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My Turn: For state’s workers, challenges ahead

Many Americans celebrate Labor Day, a federal holiday since 1894, as a day for barbecues, cookouts, family trips and parades. But at its heart Labor Day observes the strength, hard work and dedication of America’s workers.

This is a day to celebrate. We’ve earned it. All of us, whether we work on a construction site or an office, in a school or a laboratory, contribute to the efforts that move our country forward.

Yet even as we mark this day, we recognize that there are challenges ahead for New Hampshire workers and their families. And if we truly want to commemorate Labor Day, we must rise to meet these challenges over the next year.

Nationally, our leaders must address the aftermath of economic policies that have frayed the fabric of the American dream and enriched the powerful at the expense of the average American. As millions of middle-class and low-wage working families struggle to get by on flat wages and disappearing benefits, many express frustration that low wage jobs make up the fastest growing sectors. Others remain out of the workforce or underemployed, victims of a financial crisis they did not cause.

There is no quick fix to these problems, but there are ways that we can start bringing our economy back into balance. We can start by ending the “sequestration” cuts to essential government services that are strangling our economy. Hundreds of workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are struggling with furloughs under sequestration. Putting those workers back on the job will not just help them, it will boost the region’s economy.

Our federal government must avoid weakening middle-class buying power by stepping away from their perilous talk of cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.

In New Hampshire we need to address issues that will positively impact working families, improve economic conditions in our communities while rebuilding a vibrant middle class in ways that play to our unique strengths.

We need to re-establish a state minimum wage that will protect and improve the lives of our lowest paid workers. Our elected officials should enact wage standards that reflect our values and do not leave people who get up and go to work every day unable to support themselves and their families.

We should stop procrastinating and accept the federal money that will expand Medicaid in our state and cover approximately 60,000 Granite Staters that currently have no health insurance. We owe it not just to these people, but to everyone who has health insurance and pays higher premiums to provide care to those who cannot afford coverage of their own.

We need to work to end the real wage discrimination that is currently taking place in our state. We believe in equal pay for equal work, a concept that would seem to be common sense, but still female workers in New Hampshire make an average of 23 cents less per every dollar earned by male workers in a comparable job.

Our movement toward a more equitable economy and good jobs, with workers having a say in the workplace, is a fight that can begin to restore hope and dignity for working people in New Hampshire and across the country.

The recent commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 march on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech remind us that the message of that day focused on jobs and justice. We continue to strive toward those goals, and it’s important to note on this Labor Day, that when King was killed, he was in Memphis supporting public sanitation workers on strike for the right to form a union and achieve better working conditions.

The labor movement helped establish and maintain America’s middle class. Through collective bargaining for a living wage, health insurance, retirement security and workplace safety measures, unions have stood the test of time and fought tirelessly for working America.

This Labor Day, let’s honor all of America’s hardworking people and continue to fight for them – not just on this day, but every day.

(Mark S. MacKenzie is president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO.)

Legacy Comments34

On Labor Day 2013, Welfare Pays More Than Minimum- Wage Work In 35 States ........ and democrats will argue for raising minimum wage instead of fixing welfare to wok as we had before they ruined it

The real buying power of today's minimum wage is 30% below where it was when Richard Nixon took office. What needs fixing? It appears that the usual suspects believe the answer to poverty is more poverty. That's it - homeopathic economics! Who needs voodoo economics when you can have this?

this article was nothing more than the Cliff Notes for the democrat manifesto

ROTFLMAO. Sail, if you had something REAL to say, you would have said it instead of trite aphorisms.

LOL "Walter" you wouldn't recognize real if it was standing right in front of you. You foolishly take democrat talking points hook, line, and sinker.

New Hampshire is fortunate to have labor leaders like Mark MacKenzie. Organized labor has historically led the way when it comes to improving the pay, benefits, and working conditions of the people who get up every day and go to wok. In contrast with the illusion of "trickle down," the spinoff from union-led progress has benefitted other working and middle class families. Unions have been in decline for the last few decades. Pay and benefits have stagnated to the point where being a greeter at Walmart is viewed as a retirement plan.. Connect the dots. John Corrigan

A rising tide lifts all boats but organized labor, Obama and progressives have done nothing to raise the tide. State workers have it pretty cushy, actually, working just 35 hours per week at single tasking jobs. Most of those jobs are in nice new buildings. Full time pay for part time work, free health insurance for year after year...I mean what else could you hope for? Pay has been on the decline due to the relentless attacks on the private sector, heavy regulation and silly rules by presidential fiat, failure to harvest our own natural resources and over the top spending on every inane aspect of our society, including Safe Routes to School, a worthless nanny state, make work program. Pensions are a thing of the past, everyone has the right to invest as they see fit, that is why it is called a "free" country. Self determination has fallen by the wayside to dependency and Americans today are weak, whiny and have no self respect; instead they are jealous of others who might have made better and different choices and made out a little better. I guess that is called "small" in most circles but in progressive circles it is called "my entitlement" and "social justice" or otherwise know as "social just-us dependents".

