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.

Workers Rally in Amherst April 28

Janitors, cooks, and other workers will rally for justice, April 28 at noon in Amherst. The public is invited to attend. The state workers who are organizing the rally are paid low wages and have no job security. They work for the University of Massachusetts. The rally will be outside the student union building. There is a map at:

www.umass.edu/visitorsctr/Campus_Map

Parking on campus is easy but expensive. Details are at:

http://parking.umass.edu/index.php/home

Workers to Rally April 4 in Springfield, Greenfield, Keene

On April 4, the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., there will be rallies for workers' rights in Springfield, Greenfield, and Keene. The award-winning documentary film "At the River I Stand" shows King's last days in Memphis, in which he spoke to big crowds and marched, in support of striking garbage workers. Information on the film is at:

www.newsreel.org/video/AT-THE-RIVER-I-STAND

The DVD is available by inter-library loan from your local public library.

The time, location, and organizers' contact info for the rallies in Springfield, Greenfield, and Keene are at:

Workers' Rally Is March 2 in Amherst

Activists are asking the public to attend a rally in Amherst on March 2 to show their solidarity with government workers in Wisconsin. Tens of thousands of workers have been rallying at the Wisconsin state capitol in recent days to protest anti-union legislation proposed by that state’s governor. Similar legislation is pending in several other states. Experts say the trend will likely affect workers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Events Will Help People Get State Money for Home Energy Efficiency

A group of people in Springfield is helping Valley residents get state money to make their homes more energy efficient. The group, the Alliance to Develop Power, is hosting free, public evening meetings in: Amherst January 19, Easthampton January 20, Northampton January 26, and Greenfield February 2.

People at the meetings will learn how to sign up for a free energy assessment, get money for weatherization and other energy efficiency services, said Boone Shear of the Alliance.

The meeting will be in:

-Amherst, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Bangs Community Center, 70 Boltwood Walk;

Springfield Nursing Home Workers Form Union

On December 14, more than 300 nursing home workers in Springfield voted to form a union. They work for Sullivan and Associates Corporation. The voted workers voted 190 to 94 to join the Service Employees union www.seiu509.org Two dozen workers' votes are being disputed by the company or the union.

Union workers in the U.S. make more money than nonunion workers, 29 percent more. That’s $9,300 a year extra for the average worker who joins a union. For Latino workers, the union advantage is 50 percent; for black workers, 31 percent.