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.

Victory for Bus Drivers

In Greenfield, public transit bus drivers recently voted to approve a new union contract that will result in higher wages. “The contract is the best we could have expected,” Gael Wakefield told the Valley Post. She is a bus dispatcher and president of UE Local 274.

Greenfield Bus Drivers' Rally Is Feb. 2

In Greenfield, public transit bus drivers will hold a rally for justice on February 2 at 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend the rally, which will be at the town common. The approximately two dozen workers drive and maintain buses for the FRTA or Franklin Regional Transit Authority. They are members of the UE Union Local 274. Even though the buses they drive have FRTA painted on them in giant letters, their employer is FirstGroup Corporation of Aberdeen, Scotland. As of 2010, FirstGroup had 136,000 employees in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Canada and the United States.

Springfield Man Free After Years in Prison for Crime He Didn’t Commit

A young African American man from Springfield could have spent the rest of his life in prison for a murder in Springfield that he did not commit. Instead, Charles Wilhite was freed on January 17 after a jury trial. He spent 40 months in prison for a crime he did not do. Last year in Springfield, about 500 people attended a rally to free Wilhite, according to his aunt, Viraphanh Douangmany of Amherst. The rally was organized by a group she founded: www.JusticeForCharles.org.

Community Supports Worker Fired for Union Organizing

Shirley Lewis was recently fired from her job in Northampton because of her support for an ongoing effort by her co-workers to form a union. That’s according to a spokesman for the nation’s largest union, the Service Employees International Union. “She was fired because she supported the union,” Ryan Berard told the Valley Post on January 3. Lewis worked at the May Institute, a non-profit organization that helps disabled people. The Institute gets most of its funding from the government. The 25 or so Pioneer Valley workers will vote late this month on whether to form a union, Berard said.

Rally for Justice Is December 15 in Springfield

A young African American man is in jail for a murder in Springfield that he did not commit; he could spend the rest of his life in prison. That’s according to a group that has a web site at www.JusticeForCharles.org.

According to an article that appeared in the May 5, 2012 edition of the Boston Globe and that was written by a Globe staff writer, “The group’s confidence in [Charles] Wilhite’s innocence centers on Nathan Perez, a key witness in the trial who is now recanting his testimony identifying Wilhite as the shooter.”

Local Nursing Home Owners Fight Bed Bugs and Workers

Westwood nursing home in Keene has bedbugs. The home is licensed by the state to have 85 human residents. A city inspector found the bugs on November 21. On November 29, the nursing home was still trying to get rid of the bugs. Bed bugs drink human blood. They make people itchy. More information is at www.epa.gov/bedbugs.

"Few members of wealthy families are ever admitted to nursing homes because they can get all the services they need brought to them at home," according to Nobody's Home, a book by nursing home worker Thomas Gass. The book was published by Cornell University in 2005.