Pavers Winning the Race in the Valley; Locals Push Back

Massachusetts loses some 40 acres of open space to development every day. Every year, about 8,000 single-family houses are built in the four counties of western Massachusetts. In Hampshire and Hampden counties alone, more than 1,500 acres of open space have been lost every year for the past 20 years. That loss is, for practical purposes, irreversible; the chances of a Wal-Mart or a McMansion being torn down and replaced with prime farmland or wilderness are slim to none.

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

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.

Photos: The Valley and the Mountain

The first photo shows the Connecticut River and UMass Amherst. The second was taken on April 18 from the summit of Mt. Monadnock, near Keene. The first photo is by www.commons.wikimedia.org The second is by Matthew Hoffman. To enlarge the photos, please click on them, then scroll down and click "See full-size image."

Columbia University Professor Will Sing in Keene

Singer Philip Hamilton will perform a public concert in Keene on April 13 at 7:30 p.m. Hamilton teaches at Columbia University. Born in West Medford, Massachusetts, Hamilton graduated from Middlebury College and Berklee College of Music. In Keene, he will sing with his nine-person a cappella group. They will sing Gregorian chants, the blues, and miners' songs. They have performed at Lincoln Center in New York City. The concert will be at Keene State College, in the Redfern building at 229 Main Street in downtown Keene. Tickets cost between $12 and $23.

More information is at:

Keene Police Harass Striking Workers; Leave Girl Scouts

On April 3, the Keene police ordered protesters to leave the parking lot of a Shaw's supermarket in Keene under threat of arrest, but allowed Girl Scouts to keep selling cookies in the same parking lot. A spokesman for the UFCW union www.ufcw.org said his union and/or the ACLU might sue the city of Keene for violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Striking Grocery Workers Will Rally in Keene on April 3

Workers at the Shaw’s and Star Markets supermarket chains went on strike March 8. There are Shaw’s stores in Keene and near Brattleboro in Wilmington, Vermont. Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 791 voted 288 to 8 to strike. The workers asked people to boycott Shaw’s until the strike is over.

The striking workers distribute perishable food like fruit, vegetables, milk, and meat to Shaw's and Star Markets stores throughout New England.

“Shaw’s has recruited C&S to scab,” said Jon Weissman of the western Massachusetts chapter of Jobs With Justice www.jwj.org