March 31 Noon Rallies at Bank of America: 'Jobs Now!'

On March 31 at noon, union activists around the Valley will hold rallies asking people to boycott Bank of America. They say the bank has done little to reduce the state’s unemployment rate despite receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer money last year. The bank paid its CEO in 2008 some $9.9 million.

According to Jon Weissman, spokesman for Jobs with Justice www.jwj.org the activists will be at Bank of America branches in: Springfield at the corner of Main Street and Boland Way; Northampton at 144 Main Street; Amherst at 1 South Pleasant Street; and Greenfield at 208 Federal Street.

Two Springfield Labor Rallies Set for Feb. 26

Sodexo food service workers are asking the public to attend a rally for justice on February 26 at 1 p.m. at 1295 State Street in Springfield. The workers plan to speak at the rally about "poverty wage jobs at multi-national corporation Sodexo," said Sodexo worker Noemi Nunez.

Sodexo provides food service, janitorial, and laundry services. It has about 120,000 employees in North America. Sodexo's 2009 profits were up 8 percent from the year before to more than $1 billion.

Photo: Springfield Janitors Fight for Justice

Janitors in Springfield and community supporters on February 18 visited management at the MassMutual Center to ask the company to recognize the janitors' union. Managers refused to meet with the workers, but accepted a letter. The company has not yet responded to the workers' request.

"We will continue the fight until we get justice," said Jesse Martin of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 615.

Springfield Janitors' Rally Is Feb. 18

Janitors in Springfield are asking the public to attend a rally for justice on February 18 at 2:30 p.m. at the corner of Main and Court streets in Springfield. The rally had been planned for February 16 but was postponed due to a snow storm. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 615 – the Justice for Janitors campaign – has organized a majority of the employees of Global Spectrum Corporation at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The MassMutual Center is owned by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.

Vermont Yankee Leaking Nuclear Waste Into Connecticut River

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is leaking cancer-causing tritium, a form of nuclear waste, into the Connecticut River, a spokesperson for the Vermont Department of Health said on February 9. The river, a popular swimming and fishing area in summer, flows south from Vermont through Greenfield, Northampton, Holyoke, and Springfield. Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire.

Springfield Grocery Workers' Protest Is Feb. 1

Thousands of grocery workers throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut -- members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Unions 1445, 328, 371, 1459, and 919 -- are bargaining with their employer, Stop & Shop, for a fair contract. Their current contract expires on February 20.

“Stop & Shop is taking an adversarial and confrontational position by placing advertisements in local newspapers, announcing that they are hiring temporary replacement workers,” said Rick Brown of UFCW Local 1459 in Springfield.

Death Penalty Opponents Score Win in NH, Fight Bill in Massachusetts

On January 6, the New Hampshire House voted against a bill that would have allowed the state to execute people because they committed murder under a wider range of circumstances than allowed under current law. The vote was 201-161.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts, a bill to reinstate the death penalty in the state is pending in the legislature. A group of people is organizing to fight the measure. They meet monthly in the Springfield area. For more information e-mail mcadp1@aol.com or cajowl66@aol.com or call (413) 567-3451.

Springfield Hospital Fires Union Activists

A Springfield hospital fired two nurses last month because they supported an effort to form a union at the hospital, according to the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). The nurses had both worked for Baystate Medical Center for many years. “We have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board,” said MNA spokesman David Schildmeier. If the NLRB rules in favor of the union, the hospital will be required to re-hire the nurses and pay them the wages they would have received if they had not been fired.

Springfield/Holyoke Area Unions Endorse Candidates, Plan Rally

A group of unions in the Springfield/Holyoke area has endorsed candidates in the November 3 local elections. The Pioneer Valley Central Labor Council endorsed Domenic Sarno for mayor of Springfield and Elaine Pluta for mayor of Holyoke.

Rick Brown is president of the labor council. "We're excited about the new ward representation system in Springfield," he said. "It will open up politics to the people."