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.
Some 700 peaceful protesters were arrested in recent days in New York City. The Occupy Wall Street protesters’ web site says, “We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.” The protesters' web site is:
On September 24, in Northampton and Amherst, there will be marches to protest the use of fossil fuels. At 11:30 a.m., marchers will leave from the site of a proposed large group of solar panels at the UMass horse farm at 111 North Maple Street in Hadley. They will march to the park in front of the Amherst Town Hall. The march is scheduled to arrive at the town hall at 12:30 p.m.
At noon in Northampton, a march will start at 210 Main Street (in front of City Hall) and end behind the building at 150 Main Street. The march will go via Pleasant and Armory streets.
The University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst, with 26,000 students, more than 900 professors, and thousands of other workers, is one of the biggest employers in the Valley. Workers at UMass belong to several unions. Since UMass workers work for the state, it's illegal for them to go on strike. So they lobby the governor, state legislature, and the UMass board of trustees for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. The trustees are appointed by the governor.
Workers at the Target stores in Keene and in Hadley, Massachusetts, near Amherst, will likely be watching the outcome of a June 17 vote by workers at a Target store in Valley Stream, New York on whether to form a union.
In 2009, the most recent year for which data were available, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel was paid more than $13 million.
Tashawna Green has worked at the Target store in Valley Stream for more than a year. She makes $8 an hour.
“We need a living wage where we can get by,” Sonia Williams told the New York Times. She works late at night at the store.
On May 20, a mini-van gravely injured a woman who was riding her bicycle in Granby at about 5:30 p.m. It was a “hit and run” crime. Police are trying to find the driver. Granby borders Amherst. A police spokesperson said that the impact sent the woman flying off her bicycle and into a telephone pole. The bicycle rider was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Police are asking anyone with information about the vehicle or its driver to the Granby Police at (413) 467-9222.
There is also good news for local bicycle riders and walkers.
Janitors, cooks, and other workers will rally for justice, April 28 at noon in Amherst. The public is invited to attend. The state workers who are organizing the rally are paid low wages and have no job security. They work for the University of Massachusetts. The rally will be outside the student union building. There is a map at:
Parking on campus is easy but expensive. Details are at:
Taxes are due on April 18 this year. Activists in Amherst and Brattleboro plan to use the occasion to educate the public. About half the federal budget goes to war. The richest Americans and biggest corporations are able to avoid paying all or most of the money they owe the government.
Protesters will hand out a pie chart showing what the government does with the money that Americans pay in income taxes:
Activists are asking the public to attend a rally in Amherst on March 2 to show their solidarity with government workers in Wisconsin. Tens of thousands of workers have been rallying at the Wisconsin state capitol in recent days to protest anti-union legislation proposed by that state’s governor. Similar legislation is pending in several other states. Experts say the trend will likely affect workers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
A group of people in Springfield is helping Valley residents get state money to make their homes more energy efficient. The group, the Alliance to Develop Power, is hosting free, public evening meetings in: Amherst January 19, Easthampton January 20, Northampton January 26, and Greenfield February 2.
People at the meetings will learn how to sign up for a free energy assessment, get money for weatherization and other energy efficiency services, said Boone Shear of the Alliance.
The meeting will be in:
-Amherst, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Bangs Community Center, 70 Boltwood Walk;