics at Washington College puts it:

 …differences in tax burdens across states are so modest that they are unlikely to outweigh the differences across states in the other costs of conducting business. These other “costs of conducting business” are the most important factors affecting business investment decisions and include the cost and quality of labor, the proximity to markets for output (particularly for service industries), the access to raw materials and supplies that firms need, the access to quality transportation networks and infrastructure (e.g., roads, highways, airports, railroad systems, and sewer systems), quality-of-life factors (e.g., good schools, quality institutes of higher education, health services, recreational facilities, low crime, affordable housing, and good weather), and utility costs.

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Whatever Happened to Overtime?

Here’s an excellent article from Politico magazine on another level of the increasingly easy way that the capitalist system is robbing regular people of their earnings.  While the workers who work by the hour feel their wages squeezed and benefits compressed. Wages have only grown about 18% over the last thirty years, see here, here and here].

While there is much focus on raising the minimum wage and its effect on our most impoverished workers, another struggle needs attention; the growing number of people working on salary.  Increasingly salary pay dominates the lower, and middle management business sector.  While traditionally upper management and executive management have allows worked on salary, the higher pay and the bonus package compensated for the increased responsibility and demand on one’s time.  As CEO salaries increase at an alarming rate in comparison to the average worker, salaried workers below them also have felt the squeeze in order to feed the top.  As explained briefly here in an NPR report, it has become common practice for low level management positions to have salary pay that is exempt from overtime rules or other benefits that hourly workers enjoy.  At the same time, most of the workers still earn in the lowest income brackets and do not enjoy the autonomy, high pay, benefits, stock option plans and other perks that the traditional exempt employee enjoys in exchange for giving up overtime compensation.

In other words, the current wage rules have become manipulated as a means for big business to increase their profit margins at the expense of workers.  Unfortunately many young people enter into this work culture unaware of the extent to which they are being duped.  Also, with our current culture of disallowing workers to discuss their pay rates, the shame associated with many low wage workers not wanting to share their pay rates and the fear of retribution if they complain, what would they do anyway?

While this article talks about the options that Obama has for making changes in the rules, the fact is, nothing will change until the people who suffer the hurt get out and demand change.  But nevertheless, its a very good article about the rise in an average worker’s work week, the increased pressure on workers and the lack of any increase in compensation.  Once we understand the problem, in a democracy its our responsibility to do something to fix it.  Its our country, our state, our local government, our lives.  In actuality, big business fears the collective power that would take place if all workers joined together and refused to support a corrupt system with their hard labor and lives.

Whatever Happened to Overtime?

by Nick Hanuer

If you’re in the American middle class—or what’s left of it—here’s how you probably feel. You feel like you’re struggling harder than your parents did, working longer hours than ever before, and yet falling further and further behind. The reason you feel this way is because most of you are—falling further behind, that is. Adjusted for inflation, average salaries have actually dropped since the early 1970s, while hours for full-time workers have steadily climbed.

Meanwhile, a handful of wealthy capitalists like me are growing wealthy beyond our parents’ wildest dreams, in large part because we’re able to take advantage of your misfortune.

So what’s changed since the 1960s and ’70s? Overtime pay, in part. Your parents got a lot of it, and you don’t. And it turns out that fair overtime standards are to the middle class what the minimum wage is to low-income workers: not everything, but an indispensable labor protection that is absolutely essential to creating a broad and thriving middle class. In 1975, more than 65 percent of salaried American workers earned time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week. Not because capitalists back then were more generous, but because it was the law. It still is the law, except that the value of the threshold for overtime pay—the salary level at which employers are required to pay overtime—has been allowed to erode to less than the poverty line for a family of four today. Only workers earning an annual income of under $23,660 qualify for mandatory overtime. You know many people like that? Probably not. By 2013, just 11 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay, according to a report published by the Economic Policy Institute. And so business owners like me have been able to make the other 89 percent of you work unlimited overtime hours for no additional pay at all.

Read more at: Whatever Happened to Overtime?

