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NH House Rejects So-Called Right to Work

Bipartisan vote dismisses the issue for two years

A short while ago, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted against SB 11, the Senate’s so-called right to work bill, then took it one step further and “indefinitely postponed” the bill, meaning the issue can’t come back for the next two years.

This is a massive win for working people and a rejection of this tired, recycled idea pushed by out-of-state special interests. Thank you to all of our members who worked so hard, phone banking, writing letters to the editor, calling their legislators and taking part in lengthy hearings on this bill. This bipartisan rejection of SB 11 proves what we already knew: that we’re stronger together. 

The following is President Rich Gulla’s statement, which we released just moments ago:

“Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted SB 11 Inexpedient to Legislate. We are proud of the legislators for standing with Granite State workers today and putting the so-called Right to Work bill behind us, where it belongs. The New Hampshire House recognized that there was no constituency supporting this legislation and proved out-of-state special interests have no place in our politics. It took courage to stand against the constant stream of pressure from outside funding – and Granite State families can now celebrate this accomplishment.”

“We are incredibly grateful to our elected officials for continuing to stand up for what is important. We look forward to working with Governor Sununu and the legislature to continue helping New Hampshire families.”

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PSU Tentative Agreement Includes Wage Hikes

Ballots Have Been Mailed Out to Members of Chapter 30 for Vote

The bargaining team of Chapter 30, the Plymouth State University Teaching Lecturers, recently reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the college. This week, ballots were sent out to chapter members.

The tentative agreement comes seven months after their previous agreement with PSU ended in June. The agreement includes pay rate increases of $50 per credit for the current semester, to $1,250. That number gradually increases to $1,350 per credit by the spring 2019 semester.

Chapter President Philip Inwood said news of the tentative agreement’s wage increases has been met warmly.

“I think people will be happy to get an extra $50 a credit, which seems small but for adjuncts who live off slender means, it’s actually a lot,” Inwood said. “Wages were our focus, and we did improve things, but it’s still off as wage equity is concerned. It’s a step-by-step process.”

Inwood said he’s hoping the tentative agreement will also be a step in the process of growing membership in Chapter 30, and getting those members active in the union. As part of that campaign, the chapter will again be holding an Adjunct Awareness event on March 8.

Beyond the campus, Inwood said he’d like to see his chapter get more involved in state politics through the union and SEAPAC, the union’s voluntary fund that helps expand our voices at the State House.

“What we need to do is start working with the legislature, start talking with representatives about the money that’s apportioned for the university system,” Inwood said. “I think this is important to do before we start to look ahead to our next contract negotiations.”

Ballots for this current tentative agreement were mailed on Tuesday, and must be returned by mail with a postmark no later than next Thursday, Feb. 23.

If you’re not yet a member of the union and you’d like to join, you can do so by filling out a membership form.

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PSU Member’s Win Brings Her Full Circle

Some wins, like a new tentative agreement, cover lots of people. Other wins, like the one that affected PSU Teaching-Lecturer and Chapter 30 member Kristin Stelmok, have a smaller reach. Whether it’s one or a hundred, though, any time workers win when asserting rights in the workplace, it’s worth celebrating. And for Kristin, being able to be a part of the union brings her full circle to where she was before this all started – trying to help bring a union to PSU for teaching lecturers.

Kristin’s story started last year when she sought to be a part of the PSU Teaching-Lecturer bargaining unit. The contract language defining eligibility was initially misinterpreted by PSU administration. After human resources told her she wasn’t eligible, Kristin checked with chapter president Philip Inwood and fellow-member Burrett McBee. As it turned out, they’d seen the exact same situation before. Philip got involved and after back and forth with the college, was successful in demonstrating the correct interpretation of the language.

“Ultimately, the dean agreed,” Stelmok said. “Her email said she wanted to respect my service to PSU and the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement, and agreed I was  eligible.” Kristin said she truly appreciated that response from the dean, Cynthia Vascak.

For Kristin – who teaches English and women’s studies – being included in the bargaining unit means wage increases, but more than that, it means she can contribute to the larger cause.

“The pay is definitely a lot better, especially because I’m teaching so much – four courses a semester,” Kristin said. “But it’s important that I’m able to be a part of the team that’s helping support all of the other teaching-lecturers. I’ve always found a great deal of support from the other teaching-lecturers, and having the union has helped us come together even more.”

Kristin is now in her 11th semester at PSU, although not consecutively – she spent time away at UNH working on her doctorate. That gap was actually what caused confusion over her eligibility. Joining the union, though, has brought everything full circle for Kristin.

“When I was initially at PSU, I was one of the folks working toward getting a union,” she said. “It’s nice to finally be a part of it.”

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House Voting Today on So-Called Right to Work

We’ll Provide Updates as Debate, Voting on SB 11 Take Place

The House is set to vote today on SB 11, the Senate’s so-called right to work bill. We’ll send an email alert once the vote is completed, as well as updates on our social media feeds. If you don’t already follow us, you can get updates by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.

