150 at Rally Against Lay-Offs at Northampton Hospital

About 150 people turned out for a rally against lay-offs at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton on November 9. Hospital officials recently said they will soon lay off an unspecified number of workers, including nurses. The officials said the number of lay-offs could be around 10.

"The lay-offs are unnecessary," said Charlie Rasmussen of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the union that represents 270 nurses at the hospital. “Cooley Dickinson has an $8.9 million surplus this year.”

A Local Healthcare Story

Sherry Fortin sat leaning against a mailbox outside Pinocchio’s in downtown Northampton, knitting a winter hat. On the sidewalk lay her finished products: several hats and scarves, which cost $20, mittens, which cost $15, and bracelets, a bargain at only $1.

A colorful sign advertised her wares: “I have diabetes and need medication. $1 donation for a bracelet. I can knit anything you want, and will take orders.”

Fifty People at Hadley Whole Foods Boycott Rally

The CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, recently wrote an article that was published in the Wall Street Journal. In the article, Mackey argued that health care is not a right, and opposed universal health care. On September 12, some 51 local activists showed up at a rally in the rain at the Whole Foods store in Hadley, near Northampton, calling for a boycott.


A Local Worker Talks About His Union

Labor Day is right around the corner and the Valley Post is starting a series of profiles of Valley unions. Michael Barry is one of about 380 union workers at the mental hospital in Brattleboro. He started there in 1975. His job title is “mental health worker” at the Brattleboro Retreat.

Barry and his co-workers started organizing their union in the mid-1990s and finished in 2002. They are members of United Nurses and Allied Professionals. UNAP is based in Rhode Island and has about 5,000 members.

Locals Blast Entergy, Vermont Governor's Appointees

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone’s throw from New Hampshire. It’s owned by Entergy Corp. of Louisiana. Vermont governor Jim “Douglas has been Entergy’s best friend,” said Paul Burns, director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), the state’s biggest environmental organization. “He has consistently put Entergy’s interests ahead of the interests of Vermonters.”

The Vermont Public Service Board, whose three members were appointed by Douglas, held a public hearing in Vernon, Vermont on July 13. Vermont Yankee is in Vernon.

NH Governor Vetoes Drug War Reform Effort

New Hampshire governor John Lynch on July 10 vetoed legislation that would have made New Hampshire the 14th state to legalize marijuana use by severely ill people. The bill passed the House by 232-108 and the senate by 14-10. If enough people call their legislators, it’s possible that the legislature will over-ride Lynch’s veto. Legislators’ contact info is at www.gencourt.state.nh.us

Local Girl Fights for Health Care; Meets Obama

About three years ago, just before Camryn Adams turned six, she was suddenly plagued with fatigue, weight loss and excessive thirst and urination.

A visit to the doctor revealed that her blood sugar level was over 500, when it should have been between 80 and 110. She was diagnosed with “type one” diabetes the same day.

"At first I really didn't know what the word (diabetes) meant," Camryn said. "The only part I recognized was 'die,' so I thought I was going to die, but that didn't happen."

Video: Health Care, Anti-Nuke Activists in Brattleboro July 4 Parade

Members of the Vermont Workers Center www.workerscenter.org called for universal health care and members of the Citizens Awareness Network www.nukebusters.org called for closing the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant as they marched in the Brattleboro Fourth of July parade. video by Eesha Williams

Vermont Governor Opposes Health Care, Cuts Environment Protection

On June 24, Vermont governor Jim Douglas personally lobbied President Obama to reject universal health care. “This governor does not represent the wishes of the people of Vermont,” said Richard Davis, director of the Guilford, Vermont-based www.universalhealthvt.org Guilford borders Brattleboro.

Meanwhile, the Burlington Free Press newspaper reported that the number of people working at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is down almost 10 percent over the last six months. Douglas eliminated 58 jobs in the agency. That number includes 11 people laid off between June 22 and June 24.

Amherst Healthcare Rally June 25

Jon Weissman was a mailman in Springfield, Mass. for 25 years before he was elected president of that city’s Letter Carriers’ union. He now runs the western Mass. chapter of a national group, Jobs With Justice www.jwj.org

Weissman writes:

We need a system that guarantees quality, affordable health care for everyone in America, and that:

-has the clout to force insurance companies to improve the coverage they offer and contain health care costs;

-guarantees standard, comprehensive benefits at an affordable price;