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.

Massachusetts Ballot Initiatives to Aid Workers

A coalition of labor, religious and community groups is seeking volunteers to gather signatures on petitions that would let Massachusetts voters decide whether the state’s minimum wage should stay the same or increase, and whether workers should have the right to miss work when they’re sick. The group, Raise Up Massachusetts, filed the two proposed ballot questions with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office last month. It has the support of both the state’s U.S. senators. The group can be reached via www.MassUniting.org.

7,000 Vermont Workers to Vote on Union

About 7,000 workers in Vermont will vote on whether to form a union. The so-called “homecare” workers take care of patients who are too sick or too elderly to take care of themselves. They work in the patients’ homes, rather than at nursing homes or other institutions. They are paid by the government. The workers will vote by mail between September 9 and 27.

Northampton City Council Picks a Fight With Firefighters

The Northampton city council is refusing to approve a union contract for the city’s firefighters. The contract has the support of the mayor and a state mediator. The firefighters are asking the public to contact the city council and urge them to approve the contract. The public is invited to learn more at a rally on August 5 from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Florence Civic Center, 90 Park Street in Florence, Massachusetts. Details are at www.NorthamptonFirefighters.org.

750 at Tuesday Morning Hearing on $11 Minimum Wage

Supporting a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour, about 750 people packed a 10 a.m. public hearing at the Massachusetts statehouse on Tuesday, June 11. The vast majority of the people who spoke at the hearing supported the bill.

Among the bill's sponsors are representatives Peter Kocot of Northampton, Cheryl Coakley-Rivera and Benjamin Swan of Springfield, and Ellen Story of Amherst.

The bill is at:

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/House/H1701

Wal-Mart Rallies Near Springfield May 28, June 6, June 8

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. A series of three rallies at a Wal-Mart in Chicopee, Massachusetts, near Springfield, are set for May 28, June 6, and June 8. The rallies are being organized by the western Massachusetts chapter of Jobs With Justice, which has a web site at www.jwj.org.