Wal-Mart Rallies Are April 24 and April 26

On April 24 at 5 p.m. and on April 26 at 6 p.m. there will be one hour rallies for justice at five local Wal-Mart stores in Massachusetts. The rallies are being promoted by the western Massachusetts chapter of a union-supported group, Jobs With Justice www.jwj.org. The April 24 rallies will be at the Wal-Mart stores at:

- 1105 Boston Road in Springfield (RSVP: Jeff Jones 413-732-6209 jjones@ufcw1459.com);

- 180 North King Street in Northampton (RSVP: Rose Bookbinder 413-320-2028 rose.bookbinder@gmail.com and Edan Dhanraj sessionvoice@gmail.com);

In Keene, Some Professors Make $18,000 a Year

Professors in Keene are fighting for a union contract. Even if they want to work full-time, their employer, River Valley Community College, only lets them work 20 hours a week, for which they are paid about $18,000 a year, Ken Relihan told the Valley Post on March 23. He is a professor at the college and lives in Alstead, New Hampshire, near Keene. He has taught Humanities at River Valley Community College for three years. “You can ask to teach three courses and they often don’t tell you until the last minute how many you will get,” he said.

Victory for Bus Drivers

In Greenfield, public transit bus drivers recently voted to approve a new union contract that will result in higher wages. “The contract is the best we could have expected,” Gael Wakefield told the Valley Post. She is a bus dispatcher and president of UE Local 274.

Greenfield Bus Drivers' Rally Is Feb. 2

In Greenfield, public transit bus drivers will hold a rally for justice on February 2 at 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend the rally, which will be at the town common. The approximately two dozen workers drive and maintain buses for the FRTA or Franklin Regional Transit Authority. They are members of the UE Union Local 274. Even though the buses they drive have FRTA painted on them in giant letters, their employer is FirstGroup Corporation of Aberdeen, Scotland. As of 2010, FirstGroup had 136,000 employees in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Canada and the United States.

Community Supports Worker Fired for Union Organizing

Shirley Lewis was recently fired from her job in Northampton because of her support for an ongoing effort by her co-workers to form a union. That’s according to a spokesman for the nation’s largest union, the Service Employees International Union. “She was fired because she supported the union,” Ryan Berard told the Valley Post on January 3. Lewis worked at the May Institute, a non-profit organization that helps disabled people. The Institute gets most of its funding from the government. The 25 or so Pioneer Valley workers will vote late this month on whether to form a union, Berard said.

Local Nursing Home Owners Fight Bed Bugs and Workers

Westwood nursing home in Keene has bedbugs. The home is licensed by the state to have 85 human residents. A city inspector found the bugs on November 21. On November 29, the nursing home was still trying to get rid of the bugs. Bed bugs drink human blood. They make people itchy. More information is at www.epa.gov/bedbugs.

"Few members of wealthy families are ever admitted to nursing homes because they can get all the services they need brought to them at home," according to Nobody's Home, a book by nursing home worker Thomas Gass. The book was published by Cornell University in 2005.

Wal-Mart Workers Speak Out

Sarah Heinonen has worked at Wal-Mart for more than a decade. She works at the Wal-Mart in Ware, Massachusetts, near Amherst. “I believe that if you don’t like something and you don’t do anything about it, you’re just complaining,” Heinonen told the Valley Post on November 26. “I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t speak out.”

Workers Fight Back

In the Valley this week, 140 grocery workers voted to join a union, mental health workers rallied for a fair contract, and a Northampton solidarity action was announced for striking Wal-Mart workers. These photos show a November 16 rally by workers at the Brattleboro Retreat mental hospital; some 500 workers there belong to the United Nurses and Allied Professionals Union www.unap.org.

Activists To Rally at Local Wal-Marts October 10

Last year, Wal-Mart Corporation built a new store and parking lot on acres of farmland a few miles from Brattleboro, in Hinsdale, New Hampshire. When the new store opened, an existing Wal-Mart a few miles away was closed. That store and parking lot have been vacant ever since. In Brattleboro in 2008, Home Depot Corporation closed a store. That store, and the huge parking lot around it, are still vacant.

Phone Workers Win; Nurses Will Strike

Hundreds of telephone and internet workers in the Valley won raises this month after they went on strike. They work for Verizon. Meanwhile, 209 nurses in Greenfield are planning to go on strike on October 5. They work at the Baystate Franklin Medical Center hospital. The nurses are asking the public to join them on the picket line. Details are at:

www.massnurses.org/news-and-events/p/openItem/7760