Local News Roundup

Nearly 800 acres of land will probably be protected from development, 74 workers are forming a union, and activists had at least a temporary victory stopping a billion dollar bank from evicting a poor family from its home.

Near Brattleboro, about 800 acres of land will almost certainly be saved from the pavers, according to a spokesman for the Vermont Nature Conservancy. Jon Binhammer told the Valley Post on November 20 he will be able to provide details in mid-December. The land borders the state park in the town of Jamaica, Vermont. It's home to a spectacular waterfall, Hamilton Falls, which is best seen after a heavy rain or in spring when the snow is melting.

The USA is losing about 6,000 acres of open space every day, according to www.tpl.org/OurLand.

Workers rallied November 21 in Agawam, Massachusetts, which borders Springfield. “Safety is the main issue,” Chelsea Connor told the Valley Post in a telephone interview on November 20. She works for the union the workers are joining. The union has a web site at www.rwdsu.info. The Agawam workers are drivers for H.P. Hood Corporation, a distributor of milk and other dairy products. There will be about 80 workers when the company fills vacancies, Connor said. A majority of the 74 workers signed union membership cards and submitted them to the National Labor Relations Board on November 17.

On average, workers in the USA make 27 percent higher wages when they join a union. That's according to www.bls.gov. Most union contracts say workers can only be fired for "just cause." Non-union workers can be fired at any time for no reason.

Millions of workers in the USA are union members, including all the workers at UPS, UMass Amherst, the Brattleboro Retreat (900 or so workers), and the food co-ops in Northampton, Greenfield, and Brattleboro. The Brattleboro co-op has about 160 employees.

The middle class in the USA is disappearing. There are more rich people and more poor people than there have been since the 1920s. This allows billionaires more influence over politicians. Unions are one way to expand the middle class and increase democracy.

In other Springfield area news, on November 21 at 105 Welland Street people rallied outside the home of a low income family. They were protesting a decision by HSBC Bank Corporation to evict the family. Thanks to the rally, an auction of the home that had been planned for that day was postponed until December 19 at noon. The activists plan to return at that time. The public is invited to join them. They have a web site at www.SpringfieldNoOneLeaves.org.

The group has had remarkable success in the past stopping billion dollar banks from evicting poor people from their homes in Springfield. Details, and a powerful photo, are at:

www.valleypost.org/2012/10/14/photo-springfield-victory

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