50 SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Members Among Those There to Take Action
Hundreds of members of the community packed the halls and gallery of the State House on Wednesday to protest the reckless cuts in the proposed House budget. While lawmakers still approved many of the cuts, the diverse crowd made for a moving scene.
Fifty SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members were there, including adjunct faculty and workers from the DOT, DHHS, Fish and Game and the Sununu Youth Services Center. Add to that dozens from the faith community, those with disabilities and most strikingly, an army of people in yellow T-shirts representing the 300 lost to addiction in NH in 2014. All of the groups in attendance were united in calling for a responsible budget that serves all Granite Staters.
“There were a lot of different interested groups, which was fantastic,” said Carol Henderson, president of Chapter 47 at Fish and Game. “It was great to sit side by side with other groups that represent a number of different constituencies that would be impacted by these cuts.”
Mary Fields, an SEA director who works at DHHS, agreed with Henderson.
“There was a great showing, and I was proud to be a part of who we are, but also proud there were other groups that came and spoke in the same light,” she said.
Fields said that in her job, she interacts with residents who receive services and their advocates, and she saw some of those same people there on Wednesday.
“We were each glad that we were there to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves,” she said.
Whether outside of the House or in the crowded halls, SEA members spent their morning asking representatives to reject the budget cuts. Those requests weren’t always accepted well by lawmakers.
First Vice President Ken Roos said he overheard Rep. Al Baldasaro challenging several several SEA members on what was being cut (his implication being that there were no cuts). Roos said he asked, as Baldasaro started walking away, “then what about the 2 percent raise in the state employee contract?”
Roos said the Londonderry representative stopped, turned and pointed and said “I don’t want state money lining your pockets,” Roos recounted.
Henderson said she and two colleagues from Fish and Game had one particularly puzzling interaction.
“We had one representative who confronted us, asking ‘do you know who pays for all of this?’ ” Henderson said. “We unanimously responded, ‘We do!’ ”
That moment serves as a reminder that this is our money and these representatives work for us, not the other way around. That’s why it’s so important that we get involved in the political process — if our representatives aren’t listening to their constituents, who are they listening to?
As the budget process continues, there will be many opportunities for members to get involved, and if you need a reason to get involved, Fields offered a suggestion.
“I’d encourage people to know what the big changes are in the budget, and think about who in your life that could affect,” she said. “It’s about bringing it home. Whether it’s your neighbor, family, friend, co-worker … it touches everybody.”