7,000 Vermont Workers to Vote on Union

About 7,000 workers in Vermont will vote on whether to form a union. The so-called “homecare” workers take care of patients who are too sick or too elderly to take care of themselves. They work in the patients’ homes, rather than at nursing homes or other institutions. They are paid by the government. The workers will vote by mail between September 9 and 27.

Northampton City Council Picks a Fight With Firefighters

The Northampton city council is refusing to approve a union contract for the city’s firefighters. The contract has the support of the mayor and a state mediator. The firefighters are asking the public to contact the city council and urge them to approve the contract. The public is invited to learn more at a rally on August 5 from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Florence Civic Center, 90 Park Street in Florence, Massachusetts. Details are at www.NorthamptonFirefighters.org.

New Group Aims to Reduce Vermont Prison Population

Suzi Wizowaty, an elected member of the Vermont legislature, recently started an organization whose primary mission is to reduce the number of people in the state’s prisons. “We’re trying to create a movement,” she told the Valley Post on July 25. The new group’s web site is www.VermontersForCriminalJusticeReform.org.

More than 10 percent of the people in Vermont prisons are African American. Just 1 percent of people in Vermont are black.

For Forest Near Keene, Against Holyoke Wal-Mart

Logging is underway in the biggest state park in New Hampshire. Pisgah state park is near Keene and Brattleboro. It includes more than 13,000 acres. Kathy Thatcher is president of Friends of Pisgah www.FriendsOfPisgah.org an environmental group. On June 27, she said that, in 1968, the state asked the federal government for money to buy the land that is now Pisgah state park. The request was approved. The written plan was “to build a state park specifically for outdoor recreation... The request also stated [there would be]: ‘an emphasis on wilderness experience for the user.

Local Immigrant News

On June 24 at 10 a.m. in Springfield, immigrant rights activists will rally at the office of congressman Richard Neal. The event is being organized by the Massachusetts chapter of a group called Not One More Deportation, which is an affiliate of www.ndlon.org. For more information contact Bliss Requa-Trautz at bliss.requatrautz@gmail.com or by phone at (774) 722-1511.

750 at Tuesday Morning Hearing on $11 Minimum Wage

Supporting a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour, about 750 people packed a 10 a.m. public hearing at the Massachusetts statehouse on Tuesday, June 11. The vast majority of the people who spoke at the hearing supported the bill.

Among the bill's sponsors are representatives Peter Kocot of Northampton, Cheryl Coakley-Rivera and Benjamin Swan of Springfield, and Ellen Story of Amherst.

The bill is at:

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/House/H1701

Wal-Mart Rallies Near Springfield May 28, June 6, June 8

Wal-Mart is owned by the richest family in the world, the billionaire Waltons. The Walton family pays workers at Wal-Mart factories among the lowest wages in the world. Wal-Mart workers in the U.S. make barely above minimum wage. A series of three rallies at a Wal-Mart in Chicopee, Massachusetts, near Springfield, are set for May 28, June 6, and June 8. The rallies are being organized by the western Massachusetts chapter of Jobs With Justice, which has a web site at www.jwj.org.

Workers' Victory Expected May 7

Hundreds of workers at grocery stores in Northampton, Greenfield, and Brattleboro recently formed a union. On May 7, the Northampton workers are expected to finish negotiating their first union contract with their bosses. They work at River Valley Market www.RiverValleyMarket.coop. “Then we will vote on ratification,” River Valley Market worker Gabriel Quaglia told the Valley Post on May 4. Union workers elect a few of their co-workers to meet with their bosses to negotiate a contract. When a deal is reached, all the workers vote on whether to approve it.

Wal-Mart Rallies Are April 24 and April 26

On April 24 at 5 p.m. and on April 26 at 6 p.m. there will be one hour rallies for justice at five local Wal-Mart stores in Massachusetts. The rallies are being promoted by the western Massachusetts chapter of a union-supported group, Jobs With Justice www.jwj.org. The April 24 rallies will be at the Wal-Mart stores at:

- 1105 Boston Road in Springfield (RSVP: Jeff Jones 413-732-6209 jjones@ufcw1459.com);

- 180 North King Street in Northampton (RSVP: Rose Bookbinder 413-320-2028 rose.bookbinder@gmail.com and Edan Dhanraj sessionvoice@gmail.com);

In Keene, Some Professors Make $18,000 a Year

Professors in Keene are fighting for a union contract. Even if they want to work full-time, their employer, River Valley Community College, only lets them work 20 hours a week, for which they are paid about $18,000 a year, Ken Relihan told the Valley Post on March 23. He is a professor at the college and lives in Alstead, New Hampshire, near Keene. He has taught Humanities at River Valley Community College for three years. “You can ask to teach three courses and they often don’t tell you until the last minute how many you will get,” he said.