Workers Strike

On August 4, striking workers held a rally outside the Market Basket grocery store about two miles from Keene in Swanzey, New Hampshire. About 10,000 people attended a rally for the striking Market Basket workers near Boston on August 5. Market Basket has about 25,000 workers at its grocery stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Civil Disobedience Set for August 4

On August 4 at 8:30 a.m. in Springfield, activists will risk arrest for non-violent civil disobedience. Their goal is to stop a bank that pays its CEO millions of dollars a year from evicting a low-income family from their home on Rochelle Street. Dozens of homes in Springfield whose poor owners were evicted by rich banks have remained vacant and abandoned for years. The August 4 protest is being organized by a group that has organized civil disobedience in Springfield before. Photos of one of these events where 15 people were arrested are at:

Photos: Protesting Wells Fargo

Last year, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf was paid more than $19 million. He is planning to evict Diane and Ray Perkins of Springfield from their home at 45 Wilton Street. Dozens of people protested against Wells Fargo in front of the Perkins's home on April 28. In recent years, bank CEOs have been getting rich as they forced dozens of poor people in Springfield out of their homes.

Worker Safety March Is April 24

In 2005, Rob Hackley, a worker at a Pepsi factory in Florida, was burned so seriously that doctors had to perform surgery on him twice. He barely survived. The federal agency charged with workplace safety, OSHA, investigated. OSHA's report concluded that Hackley's injuries had been preventable if Pepsi had given him proper safety equipment, and that his bosses had told workers to “throw safety out the window and get the work done.” The bosses showed “deliberate, voluntary and intentional disregard to employee safety.” But OSHA gave Pepsi only a minimal fine.

Environmental Progress

Springfield's first bicycle lane opened October 26. A day earlier in Keene, a $15 million, energy efficient, affordable housing project opened. It was built by www.kha.org. Riding a bicycle rather than driving, reduces global warming, acid rain, and smog. Living in multi-family housing, rather than a one-family house, saves farmland and forestland, and makes using public transit a viable alternative to owning a car.

Transportation Victories

In a victory for poor people and the environment, activists got a group of local governments in the Valley to reverse its plan to raise the local bus fare. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) wanted to hike the fare from $1.25 to $1.50. About 370 people attended public hearings about the scheme. The vast majority spoke out against the fare boost. At the most recent hearing, on June 27 in Springfield, city resident Aunush Dawidjan led the audience in a chant: “Tax Mercedes,” she said. “Not old ladies,” the people replied. Mercedes Corporation makes cars for rich people.

Springfield Nurses Rally Is February 28

Nurses are asking the public to join them at a rally for justice in Springfield on February 28 at 9:30 a.m. “We want the community to understand that we are very serious about retaining our union rights,” said Donna Stern. She’s a nurse at Baystate Franklin Medical Center. “Those rights are key to providing nurses the ability to advocate for better working conditions and safer patient care.”

The union rally will coincide with a corporate PR event. Baystate Health System Corporation will unveil its new $252 million hospital in Springfield.

Road, Sewer Workers Win; School Crossing Guards Organize

Workers at the Amherst Department of Public Works voted last week to sign a two year contract with the town. They maintain Amherst’s sewer and drinking water systems, run the garbage dump and recycling center, fix the town’s roads and traffic lights, and take care of the parks and trees. They belong to the AFSCME union www.afscme.org local 1725. They will get 1.3 percent annual raises.

Springfield Labor Rally Is Nov. 10

On November 10 at 5 p.m., workers will rally in Springfield to protest a company that violated laws protecting workers’ right to form a union. The public is invited. A union election will be conducted by mail starting November 14. Ballots will be counted on November 30, said Ivette Hernandez, one of the workers who will vote on whether to join the Service Employees union Local 509.

Occupy Wall Street Rallies in Valley

Some 700 peaceful protesters were arrested in recent days in New York City. The Occupy Wall Street protesters’ web site says, “We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.” The protesters' web site is:

www.OccupyWallSt.org