Unstoppable Together: Feb. 6 edition

In this edition …

This Week at the State House

The House and Senate will each meet in session at 10 a.m. Thursday, and will convene in a Joint Session at noon to hear Gov. Chris Sununu’s first budget address.

You may have noticed that some bills are coming up rather quickly — for example, the two retiree health care bills heard last week. This is happening due to deadlines for bills that have to go to a second committee. Using the retiree health care bills as an example, because the bills have an expense attached (known as a fiscal note), they must go through both the original committee (in this case, Executive Departments and Administration) and the Finance Committee. That means each bill must be approved twice by the House. So while it seems like bills are being rushed through, there is still time to take action.

Very importantly, the House Labor Committee will be holding hearings (and possibly executive sessions) on the so-called right to work bills — SB 11 and HB 520 — on Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Representatives’ Hall in the State House; we’ll have more on those below. The other key hearing is for SB 215, a bill we’ve put forward that’s sponsored by Sen. Dan Feltes that would permit the  Community College System to return to the state employee health insurance plans. The hearing for SB 215 is Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 10:20 a.m., in Room 101 of the Legislative Office Building.

There are executive sessions scheduled for the two aforementioned retiree health care bills, as well, HB 645 and HB 653. We’ll have more on those below, as well, so read on.

Here are the full calendars for each chamber below:

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Take Action Before Your Retirement Benefits Get Taken Away

Executive Sessions for HB 653 and HB 645 Are This Week

Representative Neal Kurk of Weare introduced two bills in the New Hampshire House that, if passed, would destroy retiree health insurance protection.

HB 653 would institute a minimum of 12.5 percent health insurance premium contribution from over-65 and Medicare-eligible retirees, instating a tax on our retirees.

HB 645 would end retiree health insurance for any state employee hired after July 1, 2017, and puts ALL RETIREES IN THE STATE, present and future, into a voucher-style system, which rather than providing a defined insurance benefit, provides a set amount of money with which to buy insurance on the open market.

Read these bills here:

HB 653

HB 645

Both these bills are imminent threats to all State of NH employees. You must act! Contact your representative and tell them to VOTE NO on these bills. 

Click here to find your representative on the NH House of Representatives website.

The State of New Hampshire must live up to the obligations it has made to public sector workers. After dedicating years of public service, workers hope to retire with dignity and have the assurances made to them remain intact. Many spend years carefully planning their retirement around promises made to them when they began work. Instituting a premium contribution on our senior citizens will have a cruel impact – many will easily wind up spending their retirement years living in poverty.

The State of New Hampshire is grappling with recruiting and retaining a high-quality workforce across all segments of state service. The classification system is antiquated and ineffective, with many jobs lagging so far behind the pay scale some vacancies remain open for months. Reducing retirement benefits will only serve to increase the recruitment and retention gap that exists. 

Finally, it is outrageous the supporters of these bills will force current and future retirees into poverty and reduce the state’s ability to attract quality candidates, so they can turn around and provide tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy. Giving tax breaks at the expense of seniors who dedicated their lives to public service is immoral and absolutely unacceptable.

Take action today.

If you are a nonmember, consider joining the SEA today. Because retirement benefits are not part of our collective bargaining agreement, we are prohibited from using agency fee funds to advocate for these benefits. The fight to protect retirement benefits is borne solely by members.

Please join today and add your voice to our growing chorus calling for the state to live up to the promises made to us.

If you know a non-member, share this message. Persuade them to join us in this fight.

Click here to join.

Click here to contribute to SEAPAC: SEAPAC is our voluntary political-action fund that provides resources to protect your retirement benefits.  A few dollars a week can make all the difference.

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Right to Work Hearings Set for Wednesday

We Want to Pack Representatives’ Hall at 10 a.m. as Hearings Begin

The House Labor Committee is holding a hearing for both so-called right to work bills — SB 11 and HB 520 — on Wednesday, Feb. 8, starting at 10 a.m. We need to send a message of solidarity by packing Representatives’ Hall at 10 a.m. as the hearings begin. Even if you can’t stay for the entire hearing, we need to make sure everyone is signing their name in opposition to both bills.

Shuttles running to State House: Parking around the State House can be a challenge on hearing days, so we’re running shuttles from the State Office Park East on Hazen Drive as well as the State Office Park South (NH Hospital campus). If you plan on taking the shuttle, please RSVP to lhenderson@seiu1984.org. The shuttle routes look like this:

  • Hazen Drive loop (begins running at 9:25 a.m., last return route leaves State House at 2 p.m.):  starts at DHHS/DES Building, proceeds to Fish and Game Building and then the Department of Transportation. This shuttle drops off and picks up on Park Street.
  • South Campus loop (begins running at 9:25 a.m., last return route leaves State House at 2 p.m.): starts at Main Building, proceeds to the lot between Toby Building and Brown Building, then to the Department of Education Building (Londergan Hall). This shuttle drops off and picks up on Capitol Street.

Other ways to take action: Here are the other actions you can take to help defeat these bills:

  • Call your representatives: We need to make sure that all representatives hear from us, that this bill, and others like it, are simply wrong for New Hampshire. Make sure when you call to do so from a personal phone, not your office phone. If you leave a message, be sure to leave your name and where you live. If you don’t know who your representatives are or don’t know how to reach them, you can find their information here.
  • Join us for phone-banking: We’re making phone calls Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 5-7 p.m. to your fellow SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members, encouraging them to ask their representatives to reject SB 11. Phone-banking is easy and makes a big impact. If you can join us, send an email to jthyng@seiu1984.org.
  • Write a letter to the editor: Our area newspapers have been publishing many letters to the editor, but we need to keep them coming. We need you to send one to your local paper. If you need help getting started with your letter, or need help figuring out which newspaper to send yours to, we can help. Just send an email to atoland@seiu1984.org.

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Action Needed After Hearings Last Week

Committees Held Hearings on Bills Impacting SYSC, Transportation and Corrections

The House held hearings for several bills we’re tracking last week including one that would drastically shrink the size of the Sununu Youth Services Center. Others include one to provide certain Department of Transportation workers with hazardous duty pay and one that would put certain Department of Corrections workers into Group II. In all cases, we had great testimony from members. As always, we thank the members that came to the hearings and testified.

SYSC bill (HB 646): The hearing, held last Tuesday, was lengthy and included testimony from several members. The most damning testimony for the bill may have come from a longtime supporter of SYSC, who was actually testifying in favor of the bill. Former Sen. David Boutin enumerated many potential problems with the legislation, as it was written. There is an executive session for this bill on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. in Room 206 of the Legislative Office Building. Please call the members of the Children and Family Law Committee and ask them to reject this bill. You can find their information here.

DOT bill (HB 426): This bill would provide hazardous duty pay to DOT employees working in harms’ way on our roads and bridges. We had strong testimony from members include Chapter 17 President Dan Brennan. There is no executive session scheduled yet, but you can start reaching out to the Public Works Committee to ask them to approve this bill. You can find their information here.

DOC bill (HB 593): This bill would correct in injustice, moving DOC employees who meet the criteria for Group II retirement into Group II (they are in Group I currently.) As with the DOT bill, there is no executive session set for this bill yet. We’d like all members to begin reaching out to the members of the Executive Departments and Administration Committee right away, though. You can find their information here.

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