Sequestration cuts nothing but future budget expenditures. If we are over staffed, wasting money then cuts should be made. Obama made sure that he cut things that would politically hurt his opposition, that is general knowledge but people who claim that they care, really don't as they never acknowledge that fact. Bottom line is that once anyone uses language that talks about economic policies of the past 30 years and champions Obama's policies, we know that we are in for a propaganda assault. Obamacare is one of the most regressive economic policies in our history. One only needs to look at North Dakota and how people there are thriving due to companies harvesting energy on private land. Some Wal-Mart employees are earning $18 per hour due to supply of jobs and demand for employees. Those are the economic policies that we need to pursue.

This is what the Monitor and their fellow Guardians of Ignorance aren’t telling you: The Obama’s administration’s sequestration plan strangles our economy. We can thank Jeanne Shaheen, and her rubber stamp vote for Obama’s sequestration plan for the hundreds of workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard who are struggling with furloughs under Obama’s sequestration. Obama and the feds are weakening middle-class buying power by their excessive spending and excessive printing of money to pay for Obama’s excessive spending.. We can thank ObamaKare for, flat wages, disappearing benefits, and low wage part-time jobs which make up the fastest growing sectors of the Obama Economy. Thanks to Obama too many Americans remain out of the workforce or underemployed, most victims of ObamaKare and the Obama Economy. You can thank Union Bosses for electing these economy destroying democrats like Obama and Shaheen. I think if it was left to the Union rank and file many would want their union dues spent on benefits and not on electing democrats who hurt the middle class.

Van, you really have to stop this. Things that started under the last Bush administration cannot be the fault of President Obama or Senator Shaheen. Things that began over 30 years ago, even less so. You can copy into to your computer: "Obama = bad; Shaheen, ditto; all other Democrats, mega-ditto. All things Republican = truth, justice and the American way." Then paste it in where- and whenever you feel it appropriate and avoid having to strain thinking up new purple prose every time.

Graccus, Waaaaaaaaaaaa it is Bush's fault Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa it is Bush's fault. Graccus you really got to stop your whining.

Nope, not Bush's fault. I never claimed that. Read carefully, Grasshopper. I merely stated that events occurred before Obama took office. It is logically impossible to blame Obama for them. If one is incapable of accepting that basic truth, he might as well blame Obama for the Black Death and the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs.

The most childish post of the day.

Jeff, I agree with you. Governing by blaming others for your actions is quite childish. The children in the Obama administration refuse to grow up and take account for their actions.

Here is proof that ObamaKare is hurting Union Rank and File where 40,000 longshoremen walked away from the AFL-CIO who supported Obama:

"Here is proof" alright. Proof that Van will swallow anything that looks vaguely anti-Obama. But of course he's wrong again. If he were to read an actual news story instead of absorbing uncritically from right wing blogs, he might know that: 1) The ILWU left the AFL-CIO because there were some serious jurisdictional issues with other AFL unions crossing longshoremen's picket lines; 2) that ILWU felt that AFL-CIO was not sufficiently militant in support of workers; and (here's the biggie) the ILWU opposes Obamacare because they FAVOR A UNIVERSAL SINGLE PAYER HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. They say a blind squirrel will sometimes find a nut. Van's batting average is well below blind squirrel. My sincere advice: confirm your facts before you issue an opinion based on them.

AFL-CIO was not sufficiently militant in support of workers. That says it all. Union Thugs and their love affair with the thugs in the democrat party. Only a fool would believe that ObamaKare is popular and wanted in the Union Rank and File.

The Longshoreman leader said, "President Obama ran on a platform that he would not tax medical plans and at the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention, you stated that labor would not stand for a tax on our benefits." But, regardless of that promise, the President has pushed for just such a tax and Trumka and the AFL-CIO bowed to political pressure lining up behind Obama's tax on those plans.

In what is being reported as a surprise move, the 40,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced that they have formally ended their association with the AFL-CIO, one of the nation's largest private sector unions. The Longshoremen citied Obamacare and immigration reform as two important causes of their disaffiliation. In an August 29 letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, ILWU President Robert McEllrath stated that the ILWU was upset with the AFL-CIO for going along with Obama on the confiscatory tax on their "Cadillac" healthcare plan. BOOOOOOOOOOOM That is the sound of the meat ball pitch that Graccus served up to Van as the ball flies over the center field fence.

