Workers Unite

In Springfield on October 14, about 25 workers attended a rally outside their employer's office. They are paramedics and EMTs. They work for American Medical Response Corporation, a subsidiary of Global Medical Response (GMR) Corporation. GMR has about 38,000 employees. It's based in Texas.

Victoria Gaskins is a math teacher at a public school in Springfield. She is married to one of the workers who was at the protest. Gaskins sent a press release to a local TV station about the protest. The press release said one of the reasons for the protest was low wages. On October 16 a woman who answered the phone at the school where Gaskins teaches told the Valley Post Gaskins would call back soon. The Post will publish her comment when it is received.

A federal government web site seems to imply the workers are members of a union that has a web site at www.OPEIUlocal6.org. George Noel works for the union. He did not immediately respond to a phone message and e-mail from the Valley Post. The Post will publish his response when it is received.

Dean Ethier works for a union in Springfield that has a web site at www.ufcw1459.com. On October 16 he told the Valley Post he would try to find out which union the GMR workers belong to and let the Post know.

The Massachusetts AFL-CIO did not immediately respond to a phone message.

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 (600 of the 900 Retreat workers are union members), 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.

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