Two Victories for Union Workers in Greenfield

Gael Wakefield is a public transit bus driver in Greenfield. In 2008, she was elected president of Local 274 of the UE union. She still serves as president, while also working as a bus driver. The UE’s web site is www.UEunion.org

On May 5, Wakefield sat down with Eesha Williams of MassLaborNews.com to talk about her union.

“We had two managers at the bus company who were giving us a lot of trouble,” she said. “We held rallies and spoke with the upper management. Recently, the company got rid of those two managers. Now, we get along great with the new manager. That was a big victory for us.”

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This photo shows Wakefield and three of her co-workers. photo by Eesha Williams

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Wakefield works for the FRTA or Franklin Regional Transit Authority. Even though the buses she drives have FRTA painted on them in giant letters, her employer is FirstGroup Corporation of Aberdeen, Scotland. FirstGroup has 136,000 employees in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Canada and the United States.

More information on the company is at:

www.ChangeToWin.org/why-organize/corporate-hall-of-shame/firstgroupfirst...

UE Local 274 has about 250 members at several employers in Greenfield, Montague, and Buckland. Among the employers are FirstGroup, the Lamson and Goodnow knife factory, the Kennametal tap and die factory, the Literacy Project, the Greenfield public school cafeterias, the Greenfield public library, and the Montague highway department.

Dave Cohen is the local’s full-time staff person.

The Kennametal workers are negotiating a new contract. The company wants a two-tier wage system that would pay workers hired in the future less than workers earn now. “We are not interested in accepting that proposal,” Wakefield said.

Lamson and Goodnow workers ratified a new contract about a month ago, following a lockout. “It’s a good contract,” she said. “We are waiting for the Labor Board to rule on back pay.”

The FRTA bus workers’ contract expires on June 30. Negotiations are set to start on June 20.

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This article first appeared at www.MassLaborNews.com

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