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.

Workers to Rally April 4 in Springfield, Greenfield, Keene

On April 4, the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., there will be rallies for workers' rights in Springfield, Greenfield, and Keene. The award-winning documentary film "At the River I Stand" shows King's last days in Memphis, in which he spoke to big crowds and marched, in support of striking garbage workers. Information on the film is at:

www.newsreel.org/video/AT-THE-RIVER-I-STAND

The DVD is available by inter-library loan from your local public library.

The time, location, and organizers' contact info for the rallies in Springfield, Greenfield, and Keene are at:

Springfield Bank Protests Feb. 22, 24

Activists are asking the public to attend three protests against banks that want to foreclose on Springfield homeowners. On February 22 at 10:30 a.m., a protest will be held at 1179 Saint James Avenue. There will be two actions on February 24. At 9:30 a.m., activists will gather at 12-14 Foster Street. At 12:30 p.m., they will be at 29 Verge Street.

On February 7, about 25 people protested a foreclosure auction of a Springfield home by Wells Fargo Bank.

Photos of the February 7 protest are at:

https://picasaweb.google.com/AFSCWM/ForeclosureAuctionProtestFebruary72011#

Springfield Nursing Home Workers Form Union

On December 14, more than 300 nursing home workers in Springfield voted to form a union. They work for Sullivan and Associates Corporation. The voted workers voted 190 to 94 to join the Service Employees union www.seiu509.org Two dozen workers' votes are being disputed by the company or the union.

Union workers in the U.S. make more money than nonunion workers, 29 percent more. That’s $9,300 a year extra for the average worker who joins a union. For Latino workers, the union advantage is 50 percent; for black workers, 31 percent.

Rite Aid Workers Rally Near Springfield Dec. 15

There will be a rally at the Chicopee, Massachusetts Rite Aid store at 5 Saint James Avenue at 3 p.m. on December 15. Chicopee is near Springfield. The public is welcome to attend. At the rally, Rite Aid customers will learn from volunteers about:

-- Rite Aid's decision to hike its CEO's compensation to $4.5 million per year;

-- The company's effort to impose major cost increases on workers for health insurance;

-- Rite Aid's pattern of delays in reaching fair agreements with its union workers, and;

Nov. 30 Rally in Springfield to Help Jobless

On November 30 at 2:30 p.m. there will be a rally in Springfield to call on congressman Richard Neal to take action to extend benefits for unemployed workers. Congress recently decided to cut off benefits for some jobless workers – including some 60,000 Massachusetts residents -- on November 30. The rally will be at 300 State Street.

About 2 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits on November 30 unless Congress reverses its earlier decision.

Public Urged to Oppose Power Plant in Springfield

An appointee of Governor Deval Patrick announced recently that the state will not require a company that wants to build a wood incinerator and power plant in Springfield to submit an environmental impact report. The decision was made by Ian Bowles, secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

“During the campaign for governor, Patrick said he was against the big biomass incinerators. (Weeks after the election) he rolls out the red carpet for a big biomass incinerator,” said Chris Matera of Massachusetts Forest Watch on November 22.

Logging or Wilderness: Public Hearing Nov. 16

Members of a local environmental group are urging the public to attend a public hearing on November 16 near Springfield about whether Massachusetts state-owned forest land should be logged or kept as wilderness. Forest Watch members say people should speak out in favor of wilderness at the 6:30 p.m. meeting with representatives of Governor Deval Patrick at 380 Southampton Road in Westfield.

Oct. 22 Noon March Against Police Brutality in Springfield

On October 22 at noon there will be a march to the Springfield police department to protest police brutality in Springfield. That day there will also be a conference on how to fix a variety of problems with police. The conference will be from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Basilica of the Holy Apostle at 339 State Street in Springfield. The march and conference are being organized by the Community Coalition for Justice.

March for Jobs is Sept. 15 in Springfield

There will be a march in Springfield at 4 p.m. on September 15 calling on Congress to raise taxes on the rich to create jobs for unemployed people. The jobs would include work building better trains and train tracks, making homes and other building more energy efficient, and installing solar panels and windmills.

Organizers are asking the public to meet at 1550 Main Street at 3:45 p.m. Putting the millions of jobless Americans to work would raise wages for workers who already have jobs because employers would be forced to compete for skilled workers.