It’s hard to believe that we are already well into April. Time moves very quickly, especially when the legislature is in session.
I’d like to catch you up on some of what has been going on at SEA/SEIU 1984.
Over the last couple of weeks, much of our time has been focused on the activity at the Legislative Office Building and the State House. It seems some of our politicians have forgotten how to be humane, as they slash department budgets, cut critical services for many NH residents and leave tens of thousands with no health insurance options.
There were several opportunities for us to make the case against this lean budget. First there was a press conference where members of the clergy, service organizations, other unions, and parents of children who receive services shared their thoughts about what the consequences of this budget will be if passed. I had the honor of speaking at this event.
I also had the opportunity to participate in a weekly news radio show, The State House Watch, with hosts Arnie Alpert and Margaret Fogarty. We discussed the budget and the news that the Finance Committee had removed the funding for the small, 2% raise the state employees had negotiated in good faith with the Governor. The amount of money it would take to fund the raise is .001% of the total state budget.
I joined other SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members and partner organizations at a visibility event at the state house last week when the House of Representatives voted on their budget. We were there to point out that the House’s budget is irresponsible, heartless and does not support our vision for New Hampshire. This was something that was not lost on NH media. Most outlets have also denounced this House budget as over the top and extreme in its disregard for the people of our state.
At this point, the budget is in the hands of the Senate. We trust them to create a fiscally conservative budget without sacrificing the opportunity for all NH residents to succeed – a place where the young can stay and thrive, where those in the middle of their lives can earn a good living to support and grow their families, and where the old can live in dignity.
I also testified in support of our right to collectively bargain and against the so-called “Right to Work,”bill, as well as testifying in support of SB 113, a bill that would allow the state to expand gaming to create much needed revenue for NH government to fulfill its responsibilities to the people of the state.
I am happy to report that the Annual SEA Road Race was a big success last Saturday and I was honored to participate by presenting the awards to the winners of each category. If you’ve never participated in this event, I encourage you to do so next year. If you don’t run, there’s the option to participate in an organized walk at the event, as well. All of the proceeds are donated to Operation Santa Claus.
I am heading down to Boston today, Wednesday, April 8, to participate in a Central/Eastern Public Division Leaders’ Meeting sponsored by SEIU. There, I will spend a day and a half meeting with the leaders of other SEIU affiliated locals. These meetings are scheduled occasionally and are a great opportunity for us to connect and to share successes and challenges with our counterparts in other locations.
I look forward to the next time we check in. In the meantime, please call or email your state Senator and encourage him/her to prepare a more responsible and reasonable budget than the NH House.
Rich Gulla, President SEA/SEIU 1984