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Labor’s Unsung Heros: Parts 1 and 2

From a brother working on the front lines of the labor struggle in New Jersey, Kevin Boston,

“It’s push or be pushed. The world belongs to the meat-eaters.” -John P. Morris

In society today, we have reached a point at which many people need to live within walking distance from their jobs- that is, if they have one at all. It has become very expensive to travel any distance to and from work: between fuel, maintenance, tolls, insurance, fees… Or bus fare, which is ever-increasing. A cab? Forget it! Jobs these days do not pay enough of a living to cover transportation, much less provide a subsistence for workers and their families. It’s amazing they even get out of bed for a minimum wage of $7.25/hr ($2.13 for servers) with no security, benefits, retirement, or rights whatsoever on the job.

It is beyond me how we have allowed the methodical downslide that has brought us to the point at which we are today; especially when we have been periodically warned well in advance by so many. The corporate-owned lamestream media is of little help, if any. They obediently skirt around the real issues wherever possible. If you have come of age in the last 20 years, you have been trained without being told that you have to accept the new reality: that a good life (like that in which you likely grew up) simply is not available to you. If you haven’t “made it” by now, don’t ever expect to… It’s not happening. I cannot accept that, and neither should you.

Where is the REAL LEADERSHIP in today’s Labor Movement? Certainly, it is not with our so-called “Leaders”… Where is the representation? Where is the fire in the belly? Where is the organizing? How do they continue to allow a select few of entitled blowhards to roll back decades worth of rights and gains for working class folks? Those in the 18-35 age bracket have NEVER known job security, a DECENT wage, or a comfortable standard of living that is even close to that once enjoyed by the previous two generations. They have amassed a large sum of debt in the name of education that presently, they cannot profit from. The interest is going to rise, and the only ones profiting will be the Pigs in the Boardroom in banks, schools, the government, and so on.

Look at the Dow. Look at CEO compensation. Look at advertising budgets. Look at real PIGS in the Boardroom; all of those who have bought and paid for seats in our “representative” government. It’s time to move some dead weight out of the way! If we had real leadership, everyone would be in the streets and on strike by now. The discriminating news junkie can easily filter through all the fluff pieces and front page stories and get down to what really matters: the real news, the truth- the good, the bad, and the ugly. What is ugly is that just out of John Q. Public’s scope of vision is a massive, expensive political agenda designed to wind back time. There is no telling how far back the Chamber of Commerce, Supreme Court, ALEC, Congress, and the rest of the big business lobby intend to take us; through their totally anti-worker agenda- inclusive of a weak job market, weak dollar, stagnant wages, rising personal debt, and an all-out assault against the interests of students, graduates, seniors, women, minorities, the unemployed, the disenfranchised, the homeless, the uninsured, the working class, and voters. Intentionally left off this list was the middle class, because in my opinion, that has all but gone extinct. If you work for a living you are working class. If you used to work for a living you are now poor. What they cannot hit you with through national politics has been taken up by hacks in the states, individually. Notice the heavy concentration of Republican governors dancing to the big business beat like the political puppets they are.

Personally, there is not enough coverage in the news about the assault on workers’ rights. The dismantling and stagnation of the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) up to this point has been intentional, as was the nearly unnoticed death of EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act). Recent decisions by the courts, judges, and others regarding harassment, bullying, and limits set upon protests only exacerbate an already frustrating situation. To have large corporations such as Walmart fire and/or discipline some 40 striking workers; to have officials from the Teamsters, obviously in bed with employers such as UPS and YRC, pushing contracts that large numbers of members were unwilling to accept… None of this passes the smell test. Forty-seven percent of members of Congress are millionaires, and that begs the question: “Who is representing working people these days?” [Editor’s note: Not to mention the entire dismantling of the rust-belt and the near death of the core of American industry from autos to steel to machining.  Where was Lane Kirkland in the 1980’s? Where is Detroit now? What does working with capitalist bosses gain us?]

No one in the limelight is taking up the cause for working class folks in this country, save for a minute fraction of Congressional representatives and Senators. You won’t find them on the Supreme Court. As much as he talks a good game, we are still waiting for President Obama to don a pair of “comfortable walking shoes” and walk on the picket lines with striking workers. It is likely, however, that he has been advised by his controllers that this is something they forbid him to do. He will attend a rally, but strikes and rallies are far different in meaning. The “Leaders” of “Big Labor”? Most of those are more interested in their “big” paychecks and “big” perks, the fact that they wear a suit to work and negotiate agreements over lobster, shrimp, and wine, rather than representing their union members in earnest.

