Workers Unite

On March 10 in Chicopee, Massachusetts hundreds of Stop and Shop workers came to a union meeting and voted unanimously to give their elected union leaders the power to call a strike. Chicopee borders Springfield and Holyoke. Low wages are one of the main reasons workers voted yes. Stop and Shop is owned by a corporation based in Holland that has about 370,000 employees, including about 2,000 in western Massachusetts. Stop and Shop workers in the Pioneer Valley have a web site at www.ufcw1459.com.

Workers who join a union in the USA make an average of 27 percent higher wages. That's according to www.bls.gov.

Non-union workers can be fired at any time for no reason. Most union contracts say that workers can only be fired for a good reason. If the boss and the worker disagree, a neutral third party decides.

Millions of workers in the USA are union members, including all the workers at UPS, public schools throughout the Valley, the Brattleboro Retreat mental hospital (600 of the 900 Retreat workers are union members), and the food co-ops in Brattleboro, Greenfield, and Northampton.

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 news from the Valley, on March 8 in Northampton about 35 people attended a rally protesting Trump's war in Venezuela. One of the groups that organized the rally has a web site at www.TheResistanceCenter.org. The below photo of the March 8 event was taken by Emily Greene. To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click “see full size image.”

In other news from the Valley, in Keene there will be a rally to support gun control on March 16 at 10 a.m. at Central Square. The event organizers have a web page at:

https://womensmarch.org/programs/youth-empower

In other news from the Valley, 60 acres of open space in Keene have been permanently protected from development by a group that has web site at www.MonadnockConservancy.org.

In other news from the Valley, Vermont's Republican governor is trying to cut funding for open space protection. "By statute VHCB (which funds open space protection and affordable housing, see www.vhcb.org) should be receiving roughly half of the property transfer tax, which would amount to $21.8 million," Chris Donnelly told the Valley Post on March 11. "The Governor’s proposal is $14.4 million." More information about Donnelly is at:

www.vlt.org/vhcc

The USA is losing 6,000 acres of open space every day.

In other news from the Valley, all 200 employees of the town of Brattleboro are white. As of 2017, about 20 percent of students in Brattleboro public schools were people of color. “I'm on the search committee for a new human resources (HR) director for the town,” Curtiss Reed told the Valley Post in a phone interview on March 10. “We want the person we hire to make the town employees more diverse in future hiring. We are targeting the help wanted ad to African American and Latino HR professionals. The salary is $60,000.” The average price to buy a house in the Brattleboro area is slightly below the national average and about a third of the average price in the Boston area. Reed, who runs a group in Brattleboro that has a web site at www.VermontPartnership.org, noted that Brattleboro is surrounded by hiking opportunities.

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