O’Brien: ‘Surely if Michigan can do it, so can N.H.’

Former state House Speaker Bill O’Brien is out of the country this week, so he logged in to Facebook to comment on Michigan’s enactment of right-to-work legislation.

Responding to an inquiry from Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, O’Brien described his plan to re-introduce a right-to-work bill this session. It will not pass, he conceded, but will allow proponents to identify supporters (and opponents) with an eye on the 2014 mid-term elections.

I will be the prime sponsor of Right to Work legislation in New Hampshire this term. Given the Democrat Party majority in the House and that, at least in New Hampshire, the Democrat party hierarchy functions as the political wing of public employee unions, the bill will not pass this term. We intend to use the legislation, however, together with the example of Michigan, as the means of continuing to identify those legislators and legislative candidates who support, and those who oppose, Right to Work legislation. We will achieve success through these efforts and the examples of Indiana and Michigan in putting together a free market legislative majority in New Hampshire in 2014 that will finally overcome the anti-freedom and anti-prosperity agenda of New Hampshire’s labor bosses.

"Surely, if Michigan can do it, so can New Hampshire," he concluded. "We will overcome the harsh rhetoric of the labor bosses and millions in labor union campaign spending."

Quote of the day: Nothing to do with substance

So what was all the fuss about? That’s simple and it’s got nothing to do with substance and everything to do with political tactics. O’Brien needed to signal to his conservative followers across the state and in his district that now is not the time to sit on their hands. … Anything can happen in a low turnout primary on Sept. 11, including your voters not bothering to show up believing their favorite candidate has nothing to worry about.

Kevin Landrigan, on state House Speaker Bill O’Brien’s accusation that “union thugs" delayed his campaign’s mail.

Bill O’Brien: Publicity preventing potential misbehavior

After accusing “union thugs" of delaying and withholding his mail, state House Speaker Bill O’Brien writes on his Facebook page that his campaign mail is now being "received the next day."

I have heard from some supporters in New Boston that the mailing we posted in Manchester on Wednesday of this week was received the next day, not three to five days later (or for a prior mailed post card, not yet in some cases). So perhaps the postal problem is solved for now.

O’Brien takes credit for preventing “potential misbehavior” by shining “the light of publicity” on it.

We should all be concerned for candidates who have less of an opportunity to shine the light of publicity on potential misbehavior of this nature. Certainly, if any encounter it, let us know and we will try to correct it.

Update: I originally interpreted O’Brien’s Facebook message as referring to the mailing that elicited his original rant rather than a subsequent mailing. I’ve edited this post accordingly.

Quote of the day: Bill O’Brien, slayer of straw men

House Speaker Bill O’Brien, slayer of straw men, is up in arms again. This time he’s aiming at the “union thugs” at the post office who he alleges have developed a case of the slows when it comes to delivering his campaign mail. Like O’Brien’s attack on the non-existent problem of voter fraud, undocumented problem of welfare fraud, and barely existent problem of nepotism in government, his attack on postal workers is fueled by politics and paranoia, not proof.

Concord Monitor, on state House Speaker Bill O’Brien’s accusation that “union thugs” delayed his mail.

Bill O’Brien’s paranoid rant: Unions messin’ with my mail

Yesterday, state House Speaker Bill O’Brien took to Facebook to accuse postal workers of intentionally delaying his mail. It’s “what union-controlled government has become in New Hampshire,” he declared.

Union operatives are pulling my yard signs from public areas and replacing some of them with union signs. Union thugs have twice gone into a general store in my town and threatened the woman who owns it with a boycott if she doesn’t take down a yard sign supporting me.

And now, most recently, the postal service, which of course is staffed by union employees, have begun to delay and withhold mailers I am trying to send to voters.

My sense is that there will come a time right before November 6 in this election cycle, or perhaps even before the primary, when the unionized postal employees will just stop delivering my mail entirely, cutting me off from having an effective conversation with my constituents.

