On May 8, workers stood outside a Shaw's supermarket near Brattleboro and asked people not to shop at Shaw's until a strike is settled. Many customers said they would do what the workers asked. Some 300 workers at a Shaw's warehouse near Boston have been on strike for weeks. Shaw's is using the Keene-based C&S corporation to scab. C&S has warehouses in Brattleboro and near Northampton. The May 8 action, and recent pickets at the C&S warehouses in the Valley, were organized by the Massachusetts and Vermont chapters of www.jwj.org
On May 6, union iron workers built an addition at Greenfield Community College and the owners of the Greenfield Music Store sold and installed home and car stereos, while also gathering signatures on a petition seeking to slow down city approval of a new Wal-Mart. The iron workers said they are proud members of the www.IronWorkers.org union which has given them a middle class standard of living.
Gael Wakefield is a public transit bus driver in Greenfield. In 2008, she was elected president of Local 274 of the UE union. She still serves as president, while also working as a bus driver. The UE’s web site is www.UEunion.org
On May 5, Wakefield sat down with Eesha Williams of MassLaborNews.com to talk about her union.
Dale Melcher runs the “labor extension” program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. The program helps unions. She told MassLaborNews.com on May 4 about two groups that could be an inspiration to workers throughout Massachusetts. The first group is Community Labor United (CLU) in Boston.
More than 300 workers at a Shaw’s grocery warehouse in Methuen, Massachusetts, near Boston, have been on strike since March 7. There is a Shaw's store in Keene. “The company tried to make us pay more for health care,” said Evin Ramirez. He has worked for more than 11 years inside the giant, windowless warehouse, where temperatures range between 25 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here are two photos from Methuen, Massachusetts. They were taken on April 27 of striking Shaw's warehouse workers. The workers were excited because the company called the union on April 27 and asked to meet on April 28. On April 28, they were to bargain a new contract for the approximately 300 workers who have been on strike for weeks. More information is at www.jwj.org -- follow the links to the eastern Massachusetts coalition web site. There is a Shaw's store in Keene. Click the photos, then scroll down, to enlarge.
Joe Gonzales has worked for the U.S. Postal Service in Springfield, Massachusetts for more than nine years. (This is not his real name; the Postal Service has tried to fire workers who criticized it.) Now he’s afraid he will lose his job. “As it is, I live with my sister,” he said. “If I lost my job, I’m not sure I’d be able to feed and clothe myself.”
Some 800 warehouse workers in Worcester and Fall River, Massachusetts recently voted for a new contract that will boost their wages, benefits, and working conditions. They are members of the UNITE HERE union and they work for TJX Corporation. Their victory could be a model for workers in the Valley to follow.
“The workers’ first languages include Vietnamese, Albanian, Spanish, and Chinese,” said organizer Dana Simon. “The company tried to exploit those differences. They failed and the workers won."
In Massachusetts, painters, carpenters, electrical workers, and other construction industry workers make an average of $13 more per hour when they join a union. That’s according to a new study by Cornell University.
“The Apollo Alliance recently did a study that had very similar findings on the national level,” said Maria Figueroa. She is an author of the new study and the director of the Labor and Industry Research department in the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Figueroa spoke at the Massachusetts statehouse on April 5.
On April 3, the Keene police ordered protesters to leave the parking lot of a Shaw's supermarket in Keene under threat of arrest, but allowed Girl Scouts to keep selling cookies in the same parking lot. A spokesman for the UFCW union www.ufcw.org said his union and/or the ACLU might sue the city of Keene for violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.