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.

Photo: Vermont Forest and Lake

This photo shows the town of Somerset, Vermont, near Brattleboro. It was taken on January 14. The town has a population of three, according to the 2010 census. Somerset is approximately the shape of a rectangle and is about four miles by five miles. The town is in the Green Mountain National Forest, which is more than 400,000 acres and is open to the public for hiking. More information about the forest is at:

www.fs.usda.gov/gmfl

To enlarge the photo, click on it, then scroll down and click “see full size image.” photo by Eesha Williams

Photo: Cross-Country Skiing Near Greenfield

This photo was taken on January 6 in Northfield, Massachusetts, near Greenfield. It shows cross-country skiers at the Northfield Mountain Cross-Country Ski Area. The trails are groomed using a tractor, which is helpful if the snow is icy. The company charges $12 for an adult for a full day of skiing. Ski rentals are available there. Details are at:

www.firstlightpower.com/northfield/ccski.asp

Photos: Protesters Hit Wal-Mart

These photos were taken on November 23 at the Wal-Mart in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, near Brattleboro and Keene. Hundreds of similar protests around the nation happened at the same time. They were organized by www.jwj.org and other groups. At the Hinsdale action, one group of shoppers told the protesters, "We changed our minds. We aren't going to shop here." The protesters cheered. In the first photo, the man wearing the "You can beat Wal-Mart" t-shirt is Al Norman of Greenfield. He has a web site at www.sprawl-busters.com.

Photo: Western Massachusetts Farm Fields and River

This photo was taken on November 21 in Deerfield, Massacusetts, near Greenfield. It shows farm fields, the Connecticut river, and several nearby towns. The photo was taken in the Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation: www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/msug.htm. To enlarge the photo, click on it. photo by Eesha Williams

Workers Fight Back

In the Valley this week, 140 grocery workers voted to join a union, mental health workers rallied for a fair contract, and a Northampton solidarity action was announced for striking Wal-Mart workers. These photos show a November 16 rally by workers at the Brattleboro Retreat mental hospital; some 500 workers there belong to the United Nurses and Allied Professionals Union www.unap.org.

Photos: From the Mountaintop

These photos were taken on November 14 near Brattleboro and the Massachusetts state line. They were taken from from the summit of Mount Olga in Vermont's Molly Stark State Park. The first photo shows Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire; the second is looking west toward New York state.

Photo: Owl Near Amherst

This photo of a Saw-whet owl was taken recently at a Kestrel Land Trust preserve in Belchertown, Massachusetts, near Amherst. Saw-whet owls sleep during most of the day and stay awake at night. They eat mice, insects, and other very small creatures. The owls are silent except during their springtime mating season.

Photo: Springfield Victory

Usually, when a giant corporate bank wants to evict a low-income family from the family’s home, that’s what happens. But on October 12 in Springfield, the family won. More than 100 people took part in a protest in front of the home. More than a dozen people had committed to risking arrest for non-violent civil disobedience to save the family’s home at 27 Talmadge Drive.