Labor

Casey McDermott, NHPR

For Democrats looking to court grassroots progressive supporters in New Hampshire, few speaking slots are as coveted as the New Hampshire AFL-CIO’s annual Labor Day breakfast.

Jordyn Haime

Rolando Cantú is originally from Texas, and is now a junior at American University in Washington, D.C. But I caught up with him a few weeks ago in Berlin, New Hampshire, where he was helping set up tables and chairs in a packed catering hall, before Sen. Bernie Sanders was scheduled to speak. 

Sam Evans-Brown /NHPR

Gas and electricity provider Unitil is facing a federal lawsuit over its overtime policies. 

The U.S. Department of Labor alleges that Unitil, which serves customers in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire,  failed to pay overtime rates to at least 50 different employees, including electrical dispatchers and gas controllers. 

Ali Oshinskie/NHPR

New Hampshire ranks 3rd in employment as of April 2019, with an unemployment rate at 2.4%.

It may seem like an ideal situation, but sectors of the local economy are struggling, and many Granite Staters are underemployed or unemployed. 

NHPR Staff

As employers complain about a labor shortage and a tight job market, they may be overlooking a large group of potential workers that face certain barriers or stigmas – among them, people with criminal records or who are in recovery, recent immigrants, older workers, or people with disabilities.

Ellen Grimm / NH Public Radio

Our In-Depth series on New Hampshire's workforce shortage continues with: untapped workers. We ask: what groups of potential employees are being overlooked?  These might include recent immigrants, people with criminal records, people with disabilities, and older workers. 

       

We continue our series on New Hampshire's labor shortage.  Skilled labor, manufacturing, and healthcare are three sectors facing serious workforce shortages. We look at the specific challenges for these industries and others, the types of jobs they are struggling to fill, and the efforts they are making to recruit employees.

Ali Oshinskie

The Exchange is spending four days discussing the workforce challenges in the state, starting Monday, May 20th. Read on for information about each show, and to find links to each program. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

On a 210-145 vote, Democrats passed a bill on Thursday in the N.H. House that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Democrats began their push this session to raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage during hearings at the Statehouse on Tuesday.

Lawmakers are considering three different bills that would each take a different approach to increasing the state’s rate, which currently stands at $7.25 an hour.

File photo

Backers of Right to Work legislation in New Hampshire are praising Thursday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Janus v. AFSCME. In a 5-4 decision, the justices ruled that public sector unions cannot charge non-members for the costs of collective bargaining.

C-SPAN Screenshot

Many seasonal businesses in New Hampshire take advantage of temporary worker visas to fill open jobs. But as the summer tourism season approaches, employers say they're still understaffed.

Russ Hart owns Hart’s Turkey Farm restaurant in Meredith. He's requested 18 temporary H-2B visas for the busy season but so far only has eight.

Reuters

The Westinghouse Electric Company has locked out 172 union employees at its Newington plant following a breakdown in contract negotiations.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers were notified of the lockout Sunday night after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a new employment contract.

Kandy Jaxx / Flickr

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate went up slightly to 2.8% in March, up from 2.7% in February. New data from the state’s Employment Security office shows modest job losses in education, retail and finance, while construction and manufacturing were basically flat.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

A New Hampshire House Committee is recommending against passage of Right-to- Work legislation, which would prohibit unions from forcing non-union members to pay fees to cover the cost of collective bargaining.

Members of the House Labor Committee voted 14-7, with many Republicans joining Democrats in opposition to the often partisan issue.

The bill next heads to the full House, which will take up the measure next week.

Hundreds of opponents filled Representatives Hall in Concord Wednesday, many wearing red t-shirts, to voice their concerns to lawmakers.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

A proposal to establish a paid family and medical leave insurance program had its first hearing Wednesday at the State House. The idea has been in the works for a while, but some advocates think New Hampshire is finally primed for the idea.

Parents, doctors and child advocacy groups are urging New Hampshire lawmakers to support paid family and medical leave and help reduce the costs of child care.

Supporters of the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy lobbied representatives Thursday on two bills. One would establish a family and medical leave insurance fund allowing for up to 12 weeks of paid leave. The other would add $15 million to the state budget to help families pay for child care.