The main thing to remember is that no matter how upside down everything appears to be, there is nothing out of order here. The system is doing to us exactly what was intended: the choice is whether to allow it. It is entirely clear that working people in this country presently have no identifiable leaders, aside from Occupy Wall Street, Anonymous, and those willing to toss fear and consequences aside to make their point known, [italics added by editor] like the AFT in Chicago, Walmart and fast food workers, and UPS and “Rebuild/No more concessions” Teamsters. These people are self-led, self-directed, and driven by a cause that was nearly dead and anemic for the past 40 years. Welcome to the second phase of the Civil Rights era, as predicted over 20 years ago by Philadelphia Teamsters Leader John P. Morris, “Champion of the Working Man.”

Champion for the Working People

According to the late John P. Morris (1926-2002), a legendary Philadelphia Teamster Leader:

“If some company has to be union-free to exist, then who needs that kind of company?”

“A job that pays less than seven or eight dollars an hour, without any benefits, is not worth saving.” (1983)

There is no mystery at all as to why, if you live on the West Coast, in the South, or are below a certain age, you have never before heard the name Johnny Morris; or that if you have, it has not been in many years and you likely have forgotten about him. Mr. Morris was not at all like other Labor Leaders of modern times. He had the old-school grit, creativity, intelligence, and determination unseen since the very early days of the Labor Movement. Imagine for a moment a clean, honest version of Jimmy Hoffa Senior, and there you would have John Morris. Mr. Morris saw no reason whatsoever to engage in diplomacy when dealing with employers and government officials who would rejoice in seeing unions’ very existence legislated away. Teamsters everywhere, whether they know it or not, benefited greatly from his presence in the leadership structure. Never one to back down from a fight, Morris was quick with a witty line, a four-letter word-laden tirade, his one good fist, his trademark fedora, and was an expert at conducting a powerful, rousing Union sermon… Much of the former and the latter has spurred what have become renowned quotes and legendary stories.

His great organizing abilities and selfless representation of his contemporaries were recognized during his genesis in the Labor Movement: at the age of 29, he was given a new charter for a local Union to run on his own. Nothing big or fancy, and with just the 18 members from the department store he himself organized, the rest he had to build on his own through organizing and strikes- and organize and strike he did. People began to call upon his local for representation. All of the larger companies were already represented by the larger established locals, so that left the smaller businesses- usually with a forgotten, downtrodden, almost defeated workforce toiling under sweatshop conditions and severely in need of representation, a pay raise, some dignity, and health benefits. Many did not even have clean bathrooms available for their use. Those were the workers who had nothing to lose and everything to gain, and they would put it all on the line for their Brotherhood. Morris’ Teamsters in the Philadelphia region became such a powerhouse that he was elected president of the area Joint Council of Teamsters, and he later was able to create the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters, a regional Union STRONGHOLD which thrives to this day because of its member-directed power and its sheer numbers alone. Teamsters in the Pennsylvania Conference haven’t forgotten where they came from. Peak membership for the conference was around 140,000.

John Morris wrote a strike manual, the only one of its kind, that is still in use to this day. It was printed at the in-house print shop that he had built at Local 115 for Union publications. He created, ran, and even taught an organizing school that trained hundreds, if not thousands of union member-organizers. Had he been around for it, it is nearly certain that he would have had a food tent and educational seminars present at the Occupy Philadelphia encampment.

September 4, 1983, journalist Lucinda Fleeson wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer: “In John Morris’s world, the needs of the workingman come first, the city’s economy second. Period. This ferocious devotion to the principles of unionism has made John Morris one of the most popular and powerful labor leaders in Philadelphia. As such- more so perhaps than any other union boss around- Morris embodies the conflicts and contradictions that come with the job of being a modern-day labor leader. A beefy, scrappy Irishman, he is a master of ’30s-style hard-nose tactics. Yet Morris, 57, almost always wears a three-piece suit and is usually accompanied by a retinue of attorneys and college-educated aides. He is a balding, pale-skinned man with a withered right arm, yet he revels in his physical mightiness and exudes undeniable charm. At times, he can be the picture of smiling affability, amusing a visitor with an endless stream of yarns and jokes. Yet he also has a temper, and his face can darken with thunderclouds of outrage in an instant. As secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 115, with 2,500 members, and president of the area Joint Council of Teamsters, with 85,000 members, he is the local chief of a union with one of the worst reputations in the nation. But while national Teamsters leaders are regularly sent to jail for one form of labor racketeering or another, John Morris is regarded by the FBI’s Philadelphia labor squad as ‘Mr. Clean.'”

