Road, Sewer Workers Win; School Crossing Guards Organize

Workers at the Amherst Department of Public Works voted last week to sign a two year contract with the town. They maintain Amherst’s sewer and drinking water systems, run the garbage dump and recycling center, fix the town’s roads and traffic lights, and take care of the parks and trees. They belong to the AFSCME union www.afscme.org local 1725. They will get 1.3 percent annual raises.

Meanwhile school crossing guards in Springfield will meet next week to decide whether to form a union. “I’m 99 percent sure they will” form a union, Paul DeMarco told the Valley Post on January 3. He’s a spokesman for the SEIU union local 888 www.seiu888.org which the workers want to join, he said.

These photos show the crossing guards. (photos by SEIU local 888)

In recent decades, the richest Americans have gotten richer, while the middle class has gotten smaller and the ranks of the poor have swelled. Union workers in the U.S. make about 29 percent more money than non-union workers. That’s around $9,300 a year extra for the average worker who joins a union. For Latino workers, the union advantage is about 50 percent; for black workers, approximately 31 percent. This data is from www.bls.gov

Unions give workers a voice in their workplace, and allow them to stand up for themselves if their bosses are hostile. Millions of American workers belong to a union, including delivery drivers at UPS, hospital nurses in Northampton, Ford car factory workers, and American Airlines baggage handlers at Bradley airport.

Like some governments, some unions say they're democratic but don't always live up to this ideal. Contact information for workers who are fighting to make their unions more democratic is available by calling www.LaborNotes.org

Corporations like Wal-Mart are not democratic.

More information on the labor movement in the Valley is at:

www.ValleyPost.org/node/134

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