Current Population Survey, © 2016 by Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson

New Hampshire lawmakers are again debating Right-to-Work laws, with bills currently moving through both the House and Senate. With Republican majorities in both chambers, and a newly-elected governor who favors Right-to-Work, the policy stands its best chance of passing in more than a decade.

But Right-to-Work isn’t exactly a kitchen-table kind of issue. If you aren’t in a union, or a large business owner, you may not know much about its history, what Right-to-Work does, or why it matters.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

A public hearing on Right-to-Work legislation drew hundreds of people to the statehouse, with public comments lasting more than four hours.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

New projections for the labor market what skills will be needed in the Granite State. Governor-elect Sununu's business experience has grabbed the attention and hopes of business owners. Concern is rising about New Hampshire's poorly funded public employee retirement plans. 


New unemployment figures came out Tuesday and at 2.8%, New Hampshire's rate remains the lowest in the nation. On paper, that may sound like a very good thing: nearly everyone who wants a job has one. But if you are an employer trying to fill a vacancy or a company trying to expand, these can be frustrating times.

Nearly 40,000 workers at Verizon have gone on strike, objecting to, among other things, outsourcing and temporary location transfers.

The two unions representing Verizon workers say their employees have been without a contract since August. They call the walkout, which began at 6 a.m. ET Wednesday, "by far the largest work stoppage in the country in recent years."

NPR's Joel Rose tells our Newscast unit:

"The striking employees mostly work in Verizon's wireline business — landline phone, video and Internet — on the East Coast.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Summer may be a ways off yet, but in Portsmouth, restaurant owners Matt Louis and Jay McSharry are already anxious about staffing their kitchens. That's because there’s a shortage of line cooks in restaurants all across the country, especially on the Seacoast, where unemployment is particularly low.

“Come May when the beaches open, it’s a mad sprint to make sure you have enough staff to be ready for summer,” McSharry says.

Jeff L / Flickr/CC

Even as this feud was still going on, back in the summer of 2014, experts on labor unions, corporate governance, and employee culture were noting just how unprecedented the boycott was. Now, there's a new book and a forthcoming film examining this epic battle and exploring its ramifications.

There's an oil painting on one wall in the cluttered room that serves as central headquarters of Burch Farms, a large vegetable grower in Faison, N.C. The painting shows an African-American couple, the woman in a long, plain dress, the man in a homespun shirt. They're digging sweet potatoes with their bare hands and an old-fashioned hoe.

Sheryl Rich-Kern for NHPR

  The U.S. Department of Labor is looking to gather wage data for New Hampshire’s building and construction industries. 

A federal judge has ruled against a former state employee who claimed she was fired from the Department of Health and Human Services for trying to breast-feed her child during the workday.

The Concord Monitor reports a judge ruled last month that Katherine Frederick was provided breaks and a private place to express milk, as required by law. The judge called the Department's policy "stingy," but noted it didn't violate any laws by refusing to let her breastfeed either in the lactation room or a short distance away.

File photo

The Hannaford supermarket chain is settling a dispute with the federal Department of Labor with a promise to institute new worker protection standards at two distribution centers.

The labor department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Hannaford for failing to keep distribution centers in Schodack Landing, New York, and South Portland, Maine, free from hazards that can cause disorders of the muscular and skeletal systems. The citation came after inspections in 2013 and 2014.

Stefan / Flickr CC

While some women leave their job when making the choice to become full-time mothers, experts say there is a wide range of other reasons that women aren’t holding on to jobs at the same rates they used to. This, despite the overall economic improvement of the last few years. We’re looking at some of the social, economic, and political factors that are keeping fewer women are in the labor force today.

The New Hampshire chapter of the AFL-CIO is about to get a new president, the first since 1989.

Glenn Brackett, business agent of the IBEW Local 2320, takes over July 1, succeeding Mark MacKenzie after an election challenge was resolved.

In May, MacKenzie was re-elected at a state convention after ballots representing nearly 700 votes were ruled "spoiled;" they were marked with check marks instead of X's, as required by election rules.

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