Van...I'm convinced that you get all your information from FOX News. University of Maryland did a study on FOX, and found that its viewers has a lower knowledge of world and national events than those who watched Jon Stewart. Amazing, itsn't it: a comic's audience learns more than a news station audience.

That study Walter has been debunked for many reasons. The questions assume the folks know the results of economic studies, use govt sources for info that are based on projections, and the study was funded by Soros's Tide Foundation, no bias there right.. It also assumes that folks believe academia as an unbiased source. Everybody knows that the questions pre determine the answers in the way they are worded, and the way they are worded usually has a lot to do with who funds the survey. We have had this discussion many times about polls and the quality of how many people are surveyed, what their political associations are etc. Fox news is watched by independents also, a fact that many on the left ignore.

Rabbit you are correct still. That University of Maryland study is as bogus as "Walter" Sorry, Walter the Monitor gives you away when you click on Report Abuse. I don't hide behind a phony name.

Mark...thanks for an eye-opening message about New Hampshire's workers. I think that the cause of flat-lined middle class income is commensurate with the mega-rise of the rich over the past 30 years. I would point you to the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Memorandum of 1971. He wrote to the US Chamber of Commerce describing what he considered an attack on the American free enterprise system and measures to combat it. Some consider this memo to be a manifesto for capitalism and quite a few of his suggestions came to fruition through action by CoC and support of rich capitalists.

And the state-by-state implementation of the Powell Memorandum has come largely courtesy of ALEC.

The Guardians of Ignorance in the liberal media just love what they created. Evidence Walter's and Graccus' words of little wisdom.

Van, seriously, stop projecting. You have no idea what other people love.

Gracchus-you just parrot the Guardians of Ignorance propaganda and they love the fact that you fall lock stock and barrel for the garbage that they spew and ignore common sense all together. Family, hard work, following the constitution, personal responsibility and freedom all seem foreign to what you preach.

Van, progressives could care less about family, they believe that "it takes a village", not a family. Hard work used to be a virtue, now it is a way to raise more revenue from individuals. Personal responsibility has gone by the wayside, now we have to 'understand' the circumstances why people can't take that personal responsibility. Freedom? Oh we can't have that if it hurts the feelings of anyone else. Now it is political correctness run amok. You aren't blind anymore, you are visually impaired. Not cripple, physically challenged and if you challenge political correctness you are a "hater", "bigot" or "racist". I am not sure we can ever get back our ethics, morals, sense of right or wrong.

Van...I can't understand what you are talking about, but what I quoted, I found myself. You spout tripe, but have not support. Come to think of it, all your posts have that format.


Walter, you might have clarified and described the Powell Memorandum as a manifesto for UNREGULATED, UNBRIDLED (essentially sociopathic) capitalism.

If you look back at the bailout of GM and Chrysler, you'll find that hourly rate, benefits, and retirement in their early 50's almost caused them to disappear. Yes I know there were many other factors, still, these unrealistic pay and benefits were a major factor. And you see the same type of thing happening in state and federal retirement plans. People retiring in their early 50's with 6 figure per year compensation. Yes I know, not all of them. Still, its a huge problem. I have no problem with workers forming a union, but lets please be more realistic with pay and bennies.

Excellent point GWTW. Obama bailed out his union buddies with taxpayer funds. Between the democrats and unions there is an incestuous relationship that is destroying America Lets look at Ford they didn't need a Government bailout most of the bail out monies went to Obama allies.

Come on, do you really have that little understanding of the dynamics of economy. Also who are you to define just what unrealistic pay for a job is. The problems at US auto makers was not one of hourly pay or benefits. The problems were inefficient management that failed to keep up with the times and energy consumption. Almost all of the money of your so called bailout has been repaid. The tens of thousands of auto workers who would have been collecting unemployment would have had a ripple effect on all aspects of the economy. Those 6 figure retirements you talk about are certainly not from any rank and file union jobs, check your sources. When it comes to talking about the bailouts, of $608 billion paid out there is but $57.9 billion still outstanding. You want realistic retirement and pay from the union s, well find one single example of reasonable pay, bennies and compensation in any Corporate Executives "package". As a case in point the CEO of Lehman Brothers received a "package" worth $484 million between 2000 and the 2008 bankruptcy. Seems fair to me.........Quite frankly the whole they get retirement, they have benefits whining is getting old, why don't you? Or is it the old "If I can't Have It, why should anybody" attitude. The latter I think. Oh and Van, please give it a rest for once. The sum total of your contribution is petty blame placing and finger pointing. Never even a fraction of an ounce of real content.

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