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 www.jwj.org. 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.”

Dozens Protest McDonald's

McDonald's pays its CEO about $9 million a year while its workers make at or around minimum wage. In Northampton and Keene on December 5, dozens of people protested outside McDonald's. In Keene more than 40 people attended the rally. Many of the protesters held signs saying “Super Size Wages” and “$15 an hour.” The protests were organized by Jobs With Justice www.jwj.org and other groups. JWJ is funded by unions.

Northampton Nurses to Rally

Nurses are asking the public to attend a rally for justice in Northampton on November 30 from 10 a.m. until noon. The nurses work for the ServiceNet Corporation. They take care of patients in the patients´ homes. In 2011, the nurses voted to form a union. Since then they have met with the company´s representatives repeatedly but the company has refused to sign a union contract. Between 15 and 20 nurses would be covered by the contract.

Brattleboro Unions Fighting, Winning

About 800 workers at a mental hospital in Brattleboro will benefit from a new union contract. About 160 workers at a grocery store in Brattleboro have been negotiating their union contract. “Negotiations recently broke down. We're getting ready to make some noise,” Joe Crompton told the Valley Post. He has worked as a meat cutter at the Brattleboro Food Co-op for 25 years.

Crompton is running for a seat on the co-op board. Ballots are available now. The deadline to vote is 5 p.m. on November 17.

209 Greenfield Nurses Give Their Elected Leaders Power to Call a Strike

The 209 nurses at the Greenfield hospital voted October 15 to authorize a strike. That means their elected representatives in the union have the power to call a strike. The nurses went on strike last year (see photo, below).

Workers, Northampton Food Co-op Settle First Contract

About 85 workers at the food co-op in Northampton organized a union last year. Recently they signed their first union contract with the manager of the River Valley Market. That's according to John Cevasco, a long-time employee of the food co-op in nearby Greenfield and member of the same union that the Northampton co-op workers joined. The union has a web site: www.ufcw1459.com. The Valley Post will request interviews with workers at the Northampton store via the union, and will update this article if and when the interviews happen.