This is the way the union bosses and their political wing, the Democrat [sic] party, think representative government should work in New Hampshire. For them, democracy is agreeing with them or being silent.

The full rant is captured in a screenshot below the fold.

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A Mother’s Day Gift for Working Moms

On the day we honor mothers, it’s worth noting that 71% of women with children under 18 years of age are in the labor force. And as the New Hampshire GOP continues its assault on workers and unions, it’s particularly meaningful to note the advantage these unions provide for working mothers.

A report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) documents the dramatic advantage unions provide women workers in pay and benefits.

The data suggest that even after controlling for systematic differences between union and non-union workers, union representation substantially improves the pay and benefits that women receive. On average, unionization raised women’s wages by 11.2 percent — about $2.00 per hour — compared to non-union women with similar characteristics.

For the average woman, joining a union has a much larger effect on her probability of having health insurance (an 18.8 percentage-point increase) than finishing a four-year college degree would (an 8.4 percentage-point increase, compared to a woman with similar characteristics who has only a high school diploma). Similarly, unionization raises the probability of a woman having a pension by 24.7 percentage points, compared to only a 13.1 percent increase for completing a four-year college degree (relative to a high school degree).

So, by all means, take Mom out for lunch. But to honor working moms all over the state, call your legislators and demand they stop the assault on unions and put an end to the so-called “Right to Work” charade.

This post first appeared on May 8, 2011

Legislators Return to Concord with a Vengeance

After taking last week off, legislators return to Concord this week with a vengeance. The House will meet in session on Wednesday and Thursday beginning at 9:00 a.m. Scores of bills are on the docket that would dismantle decades of established rights for workers and women. Bills to put Granite Staters back to work are conspicuously absent. Here’s a sampling.

HB 1677: Right to Work remix 
HB 1645: Allows employer-led decertification of public unions 
HB 1206: Requires public employees split cost increases under expired contract 
HB 1237: Establishes legislative oversight committee for collective bargaining

What you can do: Protect NH Families Citizen Lobby Days 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 
Thursday, March 8, 2012: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 
Coffee and check in starts at 8:30 a.m. 
America Votes, 4 Park Street, Room 302, Concord.

HB 1546: Allows employers to exclude birth control from drug coverage 
HB 1659: Requires providing anti-abortion materials to women receiving abortion 
HB 1679: Bans third trimester abortions 
HCR 41: Urges Congress to void federal Planned Parenthood grant

What you can do: NARAL Day of Action to Protect Women’s Health 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. - Visibility (inside State House) 
9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. - Lobbying and Visibility (inside State House) 
11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Visibility (outside State House) 
12:00 noon - Press Conference (Legislative Office Building) 

HB 1297: Prohibits state from creating health insurance exchange 
HB 1526: Decriminalizes possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana 
HB 1146: Requires public school students to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance

Here We Go Again: Right-to-Work Hearing Today

It was just two months ago that House failed to override Gov. Lynch’s veto of right-to-work legislation and the union busting law went down to defeat.

Today, the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee meets to hear testimony on House Bill 1677, a similar bill that would prohibit collective bargaining agreements from requiring non-union employees to pay union fees and would eliminate the requirement that public unions represent non-union members.

House Speaker Bill O’Brien continues to pursue his white whale and has, once again, made the anti-union legislation his highest priority. He claims passage would grow our economy and attract manufacturers — despite all evidence to the contrary. New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie disagrees.

“We should be talking about the condition of our secondary roads, our crumbling schools and bridges and expanding I-93, to finish that project,” he said. “We should be investing in New Hampshire and its infrastructure so we can be the kind of state we want to be and provide opportunities going forward. That’s what our focus should be.” [Union Leader, February 8, 2012]

Protect New Hampshire Families has organized a Grassroots Lobby Day to push back against this politically-motivated attack on New Hampshire’s middle class. The fun starts with a pre-hearing briefing at noon at America Votes in Room 302 at 4 Park Street in Concord.

