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What unions do

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In AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest New York Times  column, she describes what it is exactly that unions do. Though unions are the most popular they have been in decades, anti-union sentiment still thrives in red states and across the nation. “Several years ago, The Atlantic ran a story whose headline made even me, a labor leader, scratch my head: ‘Union Membership: Very Sexy,’” Weingarten writes in the column. “The gist was that higher wages, health benefits and job security—all associated with union membership—boost one’s chances of getting married. Belonging to a union doesn’t actually guarantee happily ever after, but it does help working people have a better life in the here and now.” Click through to read the full column.

Public News Service - March 20, 2023 Educators in New Hampshire say a proposed "parental bill of rights" before lawmakers discriminates against LGBTQ students. The legislation requires schools to inform parents of a student's sexual orientation or gender identity should a parent inquire. Educators could be sued in civil court, face fines or even jail time if they fail to truthfully respond. Deb Howes, president of the American Federation of Teachers-New Hampshire, said teachers should not be forced to "out" students, and parents should talk with their children themselves. MORE
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This was a mixed week for public education.  Let’s start with the good news. Town election day was March 14th for most SB 2 towns and school districts across the state.  Of course, an epic nor’easter that dropped 8 to 38 inches of heavy, wet snow and knocked out power to thousands altered those plans for many.  Luckily, a recent state law allows voters to vote absentee the day before Town Meeting Day if a winter storm warning has been declared, so they don’t have to endanger themselves to get to the polls. In the interest of public safety, seventy towns postponed their elections for two weeks and rescheduled for March 28th. For those who persevered and held voting, the results showed that even in a raging snowstorm, Granite State voters showed up to support public school students, teachers, and school support staff and their local, neighborhood public schools. MORE
House Action  Thursday’s House session dealt a blow to supporters of public education as well as property taxpayers across the state. There is no way to sugarcoat this. Despite our best efforts, anti-public education politicians voted to expand the use of unaccountable school vouchers, further draining money from the Education Trust Fund which funds our neighborhood public schools. This means your local property taxes will go up or your neighborhood public school will have to cut things like arts, sports, and other programs.  In fact, one of the voucher expansion bills that passed could result in a family struggling to keep up with their bills now being responsible for funding a voucher for a millionaire who wants to send their kids to an elite private or parochial school. Many families currently in the voucher program are using their vouchers to pay for art, music, and sports, some of the very programs neighborhood public schools will have to cut because of the underfunding from the state. The journey of these bills is not yet over. They will either be put into the budget or sent over to the Senate. MORE
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Town election day is Tuesday, March 14th.  For all of our locals in a “SB 2” district, any negotiated agreements will be voted on during the town elections. AFT-NH local leaders and negotiating teams have spent countless hours preparing tentative agreements to be presented to the voters. All of that hard work comes down to this one day of voting. Please share this list with friends and allies so they know how they can make a difference and support our AFT-NH locals. We know that every single vote counts. I know those locals remember very well when a contract was defeated by one vote. Yes, it has happened. Twice as a matter of fact. Another reminder is that folks can register to vote on election day with proper identification and proof of residence (could be a utility bill for example). MORE
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We find this amendment quite problematic because it is so broad it could be applied to any educator at any time. It gives the Commissioner of Education the power to issue subpoenas for “persons, relevant documents and relevant items” under the RSA that gives the State Board of Education rulemaking authority to establish and enforce an Educator Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. Every single licensed professional – teacher, reading specialist, school counselor, principal -  working in a public school is covered by the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. In effect, this amendment is saying that you are giving the Commissioner of Education the power to subpoena almost anyone who works in a public school for any interaction with a student that someone thinks might be a problem under the Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct. That is incredibly broad power that no other department has over thousands of workers across the state with almost no restrictions on how it would be used. MORE