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

Local Post Office Workers Fight Back

On September 27 at 4 p.m. there will be two rallies to save the jobs of post office workers. The rallies will be at Congressman Richard Neal’s office at 300 State Street in Springfield, and at Congressman John Olver’s office at 57 Suffolk Street in Holyoke. The rallies will last 90 minutes.

The organizers of the rallies are asking the public to contact their members of Congress in support of House Bill 1351.

More information is available at www.SaveAmericasPostalService.org or by calling Michael Harazmus, president of the Letter Carriers Union in the Valley, at (413) 737-0640.

Springfield Eviction Protests are August 29 and September 2

Bank of America paid its CEO, Brian Moynihan, more than $1.9 million last year. Now, in Springfield, Bank of America is trying to evict a low-income family from the family’s only home. On August 29 at 12:30 p.m., activists will rally in front of the Jimenez family home at 91 Granada Terrace. The Jimenez family is asking the public to attend the rally, which is being organized by a group called Springfield No One Leaves www.SpringfieldNoOneLeaves.org

Photos of a protest in May in Springfield that was organized by the same group are at:

Locals Extinguish Proposed Incinerator

The Springfield city council voted 10 – 2 to snuff out a proposed corporate incinerator May 23. The vote came after a four-hour-long public hearing before the city council on May 17. At the hearing, locals blasted the incinerator plan. Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield (STIP), an all-volunteer group, fought the proposal for several years.

“I’m proud of the city council for putting public health ahead of the threat of being sued by the developer,” said STIP spokeswoman Michaelann Bewsee.

Photos: Springfield Bank Protest

In Springfield on May 7, dozens of activists occupied the Bank of America branch on Oak Street to protest the multi-billion dollar corporation’s decision to force poor people out of their homes. The action was organized by the No One Leaves Campaign, spokesman Malcolm Chu told the Valley Post.

The occupation followed a march up State Street with marchers chanting "Bank of America, Bad for America!"

More information is available at www.SpringfieldNoOneLeaves.org

To enlarge a photo, click on it, then scroll down and click "See full-size image."

Springfield Incinerator Hearing is April 5

Why did an incinerator corporation recently choose Springfield, the biggest city in western Massachusetts (population 156,000) as the location for a new incinerator? Could the choice be related to the fact that Springfield is home to a much higher percentage of people of color (48 percent) than most cities and towns in the region? The percentage of families in poverty in Springfield is more than double the national average. Maybe the incinerator company’s lawyers thought poor people of color would be less likely to put up a fight. They were wrong.