Hundreds at Rallies: Tax the Rich, Stop Climate Change

President Trump wants to cut taxes for billionaires, and help fossil fuel companies make climate change worse. In the Valley on November 8 and November 10, hundreds of people attended rallies calling on politicians to fight Trump's agenda. Raising taxes on billionaires would make it possible for the government to cut taxes for everyone else, improve Amtrak, and help poor people in Africa, among other possibilities.

Valley Train Activists Celebrate

In June, more frequent passenger train service is scheduled to start between Greenfield and Springfield with stops in Northampton and Holyoke. It will connect with trains to New York City. “I'm cautiously optimistic that it will start in June,” Tim Brennan told the Valley Post on November 5. He runs the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, a government agency with 47 employees.

100 Union Jobs Hang in the Balance

The 100 or so union workers at a paper factory in Brattleboro are trying to save their jobs. The Georgia-based company that owns the factory says it will fire them all and close the factory. “We're working with other paper companies whose workers we represent to help one of them buy the Brattleboro factory,” John Shinn told the Valley Post on November 1. He's a top leader at the Steelworkers Union, which represents the workers at the Brattleboro factory, and which has a web site at:

www.usw.org/districts/4/contact

Workers Unite

Twenty-five workers formed a union in the town of Monson, Massachusetts, about four miles from Springfield. They drive school buses for a multinational corporation. “A worker needs to have a union,” Clifford Nurse told the Valley Post. He lives in Springfield and drives for the same company, First Student. “I work for a giant corporation. I can't fight them by myself. With the union, I can. First Student has tried to fire drivers because their bus got rear-ended.”

The below photo from his Facebook page shows Nurse.

Critical Mass Oct. 20

There will be a Critical Mass bicycle ride on October 20 at 3 p.m. in Brattleboro. Critical Mass bike rides started in 1992 in California and have since spread around the world. Hundreds of people ride together in a group on roads, forcing cars to go at bicycle speed. They often chant, “Critical Mass, don't use gas!”

The ride will start at the Town Common. Photos of a Critical Mass bike ride in Brattleboro last month are at:

www.valleypost.org/node/1432

Details about the upcoming ride are at:

www.facebook.com/events/396911270843500

Victories: Fewer Prisoners, More Forests

In terms of incarceration rates, in the past decade Vermont went from being one of the worst states in the nation to one of the best. “We have a shortage of housing in Vermont and that affects people as they are released” from prison, Jeanette White told the Valley Post on September 21. She is a state senator for the county that's home to Brattleboro. “We are working on that.”

Of the 50 states, only Massachusetts keeps a smaller percentage of its people in prison than Vermont. New Hampshire is sixth best.

Photos: Critical Mass

On September 8 in Brattleboro, more than 200 people marched and rode bicycles in a group to demand politicians deal with climate change. One of the groups that organized the event has a web site at www.350.org. The march photo is by Kim Timlege. The photos of people riding bikes are by Eesha Williams. To enlarge a photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "see full size image."

Local News Round-up

On September 5 at 4 p.m. in Springfield there will be a rally to protest the high on-the-job death rate for construction workers. The rally will be outside 122 Chestnut Street. Better enforcement of workplace safety laws could save the lives of some of the 5,000 or so people who die on the job annually in the USA. For example, workers are generally required to wear a safety harness when they are on a roof. For every worker who dies on the job, many more are seriously injured. One of the groups that's organizing the event has a web site at www.jwj.org.

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Reggae Singer from Jamaica to Play in Brattleboro

When N.L. Dennis was singing in a recording studio with Toots and the Maytals, Bob Marley stopped by to listen. Marley praised Dennis's delivery. Today, Dennis lives in his native Jamaica and joins hundreds of Jamaicans who come to Vermont every summer in search of better paying work. Most of them work on vegetable farms and at apple orchards. Dennis works as a reggae musician. He will perform a public concert with his band in Brattleboro on July 4. The concert will be at the Whetstone Station restaurant at 36 Bridge Street. The concert starts at 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. (sources differ).

Locals Arrested for Native American Rights

The USA is on land stolen from Native Americans. Despite the best efforts of the government for the past 242 years to kill Native Americans, they are still alive, and fighting the system. Activists are calling on politicians to raise taxes on billionaires and give the money to Native Americans. In recent weeks, several people from the Valley were arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience for Native American rights, and other issues, as part of the Poor People's Campaign.