Road, Sewer Workers Win; School Crossing Guards Organize

Workers at the Amherst Department of Public Works voted last week to sign a two year contract with the town. They maintain Amherst’s sewer and drinking water systems, run the garbage dump and recycling center, fix the town’s roads and traffic lights, and take care of the parks and trees. They belong to the AFSCME union www.afscme.org local 1725. They will get 1.3 percent annual raises.

Labor Rallies Will Be in Northampton, Springfield

There will be rallies to support workplace justice in Northampton and Springfield. The Northampton rally will be on December 2 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. The Springfield rallies are on November 28 and 29 from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.

Springfield Labor Rally Is Nov. 10

On November 10 at 5 p.m., workers will rally in Springfield to protest a company that violated laws protecting workers’ right to form a union. The public is invited. A union election will be conducted by mail starting November 14. Ballots will be counted on November 30, said Ivette Hernandez, one of the workers who will vote on whether to join the Service Employees union Local 509.

Local Post Office Workers Fight Back

On September 27 at 4 p.m. there will be two rallies to save the jobs of post office workers. The rallies will be at Congressman Richard Neal’s office at 300 State Street in Springfield, and at Congressman John Olver’s office at 57 Suffolk Street in Holyoke. The rallies will last 90 minutes.

The organizers of the rallies are asking the public to contact their members of Congress in support of House Bill 1351.

More information is available at www.SaveAmericasPostalService.org or by calling Michael Harazmus, president of the Letter Carriers Union in the Valley, at (413) 737-0640.

Striking Verizon Workers Seek Public's Help

Hundreds of telephone and internet workers in the Valley went on strike on August 7. They work for Verizon Corporation. In 2010, Verizon's CEO, Ivan Seidenberg, was paid more than $18 million. The median Verizon worker made $33,190 last year. So Seidenberg made 547 times the median worker's pay. The workers are asking the public for support. Details are available at these web sites:

www.ibew.org

www.cwa-union.org

www.jwj.org

www.AmericanRightsAtWork.org

www.LaborNotes.org

The Valley Post will update this article as more information becomes available.

UMass Amherst, A Major Valley Employer, Is Run In Secret

The University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst, with 26,000 students, more than 900 professors, and thousands of other workers, is one of the biggest employers in the Valley. Workers at UMass belong to several unions. Since UMass workers work for the state, it's illegal for them to go on strike. So they lobby the governor, state legislature, and the UMass board of trustees for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. The trustees are appointed by the governor.

In Northampton, 175 Protest for Workers' Rights

On June 23, about 175 public school workers and their supporters attended a rally outside a meeting of the Northampton school board. They were protesting a decision by the board – also called the “school committee” -- to not raise the workers’ wages next year. Several of the workers spoke to the board to oppose the move, which amounts to a pay cut for the workers, when inflation is taken into account.

Target Fights Its Workers' Union

Workers at the Target stores in Keene and in Hadley, Massachusetts, near Amherst, will likely be watching the outcome of a June 17 vote by workers at a Target store in Valley Stream, New York on whether to form a union.

In 2009, the most recent year for which data were available, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel was paid more than $13 million.

Tashawna Green has worked at the Target store in Valley Stream for more than a year. She makes $8 an hour.

“We need a living wage where we can get by,” Sonia Williams told the New York Times. She works late at night at the store.

Local Workers Seek Public's Help in Contract Fight

Workers at a state-funded agency in Holyoke are asking the public to help them win a fair contract. "Our bosses want to take away some of our co-workers' health insurance," said April Elias. She works as a "parent aide" at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The union contract covers Elias and about 100 other workers at the Society's office in Holyoke.

The workers have elected a small group of their colleagues to negotiate a new contract. The negotiators met with management on June 1. The current three-year contract will expire on June 30.

Like a Leech, Wal-Mart Returns to Greenfield

Wal-Mart wants to build a massive new store and parking lot, destroying open space in Greenfield. The town Planning Board will hold a meeting about Wal-Mart's scheme on May 5. “Please save the date, and encourage your friends to come and show their opposition to this environmentally and economically valueless plan,” said Greenfield resident Al Norman.

The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. at 114 Main Street.

In Greenfield, Wal-Mart lost a vote by the people 18 years ago. The company wanted to build in town; it was rejected by a vote of the people.