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."

Northampton Union Members To Meet About Mayoral Race

The mayor of Northampton took second place in the Sept. 15 primary election for mayor. City council member Michael Bardsley got 2,234 votes, Mayor Clare Higgins received 1,759 votes, and resident Roy Martin got 72 votes. The outcome means the Nov. 3 general election will likely be a close one.

Fifty People at Hadley Whole Foods Boycott Rally

The CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, recently wrote an article that was published in the Wall Street Journal. In the article, Mackey argued that health care is not a right, and opposed universal health care. On September 12, some 51 local activists showed up at a rally in the rain at the Whole Foods store in Hadley, near Northampton, calling for a boycott.

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Latino Farmworkers Near Brattleboro

Two of these photos show Latino farmworkers harvesting blueberries near Brattleboro on August 1. The third, taken the same day, is of a peach tree laden with fruit, also near Brattleboro. To learn about farms where you can pick your own organic blueberries and peaches, visit www.nofa.org To learn about the challenges facing Latino farmworkers in the U.S., and how you can join in their fight for justice, go to www.floc.com and www.ufw.org To make the photos bigger, please click on them. photos by Eesha Williams

A Local Worker Talks About His Union

Labor Day is right around the corner and the Valley Post is starting a series of profiles of Valley unions. Michael Barry is one of about 380 union workers at the mental hospital in Brattleboro. He started there in 1975. His job title is “mental health worker” at the Brattleboro Retreat.

Barry and his co-workers started organizing their union in the mid-1990s and finished in 2002. They are members of United Nurses and Allied Professionals. UNAP is based in Rhode Island and has about 5,000 members.

Governor Loses Vermont Veto Fight

In a victory for middle class workers and farmers, the Vermont legislature on June 2 voted to override governor Jim Douglas's veto of the $4.5 billion state budget. No governor had ever vetoed the budget. In his own budget proposal, offered in January, Douglas attempted to hide a major tax increase: $63 million dollars in new property taxes. His budget would have frozen the state’s education reimbursements at last year’s levels, even though most Vermont towns have already passed school budgets for next year.

UMass Activists Meet June 6

The 2,500 or so grad student employees at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst do more teaching and research than the 1,000 or so professors there. The grad students are paid about $12,000 per year for 20 hours a week of work. The professors make around $100,000 per year for 40 hours of work per week.

UMass Amherst is one of the biggest employers in the Valley. The wages it pays its workers affect the region's economy, and influence wages other local employers pay, according to UMass Amherst economist and labor studies professor Stephanie Luce.

A complex economy: Bellows Falls businesses see varied consequences

In an address to Congress on February 24, President Barack Obama stated, “You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know our economy is in crisis, because you live it everyday. It’s the worry you wake up with, and the source of sleepless nights.”

Collapse Leaves Parts of Downtown Keene Without Water

A major water main broke at around 3 a.m. on May 8 in downtown Keene leaving residents with no water or low water pressure. Water and Sewer Superintendent Joseph W. Tonweber told the Keene Sentinel that the collapse “blew a big hole in the street." The crater reached from a sidewalk fence to the middle of the road, he said.

Steve Chase lives in Keene, where he is director of Antioch University’s program in Environmental Advocacy.

1,000 at Vermont Rally: 'Healthcare Is a Right'

Sheila Linton of Brattleboro spoke at a "Healthcare Is a Human Right" rally at the Vermont statehouse on May 1. The event was organized by the Vermont Workers Center. The U.S. is the only rich nation that does not provide universal health care. More information on the rally is at www.workerscenter.org photos by Eesha Williams