The above appeared in a profile story entitled “The Toughest, Meanest Union Boss in Town.”

Luckily, several copies of that publication have survived all this time, because you will not find a link to the original piece online or in an archive, as far as I am aware. When you google John P. Morris, much of the information and many of the links that you will find, I have searched for and reposted heavily to make his visions of the Labor Movement more prominent and relevant again. However, most curiously, you cannot find any video archived footage of interviews or speeches featuring Morris- and believe me, there were plenty. John Morris was on the Philadelphia news more than any other Union Leader, spokesperson, agent, organizer, or anyone involved in organized labor. If you wanted Labor’s message, you went to John.

If there was some business he could not personally attend to, Morris knew exactly whom to send where and for what purpose. He did not take any flak from any employers, government officials, corrupt Union officials, the Mafia, even school officials both while he was a young man and student and later as the representative of schools’, municipalities’, and private-sector employees. When John Morris made a threat of a labor action, it was known to be taken seriously. Pictures of Morris-led strikes used to line the halls of the Local 115 building on Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia. It is thought that they were placed there so that the employers would walk down the hallway toward the conference room and be forced to look at what could happen to them if they crossed the Teamsters. This became so true that many planned labor actions were settled the day before striking was to take place.

Somebody somewhere in the Teamsters Union knows what has happened to these photographs, as they are not where they rightfully belong- with the Morris family. The true story of how Morris was hated by current Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, and how a scheme of political retribution had been unleashed upon and carried out against his last remaining powerful and ultimate foe- the last force which stood between Teamster democratic strength and unity (Morris), and a complete takeover by the “old guard” style of top-down business unionism espoused by Hoffa and his supporters, the latter of which we suffer under today- has not yet been fully told. After the witch hunt of Morris and his ultimate ouster, the rest fell in line like dominoes. These Hoffa operatives have tried their very best to bury the legacy of “The Last of the Molly Maguires” but they have failed. The real story behind all of that will surface in the very near future; they know what they’ve done and they will pay dearly.

No Labor Leader around today can match the giant that was John Morris. Even though he was respected by state and national politicians alike, the government was scared to death of him. He could not be bought- not by management, not by the mob, and not by the politicians. He was marked to die by the Mafia, but by the grace of God, Morris survived. He created and championed an aggressive and militant union action plan in his repertoire, and one that was widely recognized. Morris had a keen eye for the truth and made predictions about society and the political landscape that have come true, some 20 years since making them and more than 10 years after his death. John Morris saw it all. The quotes, the stories, the predictions, and the proud legacy live on through many hardcore, old school unionists who are not all too impressed by James P. Hoffa, who gained the Teamsters presidency simply through his name recognition and a good bit of help from the federal government. Before becoming the General President of the Teamsters, Hoffa Jr. had to work as an administrative assistant to a Detroit Teamster leader for two years just to earn membership rights to run for the top spot. Hoffa Jr. was elected president of the Teamsters without ever having run a Teamsters local or organizing a union contract.

More Morris Quotes:

“Companies that don’t treat their employees decently don’t deserve to survive.”

“I grew up in the day of the coal and iron cops fighting the unions, and let me tell you, the hate here against unions is like the hate there was 100 years ago. There’s no one who fights for the poor in this city or this country. The haves will never agree with the have-nots. We represent the have-nots. And because the Teamsters are a little tougher to deal with, because we stick up for our members, they try to make us look like the bad guys.”

“Anytime you get into a concerted activity that requires pressure, you got to offend somebody. You got to hurt somebody’s feelings… But I’ve always considered what the right thing to do is. There are certain things that you’ve got to say, there’s right and wrong.”