For those who’ve made phone calls to legislators, written letters to the editor, or helped us pack the House for hearings, we thank you. Regardless of the outcome of the vote today, we know we are stronger together.

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Special Election for Board of Directors

Vote to Be Held at Next Quarterly Council Meeting on Saturday, March 11

There will be a special election for the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Board of Directors at the next quarterly Council meeting, on March 11 (please note that this is a Saturday).

This special election will fill the remainder of the term of one board seat, which is up for re-election this fall. Members who met the deadline for submission of self-nomination forms will have their names printed on the ballot. Nominations for write-in candidates can be taken from the floor.

The members who submitted their self-nomination forms by the deadline are:

  • Peter Brunette, Chapter 41
  • Corey Dearborn, Chapter 21

The March Council meeting is on Saturday, March 11, at 29 Hazen Drive, with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m. The meeting is scheduled for a Saturday as a trial, a suggestion made by delegates to the annual convention last fall. We’ll be sending out a meeting-specific notice with the complete agenda to all councilors. We hope to see you all there. 

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House Votes Thursday on Right to Work

Call Your Representative and Plan to Join Us at State House for Vote

On Wednesday after hours of testimony, House Labor Committee voted the so-called Right to Work bills (SB 11 and HB 520) Inexpedient to Legislate by a vote of 14-7. While this strong majority sends a powerful message to the full House, the fight is far from over. The bills will be heard on Thursday, February 16, at 10 a.m., and we expect a significant push from the out-of-state interests who are sponsoring this legislation. This is going to be a close vote.

The members of the NH House Labor Committee heard the hundreds of citizens who attended the hearing in opposition to the so-called Right to Work bills on Wednesday. Dozens of citizens rose in opposition to the bills during the Labor Committee hearing, providing compelling testimony on why Right to Work is wrong for New Hampshire. Key points made during the testimony include:

  • Workers in Right to Work states make about $6,000 less per year.
  • Workers in Right to Work states have inferior health and leave benefits.
  • So-called Right to Work forces dues-paying union members to bargain for and represent non-paying workers.
  • NH has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation and has the 9th highest per capita personal income in the country.

It became obvious as the hearing went along this so-called Right to Work legislation is being pushed by out-of-state interests and there is no NH constituency supporting its passage. Companies are struggling to attract enough workers to fill thousands of positions across the state. Passing legislation that works to drive wages and benefits down is wrong for working families and wrong for NH.

We need your help. Call your representative today. Tell them to vote NO to these recycled, tired Right to Work bills on Thursday.

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

Plan to attend the NH House vote at the Statehouse on Thursday, Feb. 16. We are rallying from 9:30-10 a.m. in front of the Statehouse to demonstrate to the representatives that we are against so-called Right to Work.

We are planning to run the shuttle vans from Hazen Drive and South Campus on Thursday, beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at noon, or whenever the House votes on the bills. The shuttle on Hazen will begin at DES with stops at Fish and Game and DOT. The shuttle on South Campus begins at Main Building, run between Toby and Brown, and then Education. The shuttles will make continuous loops roughly on the half hour.

Please add your voice to the hundreds of union members who will be at the State House in opposition so-called Right to Work.

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President Gulla’s Statement on Right to Work Bills

President Rich Gulla released the following statement after the House Labor Committee voted to reject both so-called right to work bills.

“So-called right to work has no place in the Granite State, and I’m proud we were able to pack this hall today with those who agree. Both of these bills are tired, recycled legislation that does nothing for the real problems facing our state. We need the House to reject these bills so we can get down to working together on legislation that helps – not hurts – New Hampshire families.”

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House Committee Votes on Retiree Health Care Bills

Executive Sessions for HB 653 and HB 645 were held today, Wednesday, February 8, 2017.

HB 645 – This is the bill that 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.

By a 17- 1 committee vote, this billed was voted Inexpedient to Legislate. The full House will vote on the committee’s strong recommendation and, if as expected, they support it, the bill is effectively eliminated for the biennium.

Thank you for all your efforts to fight back against this grab at our retirement benefit. When we work together, we make a difference!

HB 653 – This is the bill that 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.

By a 10-9 committee vote, this bill was retained by the committee. This means that the full House will not vote on this bill in 2017. Instead, the committee will work on the bill during the year to determine if they can agree on language for presenting to the House in 2018.

Important: We are expecting some version of the language in the bill, sponsored by Neal Kurk, to be brought up in the budget hearings over the next few weeks.  More work is needed here. Continue to contact your representatives in opposition to institute this through the budget.

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. Call your representative.

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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So-Called Right to Work Hearings – Feb. 8

The House Labor Committee is holding a hearing for both so-called right to work bills this Wednesday, Feb. 8, starting at 10 a.m. We need to send a message 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. We’ll be running shuttles to the State House from both Hazen Drive as well as the NH Hospital campus. Keep reading for more info.

– – – – – – –

We’ll have two loops running from 9:25 a.m. to around 2:30 p.m., with each shuttle loop taking 20-25 minutes. The stops are listed below. If you plan on taking the shuttle, please RSVP to lhenderson (at) seiu1984.org.

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.

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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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