Workers' Victories

Hundreds of workers in the Valley will be getting raises and a new union contract. On February 19, leaders of two unions that represent around 1,700 land-line telephone and internet workers in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine said they had reached an agreement for a new contract with Fairpoint Corporation. The workers have been on strike since October.

Rally at Springfield Congressional Office Is Feb. 18

On February 18 in Springfield, there will be a noon rally against a bill in Congress that would lower American workers' wages and result in more pollution around the world, organizers say. The rally will be at Congressman Richard Neal’s office at 300 State Street. The legislation, known as “fast track” would allow the government to make so-called “free trade” deals more easily. Unions prefer trade agreements that include protections for workers here, in China, and elsewhere, and that include environmental protections.

Editorial: People Power Can Create Jobs

Vermont Yankee will lay off hundreds of high wage workers in the coming months. But reducing the workweek from 40 to 32 hours and subsidizing local apparel and shoe factories would create more jobs than the nuclear reactor ever did. Vermont Yankee is near Brattleboro, Greenfield, and Keene.

Northampton Nurses Rally Is September 30

Nurses in Northampton will hold a rally against forced overtime at the hospital, September 30 from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. The public is invited. “Cooley Dickinson continues to place its desire for profits ahead of its concern for patients and those who care for them,” said Sally Surgen, a nurse at Cooley Dickinson hospital.

“Our position on overtime benefits is not a financial issue, it is an issue of patient safety. Studies show that the use of overtime as a staffing tool is detrimental to patient care, leading to an increase in medical errors,” she said.

13 Arrested at Hartford McDonalds Strike

In Hartford, Connecticut, police arrested 13 people for non-violent civil disobedience at a protest at a McDonalds restaurant September 4. The workers were asking for their wages to be raised to $15 an hour. Hartford is about half an hour from Springfield, Massachusetts by car, Amtrak, or Greyhound.

Around the USA on September 4, thousands of fast food workers went on strike, and about 500 were arrested.

Photo: Hundreds March for Higher Wages in Springfield

In Springfield on June 12, there was a march and rally for justice for poor workers. "From Wal-Mart employees to fast food workers, the momentum for change is reaching all corners of the workforce," said rally organizer Jon Weissman of the western Massachusetts chapter of About 250 people were at the event. photo by Jobs with Justice

Jobs with Justice

Organizers are looking for volunteers to gather signatures on a petition that would allow Massachusetts voters to decide in November if the state's minimum wage should go up to $10.50 an hour. Now it's $8 an hour. Under a law passed this year, the minimum wage for workers in Washington, DC will be $11.50 an hour starting in 2016. The minimum wage in Washington state is now $9.32 an hour.

In Vermont, where the minimum wage is now $8.60 an hour, the legislature this month passed a bill that will set the minimum wage at:

$9.15 starting January 1, 2015;

$9.60 starting January 1, 2016;

Photos: Workers Protest at Hadley Wal-Mart

On April 11 in Hadley, Massachusetts, near Northampton, dozens of people attended a protest at a Wal-Mart store. They met with the store's manager and told him to re-hire Lisa Lacroix, a worker he recently fired after five years on the job. The protesters believe she was fired for publicly asking Wal-Mart to pay its workers a livable wage.

Wal-Mart is owned by the richest family in the world, the billionaire Waltons. The Walton family pays workers at Wal-Mart factories among the lowest wages in the world. Wal-Mart workers in the U.S. make barely above minimum wage.

Victory for Grocery Workers

Grocery workers in Greenfield and Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts have a tentative first union contract. Soon, all the workers will vote on whether to accept the contract, which has been accepted by the management of Green Fields Market and McCusker's Market. It was negotiated by a committee that was elected by the workers, and by management. “The contract includes raises and better benefits,” John Cevasco told the Valley Post. He has worked as a stock clerk at Green Fields Market for more than 15 years.

About 75 people work at the two stores.

Greenfield Nurses Will Strike

On February 10, the 209 nurses who work at the Greenfield hospital will go on strike. The strike was approved by a vote of the nurses. “One day last week I had to work until 10 p.m. I start at 7 a.m.,” Linda Judd told the Valley Post in October. She is a nurse at the hospital. “They don't let you leave until you finish all your paperwork.”