Livable Wage Rallies Set

There will be rallies to raise the minimum wage to a livable wage at the Massachusetts and Vermont statehouses, and in Nashua, New Hampshire. A livable wage is enough to pay for rent, health care, groceries, transportation, and other essentials.

The Boston rally is on March 26 at 10 a.m. at 140 Bowdoin Street, Boston. The Boston rally organizers have a web site: www.RaiseUpMA.org. People who need a ride from the Valley should contact Lena Entin. She works for www.n2nma.org and can be reached at lena@n2nma.org or by phone at (413) 210-4217.

Eviction Protest Is March 4 in Springfield

Activists are asking the public to attend a rally outside the Springfield courthouse where a multi-million dollar bank's lawyers will try to evict a low-income man from his home. The rally will be on March 4 at 8:30 a.m. outside the Western Housing Court at 37 Elm Street.

After a brief rally, the protesters will put on buttons saying “Mel Watt: Suspend Evictions Now” and will attend the trial. Watt is director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which controls the government-funded mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Watt was appointed by President Obama in December 2013.

Victory for Grocery Workers

Grocery workers in Greenfield and Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts have a tentative first union contract. Soon, all the workers will vote on whether to accept the contract, which has been accepted by the management of Green Fields Market and McCusker's Market. It was negotiated by a committee that was elected by the workers, and by management. “The contract includes raises and better benefits,” John Cevasco told the Valley Post. He has worked as a stock clerk at Green Fields Market for more than 15 years.

About 75 people work at the two stores.

Greenfield Nurses Will Strike

On February 10, the 209 nurses who work at the Greenfield hospital will go on strike. The strike was approved by a vote of the nurses. “One day last week I had to work until 10 p.m. I start at 7 a.m.,” Linda Judd told the Valley Post in October. She is a nurse at the hospital. “They don't let you leave until you finish all your paperwork.”

Dozens Protest McDonald's

McDonald's pays its CEO about $9 million a year while its workers make at or around minimum wage. In Northampton and Keene on December 5, dozens of people protested outside McDonald's. In Keene more than 40 people attended the rally. Many of the protesters held signs saying “Super Size Wages” and “$15 an hour.” The protests were organized by Jobs With Justice www.jwj.org and other groups. JWJ is funded by unions.

Northampton Nurses to Rally

Nurses are asking the public to attend a rally for justice in Northampton on November 30 from 10 a.m. until noon. The nurses work for the ServiceNet Corporation. They take care of patients in the patients´ homes. In 2011, the nurses voted to form a union. Since then they have met with the company´s representatives repeatedly but the company has refused to sign a union contract. Between 15 and 20 nurses would be covered by the contract.

Brattleboro Unions Fighting, Winning

About 800 workers at a mental hospital in Brattleboro will benefit from a new union contract. About 160 workers at a grocery store in Brattleboro have been negotiating their union contract. “Negotiations recently broke down. We're getting ready to make some noise,” Joe Crompton told the Valley Post. He has worked as a meat cutter at the Brattleboro Food Co-op for 25 years.

Crompton is running for a seat on the co-op board. Ballots are available now. The deadline to vote is 5 p.m. on November 17.

209 Greenfield Nurses Give Their Elected Leaders Power to Call a Strike

The 209 nurses at the Greenfield hospital voted October 15 to authorize a strike. That means their elected representatives in the union have the power to call a strike. The nurses went on strike last year (see photo, below).

Immigrant Rights Rally Is September 21

Bliss Requa-Trautz is a community organizer in Springfield with Jobs With Justice. “I am reaching out to the community to join us at a rally September 21 at noon at All Souls Church at 449 Plainfield Street in Springfield,” she said. “We will call on legislators and local politicians to support The Safe Driving Act and the Trust Act.” More information about those immigrant rights bills is at:

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/BillHtml/127602?generalCourtId=11

and

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/Senate/S1135

Workers, Northampton Food Co-op Settle First Contract

About 85 workers at the food co-op in Northampton organized a union last year. Recently they signed their first union contract with the manager of the River Valley Market. That's according to John Cevasco, a long-time employee of the food co-op in nearby Greenfield and member of the same union that the Northampton co-op workers joined. The union has a web site: www.ufcw1459.com. The Valley Post will request interviews with workers at the Northampton store via the union, and will update this article if and when the interviews happen.