“The easiest thing to do is accuse us, but you know, an employer doesn’t think twice about hiring his own private army of security guards with dogs and sidearms. It’s an accepted practice. Look- we could take the easy way out. We could let strikebreakers through our picket lines. We could allow anybody to run over our people, and it would soon be well known all over town that Local 115 can’t take it. If we were the kind of union that accepted low wages and no benefits and all the rationalizations, then we would be a general run-of-the-mill union and we wouldn’t be protecting anybody.”

“Working people are not going to get decent pay anymore, (In place of the labor movement), I think there’ll be social unrest. I think there’ll be something like the civil rights movement. It’s my hope it will turn into a third party. Not a labor party. A third party.”

“If you want to organize, you’re going to get arrested.”

“If you let them get away with that, they’re gonna eat your breakfast!”

“We’re not putting up with that!”

 

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Remembering a Martyr for Labor: Joe Hill

Joe Hill

Born Joel Emmanuel Hagglund on October 6, 1879 in Sweden and later known in America as Joe Hill, died on November 19, 1915.

Convicted of murder on no more evidence than that of some eye-witnesses to the murder.

Since our post is late and after his date of death we’ll not tarry any further composing our own essay since many have written extensively already on his life.

We will leave you with inks to his bio from the IWW site and ironically a very good write-up from the AFL-CIO labor history site (Joe hated the AFL-CIO as many other IWW members did as they rightfully felt they compromised union strength by working with capitalists).

Also, wikipedia has an good write-up about his trial as well.

We’ll also leave you with some musical tributes as well, which seems fitting since Joe’s live was committed to using music and the lyric as his means of organizing.

 

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you or me
Says I, “But Joe, you’re ten years dead,”
“I never died,” says he
“I never died,” says he
“In Salt Lake, Joe,” says I to him,
Him standing by my bed,
“They framed you on a murder charge,”
Says Joe, “But I ain’t dead,”
Says Joe, “But I ain’t dead.”
“The copper bosses killed you, Joe,
They shot you, Joe,” says I.
“Takes more than guns to kill a man,”
Says Joe, “I didn’t die,”
Says Joe, “I didn’t die.”
And standing there as big as life
And smiling with his eyes
Joe says, “What they forgot to kill
Went on to organize,
Went on to organize.”
“Joe Hill ain’t dead,” he says to me,
“Joe Hill ain’t never died.
Where working men are out on strike
Joe Hill is at their side,
Joe Hill is at their side.”
“From San Diego up to Maine,
In every mine and mill,
Where workers strike and organize,”
Says he, “You’ll find Joe Hill,”
Says he, “You’ll find Joe Hill.”
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you or me
Says I, “But Joe, you’re ten years dead,”
“I never died,” says he
“I never died,” says he

*************************************************************

                

            

 Workers of the World Awaken!
by Joe Hill

taken from the site for the International Workers of the World, a still active international labor union for all workers

Break your chains, demand your rights.
All the wealth you make is taken
B y exploiting parasites.
Shall you kneel in deep submission
F rom your cradles to your graves?
Is the height of your ambition
To be good and willing slaves?

Arise, ye prisoners of starvation!
Fight for your own emancipation;
Arise, ye slaves of ev’ry nation, in One Union Grand.
Our little ones for bread are crying;
And millions are from hunger dying;
The end the means is justifying,
‘Tis the final stand.

If the workers take a notion,
They can stop all speeding trains;
Every ship upon the ocean
They can tie with mighty chains;
Every wheel in the creation,
Every mine and every mill,
Fleets and armies of the nation,
Will at their command stand still.

-Chorus-

Join the union, fellow workers,
Men and women, side by side;
We will crush the greedy shirkers
Like a sweeping, surging tide;
For united we are standing,
But divided we will fall;
Let this be our understanding-
“All for one and one for all.”

-Chorus-

Workers of the world, awaken!
Rise in all your splendid might;
Take the wealth that you are making –
It belongs to you by right.
No one for bread will be crying,
We’ll have freedom, love and health,
When the grand red flag is flying
In the Worker’s commonwealth.

-Chorus-

 

 

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November 5, 1855

Today in Labor History

m07-elec-post-480Eugene V. Debs – labor leader, socialist, three-time candidate for president, and first president of the American Railway Union — is born. “The Republican and Democratic parties, or to be more exact, the Republican-Democratic party, represent the capitalist class in the class struggle. They are the political wings of the capitalist system and such differences as arise between them relate to spoils and not to principles.”

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