Workers Unite

In Amherst, workers at the University of Massachusetts are organizing a union. If they succeed, about 80 workers will be members of the union. They teach at UMass. On January 24 at 11 a.m., the workers will hold a rally. The public is invited. The rally will be outside the Whitmore building at Umass Amherst.

“It's a matter of solidarity and self respect,” said Priscilla Murolo. She has taught history at Umass Amherst for 12 years.

Gordon Lafer has taught sociology at Umass Amherst for eight years. “A union will help guarantee fair conditions for faculty,” he said.

Photo: Protesting Climate Change

This photo was taken on October 17 in Amherst. It shows activists holding a giant banner at the University of Massachusetts. The banner calls on the president of UMass to stop supporting climate change. Hundreds of pedestrians gathered to watch the banner drop, said organizer Sam King. For more information, contact King at sfking@student.umass.edu or by phone at (413) 325-7011. The group's web page is: www.facebook.com/divestUmass

To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "see full size image."

photo by Sam King

Activist Teachers

Three famous activists will give free or low-cost public speeches, with question-and-answer sessions, in the Valley. In a profile published last month, the Los Angeles Times newspaper called Cindy Sheehan an “anti-war activist who rose to national prominence after her son was killed in the Iraq war in 2005.” She lives in California and is a war tax resistor. More information about war tax resistance is at www.nwtrcc.org.

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.

Occupy Wall Street Rallies in Valley

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:

www.OccupyWallSt.org

Valley Marchers to Fight Fossil Fuels September 24

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.

UMass Amherst, A Major Valley Employer, Is Run In Secret

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.

Target Fights Its Workers' Union

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.

Tragedy, Celebration for Bicycle Riders, Walkers

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.

Workers Rally in Amherst April 28

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:

www.umass.edu/visitorsctr/Campus_Map

Parking on campus is easy but expensive. Details are at:

http://parking.umass.edu/index.php/home