Mass Marches Work

Free round-trip bus tickets from Holyoke to a September 21 climate march in New York City are available. President Obama and the leaders of other nations will be in New York City that day to try to come up with an agreement to reduce pollution. The march is being organized by the Service Employees International Union, the Sierra Club, and other organizations. More information about the march, including how to get bus tickets from the Valley, is at www.PeoplesClimate.org. The Sunday march starts at 11:30 a.m.

Grassroots Victory

In a grassroots victory, a coal fired electricity generating facility in Holyoke will close permanently in October. The Mount Tom Power Plant currently burns about 1,200 tons of coal every day. “Now we will have less air pollution,” said Vilma Vazquez, a Holyoke resident who attended rallies to close the facility.

The movement to close the coal facility was organized by www.n2nma.org and www.ToxicsAction.org.

Transportation Victories

In a victory for poor people and the environment, activists got a group of local governments in the Valley to reverse its plan to raise the local bus fare. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) wanted to hike the fare from $1.25 to $1.50. About 370 people attended public hearings about the scheme. The vast majority spoke out against the fare boost. At the most recent hearing, on June 27 in Springfield, city resident Aunush Dawidjan led the audience in a chant: “Tax Mercedes,” she said. “Not old ladies,” the people replied. Mercedes Corporation makes cars for rich people.

Local Post Office Workers Fight Back

On September 27 at 4 p.m. there will be two rallies to save the jobs of post office workers. The rallies will be at Congressman Richard Neal’s office at 300 State Street in Springfield, and at Congressman John Olver’s office at 57 Suffolk Street in Holyoke. The rallies will last 90 minutes.

The organizers of the rallies are asking the public to contact their members of Congress in support of House Bill 1351.

More information is available at www.SaveAmericasPostalService.org or by calling Michael Harazmus, president of the Letter Carriers Union in the Valley, at (413) 737-0640.

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.

In Valley, a Crisis in Care for Mental Illness

Recent budget decisions by the governors and state legislators in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont have caused a crisis here in the Valley for people with mental illness who don’t have good health insurance. That’s according to Paul Gorman. He’s president of the New Hampshire chapter of a national group, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Gorman is also director of the Dartmouth College Psychiatric Research Center www.dartmouth.edu He spoke with the Valley Post on July 13.

Free 'Jobs With Justice' Conference is March 6 in Holyoke

The non-profit group Jobs With Justice will hold a conference in Holyoke on March 6 from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. with a dinner break. Admission is free for "low-income" people. The conference will be followed by a dance.

The keynote speech will be by Rob Witherell. He has worked as an organizer for the Steelworkers union www.usw.org for almost 20 years. Witherell will talk about Mondragón Cooperativa in Spain, the world's biggest network of worker-owned cooperatives.

Vermont Yankee Leaking Nuclear Waste Into Connecticut River

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is leaking cancer-causing tritium, a form of nuclear waste, into the Connecticut River, a spokesperson for the Vermont Department of Health said on February 9. The river, a popular swimming and fishing area in summer, flows south from Vermont through Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield. Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire.

Springfield/Holyoke Area Unions Endorse Candidates, Plan Rally

A group of unions in the Springfield/Holyoke area has endorsed candidates in the November 3 local elections. The Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council endorsed Domenic Sarno for mayor of Springfield and Elaine Pluta for mayor of Holyoke.

Rick Brown is president of the labor council. "We're excited about the new ward representation system in Springfield," he said. "It will open up politics to the people."

Workers Unite

About 30 years ago, the middle class in the United States was the biggest it’s ever been. Today, the U.S. is looking more like a country in Europe in the 1600s: a king, a handful of rich people around him, and almost everyone else living in varying degrees of poverty. Why does that matter? Well, if you ask Derek Dobiecki, a worker at the Cingular Wireless store in the Holyoke Mall, the answer is, leanin.’