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.

Washington Judge: Valley Protesters Innocent

Four Valley residents were found not guilty of “unlawful assembly” in a Washington, DC court room on June 16. They were arrested with 21 other people for protesting torture at the U.S. capitol building in January.

Judge Russell Canan freed the arrested protesters.

The non-violent protest was organized by the group Witness Against Torture www.witnesstorture.org

Uprising by Vermont Prisoners

Some three dozen Vermonters were on “lock down” at a private prison in Tennessee on May 14 for non-violent civil disobedience on May 12. A prison official refused to tell the Associated Press when the prisoners would be allowed to make phone calls and have their other rights restored, for example, the right to exercise outside their cells. Guards used a "non-lethal grenade" to force the prisoners into their cells.

For Massachusetts Workers, Consumers Boycott Shaw's

On May 8, workers stood outside a Shaw's supermarket near Brattleboro and asked people not to shop at Shaw's until a strike is settled. Many customers said they would do what the workers asked. Some 300 workers at a Shaw's warehouse near Boston have been on strike for weeks. Shaw's is using the Keene-based C&S corporation to scab. C&S has warehouses in Brattleboro and near Northampton. The May 8 action, and recent pickets at the C&S warehouses in the Valley, were organized by the Massachusetts and Vermont chapters of www.jwj.org

Two Victories for Union Workers in Greenfield

Gael Wakefield is a public transit bus driver in Greenfield. In 2008, she was elected president of Local 274 of the UE union. She still serves as president, while also working as a bus driver. The UE’s web site is www.UEunion.org

On May 5, Wakefield sat down with Eesha Williams of MassLaborNews.com to talk about her union.

Amherst Prof. Cites Model Victories for Valley Workers

Dale Melcher runs the “labor extension” program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. The program helps unions. She told MassLaborNews.com on May 4 about two groups that could be an inspiration to workers throughout Massachusetts. The first group is Community Labor United (CLU) in Boston.

Police Will Not Penalize Driver Who Hit Pedestrian in Keene

On April 25, a 19-year-old woman, Brittney Frank, was crossing Main Street in Keene in a crosswalk when a car hit her. She was taken to Dartmouth Hitchcock hospital in Keene, where she was treated for a leg injury. Police spokesman Steven LaMears told the Keene Sentinel newspaper that police would not file any charges or traffic citations against the driver who hit the pedestrian.

Grocery Warehouse Strikers Speak Out

More than 300 workers at a Shaw’s grocery warehouse in Methuen, Massachusetts, near Boston, have been on strike since March 7. There is a Shaw's store in Keene. “The company tried to make us pay more for health care,” said Evin Ramirez. He has worked for more than 11 years inside the giant, windowless warehouse, where temperatures range between 25 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

Photos: Shaw's Workers on Strike

Here are two photos from Methuen, Massachusetts. They were taken on April 27 of striking Shaw's warehouse workers. The workers were excited because the company called the union on April 27 and asked to meet on April 28. On April 28, they were to bargain a new contract for the approximately 300 workers who have been on strike for weeks. More information is at www.jwj.org -- follow the links to the eastern Massachusetts coalition web site. There is a Shaw's store in Keene. Click the photos, then scroll down, to enlarge.

Local Postal Workers Fight to Keep Their Jobs

Joe Gonzales has worked for the U.S. Postal Service in Springfield, Massachusetts for more than nine years. (This is not his real name; the Postal Service has tried to fire workers who criticized it.) Now he’s afraid he will lose his job. “As it is, I live with my sister,” he said. “If I lost my job, I’m not sure I’d be able to feed and clothe myself.”