Landrigan: Union Busting Bills Will Benefit Democrats

Kevin Landrigan says there was an “overwhelming torrent of opposition” to the “union busting” bills being debated in the House last week. It has invigorated labor, he says, and has increased the chance for Democrats to take back more legislative seats in November.

These anti-union laws aren’t going to become law. Why? Governor John Lynch is going to veto them. He’s  not going to allow the last year of his career to be colored by a lot of anti-labor legislation.

I don’t believe, in the House in particular, there’s going to be the two-thirds majority needed to override that veto … but there’s going to be a lot of debate and another fight on anti-union legislation.

I think it is firing up organized labor. I think that’s important because, with a presidential election, the chance for the pendulum swinging back and for Democrats to take back some legislative seats is going to increase as a result of this anti-union effort.

Comparing Public and Private Sector Compensation

Testifying in favor of House Bill 1645, which would prohibit public employees from participating in collective bargaining, state Rep. Andrew Manuse (R-Derry) argued that allowing public sector employees to bargain collectively gives them an unfair negotiating position that has lead to higher compensation than they would receive in the private sector.

[P]ublic sector unions are contrary to the public good because they give state workers an unfair seat at the table of government, leaving taxpayers out in the cold. This has led to regular salary and benefit increases in the public sector, even when the economy is tanking. This has also led to a public sector employee base that earns more than their private sector counterparts. [emphasis added]

This is simply not true.

In 2010, researchers for The Center for State and Local Government Excellence collected data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and categorized workers based on the characteristics that help determine earnings: education, training, experience, job location and occupation. They compared similar employees and isolated the effect of public or private sector employment.

The resulting report, “Out of Balance? Comparing Public and Private Sector Compensation Over 20 Years,” found:

  • State employees earn 11 percent less, and local workers earn 12 percent less, than comparable private sector workers.
  • Over the last 20 years, the earnings for state and local employees have generally declined relative to comparable private sector employees.
  • Benefits comprise a greater share of compensation in the public sector, but even after accounting for benefits, state and local employees have lower total compensation than their private sector counterparts.
  • Total compensation, including benefits, is 6.8 percent lower for state employees and 7.4 percent lower for local workers, compared with comparable private sector employees.

Keene Sentinel: Anti-Labor Fights Have Only Begun

One day after New Hampshire pro-labor supporters were victorious in their long and emotional fight to kill right-to-work legislation, the Keene Sentinel warns anti-labor fights in the legislature “have only begun.”

Bills lined up for the legislative session that starts in January will call for the end of agency fees … for public-sector unions, will try to establish which issues can be covered in collective bargaining, will limit who can be in a bargaining unit, will bar unions from collecting dues and fees through payroll deductions and will restrict public workers’ abilities to hold public office.

These are all part of an anti-labor campaign of curious purpose. There’s no expressed taxpayer angst in it. No one is saying that the products that we buy or the government services that we receive are unreasonably more costly because of unions. No one shows evidence that unions weaken the state or nation economically.

The editorial concludes by noting all Americans benefit from the health, social and workplace safety programs promoted by organized labor — a message that must be effectively communicated to ward off the “destructive missions” of anti-union critics.

Op-Ed: “Not Much to Celebrate on Labor Day 2011”

The Portsmouth Herald puts the latest attacks on New Hampshire workers in historical context and concludes “there is not much to celebrate on Labor Day 2011.”

The rights and life quality of American workers, once the envy of all the world, are under siege in New Hampshire, Maine and across the nation.

The history of labor is written in blood, sweat and sacrifice. Over the past 150 years, thousands of brave souls have given their lives to end the inhumane practices of child labor, 15-hour shifts and deadly working conditions. Living wages were won not through quiet and respectful dialogue, but through hard-fought and often violent strikes.

The labor battles today are just the latest rounds in a fight waged through the decades by young women in Dover and Exeter mills, granite cutters in Concord, street railway workers in Berlin, Amoskeag textile workers in Manchester or, in more recent history, striking teachers in Plaistow’s Timberlane School District.

Miscellany Blue